Appoint of contention

With a number of vacancies currently on its Executive Management Team, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) is in a unique position to address its gender balance during the IMO World Maritime Day themed year of “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” by appointing relevant, strong maritime women.

According to SAMSA’s website there are at least three (possibly four since the retirement of Nigel Campbell last year) positions available on its executive team – including the long-empty position of Chief Executive Officer.

With only one woman currently listed on the 11-member team, now is the time for SAMSA to appoint for a more balanced and reflective team.  With two women on its Board, they represent 40 percent of SAMSA’s rather diminished Board of five – a better statistic, but more symptomatic of a Board that has been slowly whittled away, than indicative of a concerted effort to show gender diversity (in my opinion).

Compared to some of the other major African Maritime Authorities, SAMSA still falls somewhat short. The Kenya Maritime Authority includes four women on its 15-person Board of Directors, while Ghana Maritime Authority boasts four out of 13 on its management team.

Nigeria’s Authority (Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency – NIMASA) fares the worst, however. With four men on the Executive Management Team there is clearly no space for a woman. The representation on the NIMASA Board is equally as dismal with only one woman on the 11-member team.

The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has themed this year’s World Maritime Day “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community” – a challenge to the industry that has long been male-dominated. Interestingly IMO, itself, may want to heed its own call as Kitack Lim, the current Secretary General, nears the end of his term that began in 2016.

It’s certainly an opportunity for the international body to lead by example and look to appoint its first female Secretary General. It is impossible to believe that there are no women capable of stepping up to this challenge.

Happy International Women’s Day!


[All statistics are based on information available on each Authority’s website and assumes that their listings are accurate and up-to-date.]

Transnet and the Game of Thrones

Yesterday the Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, toured the Port of Durban with the Chief Executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) ahead of the official launch of the Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy. There’s nothing altogether strange about that – but I did feel like I had missed a crucial episode of The Game of Thrones.

Richard Vallihu, who less than a month ago revealed the new TNPA building at the Port of Ngqura, was nowhere to be seen. Instead it was Shulami Qalinge that stepped up to the title of CE at yesterday’s proceedings.

It seems that there has been a succession to the title in the few weeks since the unveiling in the Eastern Cape, but with none of the usual official announcements from the State Owned Entity, the Department of Public Enterprises or even a Cabinet congratulatory notice. Why?

Minister Maswanganyi made it clear last night that the shift to promote women leaders in the maritime space was welcomed by his Department and Qalinge appears to come to the position with good and relevant experience within the logistics sector and Transnet.

TNPA is not usually shy with appointment announcements, but Qalinge seems to have flown in under the radar and ousted Vallihu who’s appointment was certainly officially announced in 2015 when he took over following the sudden departure of Tau Morwe.

Industry sources say that they too are surprised at the seeming secrecy around the appointment and report that news spread to them via the grapevine and not through official Transnet channels.

Indeed Vallihu is still listed in the position on the TNPA website and I am left questioning the validity of my own eye-witness account of yesterday’s proceedings as I scour TNPA as well as government statements for confirmation of the episode I seem to have missed.

Nevertheless, welcome aboard Ms Shulami Qalinge and may your time in the position help steer the Port Authority forward.

Weekly Press Review – 8 May 2017

PetroSA remains under fire this week. According to the press, Energy Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, has lashed out at the executives of PetroSA for paying themselves millions of rand in bonuses after suffering a financial loss of R14.5 billion.

Kubayi stated in Parliament that she would not privatise PetroSA, despite its poor showing, but would strengthen its capacity.

The recent downgrades of South Africa’s sovereign rating will not have a major impact on Transnet. According to the press this is due to the fact that only about 19 percent of the state-owned company’s expenses were foreign, said chief executive Siyabonga Gama.

Premier Food and Fishing (PFF) delivered solid growth in earnings for the six months ending in February 2017.

According to the press, the group’s operating profit increased by 12 percent to R18 million, from R16 million.

PFF chief executive, Samir Saban said, “Premier Fishing achieved solid performance and positive growth for the six months to end February as per our expectations.”

Africa is the continent most affected by climate change, and yet, according to the press, funds that are available for green projects, which could accelerate the economy, are simply not being used.

“Capital is available worldwide, but few renewable energy projects are ready for implementation,” says African Development Bank vice-president, power, energy, climate and green growth, Amadou Hott.

“Capital and technological innovations are extremely important and that is what we don’t have enough of in Africa,” added Hott.

Weekly Press Review – 14 September 2016

According to the press Transnet, the state-owned freight and logistics company, has set aside R20 million to spend in mergers and acquisitions both inside and outside of South Africa.

Transnet’s chief executive, Siyabonga Gama, was quoted as saying that the company would pursue growth opportunities abroad in the face of limited organic growth prospects in South Africa because of low economic growth.

