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Government to announce its decision on e-tolls in the next two weeks

‘The decision is on the table’ – Mbalula.
Fikile Mbalula did however make the same ‘two weeks’ announcement back in November 2019. Image: GCIS

If Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is to be believed, Gauteng motorists will finally be informed of the government’s decision on the future of the controversial e-toll system within the next two weeks.

Mbalula said the Department of Transport is engaging with National Treasury on the issue “and we are at the tail end of our processes”.

“The decision is on the table,” he told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) last week (May 6).

“We expect that in the next two weeks we should be back to cabinet. Before we [Department of Transport] table our budget vote speech, we should have gone to you [NCOP] and the public to announce the cabinet decision on the e-tolls.

“It has taken long. We thought by now we would have finalised it. Unfortunately, it’s a big decision. We are not working alone. We go back and forth with Treasury on these issues and that is how it is. We have to finalise this decision in the next two weeks,” he said.

Scepticism

However, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) is unconvinced by Mbalula’s latest statement on the e-tolls announcement.

“We don’t believe him anymore,” said Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage.

“The trust deficit is so wide that every time they say within this period or by that date they are going to make an announcement, they miss it. They’ve missed it umpteen times,” he said.

Duvenage added that Outa believes that when Mbalula makes a statement like this on e-tolls, he “realises he has become a laughing stock and will make sure this time it’s right”.

“We are looking forward to a decision but wouldn’t be surprised if he misses it again because of the history of this issue,” he said.

An ‘ill-advised, poorly planned economic disaster’

Mbalula had been responding to Dennis Ryder, a Democratic Alliance MP and member of the NCOP, who said there is supposed to be a resolution to the e-toll impasse and Mbalula has missed many deadlines.

“The cost of running the system continues to grow and now bizarrely you [Mbalula] announced increases to e-tolls effective from March 1 this year,” said Ryder.

“The collection rate has been dismal all along but with Covid-19 it’s got even worse. The negative impacts on the Gauteng economy from e-tolls is really devastating to many small businesses that are struggling to recover from the effects of the lockdown and Covid-19 generally.

“When the economy has become so precarious in post-lockdown South Africa, you continue to dither around this matter and seem unable to make a decision.

“When will this ill-advised, poorly planned economic disaster come to an end or are you determined to add misery to the lives of commuters slowly recovering from the ravages of Covid-19?” he asked.

Long-outstanding decision

The long-outstanding decision on the future of e-tolls dates back to July 2019 when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Mbalula to head a task team, which included Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng Premier David Makhura, to report by August 2019 on the options available for the future of e-tolls.

The appointment of this task team was prompted by staunch public resistance to e-tolls and the low payment compliance rate, which was then below 19%.

Since then a litany of false promises has been made by Mbalula and other government officials about an announcement on the future of e-tolls.

  • November 2019: Mbalula confirms that a cabinet decision on the controversial scheme will be taken in the next two weeks.

  • December 2019: The late Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu promises during a post-cabinet meeting media briefing that a decision on the future of e-tolls will be taken in the first cabinet meeting in 2020.

  • March 2020: Mthembu gives an assurance that e-tolls will be discussed by cabinet.

  • February 2021: Mbalula states during a question and answer session in parliament on the State of the Nation Address that the government is expected to announce a decision on e-tolls in March 2021.

  • March 2021: Mbalula repeats at a Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa event that the government’s decision on the future of e-tolls will be announced that month.

  • May 6, 2021: Mbalula tells the NCOP the cabinet will take a decision on the future of e-tolls in the next two weeks.

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Anyone who believes anything that a politician or government official says is a fool.

They won’t scrap e-tolls. As long as ‘they’ can siphon something off the e-toll system it will stay.

eTolls, we’re brought to you by the corrupt eANC and it is an unnecessary scheme born of corruption and not worth its existence.

Don’t pay eTolls

Why is Mbalula still a minister? He is an idiot and a show off with a big mouth and no substance.He forgets that motorists will not pay as public participation is never considered. They just want to use a steamroller approach hoping that it works. And it never does…

Another SAA in the making….

What has Fikile Mbalula done his entire time in government?? He’s like the playing card being traded too often. Has anyone ever judged his performance??

The reason it’s taken so long is this:

– the breakeven point for e-tolls is a 93% payment rate, according to SANRAL’s court papers
– the current payment rate is +/- 25%
– the historical highest-ever payment rate was 41%

There is no conceivable way to square that circle, and this is the corner one finds oneself in when one bulldozes the public will to enrich private companies.

Eish Rob BUT I suspect (and note SANRAL’s obfuscation and redaction of documents; refusing to be open and transparent that the “break-even” is not an honest one. I reckon there is a massive surcharge for ANC linked corruption added to the “costs”, hence the swingeing tariffs and refusal to re-calibrate (or be transparent). Thieves will thieve and robbers will rob; it is all they know.

This is an election year. There is no way the ANC will commit electoral suicide by trying to force the public to pay up, because it will lose Johannesburg and Pretoria. So expect more dithering and smoke and mirrors.

At the end of the day, the only weapon the public has in this fight is UNITY.

Heard it all before so many times. Its like the spin cycle on a washing machine. Rinse and repeat every washing day. If only the noise makers could become equally bored with listening to themselves. When the crooks are incarcerated they should be made to listen to themselves repeatedly.

The can is being kicked, by Communications minister, down the street for freeing up bandwidth and also the saga of TV encryption boxes.

End of comments.

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