Panyaza Lesufi says e-tolls have been scrapped, but Outa says nothing has changed

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has caused a stir by declaring the Gauteng e-toll system has been scrapped, while it is still live. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has caused a stir by declaring the Gauteng e-toll system has been scrapped, while it is still live. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 22, 2023


Pretoria - Political parties and civil society organisations are hoping that Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will shed light on the scrapping of e-tolls when he delivers his Budget in Parliament, sitting in the Cape Town City Hall, today.

The parties expressed doubt after Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s comments that the e-tolls had been scrapped and that a final announcement would be made in due course.

Lesufi reiterated his statement on Monday when he delivered his maiden State of the Province Address in the Gauteng Legislature.

In his remarks, Lesufi said he was “pleased to report that e-tolls have been scrapped”, saying he and the Ministries of Finance and Transport would make a joint announcement on the matter.

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

“Together with the national government, we are on the verge of agreeing on all matters that will finally allow us to gazette switching off the gantries, matters related to debt repayment, and the money collected from paying customers, as well as funds not collected from non-paying customers,” Lesufi said.

But Wayne Duvenage of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said the situation remained exactly as it has been since the finance minister’s October 2022 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement.

The e-toll system remained intact and continued to bill motorists.

“We have heard these comments that the decision has been made and the e-toll scheme is ‘on the verge of being scrapped’ many times over the past few years, and yet nothing has formally changed,” Duvenage said.

He said there appeared to be no end to this debacle and, until the e-toll system was formally turned off, everything that Lesufi and others said on this issue remained just words.

“There are still businesses and individuals who continue to pay their e-tolls bills because they continue to receive their invoices.

“Some businesses refuse to stop paying until the final decision has been announced to turn the scheme’s billing system off, and until that happens, they remain uncompetitive and subjected to unnecessary expenses.”

Duvenage said Outa was calling on the four parties (the Treasury, transport minister, Sanral and the Gauteng provincial government), who were all parties to this “never-ending imminent decision”, to bring this scheme to a close once and for all.

“The issue of who will pay for what has gone on for too long now. For finality to be achieved, Sanral (South African National Roads Agency Limited) must publish a gazette to amend the initial declarations of the Gauteng freeway network as tolled roads.

“This shouldn’t take longer than a few days. We hope the minister of finance will announce the final closure dates in his Budget this week so that we can put this saga behind us once and for all,” Duvenage said.

Political parties were equally sceptical about Lesufi’s announcement on Monday, saying e-tolls were active in all parts of Gauteng.

Advocate Anton Alberts of the Freedom Front Plus said Lesufi had boasted about the scrapping of the e-tolls system, “which is, ironically enough, still active”.

Gauteng DA leader Solly Msimanga said residents had been told once again that e-tolls had been scrapped but said the devil was in the detail.

He said they needed the premier to explain precisely where the money for the province's portion of the debt would come from and why it had ballooned so much.

Msimanga said they would submit a detailed list of questions on the scrapping of e-tolls to Lesufi in due course.

Pretoria News