Hon Minister, will you just take your seat? Many members are leaving the Chamber - can you do so quietly? You may remain at the podium, hon Minister. Will members leave quietly, so that we can allow the hon Minister to introduce the debate? You may proceed, hon Minister.
The MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES: Chairperson, I would like to say to the coastal communities, fishers and representatives of all fishing industry stakeholders, today marks a very special day in the history of the South African fishing industry. It is the day on which this House, across all political parties, can participate in delivering freedom from poverty to thousands and thousands of humble, patient small-scale fisherfolk from more than 160 coastal communities who have their ancestral roots along our country's 3 000 km long coastline. It is in our hands to change the lives of these thousands of breadwinners who support their families by their livelihoods - 50 000 downstream dependants and breadwinners. Today is the day on which we can give new hope to these families and communities and demonstrate the real meaning of the word "freedom", the freedom that we acquired in 1994.
These coastal communities have been robbed of their ancestral right of access to a natural resource on their doorstep. It is shameful and unthinkable that communities are starving, whilst they live alongside the abundance of life in our country's oceans. Decades ago, our nation's natural marine resource endowments were given to a handful of the privileged, at the expense of the majority. This resulted in untold misery and perpetual hardship being experienced in the fishing communities that form the very backbone of our highly successful and lucrative fishing industry as it stands today.
Since ushering in our long-awaited democratic order in 1994, government has succeeded in bringing about significant levels of transformation. At the time of the promulgation of the Marine Living Resources Act, Act 18 of 1998, we were painfully aware of the need to restructure the fishing industry in order to address historical imbalances and to achieve equity in all branches of the fishing industry. This is required of us under the founding objectives and principles of the Marine Living Resources Act, so that we may all overcome the discriminatory barriers of the Natives Land Act, Act 27 of 1913, which restricted the rights of the majority to both land and marine resources.
Today we have the opportunity to correct yet another scar of the legacy of apartheid in a revolutionary manner, by expanding subsistence and interim relief fishing rights to small-scale fishers and community-based fishing rights allocations, with the view of empowering coastal communities and not only individuals.
Understandably, there are those who do not support the extension of fishing rights to the small-scale fishers and communities.
Daar is diegene wat nie eens 10% van wat hulle alreeds het vir die armes wil gee nie. Daarom weet ons as jy 'n vriend van die armes is, sal jy nooit 'n vriend van die rykes wees nie. [Applous.] [There are those who are not willing to give even 10% of what they already have to the poor. Therefore, you know that if you are a friend of the poor, you will never be a friend of the rich. [Applause.]]
Over the past few weeks, they have sought to discourage us from continuing on this path of community empowerment. They have found new reasons why communities should not take part in an organised fashion. They have even found reasons to call co-operatives unconstitutional. What more do you expect?
In the pursuit of social justice we are determined to open up the fishing industry in order to benefit communities as organised formations such as co- operatives. We are determined to make a real difference and to change the fortunes of our fishing communities, making it possible for them to take part in the lucrative fishing industry.
Today, in pursuit of unity in action towards socioeconomic freedom, we are introducing in the House the Marine Living Resources Amendment Bill, which is purposefully designed to fast-track amendments to the Act. It will recognise the bona fide right of coastal community fishers to access a sustainable livelihood from our own natural and marine resources, legislatively and officially, for the first time in the history of our country.
We call upon this House and the entire nation this House to support the Bill so that, collectively, we can remove the scourge of poverty, apartheid, inequality and unemployment. The passing of this Bill will be a tangible deliverable to our people, as we prepare to celebrate 20 years of freedom and democracy in our country.
It comes as we are speaking about food and nutrition security, when the President has launched the Fetsa Tlala food production intervention, and as the Deputy President is leading the debate for vulnerable workers, like farm workers and fishing communities. With Fetsa Tlala, we are calling for an end to hunger. Ugqatso silufezile. [The battle against poverty has been won.] [Applause.]
Die rottang is geknak. [The cane is broken.]
We have suffered indignity. We have suffered insults. But we will not retreat.
We support our National Development Plan: Vision 2030. Our strategies, according to the National Development Plan, will have to be developed for economic co-operation, to give poor producers greater collective market power in value chains, while allowing them to negotiate improved levels of access to markets on better terms of participation.
This recommendation will deal decisively with chronic hunger. No longer will coastal communities go to bed hungry whilst they have fish right at their doorstep. [Applause.] Our revision of this ...