Tina took two hours of my time

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.

 

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Weekly Press Review – 17 January 2014

Tina Joemat-Pettersson has already made headlines in 2014 with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) stepping up in defense of allegations against the minister.  According to DAFF, the Public Protector’s allegations against Joemat-Pettersson are unsubstantiated and President Zuma has no grounds for disciplinary action against her.

Many would disagree with this, but Department director-general, Edith Vries ‘s response to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the R800 million a year tender irregularly awarded to Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium stated that, although these irregularities are not being disputed, four of the allegations against Joemat-Pettersson have nothing to do with the tender.

DA MP Pieter van Dalen has voiced his disapproval by stating that the department’s reaction was a “last ditch effort to protect the minister from being held accountable.  The pressure is now rightfully mounting for her to be removed from cabinet – once and for all.”

An interesting proposition has been put forward by a local Kalk Bay fisherman to declare old Kalk Bay linefish vessels “moving national monuments” with fishing licences attached as a way of protecting fishermen and their historic way of earning a living.

The proposal has been made by Joao Simoes, a local fisherman, in response to the lack of jobs after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries failed to renew the fishing licences of many skippers.

Certainly food for thought.

As if there was not enough genuine heartbreak and tragedy in the world, a Chinese theme park has added a life-sized replica of the Titanic featuring a shipwreck simulation giving visitors a harrowing sense of the 1912 disaster.

Visitors will be shaken, tumbled and sound and light effects will be used to create the feeling of water coming in.  “They will think they are drowning,” says Su Shaojun chief executive of the company funding the project.

Each to their own.