Nzimande's comments on e-tolls disappointing – COSATU

Federation says there is not a single structure of ANC or Alliance that is in favour of them

COSATU calls on Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande to stop sending mixed messages about e-tolls

3 September 2018  

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is deeply disappointed in Minister of Transport Blade Nzimande’s insistence that e-tolls won’t be scrapped, despite their overwhelming rejection by the workers and the people of Gauteng. The minister’s sentiments are in stark contrast to what both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Premier David Makhura have expressed in public in relation to etolls.

The Minister needs to stop sending mixed messages and start articulating the positions of both the ANC and the Alliance. COSATU is tired of this paralysis by analysis, when it comes to the implementation of both the ANC and the Alliance policies by ministers in government. There is not a single structure of the ANC or the Alliance that is in favour of e-tolls and the people of Gauteng have unambiguously expressed their views on the matter. The minister needs to explain to all of us, where he gets his mandate if not from the ANC or the Alliance resolutions. What makes this even more objectionable is that Minister Blade Nzimande is a senior leader of one of the components of the Alliance and he is therefore familiar with the position of the Alliance on e-tolls.  

During the 2016 Local Government elections the people of Gauteng expressed their views on the ballot box by punishing the ANC for failing to listen and act on e-tolls. It is foolhardy therefore for government to try to implement a policy that has been overwhelmingly rejected by the majority of the people of Gauteng. E-tolls have proven to be impossible to administer and the Minister Nzimande needs to work with relevant stakeholders to sort out the e-toll mess and stop sending mixed messages.

COSATU remains totally opposed to e-tolls and we continue to argue for an integrated public transport model that has always been at the centre of the federation`s campaign against e-tolling. The lack of such an integrated public transport system is the main reason why so many thousands of motorists have no alternative means of getting to and from work.  Workers bitterly resent having to pay twice for road improvements which they have already paid for though taxes and the fuel levy.

E-tolls are a relic of a redundant and discredited New Public Management system that was introduced under GEAR in 1996. The New Public Management represents a right-wing ideological model of the public sector that wants to change the public service to operate along the lines of the private sector. It introduces private-sector practices and in the delivery of services the New Public Management insists on the user-payer principle (e.g. such as the e-tolls) as opposed to cross-subsidisation of the poor by the rich. It promotes the commodification of public services rather than the promotion of constitutional or citizenship rights, and as such citizens become “customers” or “clients” in the practice of the delivery of public services.

The fight against e-tolling and for efficient, reliable, affordable and safe public transport for all the people goes on. We continue to urge motorists not to register with Sanral or buy e-tags, and to make the system unworkable. We are certain that people power will finally convince the government to abandon a policy with is extremely unpopular, unfair and unworkable.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 3 September 2018