Gauteng premier David Makhura has promised to scrap e-tolls if the ANC remains in charge of the province. Chris Barron asked Gauteng ANC spokesperson TASNEEM MOTARA …
The transport and finance ministers say e-tolls are here to stay, so who do we believe?
Well, it’s not a new issue for us in Gauteng. We’ve been raising it for six years.
Isn’t it misleading for the premier to promise what he can’t deliver?
No, it’s not misleading. We’re determined to scrap them.
But the ANC government in Gauteng doesn’t have the power to scrap them, does it?
No, because it’s a national project.
Well, the minister can’t make unilateral decisions. Our constitution doesn’t allow it. You have to have consultation with ordinary citizens. Decisions which any department takes must be informed by what citizens want.
So what’s your plan for the scrapping of e-tolls?
We’ve put options on the table of what to use the gantries for. The argument before from national transport was that there is this infrastructure of the gantries, what do we do with them? There are many things they can be used for.
Who’s going to pay the billions owing on them?
Ultimately, the state through its citizens will have to pay. One option we raised was to have an increased levy on fuel. But looking at where our fuel prices are, that’s not an option currently.
Aren’t your statements about scrapping them just empty preelection posturing?
No. What we’ve even said to national government is that the … system has collapsed. And this is not a new issue we’re raising, we’ve raised it before, in and out of election or pre-election periods.
But aren’t you making promises you don’t have the power to deliver on?
We don’t have direct power to deliver, but we do have the power to influence.
If, as you say, you’ve been raising this issue for years, where has your influence got you so far?
The facts of the issue that we’ve been raising over time speak for themselves. So national government is going to have to face the reality that the system has collapsed, and alternatives have to be sought.
Meanwhile, isn’t it misleading to tell the electorate that as long as the ANC is in charge of Gauteng, e-tolls will be scrapped?
Through its various structures the province is going to influence what national government ultimately decides.
It hasn’t managed to do that so far.
There are various ways to influence government, and the continued pressure will yield the result we want. Not just from the ANC but from ordinary citizens.
There’s been popular pressure for years and the government is standing firm.
They’re standing firm to their own detriment.
Are you afraid e-tolls will cost the ANC Gauteng next year?
No, we’re not.
Would you agree they’ve hurt the ANC in previous elections?
Well, perhaps the two cities that voted for the DA in 2016 voted on the basis that both DA mayoral candidates said they would scrap e-tolls. So perhaps it is a defining issue for voters in Gauteng.