The ANC will consider any suggestions on how the Gauteng e-tolls saga can be resolved in a way that the country can still meet its debt obligations.
“We will look into any options that are given and assess the merits of any option,” party secretary-general Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg.
The expected 1 May launch date for e-tolling was canned last month at the end of an extended campaign of private and union federation resistance.
Mantashe said that in addition to meeting Cosatu the ANC had engaged widely on the e-tolls. It also spoke to representatives of Outa, who had challenged the introduction of e-tolling in court.
Parties that met agreed the Gauteng Highway Improvement Project had delivered good roads and related infrastructure, that debt (of about R20 billion) had been incurred, and that the government had a responsibility to service the bond.
Mantashe said the fight was not about those issues. It was about whether e-tolling was the best option and, “it is about the service provider”.
A petrol levy had been considered, but that meant every car owner in the country had to subsidise a road in Gauteng, even if they lived in the Eastern Cape.
“And the question that we are grappling with, is that a fair option...,” said Mantashe.
He asked whether it was fair that the fiscus should “continue throwing” a huge portion of its revenue to one province while others who were lagging behind with infrastructure had to be patient.
In the meantime, options to service the bond had to be found, he said.
Last month, the High Court in Pretoria put e-tolling in Gauteng on hold, ruling that the SA National Roads Agency Limited could not charge or collect e-tolls until there had been a judicial review of the processes leading up to them.
Last week it was announced that Cabinet would appeal the judgment in court. Sanral CEO Nazir Alli has resigned since the judgment.
On April 26 the transport department said the introduction of e-tolling would be delayed for a month after the ANC and Cosatu asked for this.
On April 28, the High Court in Pretoria put the whole project on hold. -Sapa