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Archive for August, 2012

DAFF Issues Tender Requests

The Department of Fisheries has issued two tender requests in the latest tender bulletin (24 August 2012). One is for the appointment of a service provider to review fisheries policies and oversee the allocation of long term fishing rights in 9 fishery sectors in 2012/2013. The second tender seeks to appoint a service provider to provide a marine anti-poaching service in the Western and Eastern Cape Provinces. 
Although these tenders are to be welcomed, they are extremely long overdue. The fishery policy and allocation tender closes on 21 September 2012. Assuming the Department does not repeat its recent   record when it comes to tender (mis) management, this tender could be allocated by late November 2012, which will leave the prospective tenderer less than 12 months to achieve the near impossible. 
The allocation of fishing rights involves a series of complex and integrated management, decision-making and regulatory functions, which are presently lacking at DAFF. There is little to no leadership at DAFF with the two most critical senior managers responsible for these processes – the DDG and Chief Director of Fisheries – currently filled by acting staff who are regularly rotated. The current acting DDG has no fisheries management experience or knowledge and as such will not have any knowledge of it means to allocate fishing quotas. The present acting Chief Director of Fisheries Management – which has been rotated between Dennis Fredericks and Saasa Pheeha – has limited knowledge of these processes and neither were involved in the allocation of long term fishing rights. Fredericks had a limited role during the allocation of medium term fishing rights in 2001. Both are however in our opinion committed to the job at hand but this is a huge team effort that requires the Minister to lead.
The department still lacks a director-general or an accountable or visonary Minister that has essentially accused her staff of widespread corruption and maladministration and has spent the last year at least chasing ghosts, looking for corruption dating back to 1999 and accusing non-existent companies of corruption. Now it becomes even less clear how the gargantuan task will be achieved.  
What past allocation processes have clearly indicated is that you need a dedicated team of experts to run the allocation process (as management must still attend to the day-to-day fisheries operations) and to start at least 2 years before the deadline with serious in-house planning and preparation and informal consultations with fishing industry bodies. This is especially critical if you identify (early on) the need for amendments to regulations and laws. For example, while preparing the framework for the traditional line fish policy in 2003 (adopted by Cabinet in July 2005), it was accepted that a number of amendments were required to the 1998 Fisheries Regulations pertaining to the linefishery. These amendments were eventually drafted, consulted on and gazetted in 2004. Long-term line fishing rights were allocated in 2005 and 2006. 
It is already apparent that the Department must amend the Marine Living Resources Act if it is to even contemplate implementation of the Small Scale Fishing Policy (even though they admit they do not have any idea as to how this policy can be implemented in the real world) . However, if one considers that long term fishing rights must be allocated in a host of small scale fisheries next year (traditional line fish, oysters, mussels, trek nets and KZN beach seine), it is simply inconceivable that all the necessary processes to effect an amendment to an Act of Parliament can be undertaken in less than 12 months. Without an amendment to the MLRA to allow fishing rights to be allocated to “communities”, the Small Scale Fishing Policy effectively remains a policy with unlawful provisions and is effectively still-borne. (How Cabinet could adopt a policy that contains provisions that are de facto contrary to an Act of Parliament is questionable in itself). 
To make matters even worse, the Minister of Fisheries has simply refused to meet with any one of the 22 commercial fishery sectors or one of the 14 recognised industry bodies that represent right holders since her appointment in June 2009. 

So with about 12 months left before some 1000 fishing rights must be allocated, no one knows what the Minister’s thoughts are on the subject of rights allocation other than her bizarre statements about moving fisheries management from Cape Town to Pretoria or her farcical pronouncements on “equitably spreading fish across the country” as fish are susceptible to ANC social engineering.

This is deeply concerning as there are some 1000 right holders who have held fishing rights for periods of 8 years to date, who employ many thousands of people and who have made substantial investments in their businesses and where most of these investments are secured by homes, pension funds and other forms of securities but who do not know if the Minister of Fisheries will simply decree some time next year that they do not qualify for a right in terms of criteria that have been drafted in some back-office by  consultants who know little about the intricacies of fisheries in a mad-rush to meet some deadline we all knew about for the past 8 years.

