Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has lashed out at the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral), who suspended the process of pursuing e-toll debt this week, saying the decision was a bad one and should be reversed.
Electronic tolling, more commonly known as e-tolling, has had a negative impact on the ANC’s electoral support in Gauteng. The party in the province welcomed the move by Sanral this week to abandon its decision to pursue e-tolls debt, which it announced would remain in place less than a month ago.
The party’s research shows that its support stood at 50% in the province —it risks losing the country’s economic hub, which would have a dramatic impact on its national performance.
E-tolls are among the issues negatively impacting on the ANC’s May 8 elections campaign.
Mboweni has come out contradicting his ANC colleagues, saying he was unhappy about Sanral’s decision.
It’s a very bad decision. They should never have taken that decision. It is not helpful in the bond market, it is undermining what we have said in the budget that we support the user must pay principle,” Mboweni said at a media briefing on Edward Kieswetter’s appointment as the new South African Revenue Service commissioner at the national treasury.
He said they must “reverse that decision immediately”.
“Otherwise it has implications for the bond market it has implications for the fiscus it has implications for their own credit rating and credit rating of the country. They must reverse it and people must learn that you don’t take careless decisions in the middle of a difficult financial situation. So pay your taxes render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar,” Mboweni said.
The ANC in Gauteng welcomed Sanral’s decision, saying that it remained opposed to the system. The Mail & Guardian understands that there are ongoing discussions between the province and the national government with a view to ease the e-toll burden on Gauteng motorists.
Cosatu, the ANC’s labour ally who has been fighting against e-tolls since its inception, called on the party to “rein in” Mboweni. The federation said Mboweni behaves “like a free agent”.
“We are not surprised by his statements because he has been behaving like this since his appointment. Minister Mboweni has a czar complex and is also a potty mouth without any impulse control,” the federation said.
“What is troubling about these provocative and unhelpful statements is that they create an impression that the centre is not holding and the minister is operating outside of the mandate of the ANC. He is fast deteriorating like former ANC national chair [Mosioua] Terror Lekota and it is up to the ANC to act to arrest this political delinquency.”
The federation accused the minister of undermining the ANC and called on the party to stop him.