The statement below was issued on 25 September 2012 by the Democratic Alliance.
A parliamentary visit to Simon’s Town Naval Base on Friday revealed that the state’s marine patrol and research vessels were going nowhere slowly, or so it appeared. But while the fisheries portfolio committee was being briefed by Navy and Fisheries officials, the Algoa sailed away from under our nose.
In a bizarre twist of fate, Smit Amandla has been appointed by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to take operational control of this research vessel. But this is the multinational company against which Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson claims she has prima facie evidence for corruption. They had held the contract to operate and maintain all state-owned marine patrol vessels for ten years until November last year The contract was controversially handed to politically connected Sekunjalo Consortium and then withdrawn under dubious circumstances.
I have today written to the chairpersons of the Defence, Fisheries, and Environmental Affairs committees to call all three ministers to parliament to account for how this came about. They must also give an account of what the plan is going forward from here. I will also be submitting a number of questions to Minister Joemat-Pettersson:
- Did the Memorandum of Understanding governing the arrangement between Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Navy provide for the transfer of the Algoa and the Africana to the Department of Environmental Affairs?
- Why did officials wilfully deceive elected members of parliament into believing that these ships would probably not sail until the end of the year if provisions had already been made for their transfer back to Smit Amandla?
Reports indicate that this arrangement between Fisheries and DEA was made five weeks ago. Apparently the Africana is due to follow shortly. Meanwhile, officials sat poker-faced and lied to the portfolio committee claiming that none of the vessels were sufficiently seaworthy to carry out their functions. In a presentation to the Fisheries Committee on 11 September, the acting DG and the Acting DDG of fisheries failed to mention anything about the transfer of vessels to the Department of Environmental Affairs. Or they were lied to by their ministers. Just who is lying to who must be revealed.