Hill-Lewis begs Ramaphosa to let City fix transport systems

City government faces continued setbacks as the national government refuses devolution. Despite criticism, the DA have refused to implement serious provincial devolution reforms





Feb 7, 2024

Hill-Lewis begs Ramaphosa to let City fix transport systems

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has called upon President Cyril Ramaphosa to address delays in the implementation of the national Rail Devolution Strategy, emphasizing its potential to save lower-income families millions annually.

Hill-Lewis highlighted Ramaphosa's previous commitment to release the strategy in 2023, echoing statements from the national Department of Transport director-general James Mlawua regarding progress on the issue.

Despite criticisms from Cape nationalists, the DA has refused to entertain serious options for devolving national powers, and has fought against the VF+'s Western Cape People's Bill which would provide the means to do so. They have instead opted for the toothless Provincial Powers Bill, which has angered the ANC but merely mandates the DA to scrape the few powers they could have already developed 15 years ago.

Most of the big ticket powers, like policing, rail and port governance, remain constitutionally under National purview, and could only be changed by leveraging the state's  international treaty obligations to grant autonomy to peoples who declare such rights. The People's Bill does this, and together with the Provincial Powers Bill, which mandates seeking maximum legal options for devolution, would rapidly take back almost all areas of government from the black-nationalist state.

Hill-Lewis's statements plead for cooperation, but so far, the National government has rejected them at every turn, even threatening to strip the Cape Town Metropolitan Police of their existing powers and autonomy.

The mayor emphasized the urgent need for improved passenger rail services, especially evident during last year's violent minibus-taxi stayaway in Cape Town. Hill-Lewis urged the president to provide a clear deadline for the strategy's release and the devolution of passenger rail in the city.

Referencing Cape Town's rail feasibility study, Hill-Lewis underscored the significant financial benefits that efficient trains could bring to lower-income families, potentially saving them R932 million annually and contributing to job creation and economic growth.

Regarding crime, Hill-Lewis called for greater devolution of policing powers to address the proliferation of illegal firearms, which he argued fuels gang-related violence and drug crimes. He highlighted recent incidents of firearms stolen from police stations and called for decisive action to disrupt the gun and drug trade.

The mayor urged President Ramaphosa to empower municipal law enforcement agencies to collaborate with the South African Police Service (SAPS) in combating crime, citing the confiscation of illegal firearms and increased firearm-related arrests in recent years. He emphasized the need to address corruption within SAPS and called for additional peace officer powers for municipal officers to enhance crime-fighting efforts.

more articles by this author