Sipho Mabena

By Sipho Mabena

Premium Journalist

Keeping e-tolls ‘will be end of ANC in Gauteng, tripartite alliance’

A political analyst says the e-toll political hot potato the ANC has been juggling is set to burn the party, as Cosatu and the SACP are against the system.

The e-tolls impasse was before Cabinet which would decide in two weeks’ time what will happen around the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which has been critised by many.

That was according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who said once the decision was made it would be communicated.

“We’ll take into consideration some of the suggestions Cabinet mandated us to look at,” Mbalula said.

Yesterday’s announcement came three months after President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered a solution be found.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s indication in his medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) this week that e-tolls were going nowhere was received with widespread condemnation, with Gauteng residents vowing to remain defiant to the end.

This comes amid warnings that the retention of the widely despised scheme would be the end of the ANC, especially in Gauteng, and that it will also signal the crumbling of the tri-partite alliance.

North West University’s political science professor, André Duvenhage, said the ANC has found itself juggling a hot political potato with heavy economic implications for the country.

He said Mboweni’s statement on e-tolls was more of a statement to the ANC, that considerations on the matter should be based on general principles of financial discipline.

“E-tolls are the bedrock of a financial crisis and Mboweni’s stance is that this should override any consideration. This has become a divisive issue within the party and has pitted the Gauteng ANC against ANC national,” he said.

Duvenhage said the ruling party’s alliance partners – the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the SA Communist Party – have rejected the e-tolls, saying many within the party were against them.

The Freedom Front Plus has said the ANC government was keeping the public guessing on e-tolls, saying the only assurance that was given was that stricter measures would be implemented to collect outstanding e-toll debt.

Anton Alberts, the party’s member of Gauteng provincial legislature, said the ANC was creating much confusion about the matter and busy deceiving voters.

“This makes it very clear that the ANC has not yet made a final decision about e-tolls. The ANC is under immense pressure from the public to abolish the scheme.

“Should the ANC keep e-tolls, the party will surely implode once and for all in Gauteng,” he said.

The Automobile Association of South Africa has said that it was hard to believe that, based on submissions government received, no one, apart from SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) supported the idea of retaining the current system.

The association claims to have data indicating users will continue not paying and that the system was doomed to failure should it be kept in its current format.

Since 2014-15, Sanral has incurred annual average losses of R1 billion, according to MTBPS documents, and the agency was not generating sufficient cash from its toll portfolio to settle operational costs.

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