Friday, August 16, 2013

Where is the Draft MLRA Amendment Bill Approved by Cabinet?

On 12 August 2013, the Minister of Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson addressed the media and the South African public on key Cabinet decisions that were taken the previous Wednesday during the monthly Cabinet meeting. 

With respect to the Draft Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, 2013, the minister stated the following which is a direct quote from the official briefing statement that is attached to the official Cabinet Statement

"The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson made three key announcements at the Post-Cabinet media briefing in Pretoria. Addressing journalists, the Minister explained key Cabinet announcements pertaining to the approval of the passing of the Marine Living Resources Bill, 2013. The Bill will make it possible for small-scale fishers to obtain fishing rights and regain their livelihoods."

There is no doubt that the Minister stated clearly that Cabinet had approved the "Marine Living Resources Bill, 2013" - actually its the "amendment" bill. 

However, if one trolls through the entire Cabinet Statement which records each decision taken on 7 August 2013, no where is it apparent that Cabinet considered and approved the draft Amendment Bill! Read the Cabinet Statement here in the language of your choice. If the Cabinet Statement does not state that Cabinet considered and approved the Amendment Bill and further that it authorised the Fisheries Minister to introduce the draft bill into Parliament, then how could the minister state that Cabinet approved the draft Amendment Bill?

Did the Minister lie ... again? [One may recall of course that with the 2012/2013 lobster TAC debacle which Feike caught the Minister and her senior officials out on, it was shown that the Minister and her staff deliberately lied about the events surrounding the setting of the current lobster TAC]. 

There are three further red flags here (beside the conspicuous absence of the statement of approval in the Cabinet Statement). The first is that in Parliament today, the Acting DDG of Fisheries, Desmond Stevens, admitted that he was unaware of Cabinet having approved any MLRA amendment bill. The second is that the Fisheries Portfolio Committee researcher confirmed that he has not been able to locate a draft Amendment Bill approved by Cabinet. And the Third is that the Department of Fisheries has stated that the draft Amendment Bill is now a confidential document and cant be made public! 

We will now demand that the Minister provide the fishing industry and the general public with a copy of the draft Amendment Bill she confirmed on 12 August 2013 as having been passed by Cabinet - its not a secret document [these rules may apply in North Korea or Angola but not here]. 

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