15 January 2014
The article by Shaheen Moolla in Monday’s(14 January 2014) Cape Argus, refers.
While Moolla, a former senior official of the Department of Fisheries, may have an axe to grind with his former employers, this does not give him the licence to peddle information that is either out of context or inaccurate.
Rather than engage in a lengthy point by point rebuttal, I simply wish to make the following points:
The historical record will show that when the government granted long term fishing rights in 2005, thousands of small-scale fishers were excluded. Many of the 445 line fish beneficiaries were undeserving as they either were previously advantaged and had other sources of income.
The Equality High Court in 2007 found this allocation to be unjust and discriminatory. Mr Moolla was one of the key drivers of this process.
The Court then ordered a new policy to be developed and instructed that while this process was underway, a system of interim relief should be put in place. So, if the department “doggedly granted” interim relief permits to fishers, it was simply obeying an order of the court.
In his writings, Mr Moolla, a trained lawyer and registered advocate, has consistently avoided reference to the court order. We need to know if he is suggesting that the decisions and instructions of a court of law must be ignored or disobeyed.
Apart from the fact that the 2005 allocation was found to be discriminatory, the records show that more than half of the beneficiaries either did not use their rights or only partially used them
The small-scale fisheries policy talks about community legal entities which can include co-operatives, but also sets the framework for other structural forms. The co-operative in Doringbaai has enjoyed both successes and challenges. The co-operative he refers to does not need to be registered for tax since its income is not taxable at this stage. His assertion that it does not have a bank account is a blatant lie. Its account is held at ABSA bank in Vredendal.
It is important that our public debates on these important matters are contextual and based on fact and, most importantly, assist in putting forward solutions that can secure sustainable livelihoods for fishers.
Ph +27 (0)21 6854549
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Director, Masifundise Development Trust