There is this most memorable scene from Mel Brookes' "History of the World" set during the "Roman Empire" which has remained with me since the very first time I saw the movie in my uncle's bioscope in Kliptown, Johannesburg, during the 1980's. I was way too young for the age restricted Mel Brookes but the Apartheid government banned this movie so we had to watch it in my uncle's "protest" movie house (which also showed all the other banned movies like Black Beauty!).
Anyway, back to the genius of Mr Brookes. The scene is set. The Roman Senate is called to session and the Head of the Senate passionately stands and asks his fellow senators, "Shall we continue to build palace after palace for rich! Or shall we aspire to a more noble cause and build decent housing for the poor! How does the Senate VOTE?" One second passes and the senators rejoice in unison with arms raised and fists clenched "FUCK THE POOR!"
The latest revelations in the Sunday Times, Business Day and Cape Times these past 3 days about the increasingly infamous "Foodcorp deal" only confirm what we - the easily labelled "racists", "anti-poor", "anti-transformation", "counter-revolutionaries!" - have been saying about the policies and management ethics at the department of fisheries. Desperate small scale fishermen and poverty-stricken coastal villages are merely the fodder to be used to shield the massive levels of maladministration, corruption and rot at the Fisheries Department.
We saw how connected cadres were handed line fish, hake handline and other fishing rights by Mr Desmond Stevens at the end of December 2013 during the discredited and vilified 2013 FRAP. Now, we are told that Stevens again handpicked his ANC-linked cadres to be handed multi-million rand lobster and hake long line quotas that were "taken" from Foodcorp in terms of a secret and possibly unlawful process which may very well be better described as extortion.
So much for showing commitment to the implementation of the small scale fisheries policy which remains moribund and a paper-weight since being passed by Cabinet back in 2012. So much for "transformation" of the fishing industry and alleviating coastal poverty by granting these communities greater access to fish stocks! Instead some 300 tons of hake long line worth more than R7,5 million annually and 60 tons of lobster worth more than R23 million annually are allocated to two politically connected individuals ... unlawfully and with absolutely no regard for due process and the provisions of the Marine Living Resources Act. Transformation!...Cadre-Style!
But at least, many of these poor fishing communities were handed hundreds of bright yellow T-shirts by the department before these past elections. Some even got to have a "free lunch" with Desmond Stevens at the Spur in Strand back in February.
Viva! aLOOTa Continua.