This is a press statement issued by the DA’s Deputy Shadow Minister for Fisheries, Pieter van Dalen, on 27 August 2012.

The DA has received confirmation from the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, that she is investigating our complaint that  Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson violated the Executive Ethics Code.

This will be the third concurrent investigation into Minister Joemat-Pettersson’s conduct. The other issues being scrutinised by the Public Protector are the Minister’s expenditure on flights and hotels and tender procedures in her department as a result of the irregular R800 million Sekunjalo tender.

The DA requested the latest investigation on the advice of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Section 2.1 of the Executive Ethics Code stipulates that members of the Executive must “perform their duties and exercise their powers diligently and honestly”, must “act in good faith and in the best interest of good governance”, and “act in all respects in a manner that is consistent with the integrity of their office or the government”.

The Code also determines that when deciding whether members of the Executive complied with the provisions of this clause, the President must “take into account the promotion of an open, democratic and accountable government”.

We requested the Public Protector to consider the following examples of Minister Joemat-Pettersson’s failure to perform her duties as required by the act:

* Firstly, Minister Joemat-Pettersson has repeatedly failed to meet with key stakeholders in the industries she is responsible for overseeing;
* Secondly, the Minister’s three-year tenure has been characterised by much blame shifting and little ownership of responsibility; and
* Finally, Minister Joemat-Pettersson’s refusal to address the Cape Town Press Club unless I left the meeting undermines the principles of openness and accountability.

It is clear to the DA that the Minister has failed to carry out her duties over the last three years in accordance with the basic principles stipulated in the Executive Ethics Code. We look forward to the Public Protector’s findings.


PC Meeting Postponed Indefinitely

Feike has been informed that the Fisheries Portfolio Committee meeting scheduled for 28 August 2012 @2pm which was supposed to have been addressed by the Minister of Fisheries has been postponed indefinitely.


Please take note that the Fisheries Minister’s meeting with the Portfolio Committee will start at 14:00 in Committee Room V227, Parliament.

Minister to Address PC on Fisheries: 28 Aug @ 9:30AM

The Minister of Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, is scheduled to address the Portfolio Committee on Fisheries on 28 August 2012 at 9:30am on her department’s plans concerning the allocation of long term fishing rights in 2013 and 2015. 
South Africa is set to re-allocate commercial fishing rights in the majority of its 22 commercial fishery sectors in 2013 and again in 2015. Feike has repeatedly warned that the department has not explained what plans and systems are in place to ensure a seamless allocation process which is critical to ensuring stability in the supply of fish products to existing markets, job security and continued investment by right holders. 
There is little point in waiting until the very last minute to inform right holders who have now held fishing rights for periods of 8 and 10 years what will be required of them come the next round of quota allocations. This is not supposed to be some lottery. There are huge numbers of jobs and investments at stake. Further, right holders have supply fish to increasingly competitive foreign and domestic markets that rely on supply stability. 
The Minister is scheduled to address the portfolio committee at 9:30 am (AND NOT 2PM) at Parliament. The committee venue will be confirmed depending on the level of interest shown by members of the industry and media. 

Maritime Review Africa Issues Debate Request

There have been a number of press statements issued over the past few days by the Minister of Fisheries, on the one hand, and the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister for Fisheries, Pieter van Dalen, on the other.

It is patently clear that South Africa faces a growing number of serious fisheries management and governance crises. This BLOG has recorded example after example of crisis and mismanagement afflicting fisheries. Most recently we have had the spectre of the Minister dueling her very own senior staff in public. It is all quite farcical.

Maritime Review Africa, Southern Africa’s leading fisheries and shipping magazine, has now invited both van Dalen and Joemat-Pettersson to a panel debate where the various governance issues that have dominated the media recently and which are clearly in the fisheries public interest can be ventilated. Importantly, it will provide the Minister with a platform to clearly address the fisheries public on her most recent anti-corruption initiatives in her department.

Van Dalen has already accepted the invite via Twitter. We now await confirmation from the Minister that she will take this opportunity to discuss and debate the various critical issues affecting the management of fisheries in SA.

