About half of the 912 000 vehicles registered for e-tolls actually belong to Gauteng residents, it emerged during parliamentary question time on Wednesday.
Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said just over 468 000 private cars had been registered for e-tolls by February 1.
Corporate clients – she did not define these – accounted for another 383 000 e-tags.
The number of e-tags for local, provincial and national government departments totalled 60 007, for which taxpayers will pick up the tab.
DA MP Ian Ollis quickly highlighted the numerical discrepancies, as the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) recently claimed it had sold 1.2 million e-tags.
Arising from the minister’s response that only between 23 and 28 percent of e-tagged vehicles were actually using the improved highways, Ollis said: “With so few drivers using e-tags, will the minister not concede the public are voting with their feet?”
The “Nkandla-run government” had wasted people’s money on firepools, shopping trips to New York and repeated bail-outs for SAA, the DA MP said.
“Don’t underestimate the intelligence of the people of South Africa,” Peters replied. “They want world-class roads… You can’t use e-tolls to tell people of Gauteng to vote DA.”
She said Gauteng residents knew “the party which brought freedom”.
Switching to seTswana to continue the electioneering sparring with another DA MP, the minister was interrupted when it was pointed out Parliament’s translation services were not working.
“It’s not my my problem they don’t understand the languages spoken in South Africa,” Peters retorted in seTswana and, with interpretation suddenly online, continued to link Gauteng’s improved freeways with the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, passed by the National Assembly the previous day.
Women died because there were no proper roads, they died giving birth, but the ANC wanted to improve the lives of the people of South Africa so the ANC brought the roads, she said.
In response to an ANC question, Peters switched back to English to outline the benefits of e-tolling: more than 1300 young people were employed, and resolved was the estimated R150 million per hour cost due to congestion – excluding maintenance, fuel, late freight fees, lost business opportunities and accidents.