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Park the bullet train and solve Prasa problems first, Maimane tells Ramaphosa

DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane.
Image: Trevor Samson

DA leader Mmusi Maimane told President Cyril Ramaphosa to tackle the problems of the current urban centres before thinking of build new smart cities.

Speaking in the national assembly on Tuesday during the debate on Ramaphosa's state of the nation address delivered last week, Maimane also criticised the president's approach to the fourth industrial revolution, saying giving school children tablets was not helpful.

In his speech, Maimane continued in the same vein, saying Ramaphosa's dream of a bullet train traversing multiple provinces as irrelevant as long as current problems plaguing state rail agency Prasa remained unresolved.  

"Today we have floods in KZN and droughts in the Western Cape. This is the future we must plan for, and so before we build smart cities, we should build sustainable cities.

"Elsewhere in the world countries are using smart technology to keep their people healthy and safe. Solutions like smartphone screening to detect cervical cancer. This should be part of our plan too.

"I hear everyone speaking of the fourth industrial revolution these days, but I'm not sure they always know what this is. Giving our children tablets at school is not the fourth industrial revolution, but preparing them for jobs that don't even exist yet is," said Maimane.

Ramaphosa's SONA has been lambasted as full of dreams and no concrete plans to resolve the country's socio-economic problems. Speaking in the same debate, former ANC chief whip and new minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu hit back at Maimane.

"Those who claim that the SONA is all about dreams do not understand that all major revolutions worldwide begin with an idea. A people without dreams, without vision and purpose, is a people with no future.

"It was the dreamers who gathered in Mangaung in 1912, and formed an organisation that would wage a resistance struggle against colonialism and oppression informed by the dream of a free South Africa which now all of us enjoy.

In this epoch in South Africa, we are fortunate to have a great visionary in the calibre of President Ramaphosa as the Head of State. He is a big dreamer and a big doer at the same time.

"The new smart city that the President talked about is our collective dream. It will be followed by decisive action, wherein we invite young innovative minds who are ICT savvy to share their ideas on the design and architecture of such a future smart city.

It is our fervent view that such a smart city must be located in one our rural provinces so as to disrupt the colonial and apartheid spatial patterns."

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