Thursday, March 10, 2011

Losing count of the Fisheries DDG's?

Are you losing count of the number of Deputy Director-Generals there have been at the Department of Fisheries over the past year? Our count puts them at about 4! And now the latest, Mr Richard Seleke, has packed his bags and returned to the department of agriculture from where he came.

The new acting DDG is Mr Joseph Sebola. He is the third DDG in a row who has no previous knowledge or experience in fisheries but who has been parachuted in to muddle about at Foretrust Building and perhaps learn the difference between a snoek and a hake. It must be noted that as with Mr Seleke and the previous DDG's, there is no official news from the Minister that yet another person enters the office of the DDG at fisheries. Does she anticipate a short stay for Mr Sebola as well?

A quick google for Mr Joseph Sebola's experience confirms that he, like Mr Seleke, has his roots in the department of agriculture in Pretoria and has no prior knowledge or understanding about fisheries.

The lack of senior professional fisheries managers or simply adequately trained civil servants has certainly exposed the department of fisheries. For example, they continue to support the widely rejected "community quota" system (which incidentally is even rejected by the Ministry of Agriculture in Swaziland for subsistence and small scale fisheries and aquaculture because of the conflict it results in), remain unable to stamp any authority on and resolve the administrative chaos at the department and continue to mismanage each of the 22 commercial fisheries. And more recently, and based on admissions by the Minister of Fisheries, it would appear that DAFF has been collecting fish levies in violation of the VAT Act. This would mean that at least R53 million in levies would have to be refunded to right holders until such time as DAFF gets its administrative house in order.

We are going to be hopeful and reckon that Mr Sebola will last until the end of the year as the DDG of Fisheries. That would make him the longest serving DDG since Monde Mayekiso's reign of disaster.

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