Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has welcomed the appointment of new Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga in the hopes of fast-tracking the devolution of passenger rail to the City. The mayor expressed disappointment in the lack of meaningful change to the political management of the policing and energy crises.
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“President Ramaphosa has promised ‘solid progress within a year’, and we back this 100% when it comes to devolving passenger rail for the City of Cape Town to run. The appointment of a new Transport Minister is pretty much the only potential light of change in this disappointing Cabinet reshuffle. Passenger rail has collapsed in Cape Town, and is now servicing just 2% of commuters daily when it should be the backbone of an affordable, reliable, and safe transport system. I will today write to Minister Chikunga to ask her to fast-track rail devolution as a top priority. Capetonians need to know where the new Transport Minister stands on the delay in national government’s Devolution Strategy with no definite deadline, and recent anti-devolution statements by the ANC,” said Mayor Hill-Lewis.
The mayor said he was concerned that no changes were made to the police and justice ministries, given the ongoing failure to properly resource police and prosecutors to gain convictions. The City of Cape Town has, to date, received no response to ongoing requests to devolve more policing powers to the metro’s municipal law enforcement.
“Devolving more policing powers to well-trained municipal law enforcement officers is an immediate way to help SAPS fight crime, given that 71% of Cape police stations are under-resourced. Our officers are already out there taking guns and drugs off the streets daily, but with more policing powers they can build prosecution-ready case dockets and gain convictions and bring lasting change for residents living in daily fear of violent crime. We believe there is both a constitutional case and a human case to devolve more policing powers to local government. The Justice Minister simply needs to issue a declaration – as already done in 2018 – conferring more policing powers to municipal law enforcement under the Criminal Procedure Act. This can be followed up with an amendment to the SAPS Act,”said Mayor Hill-Lewis.
Same failed political governance of energy crisis
The mayor added he was disappointed that the same failed ministers of energy and public enterprises stayed in charge of the energy and Eskom crisis while the new electricity minister was a “simple redeployment of a former Tshwane mayor who had overseen a corrupt administration”.
“Cape Town’s 3-phase procurement for load-shedding protection is already far advanced. What remains are the technical and financial viability preparations to connect independent power to Cape Town’s grid. It is unclear how the state of disaster will enhance this technical process for independent energy projects nationally. The new Electricity Minister, as a redeployed cadre who failed in local government, just confuses and complicates the political governance of the crisis without introducing any dynamism,” said the mayor.
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Picture: Geordin Hill-Lewis / Twitter