Fronting to be rooted out – minister

ON THE LINE: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries minstrer Senzeni Zokwana and Eastern Cape MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane at the Humansdorp Country Club. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
ON THE LINE: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries minstrer Senzeni Zokwana and Eastern Cape MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane at the Humansdorp Country Club. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

AGRICULTURE, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana vowed at the weekend to root out fronting in the fishing industry.

He said culprits who had previously received fishing rights would not be considered again, as the department wanted to transform the industry.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says it has identified a list of companies involved in the widespread practice.

Zokwana’s clampdown on fronting comes as the department is about to allocate fishing rights for 2015-16.

Scores in the industry are still unhappy with the 2013 process, saying it was disastrous, with thousands of traditional fishermen lodging appeals.

Addressing the media at the Humansdorp Country Club on Saturday, Zokwana said fronting was a “broad disease” that had to be tackled.

He was in Humansdorp to celebrate World Fisheries Day.

“I think if fronting is not dealt with, we’ll never realise the dream of transforming the industry,” he said.

“By the way, already we have a list of companies that have been involved in fronting. We must do work to ensure it does not happen again.”

Asked how many companies the department had identified as being involved in fronting, Zokwana said mentioning them would open him and the department up for legal action.

Zokwana said they had learnt a lot from the appeals process and promised that the department would never experience the same problems again.

“White people were clever in the sense that they did not refuse transformation but just changed the way to do it by using a [Xhosa clan name] Mqwathi that’s not a fisher while Van der Merwe remained the beneficiary and received all the money, while the books reflected that it was Mqwathi who was benefiting.

“We don’t want white Mqwathis through fronting and we have seen that’s a big issue in fishing,” he said.

“You see our people living in shacks and they get surprised when they get letters from SARS because they are registered as vessel owners, while that person doesn’t even have a cent.

“The appeals team has opened our eyes as to what was wrong before and I promise we will never repeat [the mistakes],” Zokwana said.

Meanwhile, shortly before Zokwana, Agriculture MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, Sarah Baartman mayor Khunjuzwa Kekana and other dignitaries were set to address the fishing community, two marquee tents collapsed, lightly injuring 13 people.

A spokesman said the cause would be investigated.

Zokwana also announced that communities living adjacent to the Wild Coast’s Dwesa-Cwebe and Tsitsikamma marine protected areas would now be allowed to fish after years of requests.

The Tsitsikamma marine protected area will be open from the middle of next month, with Dwesa-Cweba opening next year.

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