Only Action Will Fix Infrastructure Crisis, Mr Ramaphosa

ActionSA notes with bemusement President Ramaphosa’s remarks at the Infrastructure Symposium in Cape Town today, where he admitted that the ANC government has neglected critical infrastructure maintenance.

In his own words, Ramaphosa said that “there is a tendency to develop good infrastructure where we fail to maintain it and it later falls into disrepair”. South Africans have had the great misfortune of being led by a President that feels free to make such startling admissions of failure while simultaneously speaking confidently of returning with an ANC majority.

At our inaugural policy conference last year, ActionSA resolved that one of the key impediments to economic growth was a lack of investment in infrastructure. It is our firm belief that we need targeted, long-term plans of investing into key infrastructure projects which will rebuild the foundations of the South African economy.

Ramaphosa’s words come at a time where much of South Africa’s rail network has collapsed, where our freeways are choked with cargo to and from our ports and where too many South Africans are living with the consequences of infrastructure failure with water outages, electricity blackouts and sewage crises.

ActionSA’s policies call for an aggressive programme of infrastructure rollout and renewal. This will require new and innovative ways of raising the capital necessary but must also be achieved through redirecting the billions that are wasted in the South African government. This was done in Johannesburg, just one of the 278 municipalities in South Africa, under Herman Mashaba’s mayoralty which saw the capital budget share for water, electricity, roads and housing go up from 58% to 72% by cutting international travel, conferences, subscriptions and many other wastes that have arisen under ANC governance. Such an aggressive infrastructure programme would have partner programmes to put unemployed South Africans to work in the rebuilding of our country.

A critical component of the solution around infrastructure must be a focus on coordinated infrastructure planning in provinces. Municipalities across South Africa are increasingly failing to protect the constitutional enshrined rights of South Africans to live with electricity, water and without sewage running through their streets. This requires a fundamental overhaul of local government

It is weak leadership that has President Ramaphosa treating the final months of this election campaign like a confessional – bringing the many failures of his government for absolution. The reality is that a majority of South Africans have come to realise that the change that is needed in South Africa will not arise from those who have failed to deliver it for 30 years.