Hon Deputy Speaker, Deputy President, our need for an Infrastructure Development Plan that is fully co-ordinated should be encouraged and welcomed. However, centralisation of this kind of infrastructure development should not compromise transparency, accountability and efficiency.
Cope believes that clean and ethical governance should be the order of the day during this process. All tenders must be opened to the public and all information during the evaluation stages must be readily accessible. If these principles are thrown out of the window, then the rot will set in.
Further, Cope believes that we need to have strong guarantees that will ensure that all South Africans in general and the poor in particular will be able to benefit from this process. Also, Cope believes that the Ministers, especially the drivers of the identified strategic integrated projects, must be held accountable. There must be no gagging of the media with secrecy laws and the National Key Points Act. The clock must be set and projects delivered within the agreed budgets. Cope believes that there should be consequences for such Ministers, and any Ministers that step outside the line must be made to fall on their swords.
We have the examples of the Hitachi and Chancellor House experiences, the nuclear pebble bed reactors as well as the Joule electric car project. These cost the nation billions because of vested interests, overdesign and vanity projects. These have to be avoided.
The dynamic involvement of communities in projects as a manifestation of citizen democracy has to be visible. Too often, projects are seen as belonging to the government rather than to the people. This erroneous belief has to be reversed.
Communities have to take ownership and exercise the monitoring of projects. Rural communities in particular, are part of South Africa. Their serial neglect is an indictment of government. We cannot tolerate this indifference to their plight.
For now, Cope supports the Infrastructure Development Draft Bill, provided that all of the risks that we have alluded to and those which the Bill itself also alludes to, are taken into consideration. We thank you.