Zuma: Don’t think like Africans in Africa

2013-10-22 08:19

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President Jacob Zuma has urged Gauteng residents not to “think like Africans in Africa” and pay their etolls.

He also said workers would not have to pay tolls because they would be in buses and taxis, which are exempt.

Addressing an ANC manifesto forum attended by students, academics and businesspeople at Wits University in Johannesburg last night, Zuma said: “The roads are to be tolled to pay back the money we borrowed to build the freeways to make the economy flow in Johannesburg.

“The principle of user pay has to be applied to complement the money government spent (to build the roads). This is what all economies in the world do. We can’t think like Africans in Africa generally, we’re in Johannesburg.”

Zuma added that the freeway between Johannesburg and Pretoria was “not some national road in Malawi”.

Using humour to drive home his point, Zuma had the audience in stitches when he said Johannesburg was a “serious national city”, and it was unlike Rustenburg or Pietermaritzburg.

He also said it wasn’t right for all South Africans to pay a fuel levy to fund Gauteng’s new roads.

Zuma explained Gauteng had built a lot of new highways with eight to ten lanes, costing more than R20 billion, which was more than government’s entire roads budget.

“Gauteng is the heart of industry, not like Pietermaritzburg,” he said.

He also said, to laughter, that some things happened in Gauteng that could not happen in Polokwane. Polokwane is the home town of expelled ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, one of Zuma’s fiercest critics.

Zuma thanked those who have registered for their etolls “so we can build roads and get Gauteng to develop”.

He said roads made it easy to do business.

There was no vocal support for Zuma’s stance on etolls in the audience, and two speakers spoke out against it.

A student said tolls would also “deal with” students and they couldn’t afford to pay, instead suggesting a once-off tax to all South Africans of about R20 to help pay for the roads.

A Cosatu member said Gauteng contributed most to South Africa’s GDP, and only forcing Gauteng residents to pay for the roads would be like only making the sick pay for hospitals, or people with children pay for schools.

Zuma, in his reply, said workers in buses and taxis would not be expected to pay etolls, and he implied that those who could afford a car and petrol, could also afford to pay etolls.

He also said there were alternative routes to take if people did not want to pay etolls.

On the student’s proposal, Zuma said it was something that should be considered.

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