The provincial ANC has resolved at its recent conference to scrap the controversial system which they have blamed for losing the vote to the Democratic Alliance (DA).
However, the Department of Transport insists that motorists should continue paying for etolls before a decision is made.
Gauteng motorists want the money they paid for etolls back. Although scrapping the system is still a proposal, some motorists are already expecting a refund.
Motorist Tobias Zehetleitner says, “If they are going to scrap it, definitely we’re going to try to get our money back. Because we paid for nothing and that’s not the way to do it. We have to actually get our money back. It’s like we were stupid if we don’t do it. We have it directly from the account, directly deducted from the account so hopefully we’re also going to directly deduct it when they scrape it of.”
The South African National Road Agency (SANRAL) says they only collect a third of what they should be. Spokesperson Vusi Mona says they collect roughly R720 million per annum instead of some R2.5 billion.
However, SANRAL insists more than 1.4 million vehicles are tagged and 1.3 million of those accounts are up to date. ANC Gauteng Deputy Chairperson, Panyaza Lesufi says not only have they recognised that etolls have failed they have decided to alleviate the burden for motorists.
“Conference discussed it at length and we reached a point where we felt that instead of imposing something that is openly rejected, we’d rather withdraw it completely and ensure that we start the consultation with National Government so that it assists us on how to realise this particular decision.”
Although he could not guarantee a refund Lesufi says the decision to scrap e-tolls must benefit everyone.
“There must be no one that says I’ve come out of this particular decision disadvantaged or worse off. Our approach is very simple, let it be a win-win for everyone, including consumers but most importantly those that have been committed to support this particular initiative.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA ) has welcomed the Gauteng ANC’s conference resolution to scrap e-tolls. Rudy Heineker says the ANC’s motion to engage with stakeholders is a step in the right direction.
“Although it’s going to be a long process still, we would like to encourage the ANC in Gauteng to speak to stakeholders like OUTA, SANRAL and to also speak to the people busy with the litigation between SANRAL and OUTA to get a good indication of what is going on so that they can make a mindful decision.”
The National Transport Department has however called on motorists to continue paying e-tolls. Transport spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi says despite the recent resolution e-tolling is still government policy.
“Currently the Department of Transport is working on a process to look at the toll road policy in general. What we’d like to emphasize is that we encourage all South Africans to still go and pay their etolls in Gauteng because that is still government’s policy.”
The ANC has also received widespread criticism over its decision to lead the campaign. While the decision has been welcomed by many, its timing has been questioned. With the 2019 National Elections just months ahead, there is speculation that the ANC’s announcement is merely electioneering.