Makhura’s foray keeps e-tolls saga blundering on

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If the all-consuming squabble over e-tolls has been driving you to distraction, you may want to make plans to leave the country for a few months because the next chapter of this never-ending story is about to start.

Along comes new Gauteng Premier David Makhura with a brainwave. In his State of the Province address last month Makhura showed just how the 10 percent drop in support for the ruling party in the May elections rattled the ANC in Gauteng. He announced plans to review e-tolling. Nice idea – until the penny drops and Makhura’s impotence on the matter is revealed.

The tolls on national highways are a national, not a provincial, competency. No matter how good his intentions are, he has no powers to do anything about e-tolls.

Better luck to DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane, never one to turn down a chance to hop on a bandwagon. He suggested that if the ANC was serious about responding to the cries of cash-strapped travellers and commuters, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters should welcome and conduct the review.

And all this as the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) blamed a poorly supported foray into the bond markets, where it needs to raise up to R600 million a month to stay operational, on Makhura’s vote-catching comments.

Then there are these weird traffic cop roadblocks at which it is alleged police stop motorists and entirely inappropriately – and probably unlawfully – quiz them about why they don’t have e-tags.

The answer is simple. There is no law requiring anyone to buy the tag, and I don’t take kindly to being accosted and asked questions that have nothing to do with the Road Traffic Act by some sticky-fingered uniformed bully, who probably schemes to get a commission for drumming up business for desperate Sanral.

Agripreneurs

National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairwoman Thandi Modise has set the pigs among the pigeons, if you will excuse the intended pun.

Over the weekend, Modise drew the ire of animal rights campaigners when she was caught out in the neglect of her farm and its occupants, namely the domestic animals which resorted to cannibalism after being neglected.

The images shown on television of blood and gore were enough to upset the strongest of hearts.

Predictably, Modise’s explanation raises more questions than answers. “I am not a farmer. I am trying to farm. I am learning. But if you are a woman and you are learning you are not allowed to make mistakes,” she said, trying on both the sexism and the poor-me-I-am-trying-so-hard suits. Neither of which are appropriate.

And then she says with incredible insensitivity coupled with deep self-interest: “The suffering that the animals endured does not compare to the financial loss that I suffered.”

Sad as it is, the issue is not so much about the neglect of the farmworkers, nor is it about the poor animals, most of which had to be euthanised.

There are thousands of black (yes, black) emerging agripreneurs who are dying for the opportunity to work the land to improve their lot but are stopped by myriad bureaucracies from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the Land Bank to the markets that are supposed to take their produce.

Some have given up on ever realising their dream of making a contribution to the economy by being productive in agriculture. Unlike her, they would get it right without the environmentalists, vets and other specialists she should have had on her payroll. Ms Modise plays into the stereotypical thinking that blacks (yes, blacks) think of agriculture as nothing more than a get-rich-quick scheme.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Peter DeIonno and Banele Ginindza.


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