In response to issues raised on this blog regarding the efficacy of boat based whale permits issued by the department of environmental affairs (DEA), the Cape Argus reports (27 May 2010) that DEA continues to hold the view that it has the right to issue permits for whale watching despite the fact that the authority to administer the Marine Living Resources Act falls within the purview of the Department of Fisheries (DAFF). DEA (through SANParks) has also confirmed that it is not concerned by the fact that a senior employee is also an active member of a boat based whale watching applicant as long as the employee declares his interest in the company concerned.
In the latter regard, the employee concerned is a 49% member of Raggy Charters that has applied for a permit to undertake whale watching in the Port Elizabeth area which includes the Bird Island Group Marine Protected Area. The employee - Anban Padayachee - is in charge of managing this particular area. If that is not a conflict of interest then what is! To make matters even worse, according to DEA a civil servant must simply declare his interests in any private business. Well is that not just perfect! We non-civil servant must be absolute and utter morons! We should all apply for these high-paying civil service jobs and then keep our private sector jobs and bolster our incomes with state tenders and permits in which we have a direct interest! So in South Africa, civil servants are allowed to hold at least 2 jobs while we dummy tax payers pay them to further their private interests.
Why did I not think of that when I was employed as Chief Director of Fisheries Management at MCM? I could have acted as the black shareholder front of a number of fishing companies that applied for fishing quotas provided I did not evaluate my own application form but of course there would be the completely permissible and innocent "no-conflict of interest" wink, wink, nudge nudge. Has DEA and SANParks so utterly lost the plot that they confidently confirm in public such preposterous and corrupt practices? Is this how DEA now institutionalises corruption? So how many DEA employees hold directorships and memberships of private companies?
On 18 September 2009, DEA issued the following statement to all applicants in the whale watching sector:
"Applicants are referred to paragraph 19.4 of the RFP which clearly states that anyone who "is related to or associated with anyone who is employed by the Authority, EKZN Wildlife or MCM or DEA or has worked within the last 12 months for any of the aforementioned institutions" may be disqualified. Current board members and employees of these institutions / organs of state may not bid directly or indirectly through companies or close corporations."
Padayachee is an employee of DEA as SANParks is a division of the department in as much as EKZN Wildlife is. DEA has also failed to explain why Raggy Charters was not excluded on the basis that it operates and has operated according to its website as an illegal boat based whale watching operator. In fact, if regard is had to is total score, Raggy Charters appears to have been rewarded points for being an illegal operator while all other law abiding non-whale watching operators have been penalised! The question to be asked is why is DEA going to such extreme lengths to protect Raggy Charters.
Finally, whether DEA or DAFF is in charge of whale watching and white shark cage diving, will ultimately have to be determined by a court of law but it is inconceivable how two ministers and two departments can claim to be simultaneously responsible to issuing permits and exercising authority over the same piece of legislation. It is absurd. There can be no question that in terms of our rules of legal interpretation, such an absurdity will not be allowed by our courts.