Bad news, Gauteng folk: e-tolls and the ‘user-pay-principle are here to stay, which means that road users with outstanding bills will not be getting out of setting their accounts.
Mboweni said in his speech that several options were considers to “resolve the impasse. He added the government has decided to retain the user-pay principle, and warned:
“While there will be a further dispensation and value‐added services, compliance will also be strengthened. […] Not paying your tolls has already led to our roads deteriorating. We have been unable to maintain the network. I urge the nation to please pay your bills.”
He compared paying e-tolls to buying bread from Pick ‘n Pay – a service that requires payment, and urged South Africans to “build a culture of payment.”
“Government services can only be sustainable if all of us that can pay for services, do so.”
Finance minister Tito Mboweni, during the Mid-term Budget Speech on Wednesday.
This follows after Gauteng premier David Makhura announced during his state of the province address in February 2019 that e-tolls would be scrapped.
At the time, Makhura said the e-toll system is unsustainable; and while the user-pay principle is not in question, “there is clear recognition that urban tolling increases the cost of living.”
Following Mboweni’s speech, Outa confirmed that their position on e-tolls “remains unchanged.”
“A failed system cannot be resurrected. Government needs a reality check on this. Until this expensive, irrational and unworkable system is cancelled, we remain resolute.”
According to Outa, the user-pay system isn’t efficient, and isn’t far “when it comes to applying an additional tax to one city’s motorists and not others.”
The EFF and Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has explosively crossed paths on the matter of e-tolls this week. Mbaks, who took his first ride on the Gautrain on Friday, told the public that it’s high-time people started “paying for these roads” to help bolster the local economy.
Fikile Mbalula’s position on e-tolls
This marks a dramatic turnaround from Mbalula, who has previously edged towards the idea of scrapping the pay-as-you-drive gantries. He’s gone from sitting on the fence, to diving head-first into Sanral’s garden:
“The lack of proper communications on the roads tariffs on the e-tolls they have played a roll also in the take up by our road users. We must correct that and this is a start. Our roads are congested and we must reduce the number of cars on the roads and build world-class roads that cause efficiency on cars.”
“Public transport must be a key solution in all of that together with tolls and other measures. I thought I should use this opportunity to encourage users to support these entities. Paying for the roads would create a better economic ecosystem within the transport industry.”
EFF vow to “take the fight to the streets”
Needless to say, the change in tact from Fikile Mbalula has put the EFF on red alert. An official communication was issued by the party, reiterating their contempt for e-tolls.
They have slamed both the minister and Gauteng Premier David Makhura for both making “empty promises” on the matter. The EFF have also suggested that their members will “take to the streets” in order to keep the boycott against e-tolls going for years to come.
“E-tolls were never in the first place meant to be imposed on the people of Gauteng. National ministers are contradicting themselves on this policy. ANC Premier David Makhura has made several empty promises to scrap the system, only for him to go and distance himself from the matter.”
“E-tolls must be boycotted until the government finds a solution. They cannot impose another tariff which has come from the greed and corrupt interest of politicians. The residents of Gauteng must be prepared to take to the streets if needs be. E-tolls must fall.”
Contempt for e-tolls remains strong
The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse have also found themselves in the red corner on this issue:
— OUTA (@OUTASA) October 25, 2019
- You can read the full EFF statement here:
EFF Statement on E-Tolls: The Boycott Must Continue. pic.twitter.com/Y5j2Nr8VQD
— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) October 25, 2019
A press statement by Freedom Front Plus’ (FF Plus) Advocate Anton Alberts, revealed that Gauteng Premier David Makhura appeared to be backtracking on the electronic toll (e-toll) issue.
Alberts, FF Plus national chairperson and a Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (MPL), attended a question and answer session in the Gauteng Legislature. The FF Plus asked what the Gauteng African National Congress’ (ANC) final position on the e-toll issue.
The Gauteng ANC’s final position on e-tolls
In his response, Makhura indicated that the Gauteng ANC’s final position on e-tolls was that the South African National Roads Agency’s (SANRAL) debt must be paid. The FF Plus was not pleased with this stance.
They argued how the Gauteng ANC had always stated that they were completely opposed to the electronic tolls. The new position appears to be something that was recently decided.
“During recent negotiations with the national ANC government, the Gauteng ANC decided that certain road users, particularly large companies, must keep on paying e-toll.”
Advocate Anton Alberts, FF Plus national chairperson and Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature
ANC backtracking on e-toll stance
Up until the runup to the 2019 general elections, the leading party had repeatedly made it clear that they were totally opposed to the tolls. The new position was quite strange as the Gauteng ANC even marched to the Union Buildings in protest against electronic tolls and the national ANC government.
To push for solid action, the MPL encouraged Makhura and the
ANC in Gauteng to take the abolishment of e-tolls seriously. Alberts asked them
to “declare a formal dispute with the national government in terms of the
Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act and exhaust the remedies contained
The MPL insisted that the ANC’s true position should stand
and if it’s still opposed and all avenues have been rendered useless, the
provincial ANC government should take the national government to court.
According to Alberts, Makhura’s response was: “There exists
no dispute between the provincial and national governments regarding e-toll.” The
MPL felt the premiere’s answer was suspicious and indicated a bigger problem.
Large businesses could be forced to pay toll debt
He noted that Makhura and his ANC team might have “capitulated.”
The FF Plus was also concerned that large businesses would be saddled with
paying the e-toll debt.
He lamented on how these companies were “already highly
taxed.” The MPL anticipated “more job losses as businesses try to absorb the
Alberts noted how the ANC couldn’t be trusted when it came
to the e-toll issue but promised that the FF Plus would continue fighting to
have e-tolls completely abolished.