Revolutionary Speaking – President’s Weekly Column – Volume 1 Issue 24

Vol 1: Issue 24
17 March 2023
I recently visited the Western Cape to attend the funeral of the BCM and AZAPO founder Cde Peter Jones.  I was relating to my Comrades that I was a student at the University of the Western Cape in the mid-1990s.  As I was based at the off-campus Mitchell’s Plain Residence, we used to catch the “silver train” from the Philippi Station and disembark at the Bonteheuwel Station where we would catch a connecting train to UniBel Station.  We could rely on the Railway Police to keep the trains relatively safe.
I recalled how we learned the dangerous “ukulathaza” (disembarking while the train is in motion).  It was not an adventurous hobby on our part as young people, even the elderly folks had to do it because the trains didn’t wait sufficiently for the commuters to disembark from the overcrowded carriages.  Despite all these adrenalin-inducing stunts, Black people were home in those overcrowded carriages.  One would get into the carriage and greet the commuters as though he was getting into a household.  Everyone would greet back.  Out of the blue, one would convert the commuters into a religious congregation and start preaching and singing church hymns as the train was snaking down to bringing them near their various plantations.
As I was going down memory lane, my Comrades shocked me when they told me the trains had stopped operating due mainly to lawlessness and crime.  There were a number of factors why their operations were discontinued.  The withdrawal of the railway police made the trains less safe and exposed the commuters to robberies and bodily injuries as some were pushed out of the moving trains during the commission of crime.  As dangerous as the train ride was, the commuters held on because the train was convenient and much cheaper because they were subsidised.  Many commuters had also learned how to navigate their way out of the sight of ticket guards.
It was related to me how the taxi industry had managed to ward off competition with the trains by simply damaging the train infrastructure and intimidating the commuters away from the trains into the taxis.  When this happens, there is zero response from the State.  No protection of the commuters is offered.  Besides, there is no appetite to police the sabotaging of the train infrastructure.  Ricardo Khan of Eerste Rivier was not that fortunate.  He admitted to burning a train to disrupt the train services in favour of the taxi industry.  He was sentenced to 20 years in April last year.  Meanwhile, the copper cables running on the overhead framework is raided by the delinquents because the scrapyards offer some money in return.  Again, there is zero attempt from the authorities to restore law and order to protect the railway infrastructure.
If the rail tracks are not cut and the steel sold for cash, some people have encroached the railways to build shacks on the railway tracks.  The government is never quick to nip in the bud such encroachments.  The law forces the evictor to find an alternative dwelling place for those to be evicted if they had stayed in the invaded place for a definite period of time.  The people are smart enough to know that the right time for the invasion is close to an election.  The government politicians are so thirsty for votes that they would tolerate all types of lawlessness if that guaranteed them votes.  They would kiss a voter’s dog and eat tripe from the stalls of our mothers if that would collect a few votes from the vulnerable folks.
The collapse of the railway system through corruption and lawlessness has resulted in the redirecting of cargo from the railway to the road network.  It goes without saying that the closing down of some industries leads to the laying off of workers and the worsening of poverty.  The face of unemployment and poverty is Black in South Africa – our Azania.  However, the road infrastructure is also in a bad state.  We are told that 70% of the country’s industrial cargo has moved to the roads.  Yet the tenders to maintain the roads are given to the connected ones who will in turn give kickbacks to the ruling political elites and their political parties.  Such companies are often times incompetent and do a shoddy work to ensure that they keep the almost all the money for themselves and the kickbacks.  The government person who influences the channeling of the tender needs his share for the service.  The company that gets the tender does not have the capacity.  It has to find some smaller companies to underpay to do parts of the job.  The smaller companies have to underpay the workers and compromise the quality of the work to keep the better part of the money in the pockets of the owners.  In less than six months, such roads have suffered potholes as big as moon craters.
The increase in road traffic causes congestion and delays in the transported cargo.  The trucks get burned down during the strikes by the truck drivers.  All that has a negative effect on the country’s exports.  All that is required is to restore and maintain the railway infrastructure and redirect cargo back to the rails.  That would ease the congestion and accidents on the roads.
It is beyond me how a developmental State like South Africa could allow the railway transport to rot.  AZAPO has made it clear that the restoration of an efficient and subsidised public transport is one of the priorities of an AZAPO government.  Of course, the taxis fall under the public transport category.  They will be subsidised subject to positive regulation.  The trains and buses have to be back on the rails and roads.  Public transport helps to reduce the congestion in the towns and cities.  There is less need for parking space.  While the commuters save on a cheaper public transport, fuel is also saved, while the environment is sustained through the reduction of gas emissions.
Modern trains run on electricity.  Once more, the environment is better off in that arrangement.  Of course, ESKOM may be there standing ready to throw spanner in the works.  While there are efficiency storage mechanisms like batteries, ESKOM and its phenomenon of loadshedding is a self-created problem by the ruling elites.  A change of government will definitely resolve the problem of loadshedding.  Modern trains are fast and efficient.  Gautrain runs at a speed of 160km per hour on safe rails where there are no congestions or regular road closures due to accidents.
Yes, Gautrain was designed to cater for the comfort of the elite.  There will be a need to roll out a modern and efficient train system for the working people to access their places of work at a cheaper rate and faster pace.  An efficient public transport will go a long way in improving the quality of the lives of the working people.  It will also boost the economy by providing access to markets and services, while enabling trade.
After all is said and done, it will take the citizens to protect their infrastructure.  We cannot stand idle and watch hooligans ruining our country for which the Azanian Martyrs laid down their lives to free the land and the people.  This is the only country we have.  Unlike others, Black people don’t have the luxury of possessing two passports.  Let us save our country and its resources and infrastructure.  If not for ourselves, for our children and children’s children.