'We get nothing from e-tolls‚' marchers say as they descend on Union Buildings
People are gatvol of e-tolls and they should be scrapped.
That was one of the demands of the ANC and others to the government in a memorandum delivered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Friday.
ANC provincial chairperson David Makhura‚ who is Gauteng’s premier‚ said living costs have become “really expensive” and that all South Africans were affected. “For us‚ as the ANC‚ e-tolls are a cost-of-living issue.
“For many people‚ it is not because they are defiant [by refusing to pay e-tolls]; they can’t make ends meet. We can’t keep calling on people to dig deeper and deeper into their pockets. They have no pockets left‚” Makhura added.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said in his medium-term budget policy statement last Thursday that South Africans must pay tolls if they wanted decent roads.
“Government remains committed to the user-pay principle because it is the most efficient and effective way to ensure that the direct benefits of services are paid for by those who use them.”
When asked about the mixed message over e-toll payment from the governing party and government‚ Makhura said: “Government tends to take positions based on a whole range of issues. That’s why we‚ as the ANC‚ are taking up this matter as the ANC structures with our [country’s] president.”
About 1‚500 members of the ANC‚ trade union federation Cosatu‚ the South African Communist Party and the South African National Civics Organisation‚ plus others‚ marched from Burgers Park in central Pretoria to the seat of government.
Kakapa Pheethwane‚ 54‚ of Mogale City‚ lives in central Pretoria‚ away from his family‚ because his contractual work requires him to be nearby.
"It’s really difficult because I have to pay rent and buy food for myself and still pay for school fees and food for [three] children back home. Sometimes‚ I feel like I don't know what I am doing.”
He said he hoped President Cyril Ramaphosa would hear their cries for help.
Templeton Gantle‚ 50‚ from Tembisa‚ said South Africans got nothing from e-tolls.
“I am so happy to see people being mobilised here against e-tolls because we are against this. We don’t want it as the people of South Africa. We don’t need it. We don’t want it here because get nothing from it.”
Thandi Nhleko‚ 59‚ from Soweto‚ said rising fuel prices and e-tolls were impoverishing her.
“I can’t cut anything (in costs) because I’m unemployed. I don’t get any money… I’ve got children who are still in school. I can’t support them. I’ve got a big challenge.”
Olivia Masinga‚ who is from Vlakfontein’s Phumla Mqashi informal settlement south of Johannesburg‚ also called for e-tolls to be scrapped and asked for better service delivery. “We need a street. We don’t have a road where we live.”
Sibongile Dlamini‚ a 46-year-old mother of five who is self-employed and lives in Daveyton‚ said: “We can't take it anymore. I have to buy food for my kids‚ have to travel to purchase stock for my (spaza) business‚ pay for transport and school fees.
"Two of my children are doing their unpaid internships in Jo’burg. They travel and eat every day and I must pay. It's a lot and government is not helping with anything‚" she added.
Thandi Khambule‚ 32‚ an entrepreneur from the Vaal area‚ expressed similar sentiments. "It’s really difficult. My family is financially dependent on me. I had to stop buying some grocery items because I couldn't afford them anymore."
Items scrapped from her shopping list included cheese‚ juice‚ snacks and cereal.
Khambule said she was forced to buy data for her two unemployed siblings. "They must have access to social media‚ where job vacancies are sometimes posted. They need the data to apply for those posts‚ so‚ yes‚ it (data costs) must fall.
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe accepted the memorandum on behalf of the government. The memo also asked for data costs to drop‚ no further value-added tax increases and for the fuel prices hikes to be stopped.
“As a listening president‚ as a listening organisation‚ as a listening government‚ we will ensure that we address these issues‚” Radebe said.