Bizarrer and Bizarrer at Fisheries Branch

It is truly becoming bizarrer and bizarrer down at the Fisheries Branch on the Foreshore. The Fisheries Minister has now confirmed that she is investigating apparent fraud and corruption at the branch amounting to R1billion and going back to 1999!
Talk about Tantrum Tina truly taking us back to the previous century! This is just utter lunacy. And to add to the lunacy are the slanderous and defamatory rants of some Western Cape-based organisation called the Black Business Chamber. It has been stated that this Black Business Council (in the Apartheid days we had the Boerebond; so now I guess in this colour-mad South Africa, the BBC(!!) is the equivalent?). Well, the BBC issued a shocker of a press statement alleging massive corruption by Smit Amandla and of course the Fisheries Branch and its predecessor, Marine and Coastal Management, when previous vessel management tenders were allocated to Smit. 
It has been reported by Business Report that the BBC stood to benefit financially from the tainted R800 million Sekunjalo tender. 
Pieter van Dalen of the DA has advised that when he met with the Fisheries Minister recently she stated that she had “conclusive evidence” that Smit Amandla (and/or its predecessor) was guilty of corruption, fronting and overcharging. When he requested to see this “conclusive evidence” she directed him to her last remaining special adviser. When van Dalen contacted Joemat-Pettersson’s adviser, he stated in writing that “I have discussed this with Minister; she does not have any documents on Pentow Marine and what she indicated at the Portfolio Committee is all that is available. I will advise if this situation changes at all.” 
Is this Minister just lying? We have little doubt about this. As we have previously stated, if the previous allocation of the tenders to Smit Marine or its predecessor were tainted by corruption, fronting or overcharging, why was this not picked up by the Auditor-General? The Minister has also indicated that she is investigating corruption in the fisheries branch dating back to 1999. We simply cannot understand the logic behind this. When Valli Moosa was appointed as the Minister in charge of fisheries back in June 1999, he immediately commenced an investigation into administrative misconduct and corruption. This report remains publicly available on the internet. The Minister should have first done a Google search before wasting more of our tax rands on personal vendettas (but of course one must also know what one is searching for). Minister, read the report here
However, the Minister’s destructive conduct and repeated threats of investigations into her “corrupt” staff at the Fisheries Branch is simply destroying what morale is left. A number of staff have indicated to us that they are simply surviving by doing as little possible, keeping their heads down, applying for posts in the other departments or counting down the days to retirement. 
We are all eagerly awaiting the publication next week of the Public Protector’s report into the Sekunjalo tender scandal that has left South Africa’s waters unpatrolled for months and our fisheries research in turmoil. 
PS. The Minister has confirmed in Parliament (Answer to Question 181) that she only expects the fishery patrol vessels to take to sea in October as the Navy and DAFF are currently trying to recruit personnel to operate the vessels and they must then be trained. If they are still trying to recruit personnel (err, what have they been doing since March?), there is no hope in hell that these vessels would be put to sea by the time the 12 month Naval agreement terminates in March 2013. Then what? The Minister does not have the slightest clue as she has also admitted that there are no plans to put the vessel management contract out to tender again. And what damage has been caused to these vessels and their sophisticated engines as they continue to bob about in Simonstown? Will these vessels ever be used again? Will we ever see the state-of-the-art research vessels undertake another research cruise or will the fishing industry have to this as well? 
What a disaster. Did this Minister not confirm in April that the vessels would only remain quayside in Simonstown for 2 weeks as the Navy took over?

