ANC wants govt to pay e-toll loan

E-tolls in Gauteng have been dismal failure.
E-tolls in Gauteng have been dismal failure.

The ANC in Gauteng has proposed that the loan that was obtained to build tolled roads in the province be settled by the provincial government.

The party has also labelled finance minister Tito Mboweni "arrogant" following his public spat with premier David Makhura over e-tolls.

The party's provincial secretary, Jacob Khawe, said the Gauteng government could be able to settle the loan, initially estimated at R20bn, used for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

Khawe said it was vexed by Mboweni's arrogance and the alleged threat to cut allocations to the province.

"Mboweni is missing the point. He needs to know that he's not the president and that he cannot tell us what to do. We answer to the people of Gauteng who do not want e-tolls," Khawe said.

Mboweni and Makhura were embroiled in a Twitter spat after the finance minister sparked the debate on Thursday when he insisted "users must pay" for e-tolls.

"So, when you invest in a toll road infrastructure, you expect a return for many years ahead as per contract. Right? Not the cost of your investment today. Future returns. That is what you do in business. Premier Makhura, correct? Or am I missing something here?" he tweeted.

His tweets appeared to have been sparked by Makhura's comments during his state of the province address in which he reiterated his stance that e-tolls were not part of the future he envisioned for Gauteng.

"We are annoyed, disappointed and angry. As a disciplined leader, he should have called the premier or requested a meeting to discuss the issue. He shouldn't have gone to Twitter. Who is he representing on social media?" Khawe said.

He said the provincial ANC's stance had not changed and that they were working towards the scrapping of e-tolls.

"[Transport] minister [Fikile] Mbalula has already said he is willing to listen to us and our proposal, so we are moving forward. We are irritated that he [Mboweni] threatened to cut off our allocation. It's not a favour, he is not getting that money from his own pocket, it's an obligation. He can't say he is going to punish us," he said.

The Presidency has since issued a statement on the matter, saying President Cyril Ramaphosa viewed the exchange between Mboweni and the Gauteng provincial government as "unfortunate and deeply regrettable".

"The president says such exchanges on social media are unbecoming of their high offices and fail to provide the leadership required in this instance."

Wayne Duvenage, CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse said the only thing missing was the participation of the civil society. "We are hoping the process that will be undertaken will also include us civil society because we have been fighting this for years."

Mboweni, who is at the African Union summit in Niger with Ramaphosa, declined to comment.

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