On 4 December 2009, Marine and Coastal Management issued a statement in response to a newspaper article published by the Cape Times of the same date. The MCM statement reads as follows:
The Marine and Coastal Management would like to respond to misrepresentations in a Cape Times article, Friday, 04 December 2009, by Melanie Gosling titled: “Fishermen short-changed on promised compensation.” Firstly, it is absolutely not true that MCM has “handed R15 million of government relief funds to a shadowy “trust” to distribute the money as compensation to abalone quota holders...” as the Cape Times claim. The Department of Environmental Affairs has paid out R6.8 million in interim relief to 292 of the 302 rights holders (262 individual divers and 40 legal entities in the form of close corporations) whose livelihoods were adversely affected by the suspension of the wild abalone fishery. What she refers to as a “shadowy trust,” is in fact a trust established by the affected permit holders to interact with the Department in the disbursement of the interim relief funds in line with Public Finance Management principles. Secondly, contrary to her claim, fishermen were never meant to receive R52 000 instead of R20 000 that the Department paid out. An agreement signed on the 18th of June 2009, between the South African Abalone Rights Holders Trust and the Department, in terms of relief payment, states that:
1. All 262 abalone divers will be paid a once-off amount of R20 000 each
2. All 40 legal entities (CCs) will be paid a once-off amount of R30 000 each
3. All crew (“bakkie boys”) totaling 604 will be paid a once – off payment of R2000 per person
4. Consideration of an exclusive second payment to the maximum of R10 000 to the divers and crew will be part of a detailed means test thought the Implementing Agent. Gosling further claims that the R52 000 she made up, is “apparently part of R80m given by the Treasury as a “social plan” to help fishing communities affected by the closure of the abalone fishery. National Treasury has never given the Department R80m for a “social plan.”
Although the statement seeks to address the status of the "trust" created which does not have the support of all abalone divers, MCM continues to deceive. Importantly, MCM still refuses to make available the trust deed that established the trust and defines the beneficiaries and who the trustees are and what are their powers and obligations. MCM also fails to address the important allegations surrounding the increasingly apparent unlawful appointment of Anix Consulting. Anix has admitted that it was "given" the contract. The fact that MCM failed to use the press statement to dispel the allegations of corruption, must mean that someone at MCM did indeed "give" Anix Consulting the contract in return for something - that is afterall the how and the why government contracts are "given" and not competed for as required by our state-of-the-art but never implemented anti-graft laws. So the question is who gave the contract and why does MCM top-management continue to duck and dive the issue - are they involved in the given contract as well?
As stated in an earlier article, Feike has attempted to report this matter to the Special Investigations Unit. However, the SIU's "fraud hotline" never gets picked up - at least on the 15 occasions we tried last Friday. We also tried the "President's complaints hotline" - they should establish a complaints hotline for the complaints hotline! We will however continue to try and lodge our complaint and concerns with the SIU.