Tina Joemat-Pettersson

Melanie Gosling

Environment Writer

FISHERIES Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson is taking Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to court over her report which investigated the awarding of an R800-million tender to Sekunjalo Marine Service Consortium to run the fisheries patrol and research vessels.

Joemat-Pettersson said yesterday she had taken legal advice and would challenge the public protector’s findings, released in December, on four allegations made against her.

She served papers on Madonsela on Friday.

“I will be asking the North Gauteng High Court to declare that the report, including the findings and recommendations, are reviewed, corrected and or set aside,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

The minister believes the body of the investigation does not correlate with the findings pertaining to her.

Madonsela had recommended that President Jacob Zuma consider taking disciplinary action against the minister for “her reckless dealing with state money and services, resulting in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, loss of confidence in the fisheries industry in South Africa, alleged decimation of fisheries resources in South Africa and delayed quota allocations due to lack of appropriate research”.

Joemat-Pettersson disputes the public protector’s claim that there was “wasteful and fruitless expenditure” because the tender to Sekunjalo was revoked before payments had been made. The auditor-general had given the department an unqualified report.

The public protector had found that the minister’s abrupt handover of managing the fisheries vessels to the navy – despite a request to defer this move – had led to no law enforcement patrols and a deterioration of the vessels which had run into millions. This was wasteful and fruitless expenditure.

However the minister disputes that and contends extending the contract to the Smit Amandla would have been irregular.

She said there was no reason for disciplinary action against herself, because there was no evidence to substantiate the statement in the report that there had been a “loss of confidence in the fishing industry in South Africa”.

She disputes the finding that there had been “alleged decimation of fishing resources”: the state of fishing resources could not be alleged, but had to be determined by scientific investigations.

Madonsela’s statement when the report was released on December 4, that the minister had been responsible for “delayed quota allocations”, was incorrect, since the allocations were due for renewal only on December 31.

Asked whether Zuma had raised the report with her, Joemat-Pettersson refused to answer, stating that their discussions were not the subject of the press briefing.

Her announcement comes three days before Madonsela is due to release her report into the refurbishments and security upgrades at Zuma’s home in Nkandla.

Madonsela’s spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi said the public protector would issue a statement today.