ANC takes over event

2014-02-24 00:00

THE Department of Transport stands accused by some councillors of “hoodwinking” the public by misusing Saturday’s official opening of the R442 million Chota Motala N3 interchange to campaign for the ANC.

Msunduzi Exco member Mergen Chetty, a DA councillor, told T he Witness the project was originally initiated by him as representative of the community in the northern area of the city whose lives were plagued by daily traffic congestion in and out of Pietermaritzburg.

“This dates back to 2006. As [ANC] ward councillor for ward 30 at that time I led this fight to ease traffic congestion,” he said.

“I don’t want to be misunderstood to have a problem with naming the interchange after Dr Chota Motala. He was an ambassador of South Africa and I am happy for his name to be honoured.”

“What I am concerned about is that once again the ANC has failed to distinguish between its party political agenda and the government’s agenda. The ANC used a Department of Transport function and turned it into an electioneering campaign,” said Chetty.

He questioned why the DoT held an official opening in 2014 for a bridge that was already opened to motorists in November 2012.

“That flyover has been used already for more than a year by millions of motorists,” he said.

He said ANC supporters were bused in to attend the official opening held in a marquee at the Woodlands Sports Grounds and were provided with food and drink.

“That money could have been better spent on service delivery. Our residents are battling with roads that are riddled with potholes, our grass verges are not being cut. Our people don’t have houses, electricity and water. That is what the government should be spending its money on,” he said.

IFP councillor Dolo Zondi agreed. He said although he couldn’t attend Saturday’s function, other IFP members reported “it was turned into an ANC rally”.

“We already suspected as much when we were told that kombis were organised to transport people to the event … This has to stop.

“The ANC is using public money to fund its election campaign,” he said.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.

The Department of Transport also had not responded by late yesterday.

Cutting the ribbon on the Dr Chota Motala bridge on Saturday, national Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said the project had dramatically improved the quality of people’s lives in Pietermaritzburg.

“This is what Nelson Mandela promised — a better life for all,” she said. “People can spend more time with their families instead of waiting in traffic,” she said.

The department was “excited” that family members of struggle veteran Dr Chota Motala attended the opening, she said.

“We know about Dr Motala’s history and his love and care for the people of South Africa, and especially this part of the country,” she said.

Dr Motala’s daughter, Shireen, said the naming of the interchange was a great tribute to her father, who’d loved Pietermaritzburg and worked to build a non-racial, democratic community.

She said the interchange “links the different communities across Pietermaritzburg”.

In her later speech in a packed marquee, Peters said the accomplishment of the R442 million, award-winning project was “by no means an easy feat” and was a “story of the commitment of the ANC government to the people of this country”.

She said the department needs to spend R30 billion a year just on maintenance of roads, but currently spends this amount on both construction and maintenance.

Non-toll roads, which make up 84,2% of the total national roads network, are funded by national treasury, with toll roads comprising only 15,8% of the total network, she said, adding that the toll roads are funded “in the main from borrowings on capital markets”.

The minister said in the last financial reporting period the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) awarded 255 contracts worth R11,6 billion for new works, rehabilitation and improvement of existing roads. In all, around 110 401 job opportunities were created.

Who was Dr Chota Motala?

MEDICAL doctor and activist Dr Chota Motala died on May 25, 2005, aged 83 years.

Dr Motala, who studied medicine at Grant College in Bombay, India, returned to South Africa after qualifying and set up medical practice in Pietermaritzburg in 1948.

He was a close personal friend of former president Nelson Mandela.

On December 5, 1956 he was arrested for treason in his Pietermaritzburg home and was imprisoned with the 156 other treason trialists, such as ex-president Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Z. K. Matthews and Chief Albert Luthuli.

He was held for five months at the Pietermaritzburg prison during the 1960 state of emergency.

In 1963, he was served with a five-year banning order that restricted him to the Pietermaritzburg area.

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