Parliamentary debate on UDM motion: working towards an integrated and comprehensive infrastructure development strategy to fight poverty, inequality, unemployment and underdevelopment
Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP UDM President
South Africa (SA), like many other so-called developing nations, faces challenges of chronic underdevelopment and/or development skewed towards urban areas, albeit in an unequal manner.
Even urban development is fraught with inequality, as some provinces are in a position to deliver better infrastructure, while others trail behind owing to fiscal constraints determined by the income levels of their households.
Yes, some progress has been made since 1994 to provide services and infrastructure in areas where it was taboo to do so in the apartheid years. However, it is simply not sufficient or sustainable, and some of it not built well enough and is out of date with modern innovations.
SA has been in economic stagnation for more than a decade now, but mostly due to sluggish investment, poor governance and chronic corruption. We have experienced two quarters of negative growth this year, thus the current technical recession.
Mister Deputy Speaker, if we were to unite around this new approach on infrastructure development in our country, we shall be in practice, marching united towards drastically reducing inequality, the eradication of poverty and unemployment.
2. The UDM’s approach to Infrastructure Development
The UDM believes in a policy of intervention by the state in the economy through planned sustainable development programmes, which create jobs on a large scale whilst developing and maintaining infrastructure.
There is, however, a serious lack of capacity, uniformity in spatial planning and infrastructure development between municipal, provincial and national governments.
The introduction of mega infrastructure should not be done at the expense of the development of rural areas, townships and informal settlements. Mega infrastructure must be linked and inclusive of these areas for their benefit.
In this regard, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), with its integrated policy approach, proposes that the work of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC), must be locally driven from grassroots level. For instance, we need to have a comprehensive ward / municipal / district and provincial based infrastructure plan that will be coordinated at a central level by the PICC.
We need to build internal capacity to restrict unnecessary dependence on outsourcing. The PICC must be able to ensure that the state has the necessary capacity at local levels.
Government needs to plan infrastructure beforehand and ensure that their investment in education aligns with the infrastructure development goals to avoid having this sector being dominated by foreign experts.
The PICC could also be tasked to ensure uniformity of infrastructure development across provinces; as guided by their individual needs. In so doing one province will not be favoured over another. For instance, primary schools across all provinces must have equal access to computer and science laboratories.
Each worker should have the same access to transport to get them to and from work. Each citizen living in a rural area should have the same opportunity to benefit from the infrastructure and public services made available in urban hubs, as far as reasonably possible.