Backlash against middle men in South Africa

06 Nov 2017
Minister Senzeni Zokwana

Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for South Africa, said: “The middlemen that pose as representatives of our people should be exposed for who and what they are!"

Fishing communities should elect their own spokespeople to ensure fair representation, a South African politician has said.

Speaking to fishers on the West Coast of South Africa who have raised concerns that others claim to represent them without any mandate from them, Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for South Africa, said: “The middlemen that pose as representatives of our people should be exposed for who and what they are!

“I appeal to fishing communities to elect their own local based structures that can represent them honestly so not to allow others to take advantage of vulnerable fishing communities.”

Redirecting profit

Minister Zokwana engaged with more than 2000 fishers in Velddrif last week, where it was claimed that middlemen use their catch to market and sell at huge profits for themselves.

The community expressed its desire to deal with their own marketing instead of middlemen who profess to be fishers.

The Small Scale fisheries Policy is geared at strengthening the position of coastal communities to do marketing themselves and be involved in the entire value chain of fishing to enable economic empowerment.

Foodcorp complaints

Minister Zokwana also committed to deal with the Foodcorp after numerous complaints levelled at this company by community members.

“We need to take a decision on what to do with the shares that were taken away, this is a priority,” he said.

Minister Zokwana indicated the process of establishing the Fisheries Transformation Council has commenced and it is hoped that the monopoly in the industry would be addressed.

Indigenous knowledge

He mooted the idea of foreign partnerships to assist the local small-scale fishers in accessing resources offshore as the capacity to do so is limited and confined to a few companies in South Africa.

In addition, he stressed the need for acknowledging and respecting indigenous knowledge and appealed to the government department to incorporate this in its assessments of stocks.

In conclusion, Minister Zokwana drew attention to Operation Phakisa and the Oceans Economy, where possibilities have been identified to extend the fishing industry with the development of aquaculture.

For the West Coast of the Western Cape, a total of 21 fishing communities participated in the registration and verification process to become small-scale scale fishing communities with SSF co-operatives.