The dispute that led to Monday’s taxi strike in the province is far from being resolved. And despite Western Cape ANC intervention, the warring parties are no closer to a solution and hopefully another strike is not on the cards.
Instead, it has resulted in a blame game, with the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) in the dark over a reported meeting with the Minibus Taxi Industry Task Team (MTITT) and ANC officials on Friday to resolve matters.
Santaco has confirmed it would go ahead with provincial and regional elections at its conference next week, regardless of the MTITT withdrawing its services this week in demand of a provincial elective conference ahead of the national conference.
Santaco deputy chairperson Nazeem Abdurahman, who is an ANC member, said yesterday: “We heard about a meeting via the media and WhatsApp, but we haven’t had any official word when or where the meeting is taking place.
"That group calling themselves the Minibus Taxi Task Group is a breakaway group of Santaco Western Cape and every four years before we go to elections, we have issues like this where members are using all kinds of extreme measures to overthrow the upcoming elections.
“And that’s more or less by the same people who are suspended members of Santaco. They were part of the former leaderships who are now causing the issues at hand.
“There is a court order that instructs us how to do things. The court order must be respected. It’s a high court ruling and when it was communicated to them, they immediately went to the streets to display their anger.
“We mustn’t try to use politics to get away with murder. You know the ANC needs to understand that we are governed by policy at Santaco and we follow the constitution. This is an internal matter.
“The task team can’t expect the party to give them a free ticket out of jail. We have rules, we have governing documents, we have policy documents which show us how to conduct the business on a daily basis.”
While the task team and the ANC have blamed Transport and Public Works MEC Donald Grant for the taxi strike that led to the torching of buses and left thousands of commuters stranded on Monday, Abdurahman said nothing could be further from the truth.
“MEC Grant was never prejudiced. He is a just person who gave us all the necessary as a minister to make sure that we have a peaceful, united, democratic taxi industry."
ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore was reported as saying on Tuesday, after meeting with the task team, that after listening to all sides, including Grant, Santaco and the MTITT, it was found that Grant had let disagreements reach boiling point.
“In particular they alleged that despite a promise by MEC Grant that the provincial department would approach the high court in November 2017 to obtain an order of court to implement the recommendations, this was never done. Proof of this allegation was provided. This failure by MEC Grant has contributed to the current crisis,” Dugmore said.
Abdurahman said the conduct of the task team "isn't that of people who want to sit around a table and talk", but instead resort to illegal and intimidation tactics.
“The government needs to step in against people who contravene the taxi operating licence permit because there are certain conditions you need to comply with and you can’t leave your passengers destitute. I would like the government and the Public Regulatory Entity, the custodian of that permit, to step in now and make sure that they deal with the perpetrators. People are binded in terms of amendment law 8 of 1996.
“Minister Grant opened up all channels. He gave us a retired judge’s services who mediated between the parties. They (MTITT) in turn took that opinion of the retired judge and went to the high court to seek a declaratory order on Judge Ian Farlam.
"Judge Farlam communicated how he understood the ruling of the high court and they are not happy with it. National Santaco intervened, the government intervened and the judge intervened, but they want to have things their way."
When asked how a breakaway group could bring a whole city to a standstill, Abdurahman said: “That is how they orchestrated the strike, but you know what, as far as we know there were signs of intimidation of our drivers, even passengers were intimidated, the sliding door operators were intimated and taxis were harassed.
“They have been suspended for 12 years so they know the elections are coming up. This happens every four years by the same group, by the same suspended members and they want to hold the entire province to ransom and do as they please, and be a government on their own.”
When asked to comment on Abdurahman’s views yesterday, Dugmore said: “I cannot respond to a reported statement.”