SOPA Debate Speech by Minister Bonginkosi Madikizela
State of the Province Address (SOPA) Debate Speech by Bonginkosi Madikizela, Western Cape Minister of Transport and Public Works
Leader of the official opposition
Members of the House
Our honoured guests
Ladies and gentlemen
Let me start by thanking the Western Cape Government and Provincial Parliament for bringing the State of Province Address to the community of Mitchell’s Plain and surroundings, this is a clear demonstration of this Government’s commitment to be Parliament of the people. State of the Nation Address and State of the Province Addresses have been a privilege of the few, leaving many community members out because of the limited space and distance to Parliaments.
As we can see here today and yesterday, community members have an opportunity to listen directly to Premier Winde and their elected representatives.
On Tuesday last week, 11th of February the nation commemorated 30 years since the release of our first democratically elected President, Nelson Mandela from prison. It was a sign of victory against a terrible system of apartheid which was declared a crime against humanity by United Nations. The whole country was jubilant, full of hope at the prospect of a better future. Unfortunately until today, that hope remain a pipe dream. On that year Mr Speaker, 11 February 1990, the unemployment rate in South Africa was 18.7%. Today unemployment is more than doubled that year at 38.7% with more than 10.4 million unemployed and that is a serious indictment.
Mr Speaker we need to be absolutely clear, the fight against apartheid was never about replacing an oppressor with a different face. It was never about enrichment of politically few connected black faces through BEE deals while millions languish in poverty. It was never about looting of state resources by few to disadvantage the majority. As the DA government in the Western Cape we must take full responsibility for our shortcomings but just because the ANC government is black, it doesn’t give it a license to impoverish fellow black South Africans by emotionally blackmailing us about the past. For far too long South Africans have allowed the national government to get away with murder by blaming everything on apartheid.
On Thursday last week Mr Speaker, and yesterday, the nation waited with abated breath, hoping that maybe, just maybe President Ramaphosa will rise to the occasion and provide solution to their plight.
His address came a day after the release of quarterly Labour survey by Stats SA confirming that unemployment continue to rise in SA. Unfortunately we didn’t get the inspiration that we were looking for. His speech didn’t go far enough to show the sense of urgency needed to attract investors, to grow our economy and create jobs. Instead, he confirmed that things will get worse for those millions South Africans.
Mr Speaker, as long as President Ramaphosa and the ANC Government continue with these absurd ideas and policy decisions that collapsed countries like Zimbabwe and Venezuela, land expropriation without compensation, nationalization of health through NHI, nationalization of banks, South Africa is heading in the same direction.
Speaker, land reform in South Africa is urgent and poor landless people are losing patience and section 25 of our Constitution makes provision for this to be done. Instead of dealing with elephant in the room, corruption and incompetence, we have resorted to knee jerk reaction that will bring our economy to its knees as it is the case with Eskom, SAA, Land Bank. All these State Owned Entities are collapsing our economy. How on earth do we trust the same government that is failing us spectacularly everyday with black outs and dysfunctional rail transport to nationalize other critical levers of our economy and health?
In sharp contrast to the State of the Nation, Premier Winde yesterday outlined a clear plan of this government to keep our communities safe, provide energy security, grow the economy and create jobs. That’s why this Province, despite unprecedented population growth, remains the only one where people have a prospect of finding a job with lowest unemployment rate in South Africa.
Speaker, although South Africa has a certain reputation for being able to buck trends and get away with things which internationally are not normally achieved, we do not exist in an insulating bubble. Many of our citizens, along with millions throughout the world, are disillusioned with our government. Our citizens and voters are exposed to enormous pressures and are desperate for hopeful signs and indications that government cares about them as people. These hopeful signs and indications cannot be just words strung together to make promises. Instead, they must be real and contain clear signs of a better life.
Speaker, with this in mind, I want to talk briefly about three areas in which the Western Cape Government makes a real difference to the lives of people living in this Province – public transport, road safety and infrastructure.
Although the WCG is not a direct provider of public transport, it has a key role to play in its regulation, funding and monitoring. It is the interim contracting authority for Golden Arrow Bus Service, the subsidised service in Cape Town and environs which transports more than 200 000 people every weekday. The importance of this regular service to our residents in a context of what has been for a long period a disrupted, unsafe and deteriorating rail service and, more recently, a suspended N2 Express service cannot be over-emphasised.
One of additional consequences of the failure of the commuter rail system and the suspension of the MyCity N2 Express service has been a significant additional demand for all forms of taxi services – minibus taxis, metered taxis and e hailing taxis. The Province is charged with the issuing of operating licences on the basis of recommendations made by the municipalities. This requires a range of monitoring and enforcement actions on the part of my department.
I meet regularly with the recognised bodies and organisations across the spectrum of the taxi industry in order to avoid clashes and to encourage the implementation of systems which can produce higher levels of safety, greater efficiency and a better service for commuters. The Premier referred to some of these developments in his address yesterday.
Speaker, I am pleased to be able to report to this sitting about three very recent significant achievements in the public transport space. All have been made possible by on-going interaction between my Ministry and Department and other spheres of government. I personally have met on a number of occasions with my national counterpart as well as the Executive Mayor of Cape Town in order to reach understandings which could result in significant improvements to public transport for our hard-pressed commuters.
These three are as follows:
- With regard to commuter rail, since the appointment of the PRASA Administrator, there have been a number of constructive meetings between PRASA and this Province concerning the re-establishment of a safe, reliable and sustainable rail service on the central line. This working relationship is aimed at ensuring that the amount of R1,4 billion announced by the President is in fact converted into operational and rolling stock improvements and a restored service. Very positive indicators have emerged from these meetings on a workable plan that will need to be jointly implemented.
- On 11 February it was possible to announce to the over 13 000 a day commuters using the Go-George bus service the roll-out in March of phase 4 of this important public transport initiative. This roll-out had been blocked as a result of disagreements with the local minibus taxi industry. Here too there has been close cooperation between the Province and the National Department of Transport.
- At the request of the various players involved, my Department has played a role in bringing together the City of Cape Town and other contracting parties in the MyCity N2 Express service. Within the last few days agreement has been reached on the appointment of a facilitator who will take the process forward. This, too, is good news for commuters.
Speaker, the second area is road safety - something which remains a critical area of concern. With the enormous increase in road traffic – attributable partly to the deterioration in the overall rail network – road crashes, injuries and deaths have reached unacceptable levels. Our Provincial Traffic enforcement staff have developed new strategies, including District Safety Plans, made full use of the latest technology and worked very long hours in an effort to reduce road crashes and their consequences.
Premier announced yesterday a 23% reduction in Festive season fatalities. This is a significant development. We remain the only province which maintains a 24/7 traffic enforcement programme and I should like to thank our officers and support staff for their dedication once more.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the ever-growing success of our Transport HUB – a 21st Century information and technology system which provides the tools needed for the effective management of transport and the improvement of safety and crime prevention. The HUB has attracted great attention from other agencies across South Africa, including just this week National SAPS.
I thank you.