Committee Reports: transformation in the fishing sector, & proposed Chile study tour

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

07 May 2012
Chairperson: Mr M Johnson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Members discussed at length their planned September study tour and the Committee researcher presented reasons why she chose Chile rather than other countries like Brazil. There was at present a moratorium on delegations from South Africa visiting Brazil. Members asked the Chairperson, notwithstanding budget constraints and the moratorium, to motivate  for the need to go to Brazil and maybe Cuba because their progress in dealing with a number of challenges similar to South Africa was worth learning from.

Members went through the Committee's report on transformation within the fishing sector and the majority felt the prevalence of fronting was a problem. The DA Member, however felt such conduct needed investigation as not all companies were tainted by it. The Chairperson asked to be controversial and venture that all companies were involved in the practice. The DA Member said he would refuse to vote for the report if it was generalised in those terms.

A compromise was reached whereby it was agreed that the existence of fronting within the industry would be written in a separate heading within the report and recommendations to deal with it would be stated prominently and submitted to the Department to deal with.

Meeting report

Committee Researcher's Report on proposed Chile study tour
The Chairperson asked Ms Nokuzola
Mgxashe, the Committee Researcher, to give input about her findings regarding the planned study tour.

Ms  Mgxashe motivated her reasons for choosing Chile as the best country in which to do a site visit given that Members would have liked to go to Brazil. There was a parliamentary moratorium on study tours to Brazil. It was a competitor of South Africa in many agricultural products and fish. It was also in the southern hemisphere and it was a major exporter summer food groups to Europe during its winter. It was the biggest exporter of salmon, and it had an established forestry sector.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked Members to reflect on what the Committee was trying to achieve through the study tour. He mentioned that Member inputs should be guided by this consideration.

Mr L van Dalen (DA) motivated for the Committee to go to Brazil for a day or two while in Chile to see the zero hunger project. He reminded the Committee that R20 million worth of seeds for crop planting was given to Cuba, therefore oversight of  how this money was used was necessary.

Ms M Pilusa-Mosoane (ANC) agreed that Brazil was the most similar to South Africa, and admitted that Chile was closely related, but stressed Cuba as the best. She said Egypt used to be a desert but now it was covered with greenery. Study tours should look to learning from these countries.

Ms N Twala (ANC) said that Chile was the closest related because it had all three sectors – agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

Mr Van Dalen emphasized it would still be economical to book a day or two in Brazil as (to the best of his recollection) there were no direct flights to Chile, only to Brazil or Argentina.

Mr Dineo Martin, Committee Secretary (Acting), interjected and said that the reason Parliament had put a moratorium on visits to Brazil was because they felt there were too many delegations visiting the country.

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane mentioned that during her time in the Limpopo legislature the legislature would give a directive to the relevant department that it should send its representatives to visit a particular country. The Committee could consider this as an option as well.

Mr B Bhanga (COPE) acknowledged that he has not been with the Committee for a long time; however, tours should be based on problems and priorities facing the Committee and the Department, and therefore suggested the Chairperson use his high office to motivate as requested by Members – going to Brazil and maybe Cuba.

Mr L Gaehler (UDM) agreed that Cuba would benefit the Committee, but urged the Committee to admit that previous sight visits had not yielded much, therefore there needed to be special emphasis on deliverables this time around.

Committee Report on Transformation in the Fishing Sector in South Africa
The Chairperson read the report recommendations and asked Members for comment.
[After some confusion about whose recommendations were currently on the report, it was agreed that these “recommendations” were mere summaries emanating from the various presentations because the Committee had not yet sat formally to formulate its recommendations]

Discussion
Mr Van Dalen commented on page 18, recommendations, and suggested that investigations not be done by The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) but rather a commission of inquiry be set up to investigate and provide direction.

The Chairperson stressed the prevalence of “fronting” in the industry and wondered whether recommendations to address it should not be listed separately as they were currently not prominent enough.

Ms Pilusa-Mosoane agreed that recommendations on fronting need to be reported on prominently.

Mr Van Dalen said fronting could not be assumed to exist without an investigation taking place, as there was a need to be specific about companies involved in this so that not all companies were tainted in an industry employing thousands of people (who risked losing their jobs).

The Chairperson asked to be controversial and suggested that all companies were involved in fronting in one form or another.

Mr Van Dalen interjected saying not all companies were involved.

[Members where divided about whether to agree that all companies were involved or just some.]

The Chairperson settled the matter by saying that, even though it would not be written as such in the Committee’s report and recommendations, it was, however, necessary that the Committee took a strong stance against this practice as it was widespread in other departments as well.

Mr Gaehler added that the Committee should merely report and make recommendations on the issue and leave investigations and remedial action to the Department.

The Chairperson asked Members for comment on skills transfer, fishing rights, and share ownership. 

Mr Van Dalen asked how long a Black Economic Empowerment shareholder was required to keep his/her shares before selling. This caused problems for companies who gave free or discounted shares to shareholders who promised to help secure fishing rights. After the fishing rights were secured, the black shareholders sold their shares leaving the company BEE-unaccredited and at risk of losing its fishing rights.

The Chairperson said that only the Minister could determine the sale or transfer of fishing rights.

Mr S Abram (ANC) was emphatic, saying that, more important than the adoption of this report, it was  about service delivery to the people who shared their plight with the Committee.
The report was adopted and seconded.

The meeting was adjourned.

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