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The DA has finally owned up and admitted that the party is responsible for the e-toll billboards that have sprung up next to the gantries on Gauteng’s highways.
The party also defended its decision to put up the billboards, saying they were an expression of “collective action” by the residents of Gauteng.
“We are confirming that they are our billboards. It is part of the message to the people of this province and not just the DA,” DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.
The billboards, which beam the message “E-tolls. Proudly brought to you by the ANC”, have caused a stir from the time they were erected on Joburg’s N3 and N1 highways last week.
They were erected after President Jacob Zuma signed the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill. The law effectively paved the way for the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) to roll out the e-tolls on Gauteng’s highways.
The erection of the billboards came a few weeks after the DA apologised in Parliament for printing and distributing election pamphlets misrepresenting the ANC during the recent by-election in Tlokwe, North West. The posters carried disparaging messages that denounced ANC mayoral candidate Maphetle Maphetle.
The ANC has since called on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to investigate and punish the DA for what it described as the “lowest and dirtiest” campaigning by the official opposition.
As questions continued to be raised about the billboards’ architects, neither the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance nor the DA had accepted responsibility for the billboards. The ANC viewed the billboards as a cowardly act.
ANC spokesperson Khuselwa Sangoni-Khawe was quoted as saying the party would investigate whoever was behind the billboards, which she said painted the organisation in a negative light ahead of next year’s elections.
“We will report it to the IEC as well as the Advertising Standards Authority. In South Africa, such advertising is not allowed,” he said.
On Sunday, Maimane, who is also the DA’s premier candidate in Gauteng, said it was difficult to see why the ANC was so upset.
“This message is 100 percent accurate. E-tolls were conceived under the watch of an ANC minister, supported by an ANC executive in Gauteng, passed into law by an ANC majority parliament, and signed, sealed and delivered by an ANC president. So what’s the ANC’s problem with the billboard? Is the ANC ashamed of e-tolls all of a sudden?” he asked.
Quizzed why the DA had not admitted to erecting the billboards earlier, Maimane said: “We never tried to hide. That was our position as part of the collective action.”
He added the DA would defend its decision to erect the billboards in any forum the ANC chose.
Sangoni-Khawe said the ANC had noted the DA’s statements but “is not commenting on the matter”.