The 12 months since South Africa's fisheries department embarrassingly handed over its entire fleet of research and patrol vessels to the Navy have come to an end ... and its been a messy and accusatorial divorce as the fisheries department has accused the Navy of essentially failing South Africa.
The fisheries research and patrol vessels have for all intents and purposes never sailed. The vessels have been significantly damaged and now require massively costly and unnecessary repairs. The joint Naval and Fisheries blunder has left our oceans completely un-patrolled for more than 12 months now. The only fisheries research that has occurred has been undertaken by industry vessels.
The flagship research vessel, the Africana, has almost been completely destroyed with much of its cutlery and crockery having been stolen; the ship was overrun with rats and generally uninhabitable.
The magnificent patrol vessels which are only between 8 and 6 years of age apparently require substantial repair.
But, as of 1 April 2013, the Navy were no longer responsible for further ruining these once proud and glorious ships. The question is what is DAFF doing with the ships? Where are they? What exactly are the deployment plans for each vessel? What are the repair, maintenance and operational budgets for each of the vessels for the present financial year and beyond? Does DAFF have a clue?
Feike has been advised that DAFF does not have a clue. Obviously.
Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Fisheries must shoulder much of the blame for this catestrophe and has failed the South African public as the Committee repeatedly failed to hold the department of fisheries and the Navy to account especially after having been repeatedly lied to and deceived. And why did the Portfolio Committee enter the Easter Holiday recess without first ensuring that the department of fisheries had a substantive and funded plan in place to take possession of the vessels on 1 April 2013, repair them and then deploy them?
What is clear ... AGAIN (!!) ... is that the department of fisheries once again failed to plan ahead and ensure that come another critical deadline (ie the end of the Naval agreement, this time!), the vessels would actually be responsibly managed. How incompetent are these excessively paid officials?