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Did Mamabolo steal Mbalula's thunder? Motorists frustrated at e-tolls statement 'U-turn'

28 May 2021 - 07:05 By unathi nkanjeni
Motorists are waiting in anticipation as a decision may be imminent on Gauteng's controversial e-toll system. File photo.
Motorists are waiting in anticipation as a decision may be imminent on Gauteng's controversial e-toll system. File photo.
Image: Halden Krog

Motorists have expressed frustration with Gauteng transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo's alleged "U-turn" on the potential scrapping of e-tolls on Gauteng's highways.

On Thursday, Mamabolo announced that the much-criticised e-toll system was going to be "scrapped".

Speaking on SAfm, the transport MEC said e-tolls were something of the past and the province was “already living in a post-e-toll period”.

“Imminent good news to us already means we are looking to a completely new e-toll dispensation and we are just waiting for that to be formalised. There's no turning back on the e-tolls. The e-tolls are a thing of the past,” said Mamabolo.

However, after the interview, Mamabolo backtracked on his comments, claiming a tweet from SAfm's Twitter account on the issue was “misleading".

“All we are saying as Gauteng is that the national government will make an announcement on e-tolls and we are positive it will be favourable to our position which is public knowledge.”

He also issued a statement saying the provincial government has been seized with the e-toll matter with a view to oppose its implementation in the province.

He said they were eagerly awaiting an announcement by the national government on the future of e-tolls.

“As we look forward to the announcement by national government, we reaffirm our view that the e-tolling system in its current form burdens Gauteng residents on a matter that involves the national economy and the economies of neighbouring states.

“As we anxiously wait for the decision, the provincial government believes that it has put forward a compelling argument for the scrapping of e-tolls,” said Mamabolo.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula also released a statement, saying no decision had been made on the future of e-tolls.

“We are of the view that the MEC has made it quite clear that what he articulated during the interview, is a provincial position of Gauteng, which is not a new matter at all,” Mbalula said.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said Mamabolo may have let the cat out of the bag and stolen Minister Mbalula's thunder, hence his subsequent retraction on social media.

The organisation's CEO Wayne Duvenage added that a mere announcement that e-tolls have been scrapped would not be sufficent.

“Outa and motorists need to know that government will be reversing the law that declared the Gauteng freeway network as tolled roads.

“There are many other decisions that will need to be taken and executed, e.g. the cancellation of contracts with ETC, which collects e-tolls from motorists, and amendments to the Sanral act. Unpaid e-toll debt will also have to be written off without further threats to prosecute non-payers.”

On social media, many expressed their dismay and questioned the "U-turn".

Here is a snapshot of some of the reactions.