By Nkutšoeu Motsau, Chairperson of Azanla MVA
South Africa has the capacity to build a car from scratch. Indeed, it has already built an electric car. This project was completed while the former president of AZAPO, Dr Mosibudi Mangena, was still the Minister of Science and Technology. He also had the occasion to go and show off the car in Europe where it received raving accolades. Its name is Joule. Now the car is parked somewhere collecting dust. I cannot fathom the reason why this car is not being produced in South Africa.
South Africa must produce its car. If we can invest in a plant that produces our own car, drastically limit imported cars, use mostly local content, limit the number of cars produced here by foreign companies, we can go a long way towards enhancing our political and economic independence. We must not stop there. We we must start to produce our own electric motorbikes, bakkies, lorries, buses, trucks, forklifts, tractors and heavy duty road construction vehicles. Surely , the motor car manufacturing and related industries can thrive and unemployment will be dealt a fatal blow: there is no doubt that research in the manufacture of a robust and efficient batteries, wheels and tyres, glass, suspension systems, automatic and manual transmission systems, braking systems (indeed, the sky is the limit!) can flourish.
There is not a single South African car in our beautiful roads. All the cars that you see in our roads come from every country that produces cars: India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Sweden, France, Germany, the USA and the UK. And in those countries you don’t find so many foreign cars in their roads. On our roads, on the other hand, you’ll find all models of the Porsche 911, Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and the BMW (including motorbikes, buses and trucks); you will find all models of Suzuki, Mazda, Toyota; you will find all models of Volvo vehicles; you will find all models of Chevrolet and Ford; you will find Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Fiat and Alfa Romeo. Why must it be like this?
We have a vast pool of unemployed graduates—about 1 million. In addition, we do have a large pool of unemployed artisans and technicians. We have many universities and tvet colleges, it must be added, though, that they need to be streamlined for the purpose. Unemployment stands at 28%. So, when it comes to human resources there is no shortage. I do not want to talk about our mineral and natural resources. We have a lot of the sun, the wind and waves of the oceans to harness for energy. What more do we want? Our problem is organisation! Yes, organisation is the key!
As long as our society is organised along capitalist lines, we must rest assured that nothing good will come out of it. We can no longer afford a small group of people owning and controlling the means of livelihood whilst the rest of society is turned into toilers and the industrial reserve army. We must now organise our new companies as cooperatives and phase out of the capitalist style companies we now have. In this way, we shall also eliminate corruption.
* The writer of this column, Nkutšoeu Motsau, was born in Top Location in the Vaal Triangle in 1953. He grew up in Sharpeville. He is a tetraplegic as a result of a car accident in July 2005 in Sharpeville and now resides in Cape Town, but still feels a deep rooted connection with the Vaal. Nkutšoeu is Chairperson of Azanla MVA.