E-toll bullying will resume after elections

We think it’s clear the ANC is pushing e-tolls to the side until it wins in 2019.

The statement this week by Gauteng Premier and ANC provincial chairperson David Makhura – that there “should be no confusion” about whether e-tolls will be killed off – was bizarre.

His comments that the system will be stopped directly contradicted newly appointed Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, who, in his medium-term budget policy statement in parliament this week, said people should continue to pay e-tolls.

Later, he told a radio station that in this life “nothing is for mahala (free)” – a reference to the fact that the Gauteng freeways have to be paid for.

Clearly, the ANC premier is looking nervously ahead at next year’s polls because e-tolls have become the one issue which has united Gauteng residents across race, class and political affiliation: the majority of them clearly don’t want the system.

Not long ago, Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande – whose unionist and Communist comrades are also dead set against electronic open road tolling – tried to encourage people to pay. At the same time, parliament has tried to call off the legal attack dogs of the South African National Roads Agency, who claim to be sending out thousands of summonses a month to defaulters.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), which originally gave impetus to the civil protest against e-tolls, also claims the debt collectors are breaking the law by sending illegal threats of high court action and the arrests of those who haven’t paid.

Makhura claimed e-tolls were not for Gauteng and that he and his colleagues had spoken to President Cyril Ramaphosa about it. So far, though, the head of state is keeping quiet.

So, what is going on?

We think it’s clear the ANC is pushing e-tolls to the side until it wins in 2019. Once it has a mandate, expect the strongarm tactics to begin in earnest.

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