Minister Tina Joemat-Petterssen has once again flouted the rule of law by failing to comply with a court order of the North Gauteng High Court for almost two years. The North Gauteng High Court has now ruled that she is in contempt of court and must address the backlog in the administration of the registration of certain stock remedies, and pay costs to the applicant.
In November 2011, the North Gauteng High Court ordered in favour of the applicant, the Association of Veterinary and Crop Associations of South Africa (AVCASA), who were forced to take the Minister to court to deal with the backlog in the administration of the registration of certain stock remedies in South Africa. AVCASA represents persons or companies involved in the research and development, importation, exportation, manufacturing and marketing of animal health pharmaceuticals and crop protection products.
Animal health pharmaceuticals and crop protection remedies are in most cases the only protection in the fight against disease and pests. Parasites and micro-organisms are always adapting to overcome vaccines and medicines; it is for this very reason that new remedies and medicines must be constantly developed. South Africa will fall behind in the competitive global market if we fail to do so.
The Association brought the contempt application after months of negotiating to no avail with the Ministry to ensure that the order was complied with. She now has 30 days to comply with the court order.
In addition, the court made a punitive costs order against the Minister, ordering her to pay costs on the higher scale, as between attorney and client. This means that the public purse will once again be funding her utter incompetence in handling her department.
Not only does Minister Joemat-Petterssen have limited respect for her portfolio; she clearly has no respect for the rule of law. She exhibited a similar attitude towards the end of last year during the farm strikes in the Western Cape, when she promised to ensure that nobody was prosecuted for violent actions during the strike, and that she would speak to the Minister of Police and the National Prosecuting Authority to do so.
Minister Joemat-Petterssen should stop focusing on ANC in-fighting and her own personal dilemmas and start focusing on her job. If she cannot step up and do what she is mandated to do, she must resign. The South African public cannot be expected to bankroll her incompetence any longer.
Annette Steyn, Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries