Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2017

PetroSA has made headlines again this week. According to the press the state-owned oil company is set to suffer a projected devaluation of assets of R1.1 billion this financial year, in addition to the R14.5 billion in impairment it suffered in the 2014/15 financial year.

The PetroSA board, however, managed to escape an attempt to have it dissolved. A call was made to Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to fire the entire board.

Committee member, Motswaledi Matlala said, “On behalf of the committee I request of the minister: let’s fire the board and get new people who are serious about the lives of the people of this county.”

Interim board chairman, Bhekabantu Ngubane responded by saying that it would be sad day if the board were fired.

Adding to the company’s woes it was also reported in the press that an inexplicable decision by executives at the embattled oil company to feed oil into the state-of-the-art gas-to-liquid facility at Mossel Bay has led to a break down of the refinery, resulting in a two week shutdown and a R500 million loss in revenue.

Transnet has made headlines this week with parliament calling for a forensic investigation into Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency’s multi-billion rand locomotive contracts.

A display commemorating the black South African troops who lost their lives aboard the SS Mendi in 1917 is currently open at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

According to the press the centre will also be hosting a multi-discipline conference focusing on the role that the soldiers aboard the SS Mendi played in the greater struggle for human rights and human dignity.

The SA Navy will just have to do more with less. That was the message delivered by Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwana, Head of the SA Navy, in Simon’s Town this week.

According to the press the navy is experiencing more challenges, but with far less funding. Vice Admiral Hlongwana also stated that it is important to remember that the navy has 3,000km of coastline to patrol and traditional concepts would have to be challenged in driving the navy into the future.

The annual SA Navy Festival, in conjunction with Armscor, took place at East Dockyard in Simon’s Town last weekend. According to the press the event afforded the public the opportunity to tour naval ships and submarines, as well as view multi-capacity anti-piracy demonstrations.

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.

 

Weekly Press Review – 7 March 2014

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is back in the news this week with staff of the fisheries branch handing a document to members of parliament complaining of: wasteful expenditure, fraud, nepotism and the scrapping of critical posts.

Urgent intervention has been called for.

To add to the Department’s woes a large group of people from local coastal towns descended on the city this week to hand over an official memorandum addressed to DAFF Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and director-general Edith Vries, calling for the reinstatement of ousted fisheries chief Desmond Stevens.

Stevens was removed from his position after he was vocal about feeling slighted by the Minister’s comments that there seemed to be “legitimate concerns, either relating to poor administration of the fishing rights allocation process or questionable judgments by the elected officials.” She has called for an audit to investigate the matter.

Those calling for Stevens’ reinstatement described him as accessible and approachable with a “passion about transforming the fishing sector.”

We all know that it is impossible to please all of the people, all of the time, but it would seem that DAFF is unable to please any of the people, any of the time.

On a more somber note, the body Department of Environmental Affairs technician, Johannes Hoffman, who died on Gough Island last week, has been returned to Cape Town. Our condolences to his family and colleagues.

The penguins of the Stony Point Penguin Colony near Betty’s Bay are still being closely monitored this week, after 10 000 litres of diesel was spilled when a fishing trawler ran aground in the area.

About 4,000 penguins and 400 nests of various seabirds were exposed to the spilled diesel and the area was temporarily closed as authorities examined the birds for diesel contamination.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) principal said that fortunately the spilled diesel would eventually evaporate and would not remain an environmental threat forever. That is good news, but does not help those birds already contaminated.

Weekly Press Review – 26 July 2013

The fishing rights allocation process has made the news again this week. Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson published the 2013 policy for the allocation of fishing rights for eight fisheries, but according to industry consultant, Shaheen Moolla, the policy contravenes the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA).

The latest controversy centres around co-operatives. According to the MLRA, co-operatives are not allowed to hold fishing rights. However, the newly gazetted policy has allowed co-operatives to hold fishing quotas in each sector.

Moolla has stated that no new policy or legislation may contradict an act of Parliament and believes that the policy violates the section of the constitution which states that only cabinet can approve policy.

The process has been dogged by controversy and the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) seems to be setting themselves up for a lengthy period of appeals – as they are laying a solid foundation from which unhappy rights holders can litigate.

Weekly Press Review – 7 June 2013

In the news this week a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and the Maputo Port Development Company (MPDC). The memorandum opens collaboration between the two port authorities in infrastructure development, engineering, training and marine services and allows for sharing of expertise with the idea of paving the way for South African companies to use the port of Maputo as an extension of the Transnet network.

Casualty news is that another stricken vessel is heading to our shores this week. The Tristan da Cuhna supply ship, the Edinburgh, developed difficulties last week about 1000 nautical miles west of Cape Town and is being escorted back to Cape Town by the Smit Amandla salvage tug.

Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has made the headlines again this week after President Jacob Zuma made the decision to transfer some of the minister’s powers and functions to Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental and Water Affairs. The changes relate particularly to powers and functions of the ministers under the Marine Living Resources Act.

It would seem that even the president is now aware that Minster Joemat-Pettersson needs a little help.

Judith Sole is back in the news this week with another appearance before the Western Cape High Court. She is now asking for the full suspension of rock lobster fishing for up to 10 years. Alternatively, she would like to see the suspension of all commercial rock lobster fishing.

Although Sole’s efforts are admirable, one must bear in mind that 2500 rights holders would be drastically affected by such a ruling. Surely an open discussion between Ms Sole, the rights holders and the respondents in the case, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Greta Apelgren-Narkadien, former fisheries deputy director, to see where changes could be made to protect all those involved, including the rock lobster, would be more beneficial.

Speaking at the African Marine Debris Summit in Kirstenbosch this week, Deputy Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi raised concerns about the ever-increasing amount of waste making its way to our oceans. With continued economic growth in Africa, waste management is becoming a critical issue.

Marine debris has a negative impact on health, tourism and is responsible for the deaths of many sea creatures. “Africa must not join the rest of the world using the sea as a dumping area for its waste material,” said the minister.

Let us hope that a solution can be found … and quickly.

Full diary: warning – event ahead!

The maritime industry seems to have suddenly woken up and started some vigourous planning for the next couple of weeks. While some events have been a long time in the offing – others seem to have simply sprung up on the calendar.

THE BOSBERAAD

Last week the National Department of Transport (NDoT) surprised maritime stakeholders with an invitation to a Maritime Bosberaad in Pretoria. Hosted jointly by the NDoT, the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the Ports Regulator – it seems that the last minute invitation may have influenced the actual attendance register on the day.

It’s a pity really since the Minister of Transport was due to provide the keynote address. Sadly, with only a day’s notice, I did not make it up to Pretoria and will have to rely on the industry for some feedback. I would be especially interested to know what the ANC Youth League’s contribution amounted to.

CRUISING ALONG

Then the rather active and community-spirited maritime sectors in Durban took the initiative to host a Maritime Conference on the MSC Sinfonia. Featuring a rather modest price-tag of only R5000 (all inclusive), this certainly sounds as if a real effort was made to make it as inclusive as possible.

HEAD’S UP FOR THE HIGH SEAS

We’ve been watching the establishment of the Global Ocean Commission since its launch last month and were particularly interested to learn that, not only is Trevor Manuel a Co-chair of the Commission, but South Africa (Cape Town) is hosting their inaugural meeting.

Some follow-up revealed that they would be in Cape Town this week, but that media would not be accommodated at any sessions and nothing had been planned to include us. So – once again it was with surprise that an invitation to a press briefing landed in our inbox late yesterday requesting our presence at a briefing this morning.

The lack of availability of the local press eventually saw this moved to a later date – and one that will take into account the work undertaken during this week by the international heads scheduled to participate.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @GreenMarineSA – we will use the #GlobalOcean)

BREAKING THE CONTACT FAST

Heavily criticised for not engaging enough with the top levels of the fishing industry, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, is scheduled to share breakfast with CEO’s from this sector tomorrow morning.

I will attend the press briefing DAFF has scheduled following this gathering to hear first hand how the relationship has been strengthened.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #DAFFFast)

CEMENTING THE MARITIME BRICS AGENDA

I must admit I have been waiting for a long time for the local South African maritime industry to start talking meaningfully around this topic and am pleased that the initiative has been taken to break-away from next week’s BRICS sessions in this regard.

With a full calendar and a host of public holidays to contend with, organisers elected to host this on a Sunday and I hope that the date does not deter too many stakeholders.

Once again the Minister of Transport, Ben Dikobe Martins, is on the schedule and panel discussions should provide for a lively platform if they are accurately populated.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #maritimeBRICS)

MEETING TO DISCUSS AFRICAN MARITIME ECONOMY

The African maritime agenda is key to most conferences and events this year and the Nautical Institute (Southern African Branch) is meeting in association with a number of other key local professional associations to discuss this.

So with an Easter breather between this event and the BRICS sessions; the maritime industry will reassemble in Cape Town to debate the challenges facing the African Maritime economy.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #NauticalInstituteSA)

R&R ON THE GOLF COURSE

After all these cerebral outings, however, some sectors of the maritime industry are blocking out a Friday to chase a little white ball around in Stellenbosch. We’ll be there to sponsor one of the holes, take a few photos and relax with you after a hectic couple of weeks.

(Follow our tweets on this topic on @MaritimeSA – we will use the #MaritimeGolfDay)

GET YOUR EVENT ON THE RADAR

So if you are planning anything else in the maritime industry – put it on our radar and we’ll make sure that it becomes more than just a blip