Taxi groupings' commitment to free and fair elections a positive step forward
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Following protracted conflict and violent withdrawal of services within the minibus taxi industry, I decided to approach the Western Cape High Court to ensure that the upcoming regional and provincial SANTACO leadership elections proceeded peacefully and without unlawful interference.
I approached the High Court in my capacity as the Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works, and in the interest of the thousands of commuters who rely on minibus taxis as their mode of transportation.
The matter was set down to be heard yesterday morning in the Western Cape High Court. However, the Minibus Taxi Industry ‘Task Team’ (MITITT), in the replying papers, have now indicated that “the pre-elective conference is no longer a live dispute between the Task Team and SANTACO National”, which had previously been the main bone of contention fuelling this internal dispute.
They indicate that despite some contentious issues which have arisen in recent months regarding a pre-elective conference, “the industry is currently preparing to participate in the forthcoming elections and there is no question of either the MTITT (Task Team) or the industry disrupting or interfering with the process.”
SANTACO National has announced the dates for the regional and provincial elections. Regional elections are to be held from today, the 11th till the 27th of September 2018, and the provincial election is scheduled to take place from 15 to 17 October 2018.
The Western Cape faced a withdrawal of services within the minibus-taxi industry on 18 September 2017 and 6 August 2018. At the centre of the disagreement remained a dispute over internal (SANTACO) constitutional processes and the manner in which the upcoming regional and provincial elections should be held.
The calling and embarking on the recent action of 6 August 2018 was initiated by the ‘Task Team’, citing the need to convene a Pre-elective conference with a very specific agenda. SANTACO National and the Task Team could not agree on the format of such a conference, resulting in the impasse.
My department had received reports from minibus taxi operators who were not in support of this latest interruption of services (of 6 August 2018) that they were being prevented from providing services and were being intimidated. We believe that the acts of violence and chaos that ensued during both periods of disruption infringed upon the rights of not only the commuters who rely on minibus taxis as a mode of public transport, but also on the public at large.
Achieving peace in the industry remains an essential part of the work done by my department in regulating the industry. I am cognisant of the fact that an overwhelming majority of the people of the Western Cape are entirely dependent on public transport, which is why unjustified interruptions to the public transport system, which carry a negative economic and social impact, must be avoided at all costs.
The upcoming elections will allow for the impasse that is gripping the minibus taxi industry to be resolved and hopefully for peace and stability to be achieved in the sector.
The Department of Transport and Public Works welcomes the undertaking given by the ‘Task Team’ not to disrupt or interfere with election processes. We look forward to the peaceful and fair election of the new SANTACO Western Cape leadership with whom we will work constructively, as we have with the current and past leadership.