Weekly Press Review – 11 May 2012

The media scrutiny associated with patrol and research vessels continues and this week the SA Deep Sea Trawling Industry Association is in trouble with Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson (who isn’t), who has accused the association of ‘fronting’ for Smit Amandla Marine by allowing the company to carry out research on the SAS Africana last month.  Secretary of the association, Roy Bross responded by saying that Smit had been asked to provide staff purely to ensure that the research could take place on time.  ‘We only wanted to help.’

The minister was back in the news later in the week with a little drama at the Cape Town Press Club.  Over the years, many politicians have addressed the Cape Town Press Club, including Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille, Tokyo Sexwale and many others.  In that time no politician has ever taken issue with the club’s membership – until now.  Minister Joemat-Pettersson protested speaking at a press club breakfast because of the presence of DA MP Pieter van Dalen, saying that if one political party was represented then others should be too. (Was that really the reason for her objection?)

Her sentiments were backed by ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu, who said that the ANC was disturbed by the fact that a public representative of a political party was a member of the club.

The club responded by saying that it was the oldest and most active press club in South Africa and was committed to a democratic South Africa where ‘equality and free speech is respected, protected and defended.’

Me thinks she does protest too much …… again.

And now, False Bay, we have a problem.  A Chilean-owned cargo ship which experienced engine failure off our coast and was too big to berth in Cape Town harbour was given permission by SAMSA to anchor in False Bay while she was repaired. She’s now making newspaper headlines as journalists pick up on the plight of the crew.

One of SAMSA’s conditions was that a tug be on permanent standby as a precaution while the vessel was in the environmentally sensitive bay as the owners believe there is a ‘real chance of environmental damage.’  Unfortunately, the tug is there at a cost of about R235 800 per day; the bills are mounting and the creditors are lining up.  The insurers, Swedish Club have said that they will pull their cover for wreck removal and oil pollution by month end, and the owners have no money.  So who is now responsible?

It looks as if we are heading the way of the Seli 1 incident, where everyone just walked away and South Africans were left to foot the bill for the ships removal.  Also let us not forget the poor crew stranded on the ‘dead vessel’:  little food, little water and I’m sure very little morale.

Finally, the results are in:  The Oliver Empowerment Awards winners have been announced, recognising 16 local companies and individuals for their efforts towards Black Economic Empowerment and tranformation.

Congraulations to SAMSA and Dormac for their accomplishments.  You make the industry proud.

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