New taxi po­lit­i­cal party bid

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TSHEGO LEPULE

TAXI AS­SO­CI­A­TIONS across the coun­try want to es­tab­lish a new po­lit­i­cal party to con­test next year’s gen­eral elec­tions.

The sec­tor, marred in re­cent weeks by vi­o­lence and turf wars over routes, ap­pears to be putting their dif­fer­ences aside.

Op­er­a­tors be­lieve a po­lit­i­cal party would solve their prob­lems.

The taxi in­dus­try has been plagued by vi­o­lence across the province. Feuds in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try have es­ca­lated. More than 15 driv­ers have been killed in the province.

The scourge has made head­lines in the New York Times with Mark Shaw, direc­tor of the Global Ini­tia­tive Against Transna­tional Or­gan­ised Crime and au­thor of a re­cent book on as­sas­si­na­tions in South Africa, telling the news­pa­per, “large parts of the in­dus­try have be­gun to look very Mafia-like, where you de­fend and ex­pand your busi­ness turf through the use of vi­o­lence”.

Calls have also been made for in­ter­ven­tion in the reg­u­la­tions on the im­pound­ing of ve­hi­cles, traf­fic fines, sub­si­dis­ing petrol and route man­age­ment.

The All African As­so­ci­a­tion party [AAA] was born out of taxi op­er­a­tors’ frus­tra­tions and the party’s vows to make sure they are rep­re­sent in Par­lia­ment.

How­ever, the party might have to change or amend its name after their reg­is­tra­tion process with the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral Com­mis­sion showed there was al­ready another po­lit­i­cal party reg­is­tered un­der a sim­i­lar acro­nym.

IEC spokesman Court­ney Samp­son said there was still time for po­lit­i­cal par­ties to reg­is­ter for next year’s elec­tions as no date for them had been set.

The party’s na­tional co-or­di­na­tor, Ce­cil Di­bela said: “All the taxi as­so­ci­a­tions felt that they must come to­gether and form a po­lit­i­cal party be­cause they feel ne­glected by the cur­rent gov­ern­ment,” said the party’s na­tional co-or­di­na­tor.”

“The taxi in­dus­try is los­ing its rights slowly but surely.

“For ex­am­ple, in the old regime we used to have in­def­i­nite per­mits but now we have def­i­nite per­mits with no guar­an­tee that we might have them again in the fu­ture, another is­sue is the lack of sub­si­dies for the taxi in­dus­try, while the other modes of trans­port are be­ing sub­sidised. We have been cry­ing and cry­ing for these sub­si­dies and this is some­thing we need, es­pe­cially for our com­mu­ni­ties who get af­fected when things like fuel in­creases hap­pen.

“They have to dig deeper and deeper into their pock­ets.

“And when we en­gage with the gov­ern­ment, our struc­tures al­ways say they are en­gag­ing but we never see a bet­ter re­sult.

“So we see this as the only way we can voice our con­cerns so that at the end of the day we can rep­re­sent our­selves and not ex­pect that from oth­ers.

“This po­lit­i­cal party is not only for as­so­ci­a­tions, we also in­cor­po­rate civic peo­ple, the schools, church coun­cils and they must join us so that we can fight one bat­tle,” he said.

This week AAA lead­ers met with taxi as­so­ci­a­tions from across the Western Cape in Khayelit­sha to gar­ner sup­port from mem­bers and other or­gan­i­sa­tions to join the party.

Speak­ing at the meet­ing deputy chair­per­son of the SA Na­tional Taxi Coun­cil (San­taco), Mandla Mata said for too long mem­bers had sought so­lu­tions from other peo­ple or had re­sorted to solv­ing them by them­selves when they had power in their num­bers.

“I re­mem­ber years ago when Robin Carlisle was the MEC of Trans­port… he said that as an in­dus­try we were pow­er­ful but we did not re­alise ex­actly how pow­er­ful we were, we had power but we did not know how to use it.

“We left that meet­ing with­out any in­di­ca­tions as to how our prob­lems would be fixed,” he said.

“And much later when we went to Gaut­eng to Luthuli House and en­gaged with (former ANC sec­re­tary-gen­eral) Gwede Man­tashe he also asked us ques­tions that had us think­ing, who are we, where can we be found, where is our con­stituency?”

PIC­TURES: TSHEGO LEPULE

Mem­bers of taxi as­so­ci­a­tions from the Eastern and Western Cape gather at the Mew Way Hall in Khayelit­sha to dis­cuss the for­ma­tion of a new po­lit­i­cal party which will pri­ori­tise the needs of taxi op­er­a­tors.

Man­dela Mata, deputy sec­re­tary of San­taco, en­gaged with taxi as­so­ci­a­tions to join the new po­lit­i­cal party.

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