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Western Cape crime, rail take centre stage at Winde’s State of the Province Address – again

Western Cape crime, rail take centre stage at Winde’s State of the Province Address – again
Archive Photo: Alan Winde and members of his provincial cabinet Albert Fritz and Sharna Fernandez in Elsies River on 12 November 2019, discussing his safety plan. (Photo: Suné Payne)

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde delivered his State of the Province Address in Mitchells Plain on Thursday. And once again the message was the same: crime and rail are national competencies, but the province wants control.

For the first time in its history, the Western Cape State of the Province Address (SOPA) was delivered from somewhere other than the legislative chambers in Wale Street Cape Town. On Thursday, Premier Alan Winde presented his SOPA to residents and members of the legislature at the Rocklands Civic Centre, Mitchell’s Plain.

And while the venue for the SOPA may have changed, Winde’s key message was similar to his address in 2019: if the national government cannot make the province safer or provide a reliable train service, then his provincial government would do so.

“You told us your families are not safe because drugs, gangs and gender-based violence are tearing them apart; within less than four months of taking office, we have delivered,” said Winde.

“The fact is that we don’t have enough men and women in blue assigned to our province – the police’s own stats prove this. That is why we have needed to bolster our own safety services.  But we are adamant that our personnel will work in co-operation, hand-in-hand, with the national police in our province,” said Winde. This is in direct reference to the ambitious Safety Plan launched in September 2019, and that aims to halve the murder rate in the province over the next 10 years. 

But it was Winde’s words on rail transport that presented a sense of déjà vu of his 2019 DA election campaign and his subsequent SOPA speech in July 2019.  

“Speaker, during my election campaign, I saw first-hand how employees, entrepreneurs and learners struggle to get around onboard the defunct national Prasa (Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa) rail system. It is no wonder that Metrorail has come to be known as ‘metrofail’. In the past few years, the decline of our train system has picked up pace, with increased arson attacks stripping the service down to its bare bones,” said Winde.

The DA in its election manifesto punted control of the rail network as a key provincial mandate. It currently falls under the mandate of the National Transport Department. 

“This province has put up its hand and offered to take on the management of the rail system because we know we can do a better job, for you… Despite the national government’s repeated rejection of our requests, we have committed ourselves to getting the central line working by any means possible,” Winde said, adding that the province had had meetings with the City of Cape Town to explore potential ways forward.

His comments come just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation Address that R1.4-billion would be injected into the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa to fix two key lines – the Central Line (Cape Town) and the Mabopane Line (Tshwane). 

These Central Line in Cape Town has not been operational since 1 November 2019, but new Prasa administrator Bongisizwe Mpondo said the line could partially be reopened by September 2020. 

This is Winde’s second SOPA following his election in May 2019, following the national and provincial elections.

Read Daily Maverick’s reportage on his first SOPA here: Crime, rail and inner-city housing take centre stage at Alan Winde’s first State of the Province Address

The SOPA debate and reply will be held on Friday morning, also in Mitchells Plain. DM

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