Debate on the President`s State of the Nation Address by the Premier of Mpumalanga cde Refilwe Mtshweni

25 June 2019

Madam Speaker & Chairperson of the NCOP;
His Excellency, the President of the Republic of South Africa;
The Deputy President;
Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Honourable Members;
Invited Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Sanibonani, Lotshani, Dumelang

Madam Speaker, let me take this opportunity to join this August house, and the people of South Africa and  congratulate his Excellency the President of the Republic of South Africa on what was a well delivered comprehensive and balanced State of the Nation Address . As the “Province of the rising sun”, we welcome the President’s address as Umhlahlandlela, that gives us vision ,hope, renewal and indeed a new dawn for our nation.

We join the many voices who have correctly stated that this SONA was able to capture the imagination of   our people and reignite their energies, towards the building of a better South Africa for all. This SONA challenged all of us to reimagine and rethink anew, in response to our current mission to eliminate the legacy of colonial-apartheid.

The President was unambiguous when he said, open quote: “we must improve the affordability, safety and integration of commuter transport for low income households.” closed quote. The NDP 2030 demands that both public and private investment should go towards extending bus services, refurbishing commuter trains, linking high-volume corridors and integrating all these into an effective transport service.

Madam Speaker, this is exactly what the ANC led government has been doing since the dawn of our democracy.

True to our commitment to invest in public transport infrastructure as outlined in the ruling party’s electoral manifesto, we have successfully launched the national and regional road infrastructure networks like Maputo Corridor, Moloto Corridor and the Trans-Kalahari Corridor.

We have improved and extended the N1 and N2 road infrastructure linking towns, cities, provinces and neighbouring states. This is because we acknowledged the strategic role that, the road infrastructure network can play in unlocking and stimulating local and regional economic activity and in the creation of job opportunities.

The President’s pro-poor and unifying vision must be viewed as a prototype to deliver a just, dignified, and inclusive future for our generation. It is a cosmopolitan vision that will undo centuries of racial inequality premised upon apartheid social planning which turned the majority of our people in into pariahs in the land of their birth.

Social and economic exclusion caused by policies of the past is still evident in the long distances many people, especially the poor, travel from where they live to their places of employment. Providing them with suitable, safe, efficient and cost-effective transport is crucial for broadening social and economic access.

Madam Speaker, the ANC-led government has successfully introduced the Rapid Bus Transit in a number of cities in this country. This system has reduced costs of travelling in urban areas, making it easier for young people who are students and job seekers to commute between townships and cities.

However, too many of our people who live in rural areas are still unable to benefit from such a system. The NDP is explicit in advocating for a reliable, economical and smooth-flowing corridors linking our various modes of transport such as road, rail, air, sea ports and pipelines. This is the vision that the President eloquently espoused in his state of the nation address.

Madam Speaker, we inherited an ageing transport system whose development did not have the disabled and vulnerable in mind. It had no consideration of the safety of the underpaid female security guards, domestic and factory workers, who must wake up at 4am at an informal settlement, walk five kilometres in a dangerous open veld at dawn to an unguarded railway station in order to report for duty in town by 7am.

It is this system that displayed a lack of sympathy or concern for the frail grandmother returning from hospital at dusk in an overloaded and speeding mini-bus taxi to KaNyamazane. This transport system thrived because of the racially segregated town planning designed to keep our people on the outskirts of the centres of economic activity.

These are hard realities that the ANC government has had to deal with since taking over government in 1994. Over the period of 25 years we have been working hard building bridges, laying roads into previously isolated villages, and providing affordable and safe public transport to connect communities and advance social development.

State entities like SANRAL and PRASA have been leading the implementation of our integrated transport policies to improve public transport. The National Transport Master Plan (NATMAP 2050) is our comprehensive, multi-modal, integrated plan which anchors a sustainable framework for implementing transport while providing infrastructure and services. Our Master plan sees transport as crucial in promoting township and village economies.

In the State of the Province Address (SOPA) earlier this year, we reported, among others that in Mpumalanga.Through our provincial Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport (DPWRT), Mpumalanga made a remarkable progress towards the provision of an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network. We created, 328 876 job opportunities for women, 292 803 to youth and whilst 8 872 were apportioned to people with disabilities. For economic empowerment, we awarded 30% of all contracts to women and 15% to youth.

Madam Speaker, the Department of Transport has developed a rail policy framework that seeks to revitalise South Africa’s rail network. You will recall that in October 2018, the President launched South Africa’s very first passenger train manufacturing plant in Nigel.  This state of the art facility is positioning South Africa as a manufacturer of new generation passenger trains. To date, Madam Speaker, this facility has already produced new trains locally.

We will continue to engage our colleagues in the taxi industry to also do their part and ensure the dignity and safety of our people by sanctioning the utilisation of road worthy minibus taxis into their operations.We also re-affirm Government’s commitment to continue to engage with the Taxi Industry on matters such as the issuing of subsidies to the sector, vehicle financing, and taxi violence.

South Africa’s new dawn must also herald the end of the carnage on our roads.

We shall not treat drunk and reckless drivers with kid gloves.The new, advanced breathalyser kit that was launched by former Transport Minister Dr. Blade Nzimande in April 2019 will assist our efforts to remove intoxicated drivers from our roads into jail cells. We will continue to take strong action against those traffic officers who allow drunken driving by accepting bribes.

Madam Speaker, We recall that as recently as June 16, we lost 24 young people in one collision.  This was in addition to the 45 people who passed away in the same weekend in Limpopo alone. We once more wish to convey our heartfelt and sincere condolences to the families of the victims. We agree with Transport Minister Mbalula that one death on our roads is one too many.

As Provinces, we stand ready to lend a hand and support him in his plans to have traffic officers on the ground 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and to increase the number of officers in our employ. Therefore Madam Speaker, working together, it is in our hands to ensure that our future is better than our past.

I thank you.

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