The Business Report (www.businessreport.co.za) reports today that the Director-General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) would "like to lay charges of corruption against Smit Pentow Marine" which is the predecessor of Smit Amandla.
How exactly he intends to do this in law considering that there is no such legal entity called Smit Pentow Marine is beyond us but of course the law is not necessarily relevant to our esteemed civil servants and politicians.
The Minister has alleged that she believes that the 2005 extension of the vessel management and maintenance tender to Smit Pentow Marine was somehow corruptly concluded. This serious allegation - effectively made against the current Deputy Director General of Oceans and Coasts in the Department of Environmental Affairs, Monde Mayekiso, and his former boss, Pamela Yako (who we understand left the department in late 2010 after being on paid suspended leave after she was accused of pilfering hundreds of millions of rands in November 2009) and current Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk - is indeed extremely concerning.
On the other hand, it could merely be an attempt by the Minister to detract attention from the raft of accusations and questions needing answers in the Sekunjalo tender debacle. And unlike the bald and unsubstantiated allegations of corruption made against a non-existent company, the forensic report into the awarding of the Sekunjalo tender has serious findings based on fact and law.
However, while the Minister and officials play this blame game of trying to deflect attention from their series of follies and blunders, South Africa's fisheries seem to be the ultimate loser. There will be no fisheries patrol and research capacity with effect from 1 April 2012. There is no other service provider in this country that will be able to essentially fill the gap that will be left by Smit Amandla in 14 days' time.
How will the Minister explain to the South African public that we do not have a fisheries patrol and research capability and that we do not have any ability to manage and maintain our expensive fleet of patrol and research vessels?