DA takes stand against Drakensberg tourism and jobs corruption

Issued by Councillor Thys Janse van Rensburg – DA uThukela Chairperson
09 Apr 2024 in Press Statements

The scourge of corruption continues to plague the Drakensberg region, striking at the heart of its tourism industry and employment opportunities. For years, the DA in Okhahlamba has sounded the alarm on the perilous state of the greater Drakensberg Road Network, a vital artery for the region’s economy.

Home to the awe-inspiring Okhahlamba Drakensberg UNESCO park, which draws thousands of tourists to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) annually, the region’s potential is immense. However, the ongoing neglect and mismanagement of road infrastructure have endangered its prosperity. The DA has tirelessly championed this cause, taking the issue of crumbling roads to Parliament’s Transport Portfolio Committee for three years running.

In a promising turn of events, on September 13th, 2022, the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety, and Liaison, Sipho Hlomuka, announced the appointment of a contractor to address the washout on the crucial R74/Oliviershoek Pass. This pass not only links Okhahlamba to the Free State but also serves as the principal alternative route to the N3/Van Reenen Pass, holding significant national importance.

However, hope quickly turned to dismay as the construction site fell silent mere months after commencement. Today, the R74 Oliviershoek Pass remains unfinished, despite the disbursement of a staggering R10 million in 2023. This pre-payment for incomplete work constitutes a flagrant violation of legal and ethical standards.

This pattern of alleged corruption is not new. A similar scandal marred the R74 in 2010, rendering the region inaccessible and robbing its residents of investment and employment opportunities for years. Corruption under the ruling party not only undermines the livelihoods of South Africans but also cripples the economy and stifles investment essential for driving growth and job creation, particularly in rural areas like the Okhahlamba Drakensberg.

The DA has a plan, as contained in our recently launched Provincial Manifesto, to tackle corruption by establishing a prosecutor-led desk in the Premier’s Office to receive, gather and investigate allegations of bribery and corruption by officials. We also have a solid plan to create 300 000 much-needed jobs in the province.

On the 29th of May the people of KZN have a chance to usher in a new DA government that takes a hard line on all forms of corruption.

We will once again petition Parliament’s Portfolio Committee and enlist the support of investigative bodies like the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to root out this pervasive corruption and ensure justice prevails.

For further information, please refer to the attached response from the Minister of Transport.