Friday, May 17, 2013

We Laugh at DAFF at our Collective Peril

It would indeed be funny if it was not so damn tragic and threatening to thousands of livelihoods. Yes, the publication over the past few weeks of DAFF's bad cut-and-paste policies, complete with policy objectives that "... most importantly ... please, praise and glorify the one who provided and gave man the power to rule over the fish..." may be vilified and laughed at but the sad and awful reality is that these jokers employed as senior civil servants are actually in charge of a multi-billion rand fishing industry that employs thousands of important jobs. 

In the Western Cape alone, where more than 90% of all commercial fishing activity is based, the loss of 10,000 jobs would increase regional unemployment by 1% from the current level of 23% which is lower than the national average of 25% but still appallingly high. Currently, DAFF's joker rights allocation process and draft policies threaten more than 1000 quotas and probably more than 10,000 jobs and incomes (both directly and indirectly dependent on these quotas). 

The obvious question is where has the fishing industry been over the past 2 years when DAFF ought to have started preparing for the present rights allocation process? (We wont bother with asking about the whereabouts of that pointless body called the portfolio committee as it is more interested in protecting the Minister of Fisheries from accounting about her imploded department). And why is industry so quiet now (at least outside of the private corridors of vilification)? Perhaps one can understand industry's worry at raising its voice of objection and concern too loudly. The Minister of Fisheries for example used Foodcorp to make a point of showing industry what will happen when you try and challenge her or voice disapproval. And of course, government has repeatedly and openly shown its contempt and disdain for the rule of law in the mining sector when it publicly threatened to revoke mining licenses to companies that did not tow its line. 

The flip-side to this spiral into the abyss of institutional thuggery and illegality is the economic collapse of the fishing industry. 

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