ANC government accused of sabotaging Ford’s jobs plan for shack communities

South Africa - Johannesburg - 25 May 2024 - President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the partys followers during the African National Congress(ANC) Siyanqoba rally at the FNB stadium. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspaper

South Africa - Johannesburg - 25 May 2024 - President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the partys followers during the African National Congress(ANC) Siyanqoba rally at the FNB stadium. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspaper

Published May 27, 2024


President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office has dismissed claims made by the representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Peace Commission which last week wrote to the President’s office seeking an explanation why the ANC government ignored and sabotaged the Ford Motor Company’s jobs plan for the county’s poor shack communities.

The plan, which was devised in 1983 by the country’s best engineers at the time, was intended to become what would have been a blueprint in creating sustainable communities and industrial-led development plan with the potential of influencing the rest of the continent through job creation.

“It is with profound dismay and anger that we have learned of the South African government’s deliberate and knowing rejection of the Ford Motor Company’s plan to economically empower shack communities and alleviate their poverty country-wide, over the past 30 years.

“This plan, devised by engineers in 1983, at the request of Ford before the US car company and tyre manufacturers left South Africa, is not only a blueprint for South Africa’s industrial development, but also holds immense potential for replication throughout Africa. By implementing this plan, millions of Africans could have been provided with a vital steps towards industrial development, which is desperately needed throughout Africa,” reads the letter to Ramaphosa.

According to Greville Wood, this plan was approved by former minister Alec Erwin who after seeing its potential was prevented from approving it by some members of the ANC government.

“We as the SADC Peace Commission have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa seeking him to explain why the ANC government ignored our plan to industrialise poor communities through a Ford Motor company plan that would have resulted in creating sustainable communities through engineering and skills development and not through social housing which does not create sustainable communities.

“This plan came from from Ford’s car design office in 1984, which has requested me to create an industrial plan that would lift squatter camps out of poverty. With the plan I presented, they brought in Goodyear and GM to the funding table and I brought Siemens. By 1986 I had demonstrated to the CSIR’s satisfaction how to industrialise squatter camps and in 1996 the National Research Foundation concurred. Soon after completing the 1986 proof, the US companies left SA and the project collapsed as local business leaders did not want to see the plan develop. So we want to find out from government why all these years they have ignored the plan and its potential to create jobs,“ Wood told The Star.

REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker

The SADC Peace Commission team’s assertions come just days after Ramaphosa promised a six-point jobs plan which includes investing in manufacturing electric cars to revitalise the country’s ailing economy during his Siyanqoba rally speech.

“As we continue our journey and as we prepare to carry out our people’s mandate, the ANC will focus on six priorities to take our country forward. Over the next five years, working with all South Africans, we will implement a jobs plan to put more South Africans back to work. We will build our industries and invest in an inclusive economy. We will tackle the high costs of living,” Ramaphosa said.

However, responding to The Star on Sunday, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Vincent Magwenya, said the presidency was not prepared to waste its time responding to unknown entities such as this commission.

“SADC as a multilateral institution, does not have a ‘Peace Commission’. Therefore, we don’t know who the people behind this are. What is their mandate and from where is this mandate derived? Who are they accountable to? Where else in the SADC region have they submitted their job plans and how successful have those plans been?

“You say a plan was devised in 1983. Why is this issue being raised now after so many years and on the eve of the elections? Where have they been all along? Which public consultation process on key economic growth-enabling legislation have they participated in and given their inputs? So what exactly are we meant to be responding to here? Why is the Ford Motor Company not raising this issue directly with the government?“ Magwenya said.

The Star

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