OUTA on announcement of e-tolls scrapping: no celebrations before official announcement
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) reacted with cautious optimism after this morning’s announcement by Gauteng Transport MEC, Jacob Mamabolo, that e-tolls were scrapped. Mamabolo made the announcement during an interview with Stephen Groottes on SAFM. The MEC said “they’ve been scrapped. The people of Gauteng should not be burdened for paying for national roads that serves all of us, that serves neighbouring states, that serves the whole economy of our country... That is unfair to leave it to the people of Gauteng.” You can listen to his statement here.
Barely an hour later, Mamabolo backtracked on Twitter, saying “We reaffirm that the announcement on scrapping of etolls (sic) is imminent and must be made soon. The tweet by @SaFmRadio distorts that conversation.”
Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO, welcomed the initial statement by the MEC, but said the organisation awaits confirmation via the right channels before celebrating the news. “If true, it would mean a massive win for OUTA and all Gauteng motorists who defied the system. However, this is a matter that will need to be confirmed by either Cabinet or the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula. If indeed this decision has been made, MEC Mamabolo may have let the cat out the bag and stole Minister Mbalula's thunder. Hence the retraction on social media.”
Duvenage said a mere announcement that e-tolls have been scrapped, won’t cut it. “OUTA and motorists need to know that government will be reversing the law that declared the Gauteng freeway network as tolled roads. There are many other decisions that will need to be taken and executed, e.g. the cancellation of contracts with ETC who collects e-tolls from motorists and amendments to the SANRAL act. Unpaid e-toll debt will also have to be written off without further threats to prosecute non-payers.”
OUTA says SANRAL will also have to withdraw all legal cases on e-tolls. “At this stage we have more questions than answer on this morning’s announcement, but we are treating this breaking news as being early signs of an imminent announcement on the future of an irrational scheme that was forced onto Gauteng motorists. If true, civil society has a lot to celebrate, but we need to also unpack the meaning and gravitas of this win for the people against an irrational decision taken by government over a decade ago.”
A media briefing on yesterday’s Cabinet meeting has been scheduled for 11 a.m. “We hope that the confusion around the announcement will be cleared up then.”
A soundclip with comment from Wayne Duvenage is here.