OUTA, DA and Rise Mzansi threaten Premier over e-tolls

OUTA, DA and Rise Mzansi threaten Premier over e-tolls. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

OUTA, DA and Rise Mzansi threaten Premier over e-tolls. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 2, 2024


The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), the DA and new kid-on-the-block, Rise Mzansi, have all threatened Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi over his failed promise to scrap e-tolls.

Reports indicate that the Gauteng provincial government, led by Lesufi, plans to continue to collect revenue from motorists in spite of a promise to end the failed system.

Lesufi, in his Gauteng State of the Province Address (Sopa) on 19 February, had said e-tolls would be phased out by end of next month.

However, Mampho Modise, deputy director-general of public finance at National Treasury, in an interview with Moneyweb this week, revealed that the Gauteng provincial government would continue to collect outstanding debt from road users .

Reacting to the ensuing confusion, OUTA CEO, Wayne Duvenage said that the organisation would defend motorists against the government.

Duvenage added that Modise’s comments were confusing as e-toll debts were collected by SANRAL, a national department of transport entity, and not by the Gauteng provincial government.

South Africa - Pretoria - 27 May 2021 - E-Tolls on the N1 highway near the Rigel Rd offramp.  Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

“What makes the threat of going after those with outstanding e-toll debts even more confusing is that SANRAL stopped issuing summonses against e-toll defaulters in 2019, and most of this debt has now prescribed,” said Duvenage.

He accused government of being indecisive and incapable of implementing its own policies saying between SANRAL, Premier Lesufi, Minister Godongwana and the Department of Transport, there seemed to be total confusion, “as nobody knows what is really going on when it comes to finalising the e-toll debacle.”

“We are left more confused than ever by the latest announcement by Modise. Who should we believe, especially since it’s election year with different politicians making so many different promises?” Duvenage added.

In an open letter to Lesufi this week, Rise Mzansi’s Gauteng Premier candidate, Vuyiswa Ramokgopa demanded the release all records on e-tolls to the public within seven days. He added that should the Premier fail to scrap the e-tolls by end of next month, he ought to resign.

“Year after year, Gauteng resident are left grappling with the same expensive and unwanted scheme.

“We call upon you to make public all correspondence between the Gauteng Provincial Government and the National Treasury regarding e-tolls. It is time for the truth to be exposed and for the people of Gauteng to see through the facade of your government,” Ramokgopa said.

During his SOPA address, Lesufi said he had met the ministers of transport and treasury and the issue of the e-tolls was concluded with clarity to be given by Godongwana in his budget speech. However, this clarity was never given, leaving motorists confused as to the future of the roads scheme.

The DA in the province has also come out strongly against Lesufi for his ‘deceitful’ pronouncement about e-tolls, with Gauteng provincial shadow MEC of roads and logistics, Fred Nel saying R12.9 billion to pay the debt was worrying.

“Recently, Lesufi announced that the provincial government will be using a loan to pay the R12,9 billion e-Toll debt. This is worrying, as any loan that is taken attracts interest, and this will place more financial strain on our residents,” Nel said.

Spokesperson for the Gauteng Premier, Sizwe Pamla denied that Lesufi had reneged on his promise on e tolls, saying even though the province supported the scrapping of tolls, national government was the sole custodian of the gantry service.

The Premier having met with all the stakeholders was waiting for all the issues to be ironed out, he added. “The understanding is that as the province, we will pay 60 percent of the debt. That is the role of the province. The province has come out to say, we support the idea and we have always campaigned for it. The province is not the custodian of the e-tolls as this belongs to the national department of transport who are the ones who must take that final decision,” he said.

Saturday Star

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