Although the Constitutional Court still has to deliver its judgment on the appeal lodged by the government against the temporary interdict imposed on the implementation of e-tolling on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), an interesting insight into the government’s stance on user charges is provided by its response to a Parliamentary question on this issue.
Anton Alberts, a Freedom Front Plus MP, asked Transport Minister Ben Martins if he had ordered an investigation into “the double taxation burden” on motorists in Gauteng and whether Martins intended investigating this, and if not, why not.
Alberts explained that in terms of the GFIP e-tolling project, Gauteng motorists were paying toll fees while their tax money was also being used to cover the toll fees of government vehicles.
Martins responded earlier this month, stressing that there was no need for an investigation because as early as 1996 the white paper on the national transport policy accepted road tolls in principle to support the development and maintenance of road infrastructure in accordance with sustainable economic and financial considerations.
“The ‘user pays’ principle is not a tax. A user charge is a direct payment for the service used,” he said.
This sounds fine in principle, but becomes much more complicated when the government’s lack of transparency about the actual cost of the GFIP and the associated costs of collection of e-toll fees and road maintenance are considered.
There have been allegations that the government will be recovering far more from the e-toll fees than was required to fund the improvement of the roads, collection of the e-tolls and maintenance of the roads in future, and motorists using the GFIP would also be subsidising the cost of a new road, possibly in the Eastern Cape.
The moment the government collects or extracts more money from Gauteng motorists than it needs to cover the cost of the GFIP, any other form of tolling ceases to be a user charge and becomes a tax.
Brands such as Koo, Tastic rice, Jungle Oats and others have managed stay on the shelves for decades, simply because these brands exist in the hearts and the minds of consumers.
They are known as heritage brands and besides the fact that they all come from Tiger Brands, they have also appeared in the Sunday Times Top Brands survey for many years. These brands have been part of the South Africa household vocabulary for a long time.
Koo was launched in the 1940s and Tastic rice in the 1950s, while Jungle Oats and Fattis & Monis are over 100 years old. These brands are among the oldest brands yet remain relevant in the market.
Taking a closer look at the strength of these brands, Tiger Brands’ group marketing and corporate strategy’s Brenda Koornneef said: “Heritage brands with decades of history behind them live and exist within the hearts and minds of the consumers.
“We therefore don’t have the luxury of using a blank sheet when it comes to marketing these products.”
Koornneef said to make sure that such a brand stayed on the shelves, it was important for Tiger Brands to understand what its heritage meant to consumers and how the brand fitted into consumers’ lives.
“This consumer insight signals the starting point to a process that requires identifying the essence of the brand and updating it without compromising the elements that made it a heritage brand in the first place,” Koornneef said.
Tiger Brands carries out research and relaunches these brands every five years, at a minimum. During these relaunches, the brands undergo renovation.
Many lead to variants of the product being changed. However, the change opens doors to new markets and makes the brand stronger. If it ain’t broke…
How mining companies communicate – whether with their employees or external stakeholders – could come into sharp focus in the coming weeks and months.
As the country reacts to the Lonmin tragedy, this week has been devoted to memorial services, speeches from President Jacob Zuma and opportunistic politicians hoping to leverage the opportunity to their own advantage.
Another potential disaster was averted when miners at Royal Bafokeng Platinum – who may have aimed to copy the Lonmin strike – returned to work yesterday after staging their own protest on Wednesday.
Chris Moerdyk, a marketing expert, believes that the whole mining industry is under pressure to protect its reputation “because an injury caused by one is often perceived to be an injury caused by all”.
“There is no doubt at all that the Marikana tragedy was exacerbated by a litany of bad communication – by Lonmin, by [the] government, by the police,” Moerdyk said when asked for comment on whether it was advisable for the mining industry to attempt to redeem itself through advertising.
Anglo American is broadcasting a commercial on television which assures the public that the firm takes seriously its social responsibilities by, for example, purifying mine water.
Mining firms are generally not huge advertisers, although several years ago Anglo did spend about R70 million on a single campaign, according to Moerdyk.
Moerdyk believes it is futile to predict whether Anglo’s peers will follow suit and invest in advertising at this point.
Moerdyk did add that warm, fuzzy advertisements would not solve anything.
“They will simply be perceived to be patronising,” he said.
“But, there is a need for all major players in this tragedy to start taking the communications process a lot more seriously and transparently.”
Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Roy Cokayne, Nompumelelo Magwaza and Asha Speckman.