File photo: Bongiwe Mchunu/African News Agency (ANA).

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Twitter response to Gauteng premier David Makhura’s comments during his state of the province address regarding e-tolls "confirms what the DA has said all along, that under the ANC, e-tolls are here to stay", the party said on Saturday.

On Twitter, Mboweni had "lambasted Makhura, stating that the unjust user-pay system on Gauteng’s freeways will not be removed under his watch", DA Gauteng MPL Solly Msimanga said in a statement.

It was Mboweni, not Makhura, who "pulls the country’s purse strings" and had the final say on how taxes were raised, he said.

"Since the gantries were switched on in December 2013, the ANC has consistently spoken with a forked tongue on the matter. When it is convenient, they claim that the system will be scrapped. But when the truth comes out, it is clear that they care not for the plight of Gauteng’s residents."

In the years since the e-tolls went live, numerous businesses had shut down due to the added, unjust costs that they had not been able to carry, Msimanga said.

Private road users had been threatened with criminal records for non-compliance should they refuse to be fleeced of their hard earned money. Ninety percent of the money collected from those who did pay was sent overseas and what was left barely made a dent in repaying the South African National Roads Agency's (Sanral) bonds, he said.

Money collected through other streams of revenue, such as licence renewal fees and levies, contributed to paying for the roads. "Convoluted extortions schemes" such as the e-toll system did not.

"With the economy in the perilous state that it is, Gauteng’s residents are stretched thin and can not afford to take on additional, unjust taxes. Mboweni’s utterances that the people who cannot afford the e-tolls don’t pay because public transport is exempt from the system [and] do not pay shows how far removed the ANC are from the lived experience of the vast majority of Gauteng’s residents."

On Thursday, the DA indicated that if, by August, the e-toll gantries were still on, the party would take steps to declare an inter-governmental dispute to have the system set aside. No longer could the people of Gauteng be hoodwinked by the ANC’s double standards on e-tolls," Msimanga said.

African News Agency (ANA)