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'It's like a disease,' says Ramaphosa, urging SA to get things done on time

'I would like for us to shed this disease and get things done quicker'

22 June 2021 - 18:12 By amanda khoza
President Cyril Ramaphosa is 'extremely concerned' about the long time it takes to get things done in SA. File photo.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is 'extremely concerned' about the long time it takes to get things done in SA. File photo.
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans to shed themselves of the culture of “not getting things done on time”, saying “it's like a disease”. 

“I think I also have it and many of us have it, and I would like for us to ... shed this disease and get things done quicker and sooner,” he said.  

Ramaphosa made the remarks during a question-and-answer session in Cape Town after he announced the establishment of the National Ports Authority as an independent subsidiary of Transnet, in line with the National Ports Act.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan is to appoint an interim board by June 30 to oversee the establishment of the new subsidiary.

Answering a question on how quickly the two entities could be unbundled, Ramaphosa said: “We would like, once the board has been put in place, to continue with the process. But in the same period we would be proceeding with all other processes to continue with our reforms.

He said “we must pick up the pace of getting things done”.

He said he was extremely concerned about the long time it takes to get things done in SA. “I would like everything that we do in terms of regulatory or permit processes to be cut by half.”

He said the long time it takes to get things done puts the brakes on economic growth “and I would like for us to get out of our comfort zones, all South Africans”.

The process of restructuring Transnet should happen sooner rather than later, he said.

On plans to repair the entire system, Ramaphosa said he had been hugely impressed by the strategic plan. “There are plans looking 20-25 years into the future, [including] plans for rail.”

Ramaphosa said SA’s ports ranked at the bottom in performance but reforming Transnet could see them perform better.

“I would like us to perform better, we are right at the bottom. There is no reason we should not be among the top-performing ports in the world.”  

Elaborating on measures needed to legally make the port authority independent, Gordhan said, “Work will be done on things like transferring property liability and other elements from Transnet to the National Ports Authority. We will finalise the memorandum of incorporation in terms of the Companies Act and the Ports Act and an interim board will be appointed.”

He said he had met the two main unions within the organisation and they were pleased with the announcement.

“They were happy with the assurance that there won’t be job losses but, similarly, there will be consultations with other stakeholders who have an interest in the efficiency and effectiveness of our ports.”

Gordhan said there was a lot of interest, particularly in the Western Cape. “This is not just the establishing of the National Ports Authority as an independent subsidiary of Transnet, but reform of the entire port system.”

In the coming week, Gordhan and his team will be looking at the entire value chain to make improvements.

“There will be intensive consultations with all stakeholders and Transnet is well on its way to overcoming some of the legacy of the state capture period, where resources within Transnet to the tune of billions of rands were misaligned to the actual needs of the ports system so that those billions could be stolen in one form or another,” he said.

Transnet group CEO Portia Derby said this was a new era for the company. 

“We see ourselves as a holding company. It’s full steam on our side ... so it is a matter of finalising what assets go into TNPA, including the debts.”

Western Cape premier Alan Winde welcomed the announcement, saying, “An efficient and world-class port will go a long way in bolstering the province’s agricultural sector, which is a significant exporter in our province. By supporting the port, and this industry, we will unlock job opportunities for those who need them most.”