Cronin rubbishes DA’s ‘building of bridges’

2012-02-15 17:36

DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko came in for more blows from the ANC today as Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin rubbished her vision of building “bridges” in South Africa under DA rule.

Speaking at the end of the second day of the National Assembly debate on President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address last week, Cronin referred to Mazibuko’s speech yesterday as a “pipe dream”.

With the buzzword in the debate being infrastructure, Cronin started his attack on Mazibuko by jokingly saying she didn’t refer to building real bridges.

He said the metaphor showed up the “limitations behind the DA agenda”.

“The fact is that there have always been ‘bridges’ between white and black, rich and poor, urban and rural,” but during apartheid and the colonial era, black people were excluded from “citizenship, prime agricultural land, from resourced suburbs, from skills, from business premises”, he said.

Black people were used as cheap labour.

“There were plenty of bridges between so-called native reserves and mining towns – recruitment agencies, pass law offices, railway lines – and, just to make sure that migrant labourers actually got onto the bridge, there was a host of coercive motivational factors like hut tax, head tax, more land dispossession,” he said.

“It’s not a question of building bridges, but a question of abolishing this systemic pattern of exclusion and inferior inclusion of the economy.”

Like Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba yesterday, Cronin pointed out that Mazibuko’s view on Zuma’s infrastructure plans differed from DA leader Helen Zille’s, but he said he’d be “gentler” on Mazibuko.

Gigaba yesterday called Mazibuko “clueless” and “inexperienced”.

Cronin said the “bold plan” on infrastructure – a R300 billion investment – that Zuma announced “threw the DA into disarray”.

Mazibuko already had her one-line response of “not bold enough” prepared. “Her mentor, Premier Zille, had a different view,” he said.

Cronin added that economists, businesspeople, Cosatu and even “an often cynical local media” welcomed the plans.

“Having snookered themselves in this way, the DA had to go back to the drawing board over the weekend.

“And so what we have had over the past two days’ debate from the DA and many of the other opposition forces has been a poorly camouflaged
back-flip,” he said.

Cronin also shot down as a “horrible colonial myth” FF Plus leader and deputy minister of agriculture Pieter Mulder’s claim that whites didn’t steal the land in South Africa, because there were no “Africans in particular” in many parts to start with.

Mulder said the diaries of Voortrekkers showed there was no black ownership of land when the Voortrekkers moved into the interior, but Cronin said these diaries also told of hunting parties that went out to kill black people.

Mazibuko came in for a lashing by ANC MP Sindi Chikunga, who said Mazibuko was wrong to say Zuma has done nothing to reassure people that they’ll be safe from crime. A recent victims of crime survey showed things had improved, she said.

“We understand that the honourable Lindiwe wants to prove that she’s behaving better than (former DA parliamentary leader Athol) Trollip,” she said.

Mazibuko’s reshuffling of the portfolios of DA MPs “frustrated” them. By “deploying” Trollip to the same portfolio of rural development that Trollip put Mazibuko in earlier, was typical “tit for tat”.

Opposition parties in the past two days welcomed Zuma’s announcement of the investment in infrastructure, but they slammed him for recent remarks he made in an interview with The Star on wanting to review the Constitutional Court’s powers.

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