Manyi: E-Tolling protest is democracy being rolled out

The protests against the e-tolling system is an example of “rolling out democracy”, Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said on Thursday.

“While Cabinet is concerned about the opposition towards the system, the whole process is quite simply a roll out of democracy,” Manyi told reporters at a post-Cabinet meeting press briefing in Pretoria.

Manyi’s comments come just 12 days before the e-tolling system is due to begin in earnest, in the face of massive civil opposition.

On Monday, Cosatu threatened to stage the “mother of all protests” against the e-tolls before its planned implementation on April 30, and is “looking for a legal angle” to challenge the system.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), a union of civil society organisations and private companies, has already done that: its bid to interdict e-tolls at the North Gauteng High Court is due to be heard on April 24.

The R20-billion South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) project was implemented in order to address the quality of the roads in Gauteng, and reduce congestion. About 185km of Gauteng’s road network has been or is in the process of being upgraded, and the e-tolling component of the programme will see motorists billed electronically when using the province’s N1 highway.

Commuters have been encouraged to register an e-tag which will monitor each time they pass a specific gantry on the highway and charge the road user accordingly. Cars without e-tags will have their licence plates monitored and billed for their journeys.

Manyi said on Thursday that while government had undertaken a number of strategies to mitigate the financial impact of e-tolling on consumers, if the government did not implement e-tolling, national health and education programmes would suffer as a result. This would be as a result of the cost of the system burdening the national fiscus.

“If people voice their opposition through the correct channels and the rule of law is supreme then there shouldn’t be a problem. If people want to go to court, that’s what they are there for,” Manyi added.

Sanral’s Nazir Alli, who was also present at the briefing, echoed Manyi’s sentiment saying government “has gone a long way” to help make the system affordable.

“Nobody asks what would have happened had we not undertaken those improvements on Gauteng’s highways. Sanral never hid the fact e-tolling was going to cost money,” Alli said.

He added that besides the “massive financial burden” that would be placed on the fiscus if e-tolling was scrapped, as many as 1 200 jobs would be lost and the country’s international credit rating would be threatened.

According to Sanral there are as many as 500 000 e-tags currently registered, with the number increasing since the announcement of penalty fees for commuters who don’t fit tags or who pay fees late.

Sanral previously set a rate of R0.58 a km rate for commuters without an e-tag, while registered e-tag users are charged R0.30 per km.

However this past weekend Sanral said users who don’t fit e-tags will be charged R1.75 per kilometre.

* A previous version of the story did not make the implications on health and education clear.

* A previous version of the story said the e-tolling system is an example of “rolling out democracy”, whereas, in fact, Manyi said the protests against the e-tolls is the example.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

School closures come at a cost

The latest, unscientific decision to close schools again won’t help poor students. Strategies must be identified to help learners stay in school

As opposition mounts, Zimbabwe’s president lashes out

Emmerson Mnangagwa has accused ‘dark forces’ of destabilising the country

Big retailers need to step up to the plate

To stave off a multi-generational malnutrition crisis, the food industry must work with government to provide highly nutritious foods at cost during the pandemic

Crime stats mark a bitter start to Women’s Month

We must celebrate women’s achievements this month while agitating for structural change, argues Luke Waltham

South Africa prioritises fossil fuels over clean energy in post-Covid-19 recovery packages

The country is among the G20 countries who have invested in electricity produced from coal, oil and gas at the cost of addressing climate change

Challenges and opportunities for telemedicine in Africa

Telemedicine in Africa is currently limited by the availability of basic infrastructure, but, considering the lack of doctors in rural areas, it is a vital component in addressing the continent’s healthcare needs

New education policy on gender violence released

Universities and other higher education institutions have to develop ways of preventing or dealing with rape and other damaging behaviour

Cambridge Food Jozini: Pandemic or not, the price-gouging continues

The Competition Commission has fined Cambridge Food Jozini for hiking the price of its maize meal during April

Sekhukhune’s five-year battle for water back in court

The residents of five villages are calling for the district municipal manager to be arrested

Vaccine trial results due in December

If successful, it will then have to be manufactured and distributed

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday