E-toll review panel – is it about us or their political survival?

2014-11-18 08:30

It is not untrue that I’m not the only one who is concerned about e-tolls. My fellow law-abiding citizen are worried about this e-tolls issue too, we even see structures like OUTA, COSATU, churches, and etc. giving their views and recommendations about e-tolls implementation and offer alternative options. Indeed, e-tolling is pain and unaffordable to most motorists who are using Gauteng highways on a daily basis.

I’m convinced that there are consistent views and comments on e-tolls saga from Gauteng structures, and their leadership members, Mr Paul Mashatile -the ANC Chairman, Mr David Makhura -the deputy chairman and Premier. They say e-tolls are not sustainable and need to be reviewed. Hence premier Makhura established a panel to examine the socio-economic impact of the GFIP and the electronic tolling(e-tolls) system set up to fund it. This panel is expected to report back to the premier Makhura, by the end of this month, November, with their findings and recommendations.

The questions I have about e-tolls review panel are: Will the panel make any appreciable contribution and influence national government to consider reviewing e-tolls? Is it just another commission to waste time and resources? Or is the panel there for ANC Gauteng leadership to score the points and get sympathy from the voters? Do these leaders do it for their political survival? What is there for the motorists?

E-tolls do have negative impact:

What if the findings of the review panel will suggest and indicate that e-tolls have negative economic and social impact; will government changes its plans on e-tolling policy? The fact is that national government has already indicated that they do not have any intentions to revisit and review e-tolling policy. Minister of transport, Ms Dipuo Peters, has indicated in many occasions their position on this matter. She said E-tolling is policy of government and it has been passed in parliament and it will never change. Department of transport is convinced that e-toll is the viable option. That’s clear since all motorists are expected to be paying their e-tolls accounts, and SANRAL is taking care of that task.

I wonder if provincial government has powers to turn or change national government decisions, or even to influence them given the current state in which we find ourselves in.

The other issue is that as we speak there are motorists who are paying e-tolls on their daily basis. And of course, it is open secret that there are motorists who are not paying whether because they genuinely cannot afford it or they just resist it. If E-tolls have negative impact, it is interesting to know what will happen to those who are paying, will they be refunded, or will they just stop paying?

E-tolls do not have negative impact:

If it is found that e-tolls have no negative impact, will motorists who do not pay at the moment agree and be satisfied to pay? I don’t think so. Also, I tend to believe that it will be a resource-intensive and expensive exercise for government to arrest and prosecute all those who are dodging to pay their e-toll debts.

Most importantly, the panel’s failure will result in ANC facing harsh reality in upcoming local elections. This may worsen the voters trust in the ANC structure around the province, as it was shown in the national general elections in May this year.

Moreover, for Mr Makhura, I think the e-tolls review panel process has ability make him hero, a rare breed of politician who listen to the people or may limit his political career. In near future, the likes of Mr Makhura and Co. may be relegated as they seem to defies, challenges and have different views against their masters, ANC and the government. They may be seen as bringing disrepute and driving division in the movement as we have seen such claims before. He might need to ask General Bantu Holomisa, Mr Julius Malema, Mr Willie Madisha and recently NUMSA how cold is it outside the tripartite alliance?

For Gauteng leadership “Ke kgomo ya moshate, wa e gapa o molato, wa e tlogela o sale molato.” Either way for him, Mr Makhura, there will be consequences to deal with. In my view, it appears to be more about their political survival.

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