I wasted almost two hours of my Sunday by responding to Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s invitation to a press briefing to discuss her response to the Public Protector’s report: Docked Vessels.
- 25 minute drive to town
- 10 minutes to park and get through parliament security
- 10 minutes wait
- 2 minute introduction to panel
- 6 minutes to read press statement in English
- 6 minutes to read press statement in Afrikaans
- 7 minutes of largely inadequate question and answer time
- 30 seconds of shutting books and watching the panel high tailing it out of the room
- 10 minutes leaving parliament and returning to car
- 25 minutes drive home
The Minister should note that should she just wish to issue a statement, that the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries’ website would probably be an appropriate place to publish a press statement. Should she wish to ensure that the journalists saw this – she could even go as far as asking her communications team to send it to their list of relevant reporters.
But to call a press conference and essentially thwart any real engagement with the journalists present is a waste of her time; the panels’ time (consisting of legal counsel and senior communications officers from the Department) and our time too.
And so what was the ultimate crux of newsworthy information at the core of her statement?
“I will be asking the North Gauteng High Court to declare that the Report including the findings and recommendations, are reviewed, corrected and/or set aside.”
Any real questions from the floor were shut down and many left unanswered such as:
- Has she discussed the report with the president?
- Should the report, in the main, found to be accurate and should she be appointed in her current position after the elections, would she step down?
- What of the lack of patrol capacity and state of illegal fishing currently continuing in our waters?
I look forward to reading what the reporters from the dailies write in tomorrow’s paper and will continue to follow the progress of this story as it now proceeds into our court system.
The lack of engagement in genuine debate by our Government simply boggles my brain. The typical reponse to anything they don’t like is to say it is wrong and fight it, rather than to adopt a “where there’s smoke there must be fire” policy. E.g. The ANC’s response to criticism that a number of people on their election list have been more than just criticised by the Public Protector: cock a snoot at the institution of the Protector, show a middle finger to the voting public and simply retort that the Protector is not a court of law and so the ANC will nominate whoever they like.