Joemat-Pettersson slammed over R800m fiasco

2013-12-01 10:08
Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson (Picture: Sapa)

Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has been slammed over misconduct and unethical behaviour by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

According to the Sunday Times, Madonsela's provisional report, into allegations lodged against Joemat-Pettersson and her department, found the minister wasted taxpayers' money and tried to interfere in an investigation into her alleged misconduct over the irregular awarding of an R800m contract two years ago.

The preliminary report has urged President Jacob Zuma take disciplinary steps against Joemat-Pettersson and for the department to probe suspicious conduct on the part of a senior official.

The awarding of the R800m fisheries patrol contract turned into a fiasco early last year when the department revoked the agreement. The department then handed over its fleet of patrol boats to the South African Navy. The boats lay idle for a year.

Madonsela found this situation contributed directly to the alleged decimation of South Africa's fishing resources.

It wasn't the first time the minister found herself on the wrong end of a protector probe.

In November 2012, Madonsela recommended that President Jacob Zuma should consider reprimanding Joemat-Pettersson for violating the executive ethics code.

Madonsela said the department’s acting director general should recover about R150 000 Joemat-Pettersson unlawfully incurred for return flights of her two children and their au pair from Sweden to South Africa in January 2010.

The minister travelled to Sweden in December 2009 on official business where she held meetings on matters relevant to her portfolio.

The trip was combined with a family holiday, which started at the end of the official trip on 23 December.

Joemat-Pettersson, however, had to cut the holiday short when she was recalled by the Presidency and returned on 1 January 2010.

"The return trips of the minister’s children and au pair were paid for by the state in violation of the provisions of paragraph 3.4 of Chapter 6 of the Ministerial Handbook, in the amount of R151 878,” Madonsela found in her report.

In the spotlight

Joemat Pettersson has been in the media spotlight often in the last year.

In July, it was reported that the Public Service Commission had agreed to probe Joemat-Pettersson's controversial appointment of a senior manager.

The minister appointed Greta Apelgren-Narkedien as a deputy director general (DDG) in the Fisheries department in December.

In March, Apelgren-Narkedien admitted during an interview on Carte Blanche that the position of DDG was not advertised and that she was appointed without undergoing an interview process.

Joemat-Pettersson came under fire for the move, but insisted the process was above board as President Jacob Zuma had signed a presidential minute sanctioning the appointment.

In May, the department announced Apelgren-Narkedien had resigned to take on another job as head of the human settlements department in KwaZulu-Natal.

"Even though she has since vacated the position, the procedures around her appointment still requires investigation," SAPA reported Democratic Alliance MP Pieter van Dalen as saying.

Just a month earlier, the minister found herself fending off claims of receiving kickbacks.

But in statement, her spokesperson Palesa Mokomele said that the allegations in a Sunday Times report  that Joemat-Pettersson benefited from a game-farm sale were "unsubstantiated and regrettable",

"Those who know Minister Joemat-Pettersson know her to be a people-orientated leader who consistently serves others and strives for the development of rural women and rural communities," Mokomele said.

"The said farm was for the benefit of rural women through skills development and employment creation."

The Sunday Times reported that Joemat-Pettersson was being investigated for allegedly taking a kickback for arranging the purchase of a R18m game farm for disadvantaged women.

According to the report, she was allegedly paid R100 000 in 2006 for her efforts in closing the purchase of Sunset Game Lodge, outside Douglas, while she was MEC in the Northern Cape.
Read more on:    tina joemat-pettersson  |  jacob zuma  |  thuli madonsela

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