I was really taken aback by president Zuma's remarks concerning e-tolls. In his own words, the president urged Gauteng residents not to “think like Africans in Africa because this is Johannesburg” and pay the e-tolls. Not only is his statement unfortunate, it also begs the question: "But Mr president, that we are in Johannesburg,are we not Africans in Africa?"
Zuma's remarks emulate those that were used by the colonial masters in their quest to colonise Africa. Moreover, as a president of a country that is plagued by extreme levels of xenophobia, I wonder if his uttering will resonate good in the ears of other Africans he constantly claims to sympathise with. As for e-tolling, knowing that he and his huge entourage are exempted from paying, one would have expected him to be a people's president and sympathise with the public through considering other means that will not render us more poverty-stricken than we currently are.
Our country may be having all the world-class facilities that other African countries can only dream of, but the levels of unemployment and poverty are not something to smile about. The workers may be exempted from paying e-tolls since, in his own words, they use buses and taxis to get to work and back, but they will be equally hit hard by the consequences of the e-tolls.
Businesses will increase the prices of goods and services that the same workers need for survival. The issue of the e-tolls goes beyond just paying the tariffs, it will definitely have a negative impact on the lives of the already impoverished masses. Municipalities and businesses will have to pay for the e-tolls and the cost will be passed down to the poor members of the public. Vehicle rentals are going to go up, transportation costs and ultimately food prices.
The only beneficiary in this e-tolling project will be the company that was given the tender. The million dollar question therefore is: what happened to 'a better life for all?' Cry my beloved country.
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