Taxi bosses after votes

2014-02-12 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL taxi bosses and their employees are going to contest in the May national elections in a bid to get enough votes to qualify for at least a seat in Parliament.

The KZN Transport Alliance (KZNTA) says a lack of consultation by government on issues regarding the taxi industry had led to the decision.

Bafana Mhlongo, chairperson of the alliance, said the taxi industry was at risk as government continued to introduce programmes that affected the industry negatively.

“We want to be represented in Parliament, nationally and provincially, so that our interests are looked after. What we have seen so far is government forcing programmes down our throats. We want to put a stop to this,” said Mhlongo.

He claims that the association, which was registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in 1999, but never contested that elections, has a countrywide membership. In KZN they have about 20 000 registered members.

He said some political parties had poached some of their leaders, including the late taxi boss Eugine Hadebe.

“We were then given the Bus Rapid Transit system [BRT] which takes jobs from the taxi industry. The system is for people in the suburbs.

“People in rural areas and informal settlements will not benefit from the system,” he said.

“Most worrying is that this programme and others were not discussed with us. We are just told this is what the government will be doing.

“If we had representatives in Parliament we would at least have an opportunity to object to these developments. It’s time we made our voices heard.”

ANC provincial spokesperson Senzo Mkhize said they were aware of the concerns raised by the alliance, but denied that his party poached from them.

“I must say some of their concerns are valid, but we cannot be seen as micro-managing government. Government should address what can be addressed,” said Mkhize.

On Hadebe leaving the alliance for the ANC, Mkhize said: “I wouldn’t want to comment on behalf of comrades who have since passed on. Comrade Hadebe was the chairman of the alliance simply because he also had interests in the taxi industry. He was also a member of the ANC.”

Political analyst Protas Madlala said the alliance leadership was exercising its democratic right by contesting the elections. However, he said even if they won a seat or two, they would have little or no contribution in Parliament.

“The alliance is ill-advised because Parliament doesn’t discuss transport issues all the time. When other issues are discussed, what will they be doing? I’m concerned about all these smaller parties with a narrow interest in Parliament,” said Madlala.

He said what the alliance could have done was to throw their weight behind one political party and give them a mandate to represent their interest.

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