South Africa News

Outa says e-tolls debacle is confusing

Despite promises of a permanent end to Gauteng’s ill-fated e-toll project, anger is boiling following conflicting information from various government bodies.

As the deadline for resolving the e-tolls debacle draws nearer, Gauteng MEC for treasury Jacob Mamabolo is expected to provide further clarity during his budget presentation on Tuesday.

Taking to the streets

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) took to the streets yesterday, calling for government to take a decisive stance on e-tolls, following conflicting statements from the Gauteng provincial government, National Treasury, the department of transport, and the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), which have exacerbated uncertainty over the fate of the project.

This after Treasury’s latest declaration, saying motorists must bear the burden of the e-toll debt, igniting a storm of criticism.

Outa noted that the promise made by the Gauteng government to abolish the e-toll system now appeared to be a distant memory.

Its CEO, Wayne Duvenage, said as far as the civil organization was concerned, between Sanral, Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, and the department of transport, “it seems nobody knows what is really going on when it comes to finalizing the e-toll debacle”.

Sceptical about the deadline

He said: “We are sceptical about the 31 March deadline. We are also surprised at the comments by National Treasury’s DDG [deputy director-general] Mampho Modise – as reported in Moneyweb – that the authorities will seek to get motorists to settle their unpaid e-toll bills.”

According to Moneyweb, Modise said Treasury was looking at the existing e-toll debt, and “Gauteng has agreed the debt should and will be collected”.

However, Duvenage said this was highly unlikely to happen, “as most of this debt has prescribed and the motorists along with businesses who have not paid, cannot afford to pay”.

“Outa reiterates it will continue with its plan to defend motorists who receive a summons from Sanral for outstanding e-toll debt,” Duvenage added.

Rise Mzansi has also called on Lesufi to release the records concerning the e-tolls saga, between the Gauteng provincial government and the National Treasury, within seven days.

“We call upon you to make public all correspondence between the Gauteng government and Treasury regarding e-tolls,” the party’s Gauteng premier candidate Vuyiswa Ramokgopa said.

“It is time for the truth to be exposed and for the people of Gauteng to see through the facade of your government.”

However, Lesufi’s office said he was not responsible for e-tolls or switching off the system. The office said it had played its part resulting in all outstanding matters being resolved with the national government.

The province had agreed to pay 30% of the outstanding amount and the national government the remaining 70%.

Lesufi’s spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said the premier “has no power to switch off e-tolls because he does not control it”.

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