National government pours cold water on Gauteng MEC’s comments on 'scrapping' e-tolls

27 May 2021 - 13:28
By amanda khoza AND Amanda Khoza
Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the cabinet has not decided to scrap the e-toll system. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says the cabinet has not decided to scrap the e-toll system. File photo.

Acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Thursday confirmed that the national government was still applying its mind on whether e-tolls should be scrapped.

This follows Gauteng transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo suggesting on Thursday morning that the much-criticised e-toll system would be scrapped.

“What I can assure South Africans is that cabinet is considering the possibility [of whether] e-tolls should be scrapped or what should happen, [and whether they] should be maintained.

“What the MEC of transport in Gauteng was communicating, I think, was the position of Gauteng, which is not new. Gauteng has always lobbied for the scrapping of e-tolls.

“There is no decision from cabinet around the scrapping of e-tolls or non scrapping of e-tolls,” said Ntshavheni during a post-cabinet briefing.

TimesLIVE reported earlier that Mamabolo made the comments in what was described as a potential stealing of the thunder from national transport minister Fikile Mbalula during an interview with Stephen Grootes on the SAfm Sunrise show.

Mamabolo said, “We are living in a post e-toll period.”

Grootes explored the matter further, and Mamabolo insisted: “They are scrapped.”

Shortly after the interview, however, the MEC then did an about-turn on his statements, saying on Twitter he had noted a “misleading tweet” from @SAfmnews on the issue.

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

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula clarified in a statement that Mamabolo was articulating a position which the Gauteng government was lobbying the national government to adopt.

Both Ntshavheni and Mbalula said the matter was still under consideration.

Mbalula said, “Currently no decision has been made regarding the future of the e-tolls. At the moment the ministry of transport is seized with the responsibility of ensuring that beyond a determination of whether the e-tolls are scrapped or not, proper decisions are made with regard to how road infrastructure rollout and maintenance in this country will be financed.”

Ntshavheni said the cabinet would inform the nation once a decision had been made.

“When cabinet is ready to take the decision and when all the matters have been considered, cabinet will make a decision and an announcement will be made. The department of transport continues to work to find the best solution around the issue of the e-tolls.”

She said it was public knowledge that Gauteng was lobbying the national government on the matter. “The minister of transport continues to table various reports around e-tolls and continues to engage on the possibilities of e-tolls,” she said.  

“They have lobbied national government for that and we continue to say what are the permutations that will enable that, should that happen, given the financial commitments that have been made with the Gauteng road improvement programme so what the MEC has tabled is not new.”  

She said Mbalula was still engaging with all the relevant parties on the matter, including the National Treasury and Gauteng government.