Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s announcement of a panel to assess the effect e-tolls had on Gauteng residents has been met with sharp criticism.
The DA called his plan “nothing more than a public relations stunt”.
Yesterday, Makhura named the initial 10 people, mostly academics, to do the assessment of the socio-economic impact of the e-tolls in the province.
They were: Professor Muxe Nkondo (chairman), Dr Patricia Hanekom (secretariat), advocate John Ngcebetsha, Dr Vuyo Mahlathi, Dr Luci Abrahams, Professor Fiona Tregenna, Dr Anna Mokgokong, Dr John Sampson, Lauretta Teffo and Professor Chris Malikane.
Five more panellists would be announced in due course, Makhura said.
“Our decision to establish this panel is based on our conviction that the people’s voice must be heard on matters that affect our province.
“Over the past week, I had consultations with the relevant roleplayers in this matter, including the national government and the South African Local Government Association in the province. There is a common understanding on the approach we are taking,” Makhura said.
He also outlined what the panel’s terms of reference would be.
HE SAID THE PANEL WOULD:
- Undertake a comprehensive assessment of the socio-economic impact of the introduction of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project in general, and the e-tolls in particular, on the economy and the people of Gauteng.
- Invite proposals and submissions from the people of Gauteng and roleplayers on the socio-economic impact and propose solutions.
- Submit findings and recommendations to the Gauteng government.
The panel is expected to conclude its review by November 30. Their first meeting was scheduled for next Thursday.
“I want to reiterate that while we will not promise easy solutions and claim easy victories with the establishment of this panel, we are saying that we will not turn a blind eye or close our ears to the cries of the people who are negatively affected by the cost of travelling across the province.
“At the same time, I urge those who have vehicles to continue paying the e-toll tariffs while we find a lasting solution,” Makhura said.
He characterised his critics such as the DA’s parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane as “political cynics”.
Makhura said Transport Minister Dipuo Peters was expected to make pronouncements on e-tolls when she delivered her budget speech in Parliament next week.
MAIMANE HITS BACK
But Maimane hit back at Makhura. “The e-tolls system is governed by national legislation. Therefore the only body that is empowered to legitimately review the system and make pronouncements on its future is Parliament through its portfolio committee on transport.
“It is unclear why the minister has remained silent on this matter, while Premier Makhura continues with this charade.
“The DA now calls for the minister to show leadership, and support the need for the review of e-tolls to take place in Parliament.”
He said Makhura’s panel was not empowered to take action against e-tolls.
“The people of South Africa need to see action on e-tolls, not a ‘talk shop’ in Gauteng that has no legal powers. The cost of this review panel will take public funds away from other critical needs.”