e-tolls fikile mbalula

Photo: Flickr/Paul Saad

E-tolls u-turn: Mbalula backtracks on claims the system ‘will be scrapped’

There’s some flip-flopping going on between different structures of the ANC – and their messaging on the future of e-tolls has been diabolical today.

e-tolls fikile mbalula

Photo: Flickr/Paul Saad

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The words of Gauteng Transport MEC Jacob Mamabolo from earlier this morning seemed to signal that the days of e-tolls on the province’s highways were numbered – but he may not be seeing eye-to-eye with other structures of the ANC, and ministers are now trying to dial down the heat.

‘No decision on e-tolls YET’ – Fikile Mbalula

According to Fikile Mbalula, the confusion has come from Mamabolo telling SABC that the Gauteng ANC – rather than the national branches – want the e-tolls scrapped. Despite the MEC’s bellicose statement, which designated e-tolls as ‘a thing of the past’, Mbaks is now taking a more diplomatic approach – denying that a final decision has yet been made.

  • He told EWN:

“There is still no decision yet on the future of e-tolls. I am busy with the responsibility of ensuring that beyond a determination of whether the e-tolls are scrapped or not, proper decisions are made with regard to how road infrastructure roll-out and maintenance in this country will be financed.” | Fikile Mbalula

What happens now?

The e-tolls, introduced in 2013, have been a major flop. Compliance levels remain low, and not enough money is being generated by the toll plazas to make them worthwhile. For years, senior politicians have promised to bring the scheme to an end – only to renege on promises conveniently made during election campaigns.

SANRAL’s big gamble of the gantries has not paid off. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula had previously vowed to come to a conclusion on the future of e-tolls this month – before he was upstaged by his provincial colleague. The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) believes that defiant citizens are now on the cusp of ‘a massive win’.

“It’d be a massive win for OUTA and all Gauteng motorists who defied the system. However, this is a matter that’ll need to be confirmed by either Cabinet or the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula. If indeed this decision has been made, Mamabolo may have let the cat out the bag and stole Minister Mbalula’s thunder. Hence the retraction on social media.”