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Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has found that the Free State agriculture department did not handle the controversial Vrede Dairy Farm Project very well.

In a report released on Friday‚ Mkhwebane said the department had failed to manage and monitor implementation of the terms of agreement with Estina in relation to budget evaluation‚ expenditure control and Estina’s performance.

She observed that the head of department did not follow normal procurement processes‚ the payments to Estina were not in line with Treasury prescripts‚ and the agreement between the department and Estina seemed invalid.

Mkhwebane directed Free State premier Ace Magashule to institute disciplinary proceedings against all implicated officials involved in the project and submit a report to the public protector on the action he will take once a disciplinary process has been concluded.

However‚ the report noted that the office did not investigate key issues because of capacity and financial constraints.

These issues include an investigation into how the money that was transferred to Estina was spent by that company‚ and the circumstances of the 100 local people who were supposed to benefit from the project.

Mkhwebane said the Estina expenditure was being investigated by the Hawks.

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