Taxi association distances itself from EFF’s planned Western Cape ‘shutdown’ on Monday
The EFF has called for a ‘shutdown’ in the Western Cape on Monday, 2 October, over a number of issues, including ‘unjust taxi impoundments’. But, unlike the August taxi strike, the ‘shutdown’ isn’t being organised by the industry itself.
The Western Cape is preparing for another possible protest over issues in the taxi industry, on Monday, 2 October, following a call by the provincial structures of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
While the planned protest has caused panic among some commuters, the taxi industry’s leaders have said they are not part of organising the event.
Daily Maverick explains some of the issues.
Why is the EFF calling for a ‘shutdown’?
The party has called for a “provincial shutdown” and will hold a protest at the Ndabeni Municipal Complex in Cape Town. It states, “The days of the DA-led City of Cape Town draconian rule and racism are OVER.”
The “shutdown” will be about what the party calls “unjust taxi impoundments”, along with collapsed service delivery, high unemployment, racism, high electricity tariffs and load shedding.
THE UNITY OF THE LEFT PROVINCIAL SHUTDOWN
For too long have the poorest of the poor & working class been treated with disdain by the DA led government.
The time has come to stand & say; ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! pic.twitter.com/jMOsVBBgCM
— EFF_Western Cape (@EFFWesternCape_) September 21, 2023
Wait, another shutdown?
In August, the province experienced a taxi strike that left commuters stranded for days and prevented many learners from going to school. Five people died in violence associated with the strike.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Western Cape taxi strike updates
Commuters have sent panicked messages on social media and on WhatsApp groups asking if they will be affected by Monday’s planned protest.
Will Santaco be part of the strike?
Nceba Enge, the first deputy chairperson of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) Western Cape, on Thursday said the EFF protest “is being organised by political parties; it’s not organised by Santaco”.
However, Enge said that if individuals within the industry were members of the EFF they could join the shutdown in their personal capacity. But he stressed that Santaco as an organisation was not a party to Monday’s protest.
One of the conditions of the taxi agreement signed by Santaco and local government authorities after the August strike is that if Santaco wants to strike it must give at least 36 hours’ notice.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Western Cape counts cost of taxi war as ordinary citizens left reeling from Santaco-DA-ANC political crossfire
In a subsequent statement on Friday, SANTACO Western Cape clarified that taxis would operate normally on Monday – but regions must make vehicles available if members want to join the political party-led march. SANTACO members are also free to join the march, it said.
But the organisation repeated itself to state that this planned march was not organised by them, but rather political parties.
What is expected during the ‘shutdown’?
On Thursday, the City of Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said: “The EFF has applied for a peaceful protest permit with conditions, including refraining from intimidating city staff, entering the Ndabeni pound, and excluding taxis from the procession.”
Smith said the protest was limited to 1,000 participants.
“These proposed shutdowns occur periodically but rarely materialise or have significant consequences,” Smith said. “They mainly cause panic when messages spread through WhatsApp and social media.”
The EFF led a nationwide protest in March 2023 and claimed the event was a success, but Business Maverick’s Ray Mahlaka reported that it was business as usual.
Read more in Daily Maverick: It was organised business as usual, with no major disruptions, despite EFF’s national protest
Is it only the EFF?
Posters have been shared with images suggesting some political parties, including the United Democratic Movement and African National Congress, will join the shutdown. Smith said the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), along with other parties, would be involved too.
It’s unclear if the ANC will take part. On Friday, the ANC provincial leadership was expected to brief the media on the upcoming protest — although its media release on the briefing didn’t mention the EFF but only the “illegal taxi impoundments”. On Friday the party cancelled the briefing, saying it clashed with a multiparty meeting.
When Daily Maverick called for an update on the ANC’s position, they did not respond.
What do provincial and local government say?
The Western Cape MEC for police oversight and community safety, Reagen Allen, said on Thursday he had met with senior municipal officials, provincial government officials and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to assess provincial readiness for the protest.
“I have been assured by the SAPS and law enforcement agencies that any attempts to cause anarchy will be met with the full might of the law,” he said.
Allen said his department would work closely with the SAPS and law enforcement in “holding them to account to ensure that businesses can open, that those needing to get to work or any other appointment, can do so”.
Smith said, “The city has an operational plan for the day in case any protest becomes violent or disrupts traffic. Our operational plan includes provisions for addressing public disorder and violence, using technologies such as drones and CCTV for effective response.”
He said the city would “not hesitate” to pursue criminal and civil legal action against organisers or political parties responsible for gatherings or protests that resulted in violence or damage to public or private property.
Minibus Taxi Task Team
It was announced on Thursday that the Minibus Taxi Task Team (made up of local government, provincial government and Santaco members) had successfully concluded negotiations over the past four weeks following issues raised in the August strike and will now proceed with an implementation period.
According to a joint statement by the Western Cape government, the City of Cape Town and Santaco, the successful negotiations would ensure that transport operations continue without any disruptions.
The implementation period will run until 30 November, during which time the Provincial Regulatory Entity will conduct a review of its operating licence conditions and the work of the task team will continue.
“The City of Cape Town, the Western Cape Government, and Santaco-WC spent the month of September working through the outstanding points of disagreement regarding enforcement measurements for the minibus taxi industry.
“All parties are satisfied that we have honoured our mutual commitment to safe, reliable, and affordable transport for commuters … This demonstrates the possibilities for finding common ground when we meet around a table for constructive discussion,” according to the statement. DM
This article was updated on Friday to include the statement by SANTACO Western Cape and the ANC’s cancellation of its planned briefing.