A tip-off sent to, amongst others, Mr Pieter van Dalen (DA), the Shadow Deputy Minister of Fisheries, has confirmed the desperate and chaotic state that the fisheries ministry finds itself in as a result of a minister  that sees ghosts at every turn and who must certainly be staring into a number of reports by the Public Protectors that prove what we have been saying for months – Tina Joemat-Petterssen (TJP) is completely unfit to hold public office, let alone sit in Cabinet. 
The tip-off is titled “Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s office in disarray” and states the following: (unedited)
• In May she (TJP) suspended her DDG for Fisheries, Sue Middleton. Middleton is
now back in office due to bungling of the department. Investigation was
supposed to have concluded in 2 months and that didn’t happen
• In June she (TJP) suspended her DG Langa Zita. Sources say that Zita is willing to
leave but wants to be paid for the remainder of his 5-year contract.
• She (TJP) has recently asked for an extension from the public protector before the
latter releases her reportedly damning report on the investigation on Joemat-
Pettersson’s accommodation costs.
o Joemat-Pettersson could not produce proof that her trip to Sweden in
2010 was official.
o There is no proof of invite from the Swedes
o There is no proof of presidential approval
o There is no proof that she cut her trip short because she was called
back for an urgent meeting by JZ
• She used state money to buy her children return tickets to SA
when she cut her trip short. Public protector is questioning why
this was necessary
• As if things are not bad enough, Joemat-Pettersson has reportedly shut off all
but one of her support staff, working only with her PA.
o Her diary, which was always handled by her chief of staff, PA and two
special advisors is now a “secret” and only managed by the PA
o There has not been any diary meeting for nearly 2 months
• Biggest shock is that Joemat-Pettersson has fallen out with her advisor Rams
o Word has it she stopped talking to him more than 5 weeks ago
o She does not (take) his calls or emails
o She has not told him what is wrong
o She has moved all his responsibilities to an administrator
o Sources say that the acting DG has refused to intervene telling
Joemat-Pettersson (she) is acting illegally and cannot just terminate Rams’
contract without negotiations
o Joemat-Pettersson was apparently trying to prove that Rams does not
have a contract, in spite of him being on the payroll since October 2010
We repeat our call. Tina Joemat-Pettersson resign now! 

SAPA reports that fronting and fraud have been highlighted as the major factors that will render transformation in the fishing industry impossible, Parliament’s fisheries committee chairman, Lulu Johnson, said on Friday.
Johnson addressed the media on the plight of nine black women who are part of a corporation called Meermin Visserye CC.
The women claim their quotas and names were fraudulently being used by a fishing company and an individual, who are making money while they don’t see a penny.
The women own a 15-year small pelagic fishing permit, which comes to an end in December 2020.
“Regrettably, the owners of Meermin have been denied the financial benefits of their high-value pelagic quota over the past two years. They have been defrauded and unlawfully denied access to the fishing quota and the income generated from the quota,” Johnson said.
Initially, the women used Compass Fishing Enterprises to catch pilchards and anchovies, but terminated the contract in 2009. The fishing company took the women to court, but lost in their attempt to get an interdict against the contract termination, first at the Western Cape High Court, then at the Supreme Court of Appeal. The women later discovered that another individual had since signed a contract on behalf of Meermin, committing the corporation’s pelagic fishing quote to Compass Fishing.
Last year Meermin approached the Julius Buchinsky group and concluded a contract to sell its quotas for 2011, 2012 and 2013.
They were unable to sell the 2011 contract, and the Meermin women were forced to sell their boat.
The women say they’ve not seen a cent of their money from the boat sale, even though they’ve been told Compass Fishing had transferred about half a million rand to Buchinsky.
Johnson said the police will be asked to probe the matter.

Fisheries Minister to Fire Advisor

Feike understands that the Minister of Fisheries is set to remove one of her two so-called “special” advisors, Mr Rams Mabote. The reasons for his dismissal are unknown. The Minister has this year alone suspended her head of fisheries, Sue Middleton, and her DG, Langa Zita. 
Although Zita remains on suspension, Middleton is back in her office but apparently still subject to some form of investigation regarding her decision to actually do something to try and get the critically important demersal research cruise to sea. Ultimately, this cruise did not take place and the Marine Stewardship Council which certifies SA hake trawl has noted this as a “red flag”. The consequence of Middleton’s unwarranted suspension is that senior managers and decision-makers in the fisheries branch have by and large stopped taking any decisions of a controversial nature, lest they too get suspended! It must certainly be a horrible working environment especially when the Minister is so weak that she continuously makes a her own staff the scapegoat for her failures. 
The Minister’s remaining special advisor is Duncan Hindle, an education specialist that also runs a website, www.theschoolinspector.co.za.  
Feike has also been advised that the Minister is under considerable pressure as the Public Protector’s report on the R800 million Sekunjalo tender farce is damning. The media is presently also asking some hard questions about the Minister’s apparent abuse of funds pertaining to the leasing of a Mercedes Benz that cost taxpayers R600,000. 
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