We have news for Transport Minister Fikile “Mbaks” Mbalula: it is going to take more than clever Twitter posts and photo-call media opportunities to solve the ANC’s e-tolls mess.
Mbalula has tried to pour oil on the troubled waters of the relationship between Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, who had a very public and acrimonious spat on Twitter this past week over e-tolls.
Mbaks, who has made the right soothing noises on e-tolls since he took office, promises that he will hold a press conference tomorrow to chart the way forward.
There is talk that the ANC will come up with a “solution” by the end of August. Mboweni, for his part, sounded remarkably like a Nat politician of old, saying that government policy remains “user pays”.
And that policy is nonnegotiable, meaning those who use Gauteng’s upgraded freeways (what a misnomer that is) should be made to pay.
The problem with that, minister, is that you and the ANC have been letting hundreds of thousands of Soweto consumers get away with using, and not paying for, electricity for years. The outstanding debt is now about R18 billion.
The other problem is that people in Gauteng already pay – through their noses via tax and innumerable levies – for services and infrastructure. Had the ANC instituted a Gauteng-only fuel levy of less than 30c per litre in 2010, the roads would have been paid for by now.
Instead, it looks as though it wants to go down fighting to provide billions of rands in revenue to a foreign company that collects the tolls electronically in a far less efficient way than levies. As we wish you luck sorting this out, Mbaks, we hope you remember … you work for us, and not the other way around.