The debate on the agriculture, forestry and fisheries budget vote turned nasty between Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and opposition speakers yesterday, as the latter claimed that her interventions in the industries were damaging businesses, jobs and long-term government plans.
Joemat-Pettersson hit back at her detractors, saying they were blind to the remarkable successes of the department. Figures provided by Statistics SA showed a leap in jobs in agriculture in the past year – 25 000.
This was the first rise in agriculture jobs since 1970. There were now 630 000 workers employed in the industry.
The minister has come under fire from DA fisheries spokesman Pieter van Dalen for alleged bias towards the Sekunjalo Consortium over the aborted awarding of the R800 million marine resource patrol contract, a function that the minister was forced to temporarily place in the hands of the SA navy.
Yesterday she turned her guns on Van Dalen, accusing him of “gossip and information peddling” and – under parliamentary privilege – accused him once of “allegedly” shooting at black children in Gugulethu and then “you laughed at them”. Van Dalen has repeatedly denied any involvement in the incident.