South Africa will look different in 10 years

2012-02-18 13:46

It’s not too late to use the momentum gained before the 2010 Fifa World Cup to change the face of the country in the next decade by building infrastructure like railways, ports and power stations, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said.

“We might have lost a year (since the World Cup), but I don’t think we’ve lost the momentum,” he said.

“What we have come up with now is an even more bold plan. If implemented, South Africa in the next 10 years will certainly be different.”

In an interview with City Press this week in his 16th-floor parliamentary office in Cape Town, the minister said he didn’t care much about economic theories, because these won’t tell you when a road or a clinic was needed.

“I’m learning these things. I’m not an economist, I’m just a geography teacher.”

Gigaba said the first projects would be up and running by year 2019.

For example, deadlines set for Transnet stipulate that the iron ore line must be expanded to 82.5 million tons per annum, while the coal line must be at 100 million tons per annum at that time.

“The critical question is to work backwards now, (to determine) when do you start to reach that deadline,” he said.

The ultimate test would be whether the projects get done.

“You don’t measure (a project) by the document produced, you measure it by its concreteness,” he said.

In his state of the nation address last week, President Jacob Zuma announced the “huge campaign of building infrastructure nationwide” would be drawing on “project management expertise” gained during the soccer World Cup.

The plan would be driven and overseen by the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission established five months ago and consisting of political heads from all three spheres – national, provincial and local – of government, Zuma said.

In the run-up to the World Cup, world class stadiums and roads had to be built. The government said at the time that it wanted to use this momentum to upgrade infrastructure and service delivery in the country following the soccer tournament.

Gigaba said the government did certain things right in 2010:

» One was that you had coordination through the highest levels of government;
» Two, you had a singular focus on making the World Cup succeed. So decisions were taken speedily, problems were resolved, implementation took place;
» Three, you were able to achieve collaboration between the state and business; and
» Four, there was an infrastructure bill (or legislation) that overrode all other things and enabled the World Cup to be implemented.”

He said construction of big projects could be a long process and involved a lot of red tape.

Parastatals like Transnet would have to evaluate their financial strength and be confident that they have that strength to raise the R300 billion for its capital expenditure plan over the next seven years.

Gigaba added the government had introduced a new way of working. For example, getting Transnet or Eskom and the Industrial Development Corporation to work together “to try and refocus the development finance institutions to support infrastructure”.

He said: “We’re not only implementing infrastructure development, we are now collaborating within the different institutions of government.”

It was also important to find supplies locally so that the money remained in the country to ensure the rollout left behind “a long-standing legacy”.

Gigaba said ministers are working together to speed up projects.

“We are listening to ourselves and talking more.

“The silos are being broken down,” he said.

The minister went on to slam opposition parties who criticised President Zuma for announcing the infrastructure plans merely to leave a legacy. “If you don’t want any legacy, you must simply sit back and do nothing.”

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