JOHANNESBURG, November 7- Gauteng Premier and provincial African National Congress (ANC) chairperson, David Makhura, on Wednesday defended the provincial government’s stance against the controversial e-tolls, saying that the issue with the urban tolling was that it overtaxed road users.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, Makhura said that the provincial ANC has longed called for the scrapping of the e-tolls since they were introduced in 2013. Makhura said that the provincial ANC and government stance would not create policy uncertainty or a risk profile for Gauteng that would drive investors away.
“South Africa supports the user-pay principle for infrastructure projects, but the issue of urban tolling is a very specific contentious issue. We have projects that businesses are willing to [invest in], the only question they want to know is how are you going to fund it,” Makhura said.
“When you sort out the funding model, there is no confusion on policy uncertainty. But you don’t want a funding model that is contentious where you overburden citizens and later people are going to revolt. A funding model of an infrastructure project that’s a burden for some citizens may be a problem for those investors themselves. That’s where the e-toll issue is, it’s not causing policy uncertainty.”
Last week, Makhura led thousands of ANC members on a march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, along with the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), the South African Communist Party, civic society organisations like the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), all demanding that e-tolls be scrapped and saying that e-tolls have no future as long as the ANC remains in charge.
Makhura said that the renewed campaign against the e-tolls was not an electioneering tool for the upcoming 2019 general elections, but said that the concern was that there were just too many tolls in Gauteng alone which resulted in motorists being “overtaxed”.
“The ANC’s position has been very consistent on the e-tolls. As the Premier, anyone who lives in this province knows that I’ve been consistent in saying that the people of this province are not accepting the e-tolls. It’s not being said now because it’s election time. You can go to all the State of the Province Addresses and check what did I say about the e-tolls,” Makhura said.
“Anyone with a short memory will think because we were marching last week it’s for the first time the ANC expresses a view that says we don’t support the e-tolls, I say we have been so consistent. The urban tolling is overtaxing us. We are not opposed to tolling, but you can’t toll the urban system. We support the view that e-tolls are not an appropriate way of paying for the roads.”
Makhura said he was confident that if the election was held tomorrow, Gauteng residents would vote the ANC back into power despite the issue of e-tolls. (ANA)