29 November 2012

South Africa: Joemat-Pettersson - Veld Fires the Last Straw

press release

Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson must be fired for her repeated failures, the latest of which is her lacklustre response to the veld fires that have destroyed up to 215,000 hectares of grazing land in the Northern Cape.

It is her responsibility to ensure adequate disaster relief funding transfers from the national budget to provinces ravaged by natural disasters. But the Minister has issued no instruction in this regard, nor has she called for any assessment of the extent of damage.

She has literally been fiddling while our agricultural heartland burns. This is the latest incident in a string of failures. We therefore re-iterate our call to President Zuma to fire Minister Joemat-Pettersson.

In the last three weeks alone she has:

Implicitly condoned violence in the Western Cape by saying that she would instruct the National Prosecuting Authority to withdraw all charges of violence and intimidation against those responsible for causing bloodshed in the wildcat strikes.

Ignored scientific evidence that the total allowable catch (TAC) for rock lobster should be reduced by 9.72%, thereby putting the sustainability of lobster stock at risk and destroying the future prospects of communities who rely on this stock for their livelihoods.

Displayed a blank cheque attitude toward public money. The Public Protector ruled that the minister displayed "improper and unethical" conduct in her spending of public funds on travel and hotel stays. There are two other Public Protector investigations into the Minister currently underway.

The Minister cannot remain in office while the agriculture sector suffers as a result of her inability to perform her duties. She must be fired.

Annette Steyn, Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

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