In her state of the province address on Monday, to mark the opening of the provincial legislature, Mokonyana was battling to paint a rosy picture of the state of affairs in the province. Bizarrely, she gloated about how the improvement of Gauteng’s highways, which led to the introduction of highly unpopular e-tolling, has contributed “to improving the quality of life of our people”.
As she was bragging about the “good story” the province had to tell, residents in some parts of Gauteng continued taking to the streets to demand better services in violent protests that have become a daily occurrence in the province and many other parts of the country. How a controversial system that has added an extra burden to millions of already over-indebted consumers can be hailed as having changed lives is beyond comprehension.
So unpopular is the system it was launched amid court actions and protests by civil society and even some structures of Mokonyane’s own party. Even after being unveiled, e-tolling has been plagued by several administrative and technical glitches, resulting in inflated bills and charges to people who don’t even own vehicles, including children.
The premier is correct in her assertion that the upgrading of some 200km of the Gauteng freeway system has been to world-class standards. However, Mokonyane and her fellow public representatives should not expect to be credited and praised for doing what they have been elected to do, which is delivering services to the people of this country.
That Mokonyane chose to cite the much loathed e-tolls as an accomplishment of her government is indicative of the rarity of genuine good stories to tell 20 years into our democracy.