Tina Joemat-Pettersson is on a mission to uncover corruption in fisheries and it could turn out to be an unhealthy obsession because proof of malfeasance still has to be unveiled. In the meantime she has lost many of her staff, who have either resigned or been suspended, and the bitter disputes seem to be impacting on delivery. It still remains to be seen whether a plan for the vital implementation of the long-term fishing rights allocation process in this sector will be timeously concluded.
Some of her decisions have been unpopular with marine experts, especially when she handed over the state`s marine patrol and research vessels to the navy after a wrangle over the tender process for the management of the boats. There was an outcry when there was an oil spill from a Turkish bulk carrier off Bloubergstrand in Cape Town and four of the vessels equipped to break up oil slicks were inexplicably found to be sitting idle without crew in Simon`s Town harbour.
While her department met only 20% of its set targets, yet managed to spend 99% of its budget, it also came under fire from the auditor general, who found that irregular expenditure amounted to R6.1-million and fruitless and wasteful expenditure to R12.2-million.
Although it is said that Joemat-Pettersson does not like to visit Parliament when summoned to appear, she seems to be happiest taking Parliament to the people. The minister regularly attends public engagements and imbizos with representatives from the fishing, forestry and agriculture department to try and understand their needs. Meeting with agricultural bodies and unions on how they can play a bigger role towards assisting government with eradicating food security in households has been on her list of priorities. And while some have accused her of political opportunism, she was not afraid to put on her jackboots and wade into the violent labour dispute in the wine and table grape farming areas of the Western Cape, threatening to impose a new minimum wage structure for farm workers.