Pre­mier calls op­po­si­tion party march to his of­fice ‘elec­tion­eer­ing’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BALD­WIN NDABA bald­[email protected]

GAUT­ENG Pre­mier David Makhura was yes­ter­day un­fazed by the DA’s protest for the scrap­ping of e-tolls, main­tain­ing that he was in talks with Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa re­gard­ing the press­ing mat­ter ahead of next year’ elec­tions.

Hun­dreds of DA sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing the party’s Gaut­eng pre­mier-des­ig­nate Solly Msi­manga, marched to Makhura’s of­fice in Jo­han­nes­burg yes­ter­day.

But the man him­self was hard at work in his of­fice with se­nior staff de­lib­er­at­ing his fu­ture plans, in­clud­ing the scrap­ping of e-tolls.

“They are us­ing the e-tolls for their elec­tions cam­paign. I am en­gaged in dis­cus­sions with Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa to scrap the e-tolls. I made a per­sua­sive call to him. He un­der­stands that these e-tolls are bur­den­some to the work­ing class own­ing cars and the mid­dle class,” Makhura said.

In an in­ter­view with In­de­pen­dent Me­dia, Makhura was adamant that “e-tolls have no fu­ture in Gaut­eng”.

While he ap­peared op­ti­mistic about the scrap­ping of the e-tolls, Makhura did not want to spec­u­late on the date, un­like Ed­u­ca­tion MEC Panyaza Le­sufi, who pro­nounced they’d be re­moved in the “next six months”.

“The peo­ple of Gaut­eng do not like e-tolls. I want the mat­ter re­solved. I want it re­solved yes­ter­year,” Makhura said.

He said e-tolls were “over­tax­ing the work­ing class” who were forced to use the tolled roads while trav­el­ling to var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions of em­ploy­ment, in­clud­ing do­ing busi­ness in the Joburg CBD and Pre­to­ria.

Adding more to their trou­bles, ac­cord­ing to Makhura, was the con­stant in­creases in fuel prices and food in­fla­tion.

He, how­ever, said his govern­ment and Ramaphosa would first dis­cuss an al­ter­na­tive pay­ment model for the debt in­curred as a re­sult of the con­struc­tion of the tolls.

Makhura said he had made a “per­sua­sive call” to Ramaphosa to scrap the e-tolls and was ex­pect­ing the pres­i­dent to give a pos­i­tive re­sponse in due course.

“It is for this rea­son that we have now re­ferred this mat­ter to the pres­i­dent for a fi­nal de­ter­mi­na­tion on al­ter­na­tive op­tions of set­tling the debt. I am con­fi­dent that a so­lu­tion will be found. Once the debt is set­tled, we will be able to main­tain our roads with­out the e-toll sys­tem,” Makhura said.

Ac­cord­ing to Makhura, there were other ways of build­ing, main­tain­ing and up­grad­ing roads, say­ing that, “for in­stance, the Gaut­eng govern­ment has been able to up­grade and re­ha­bil­i­tate our provin­cial road net­work of more than 5 000km that have no e-tolls”.

“We can and will find al­ter­na­tive ways of ex­pand­ing and main­tain­ing our road net­work with­out e-tolls. E-tolls have no fu­ture in Gaut­eng,” Makhura said.

Makhura also re­vealed his plans to rename one of Gaut­eng’s na­tional roads, the R59, af­ter He­len Suz­man, for many years a lone Pro­gres­sive Party mem­ber of Par­lia­ment.

The R55 road is ex­pected to be re­named af­ter PAC found­ing stu­dent leader Philip Kgosana, while the R20 is due to be named af­ter SA Stu­dents Or­gan­i­sa­tion and Azapo leader Muntu Myeza.

The N12 is ex­pected to be re­named af­ter Rivo­nia Trial ac­cused Ahmed Kathrada, while the Ben Schoe­man High­way will be re­named af­ter SACP stal­wart Moses Kotane.

William Ni­col Drive will soon be­come Win­nie Madik­izela-Man­dela Drive – pend­ing ap­provals of the Na­tional Geo­graphic Names Coun­cil and Min­is­ter of Arts and Cul­ture Nathi Mthethwa.


GAUT­ENG DA MARCHERS on their way to Pre­mier David Makhura’s of­fice to de­mand the scrap­ping of e-tolls. | BHEKIKHAYA MABASO News Agency (ANA)

David Makhura

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