The Second MLRA Amendment Bill (2013) currently before Parliament was recently subjected to a 2-day public hearing on 15 and 16 October 2013.
We have previously explained what the legislative process is for a bill once introduced into Parliament. The first step of course, is that the bill must go to the joint tagging committee for it to be tagged in accordance with the Constitution. If one recalls, it was and remains Feike's view that that the Bill is NOT a section 75 Bill but a section 76 Bill (A bill that must be considered and voted for by at least 5 of the 9 provinces in the NCOP) as it impacts on one or more of the provinces. Of course, the Fisheries Minister introduced the Bill into Parliament as a Section 75 Bill.
It now appears that in the mad panic to get the Bill before the Fisheries Portfolio Committee, the Bill was never sent to the Joint Tagging Committee and it was in fact debated and subjected to public consultation as an incorrectly tagged bill. Oi. Remember, that Parliament rises in a just over a week's time. They will then return for the State of the Nation address and to consider the National Budget. This current Parliament will then finally rise in March in preparation for the 2014 General Elections. Bills not passed by that date will then have to be re-introduced from scratch.
And let us not forget that abalone fishing rights must be allocated before June 30 2014. And once again, there is no sign of any draft policy, consultation with right holders or with the SA Abalone Industry Association on preparatory measures, criteria and policies for this upcoming rights allocation process. And this is a critical allocation given the appalling state of the abalone resource, coupled with DAFF's abandonment of compliance in this sector. Once again, DAFF fails to learn from its failures.
And then, still not a word from DAFF on how many applications were received by sector; how many are new entrants and how many are current right holders or any statistical data on the applicants. Feike did request this but we were told that this information is not freely available! What a farce!
And of course, still no word about those fisheries patrol and research vessels that were supposed to all be at sea by the end of September. If we recall, the Portfolio Committee vowed in August that DAFF's bosses would lose their jobs if they failed to ensure that ALL the vessels were at sea by the end of September. Well, its the end of October now! Well done to the Portfolio Committee for providing this crucial oversight.
And finally, we hear that the Public Protector's provisional report on the Sekunjalo R800 million tender bonanza was issued to the Complainants and Affected Parties and is currently being finalised for publication.