Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Is Tina Smoking Another Red Herring?

The news was abuzz today with Minister of Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, issuing yet another statement accusing staff at the Fisheries Branch of corruption but this time she said her department had being infiltrated by abalone "poaching syndicates". Holy cow!

The Minister is on record as stating, inter alia, that - 

"The investigation was "sensitive and at an advanced stage", and had initially focused on perlemoen poaching." 

"There's an attempt at destabilising the department, and this... will not be tolerated. There's also been all sorts of information surfacing about me as a person... but I will not be intimidated or harassed. This investigation will continue."
"The efforts to destabilise her department were both "internal and external", she said."
"Several witnesses had been placed in the Witness Protection Programme.
"There is a threat to some people's lives."

She then really goes wild by accusing that - 
"However, there was also corruption "in the allocation of quotas, permits, transfer of rights and preferential treatment given to certain businesses".
Eish, corruption in the allocation of (abalone?) quotas - this was back in 2004. Other quotas were allocated in 2005 with all quota allocation processes overseen and vetted by independent forensic auditors. But also corruption in the allocation of permits, transfer of fishing rights... This is HECTIC!

Seriously though, there can be little doubt that the Minister's exceptionally poor leadership and weak governance record has allowed abalone, lobster and line fish poaching to reach record and now uncontrollable levels. Since she became Minister of Fisheries in June 2009, the Fisheries Branch has been without a Deputy Director-General (there have 7 or 8 acting DDG's since 2009 with none having the slightest fisheries management experience, including the infamous Joseph "I score SMIT 1 point" Sebola); and there continues to be no permanent heads of fisheries management, aquaculture or finance. 

In addition, Joemat-Pettersson and her senior staff are directly and personally responsible for the odious fact that everyone of South Africa's fisheries patrol vessels continue to rot in Simonstown harbour with our oceans completely open to poachers.

Syndicated poaching simply saw a gaping gap and has gratefully taken it thanks to this Minister.

Just like her 21 March 2012 rhetoric-filled red herring statement, we reckon that today's statement is more rhetoric and bluster. Back in March, we were told about commissions of inquiry into widespread corruption in her department (but Sekunjalo, remember, was immediately innocent) and about criminal charges being laid against non-existent companies! Well, where's that commission of inquiry or the criminal charges against all the corrupt ones fingered then? 

Now we have poachers infiltrating her department, with "internal and external" "efforts" to destabalise her department! Does the Minister think that the Fisheries Branch has morphed into the SA Secret Service or SA Police Service? 

Sounds like the Minister might have had her head in a freezer of rotten fish for too long! Minister! You are the greatest threat to your department and these repeated accusations of corrupt staff and no action is what is "destabalising" your department.  

So lets see if any staff member is arrested, fired or promoted for destabalising DAFF. 

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