Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP
It has been more than 24 hours since the DA called on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to appraise the country on the steps that are being taken to resolve the Transnet port crisis and they have failed to come forward and show leadership in relation to this unfolding crisis.
The continued silence by President Ramaphosa and Minister Gordhan, while the country’s most important trade and export arteries are collapsing, is a gross dereliction of duty and their constitutional obligations to protect the economic well-being of the Republic.
It is simply astounding that, after Transnet issued an SOS yesterday warning that ‘Rome is on Fire’, the ANC government remains unbothered and unmoved by what is possibly the worst crisis to ever affect South African ports in decades. Given the magnitude and impact of the crisis, President Ramaphosa and Minister Gordhan should really be leading from the front – galvanising all stakeholders in the export sector and Transnet executives to help clear the backlogs and champion the long term solutions to the crisis.
With the obvious lack of urgency from President Ramaphosa, Minister Gordhan and Transnet executives, the onus is now on Parliament to step in and fill the leadership void. Having submitted our request to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Mr Khaya Magaxa – for the Committee to undertake urgent oversight visits to the Durban, Cape Town and Richard Bay ports, we are happy that our request is in the process of being considered.
While Transnet executives, in their press briefing yesterday, tried to provide reasons for the backed up traffic at ports and a timeline on when they can expect to clear the current backlog – they did not provide clarity on how they will handle incoming container shipments or new goods to be exported from South Africa to foreign markets. The scale and depth of the problem is such that Transnet should be clearing the existing backlogs whilst also ensuring that the trade and export sector continues to function.
As everyone else stands by and watches as ‘Rome burns’, the DA has taken a proactive stance to demand accountability and bankable solutions to the Transnet crisis. We fully understand that the decapitation of our trade and export arteries will deliver a devastating blow to our already-comatose economy. It is for this reason that we have actively pursued the avenue of using the Parliamentary Committee to not only enforce accountability from Transnet but to also ensure that the country averts a catastrophic economic collapse.