Mandela Mata, deputy secretary of Santaco, engaged with taxi associations to join the new political party. Picture: Tshego Lepule
Cape Town - Taxi associations across the country want to establish a new political party to contest next year’s general elections.

The sector, marred in recent weeks by violence and turf wars over routes, appears to be putting their differences aside.

Operators believe a political party would solve their problems.

The taxi industry has been plagued by violence across the province. Feuds in different parts of the country have escalated. More than 15 drivers have been killed in the province.

The scourge has made headlines in the New York Times with Mark Shaw, director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime and author of a recent book on assassinations in South Africa, telling the newspaper, “large parts of the industry have begun to look very Mafia-like, where you defend and expand your business turf through the use of violence”.

Calls have also been made for intervention in the regulations on the impounding of vehicles, traffic fines, subsidising petrol and route management.

Members of taxi associations from the Eastern and Western Cape gather at the Mew Way Hall in Khayelitsha to discuss the formation of a new political party which will prioritise the needs of taxi operators. Picture: Tshego Lepule

The All African Association party [AAA] was born out of taxi operators’ frustrations and the party’s vows to make sure they are represented in Parliament.

However, the party might have to change or amend its name after their registration process with the Independent Electoral Commission showed there was already another political party registered under a similar acronym.

IEC spokesman Courtney Sampson said there was still time for political parties to register for next year’s elections as no date for them had been set.

The party’s national co-ordinator, Cecil Dibela said: “All the taxi associations felt that they must come together and form a political party because they feel neglected by the current government,” said the party’s national co-ordinator.”

“The taxi industry is losing its rights slowly but surely.

“For example, in the old regime we used to have indefinite permits but now we have definite permits with no guarantee that we might have them again in the future, another issue is the lack of subsidies for the taxi industry, while the other modes of transport are being subsidised. We have been crying and crying for these subsidies and this is something we need, especially for our communities who get affected when things like fuel increases happen.

“They have to dig deeper and deeper into their pockets.

“And when we engage with the government, our structures always say they are engaging but we never see a better result.

“So we see this as the only way we can voice our concerns so that at the end of the day we can represent ourselves and not expect that from others.

“This political party is not only for associations, we also incorporate civic people, the schools, church councils and they must join us so that we can fight one battle,” he said.

All African Associations national co-ordinator Cecil Dibela said the party was formed after operators grew tired of being ignored by the ruling party in the government. Picture: Tshego Lepule

This week AAA leaders met with taxi associations from across the Western Cape in Khayelitsha to garner support from members and other organisations to join the party.

Speaking at the meeting deputy chairperson of the SA National Taxi Council (Santaco), Mandla Mata said for too long members had sought solutions from other people or had resorted to solving them by themselves when they had power in their numbers.

“I remember years ago when Robin Carlisle was the MEC of Transport he said that as an industry we were powerful but we did not realise exactly how powerful we were, we had power but we did not know how to use it.

"We left that meeting without any indications as to how our problems would be fixed,” he said.

“And much later when we went to Gauteng to Luthuli House and engaged with (former ANC secretary-general)Gwede Mantashe he also asked us questions that had us thinking, who are we, where can we be found, where is our constituency?”

Weekend Argus