New Ministers must step up government’s service to citizens

Engagement with civil organisations is crucial going forward.

The finalisation of the Cabinet of National Unity by President Cyril Ramaphosa has brought certainty to the leadership of key government departments, a move welcomed by the Automobile Association (AA). The Association notes that Ms Barbara Creecy, appointed as the new Minister of Transport, and Mr Gwede Mantashe, re-appointed as the Minister of Mineral and Petroleum Resources, must now ensure effective leadership with a view to making meaningful inroads into critical areas managed by their respective departments.

“We note that Ms Creecy is the eleventh Minister of Transport since 1994 which is cause for concern as continuity of leadership within government departments is vital. In this regard, we urge Ms Creecy to engage the AA and other civil organisations to better understand the transport and mobility challenges facing millions of South Africans, and our approach to resolving these challenges,” the Association says.

The Association notes that transport intersects all other departments and, as such, is crucial to the economic development of the country. Its success must, therefore, be prioritised by the new Minister and the entire Cabinet. The AA says the need for an improved transport model in South Africa must be high on the agenda, as should efforts to improve road safety.

“Public transport in South Africa remains fractured and largely inadequate and the need to create safe, reliable, affordable, and sustainable public transport should be a major focus for the new minister. Addressing the country’s rail crisis must also feature strongly moving forward as this creates downstream issues on the country’s road network. Introducing measures to improve traffic law enforcement and dealing effectively with the problems at Driving Licence Testing Centres – including those associated with the provision of driving licence cards – should, similarly, enjoy serious attention by the new Minister.

In relation to Mr Mantashe’s appointment, the AA again calls on him and the Department of Mineral and Petroleum Resources to initiate an open and transparent review of the country’s fuel pricing structure.

“South Africans remain constrained by high fuel costs and there is a dire need to review the country’s fuel pricing structure; each line item which comprises the fuel price must be interrogated and assessed. Together with civil organisations and experts, a better model must be sought in the interests of finding ways to mitigate rising costs and to buffer South Africans against ongoing geo-political developments which impact local fuel pricing,” the AA says.

The Association says it will continue to avail itself to government – as it has done in the past – in interests of providing input that benefits ordinary South Africans.

“It is incumbent on government to provide efficient and effective services for all citizens and the new Cabinet now has an opportunity to seriously address any shortcomings of the past. We welcome the appointment of the new Cabinet and trust the Ministers – new and re-appointed – will work with organisations such as ours to the benefit of all South Africans,” the Association concludes.