Some stakeholders and analysts question why the provincial branch of the ANC only appears to become vocal about the contentious issue when elections are on the horizon.
The ANC’s internal battle over whether e-tolls in Gauteng should be scrapped appears to have been revived, with the party’s Gauteng region once again strongly opposing the tolls.
Some stakeholders and analysts, however, question why the provincial branch of the ANC only appears to become vocal about the contentious issue when elections are on the horizon.
Gauteng MEC of transport Jacob Mamabolo on Tuesday reiterated the province’s rejection of the failing tolling system, stating that they were working with the national government to halt its implementation.
He said submissions were made to the President and ministers of Finance and Transport to scrap the e-tolls which he said were an unfair burden on residents of Gauteng.
ALSO READ: E-tolls saga: it’s ANC vs ANC
Despite this, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni did not seem to entertain the idea in his 2021 Budget Speech last week.
He said infrastructure would be endangered if “the end user does not pay a cost-reflective tariff for usage”.
This is due to the government’s finances being in a critical state and needing another source of revenue, said political analyst Andre Duvenhage.
“There is no doubt the government is running into a severe financial crisis and needs a tax base. It’s currently so low that they can’t do basic work due to a number of reasons. They need the money and cannot afford not to get it.”
ALSO READ: Gauteng asks government to halt e-tolls
In November 2018, Gauteng ANC leader David Makhura, also the province’s Premier, led a People’s March to the Union Buildings which focused on the rejection of the e-toll system among other issues relating to the high cost of living.
Gauteng ANC spokesperson Bones Modise told The Citizen on Tuesday the party’s stance remains unchanged.
He said there was nothing contradictory about their cause.
“People were saying it is ANC marching against the ANC government. But it was the Gauteng ANC saying to the national government they must listen to what the people are saying.
“This does not need arrogance but people who have thinking capacity and can sit down and agree with the ANC in Gauteng,” said Modise.
It does appear, however, that the ANC-led national government folded its arms when South African National Road Agency Limited (Sanral) extended the e-toll contract with toll collection management company Electronic Toll Collections (ETC) by another year, ending in December 2021.
The ANC is inconsistent and has no clear line of thinking, said Duvenhage.
“They are fighting each other literally on all levels.”
ALSO READ: Forcing e-toll payments will hurt ANC in local government elections – Analyst
While the deadline on the decision to implement the e-tolls is the end of the month, it was unlikely to be rolled out before the elections, said Duvenhage.
“The government is not going to push for e-tolls to be paid before elections. That is the nature of the contradiction in the organisation. There is no integrity and consistency and clear line of thinking and action.”
The Gauteng ANC’s resilient rejection of the e-toll system could just be a tool to gain votes ahead of the local government elections, Duvenhage said.
“It’s about elections that are coming up and about tax resistance. It’s a severe conflict of interest. Their strategy isn’t to get an answer but to continue with this mess.”
Those who would be voting for the party in the province in the hope it would rid of e-tolls would only be putting the power back into the hands of the same government to reinforce e-tolls, said Justice Project South Africa’s (JPSA’s) Howard Dembovsky.
“I fully support the MEC [Mamabolo]… [but] they are vehemently opposed to e-tolls just before elections. The rest of the time they just shut up and let Fikile [Mbalula] and the rest have their way.”
E-tolls not only affect ANC supporters in the province but all road users, Gauteng ANC’s Modise said in defence.
“The unfortunate thing is that this is not a provincial government problem. If it was, it would have long been dealt with. ANC Gauteng would have instructed them to scrap it.”
“It’s not because of elections. The e-tolls don’t affect ANC voters and supporters. They affect the people of Gauteng who support multiple political parties,” said Modise.
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