The fishing rights allocation has made headlines once again this week with the ANC coming under fire from its West Coast region, which has threatened action over the allocation process. The region has stated that the current process benefited white companies to the detriment of small-scale fishers.

ANC acting provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa said, “We appreciate the fact that the ANC at a national level is trying by all means to make some strategic intervention in terms of the allocation of fishing rights, to the benefit of the poor – acknowledging that in the past there’s been a consistent bias towards the rich, well-established companies.

“If there’s no change, we as the ANC are prepared to take this matter to the streets.”

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele, said that the department would only make rights allocations to small-scale fishers in 2017.

Another perlemoen bust was reported on in the press this week. This time police confiscated approximately R1 million worth of perlemoen in Edgemead in Cape Town.

The bust resulted in the confiscation of both dried and frozen perlemoen, as well as an unreported quantity of shark fins.

The Sunday Times this week published a story about how the tide of fortune has finally turned in the favour of Martin Blake and a small group of fishermen in Langebaan who are fighting for the right to return to their fishing grounds in the Langebaan lagoon.

DAFF has been ordered by the court to set aside permit restrictions that exclude part of the lagoon. Judge Julian Sher concurred with the fishermen that they had been unfairly discriminated against and ordered the fishing department to come to some kind of compromise.

DAFF spokesperson, Palesa Mokomele said, “We are studying the judgment and its effect and we will engage other departments to determine the way forward. We will thereafter meet the community members.”

Weekly Press Review – 23 October 2015

While the student protests have dominated the South African newspapers, only one small maritime headline managed to surface.

Last week five suspected perlemoen poachers were trapped within the marine protected area of Bird Island in Port Elizabeth.  Three were arrested, but the other two managed to elude the police.

This week a fourth suspect was arrested and according to Police Captain Johan Rheeder will appear in court shortly facing charges under the Environmental Act, as well as possible charges of malicious damage to property as the suspects doused the park rangers boat with petrol in an attempt to secure their escape.

Weekly Press Review – 11 September 2015

The SA Navy’s SAS Umhloti has a new commander.  The press has reported that Lieutenant-Commander Zimasa Mabela took command of the mine counter measures vessel in Simon’s Town this week and is the first black African woman to command a navy vessel.

Commander Brian Short, former commander of the vessel handed over command to Mabela in a ceremony also held in Simon’s Town this week.

Mabela was born in the Eastern Cape and joined the navy in 1999.  In 2004 she completed the Military Training for Officers, followed by the Combat Officer qualifying course and she joined the SAS Isandwana in 2005.

“I remember how excited I was when I first got accepted to be part of the navy.  I am proud to be the first black African woman to command a naval vessel.  But more than the title, I want to be an example to my crew. I want to be judged on my ability to command, and not my gender,” said Mabela.

The press has reported on another whale rescue mission which took place off Cape Point this week.

The SA Whale Disentanglement Network (SAWDN) was called to the scene and found that the whale has become entangled in four ropes apparently anchored to traps on the seabed.

After a long struggle the team, along with the assistance of the fishing vessel Puffin which came to assist, the whale was freed.

Mike Meyer, of the Department of Environmental Affairs said, “The whale appeared healthy and swam away strongly and we are confident that this operation has been a huge success.”

This is the third whale to be caught in octopus traps in False Bay.

Nan Rice, head of the Dolphin Action and Protection Group and a founder member of the SAWDN said, “We will have to sit down and talk about this. There are going to be more entanglements because there are more whales around, especially humpbacks, which breed every second year.”

It is estimated that an average of 308,000 whales and dolphins are killed each year when they become entangled in fishing gear or marine waste.

Weekly Press Review – 5 December 2014

Recreational deep-sea fishermen celebrated a victory in the press this week with the Pretoria high court advising the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana, to reconsider a decision to place a total ban on the catching of red steenbras.

Two years ago red steenbras was placed on the prohibited list, creating a ban on catching.  The Border Deep Sea Angling Association and two other anglers challenged this ban.

The judge ruled in favour of recreational fishermen, saying, “To reach a decision that a total ban is necessary, there must be research indicating that despite the imposed bag limit and closed season, the red steenbras numbers are still declining.  There is simply no such information.”

Concern over rising sea levels has made headlines once again with researchers from the University of California stating that analysis has revealed that the fastest melting part of Antarctica has tripled over the past decade.

Research shows that the melting seems to be speeding up and is irreversible.  The study is the first of its kind, using four measurement techniques to generate and estimate the rate of loss over two decades.

Lead author, Tyler Utterley of UCI said, “Previous studies had suggested this region started to change very dramatically since 1990s.  We wanted to see how different techniques compared.  The remarkable agreement among the techniques gave us confidence we are getting this right.”

The results were released at a global warming conference in Peru.