Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has dismissed claims that he suggested that e-tolls should not be scrapped.
This is after Mbalula indicated during the opening of two driving license centres in Gauteng last week that “national roads had to be maintained”.
Although the minister on Wednesday did not provide clarity on what he meant with the statement, he said he never suggested that e-tolls should not be written off completely.
“I have noted statements to the effect that I suggested that e-tolls cannot be scrapped. Such statements are at best mischievous and at worst malicious.
“It is common cause that Outa [Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse] and the Gauteng government, amongst others, are opposed to e-tolls. We have taken into consideration their concerns as part of the process aimed at finding a sustainable solution,” he said.
Mbalula insisted that a final decision on the future of e-tolls has not been taken by the government yet.
“Over the last few months, we have been emphatic that the matter of e-tolls is a matter Cabinet is seized with. Work that will inform the final decision of Cabinet is currently underway. This includes work being undertaken with the Minister of Finance.
“Cabinet is determined to resolve the matter in the best interest of the country and its economic standing. Government will therefore make the necessary pronouncements once a decision has been made.
“Government is giving careful consideration to various options, as these all have financial implications to be taken into account,” he further said.
The minister added that the fate of e-tolls would be provided in Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s 2021 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
“We are determined to bring this matter to finality before the end of the year. We expect that the minister of finance, when he delivers the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in November 2021, will pronounce on the e-tolls. By that time, we believe Cabinet would have finalised the matter,” he concluded.
Godongwana will deliver the MTBPS on 1 November, just three days after the local government elections.
In July, Mbalula said a final announcement about the future of e-tolls, not only in Gauteng, but across the country, was expected later that month.
Meanwhile, Minister in The Presidency Mondli Gungubele last month said government was in support of a user-pay policy on e-tolls.
Speaking during a media briefing, Gungubele insisted that discussions on e-tolls were still ongoing.
“What I know is that there is an agreement… it’s a user-pay principle. The e-toll is a matter that is being dealt with the minister [of transport] and the affected province, in particular Gauteng.
“Up until they complete their work on this [issue] I am able to to actually tell what is the future, but the user-pay principle is supported unequivocally by the government and the commitment to pay that when incurred,” the minister said.