E-tolls could divide party and province

The introduction of e-tolls on Gauteng highways has sparked vehement debate and protests, with many refusing to accept the legitimacy of the tolls or pay for them. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The introduction of e-tolls on Gauteng highways has sparked vehement debate and protests, with many refusing to accept the legitimacy of the tolls or pay for them. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

ANC leaders in Gauteng want the party to take a resolution against the controversial e-tolling ­system at its provincial conference in Pretoria this weekend. The party also plans to endorse the decision by Gauteng Premier David Makhura to establish a panel to look at the socioeconomic impact of e-tolls in the province.

Acting ANC provincial secretary Boyce Maneli this week said e-tolls were among key items on the agenda to be discussed by delegates from 406 party branches across the province. The move is likely to put the Gauteng ANC on a collision cause with some of its national leaders who support e-tolling. The transport minister, Dipuo Peters, has already said that the national government will not change its stance on e-tolls, regardless of the review panel’s recommendations.

An ANC provincial executive committee member, who preferred to remain anonymous, said the only way the national government was going to listen was if the ANC took a firm stance against e-tolls and endorsed the review panel’s recommendations.

“The ANC never took a position on e-tolls before. This issue must not only be seen as a David Makhura matter. It must not be about individuals,” said the member. “It must be led by the ANC. The ANC must pronounce on it so that those in government take us seriously.”

A senior ANC official in Gauteng added: “We can’t just waste taxpayers’ money on the panel and not support it as the ANC. There is no ANC policy on e-tolls as we speak. There seems to be a tendency by those deployed in government to act outside the mandate of the ANC. It’s not only starting with the e-tolls. Even the secrecy Bill did not come from the ANC. People are just doing as they wish,” he said.

“If our members are not satisfied, they must speak out. They [ANC members] will resolve that the re-commendations of the panel must be implemented. The matter will also be taken to the ANC NGC [national general council] next year.”

Under pressure
Maneli said the ANC in Gauteng is under pressure to act on the demands of ordinary people who are opposed to e-tolls. He rubbished suggestions that the ANC in Gauteng is acting as though it is a different structure to the party at national level.

“We listened to what people said during election campaigns. The national leadership is aware of what we are talking about. They were there with us during election campaigns. This [review panel on e-tolls] is not just the issue of the premier. It’s an issue which needs all our attention,” said Maneli.

He said the provincial government took the decision to appoint the review panel with full knowledge of the position of the national government. “But we [the ANC in Gauteng] also have the responsibility to deal with complaints from our people. We have to listen to the people.”

Economic transformation is also expected to dominate debates at the provincial conference. In its discussion documents, the party in Gauteng proposes the establishment of a state bank that will provide financial support to black entrepreneurs and small, medium and micro enterprises. It also wants the government to adopt a policy that would force mining companies to give 49% of their shares to black people.

“Finance development institutions should provide financial support to blacks to own mines rather than the state owning equity,” reads the party’s discussion document.

Potential social unrest
The document warns of potential social unrest if the economic situation does not change.

“After 20 years of freedom, the sad reality is that very few, if any, black industrialists have been produced and the BBBEE [broad-based black economic empowerment] instruments, including sector charters, have proved not to be effective tools to promote and foster genuine broad-based black economic empowerment. Rather than embrace true economic empowerment for the black majority, corporate South Africa seems to be engaged in malicious compliance – a practice where companies ‘tick the boxes’ for the sole purpose of complying with the bare minimums of the economic empowerment charters,” reads the document.

Meanwhile, it is likely that Paul Mashatile will be re-elected as ANC chairperson in Gauteng, and Makhura has been nominated by the majority of branches as deputy chairperson. Former Gauteng health MEC Hope Papo is likely to replace Makhura as ANC provincial secretary, and Gwen Ramokgopa is almost certain as deputy provincial secretary and provincial legislature speaker Ntombi Mekgwe as treasurer. These four candidates could be elected unopposed if nominations from all regions are anything to go by.



Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003, focussing on politics and labour, and collaborated with the M&G's centre for investigations, amaBhungane, from time to time.In 2011, Matuma won the South African Journalist of the Year Award and was also the winner in the investigative journalism category in the same year.In 2004, he won the CNN African Journalist of the Year prize – the MKO Abiola Print Journalism Award. Matuma was also a joint category winner of the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the year Award in 2008. In 2013, he was a finalist for Wits University's Taco Kuiper Award.
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