Johannesburg - The conflict between the Gauteng ANC and the national Transport Department over the implementation of e-tolls looks set to intensify.
This follows the adoption of a declaration rejecting the controversial system in its current form “as expensive” by the provincial ANC.
Instead, the party said it would lobby for a fuel levy to fund the province’s road infrastructure.
On Monday, the national Transport Department scoffed at the suggestions of a fuel levy as an alternative fund-raising mechanism.
Departmental spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso also stopped short of saying the government did not recognise the declarations taken at the ANC Gauteng conference that ended on Sunday.
“We have noted the resolution taken by the ANC in Gauteng and we view it as a decision taken at a political level. The responsibility of policy-making is that of the national department and the minister (Dipuo Peters),” Rikhotso said.
He suggested that the national Transport Department – and not Gauteng – remained the absolute body that could take legitimate decisions on the review of the implementation of e-tolls.
“We are of the view that the review or assessment panel was commissioned by the Gauteng provincial government and, in particular by the premier (David Makhura). We have noted the work it has been doing, (but) we are responsible for implementation of policy through Sanral (SA National Roads Agency).”
Rikhotso dismissed sentiments by Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile that Sanral did not have a mandate to impose e-tolls.
“Sanral is an agency of the national department and national government, and whatever it does is a mandate of the government. Sanral doesn’t act in isolation and what it does is implement policy and decisions. Sanral is not working as a lone ranger.”
He said the declaration that a levy be used as an alternative funding method would result in motorists outside the province funding Gauteng’s roads.
“A fuel levy is a national competency. The National Treasury is the custodian of the fuel levy. So you are not going to have a separate fuel levy (for Gauteng),” Rikhotso said.
He added the department was prepared to listen to whatever alternative proposals Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport Ismail Vadi made.
Simultaneously, President Jacob Zuma dismissed reports that he was angry about the Gauteng ANC’s decision to subject e-tolls to a review process.
“South Africa is a democratic country and the leadership of the ANC in Gauteng has every right to state their views and that of the membership of Gauteng with regard to what government is doing, including displeasure about the e-tolls in their current form,” Zuma said on Monday.
“We cannot suppress the Gauteng ANC from expressing their views on this matter; in fact, we welcome the feedback... Mr David Makhura discussed this matter with me long before the ANC conference. The national government will discuss the matter with Gauteng.”