Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Cosatu in Gauteng has warned the ANC at Luthuli House that the party could lose more electoral support as soon as 2021 if it did not stop urging Gauteng residents to pay e-tolls.

The federation threatened to mobilise residents in the province and close toll roads if the ANC continued to “zigzag” on scrapping e-tolls.

This comes after ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe penned a piece in the party’s weekly publication, ANC Today, urging all citizens to embrace the user-pay principle and not boycott what they were urged to pay by the government.

Since the introduction of e-tolls, most motorists have rejected the system, and Cosatu has been among organisations that have campaigned for them to be scrapped.

The ANC in the province also resolved on the scrapping of e-tolls in its last conference, after it suffered a massive electoral decline in the 2016 local government elections.

Cosatu provincial secretary Louisa Modikwe described Mabe’s call for the payment of e-tolls, despite their rejection in Gauteng, as shocking.

“Mabe should know by now that the ANC-led government is not a private company and it is duty-bound to provide services to the people, including quality roads,” Modikwe said.

She said it was astounding that Luthuli House was already ordering residents to pay e-tolls despite promises by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to initiate a new process.

Mabe said that those who withheld payment were harming the government, which he said was detrimental to society.

“The user-pay principle has been highly efficient in the private sectors, such as the telecoms industry. The users know too well that they get the service they pay for,” he said.

Modikwe rejected the comparison, saying it did not apply to e-tolls. “Cosatu Gauteng reiterates its long-standing position that building of roads is the responsibility of government, and the people of Gauteng contribute through tax and fuel levy for this to be possible,” she said.

Cosatu reminded the ANC that it was voted into power in Gauteng in the May elections after pledging to scrap e-tolls.

Cosatu provincial chairperson Amos Monyela said the ANC could lose more votes at the 2021 local government polls if it didn’t scrap e-tolls.

“The ANC is not governing Tshwane and the ANC is not governing Joburg. The ANC is governing Ekurhuleni and Mogale City through a coalition. Anything is possible when we go to the local government elections, and one of the things that is going to influence the results are e-tolls.”

Monyela said even at provincial and national level, the party’s insistence on e-tolls was set to hurt it.

Mabe couldn’t be reached for comment at the time of publication.

Political Bureau