POLITICS DIVIDING kzn taxi alliance

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Political infighting is tearing the once powerful KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance apart.

This was apparent after a marathon meeting between some members of the alliance and the IFP national chairperson, Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, in Durban on Monday.

The meeting with Magwaza-Msibi was held after the alliance last week resolved to choose one political party that they would affiliate to and vote for during the elections on April 22.

Now it appears members are no longer sure and some are against that resolution.

Bafana Mhlongo, alliance secretary-general, said they wanted to form an alliance with a party that would cater for their needs as taxi operators.

"We have been having problems with the current government and it is high time that we take a stand and choose a political party we should vote for. But it has to be a party that would solve all our daily problems, which the current government failed to do," said Mhlongo.

During the same meeting, the alliance announced the suspension of its chairperson, Eugene Hadebe. While no reasons were given for the suspension, Hadebe believed it was politically motivated because he had "chosen to support the ANC".

The alliance had initially registered as a political organisation with the Independent Electoral Commission to contest the elections. They have since decided to form a coalition with any political organisation.

Mhlongo said their drivers were harassed and taxis impounded for not having operating permits. He said despite applying for permits, they had not got them.

"As if permits and taxi recapitalisation were not problematic enough, the Department of Transport has set up a Bus Rapid Transit system because they want to get rid of taxi operators. They want to destroy the only black-owned business," he said.

He said once they had decided on which political party to vote for, all their members, spouses, children and driver-assistants would vote for that party. But when Sowetan contacted alliance president George Ferror about the meeting with Magwaza-Msibi, he denied any knowledge of such a meeting.

"Clearly, the right hand does not know what the left is doing in the alliance. Whoever met with Magwaza-Msibi did so without the mandate of the alliance.

"As president of the alliance I'm not aware of such a meeting and neither is my board," said Ferror.

A statement by Magwaza-Msibi yesterday confirmed the meeting with the alliance. She said her party shared the concerns of the taxi operators on the viability of the taxi industry in the face of growing pressure from the ANC and its controversial taxi recapitalisation programme.

"The taxi recapitalisation programme, foisted on the taxi industry with little or no consultation with the stakeholders, is already costing taxi operators their jobs and livelihoods."

She said the IFP believed that the taxi recapitalisation programme and its threat to jobs was not the right policy to develop sustainable public transport ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup and beyond.