President Jacob Zuma’s signing into law legislation paving the way for e-tolling was an act of cowardice, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.
“Our president chose to make this announcement far away from the people of this province. It was an act of cowardice for which we cannot forgive him,” spokesman Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
It would also rob Gauteng’s people of their hard-earned money which should rather be used to put bread on the table, pay for school fees, go towards job creation, and service delivery.
Zuma enacted the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill on Saturday.
The presidency made the announcement on Wednesday, while Zuma was in New York for the 69th session of the United Nations general assembly.
On the same day, Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Fritz Brand reserved judgment on whether the tolling of Gauteng’s freeways should be reviewed.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) brought the appeal in its challenge against the SA National Roads Agency Limited, the transport minister, and the Treasury.
Zuma arrived back in South Africa on Thursday night, the presidency said.
Maimane said the enactment was a slap in the face to all who opposed e-tolls.
“And when I say all of us, I mean everybody. I am yet to meet anybody who supports e-tolling,” he said.
“Where was our voice in this decision?”
In a democracy, the people should be heard and have a voice but government had silenced the people. E-tolls were never necessary and were never the best option to pay for road improvements in South Africa.
“We have said before, and today I say again, that the upgrade to Gauteng’s freeways could have been paid for through other means,” he said.
“And by doing so, we could have avoided spending billions and billions of rands on e-tolls.”
The money spent on e-tolls would not be going back into the South African economy but instead to the Austrian company brought in to manage e-tolls.
Bloomberg reported in June that Kapsch TrafficCom, the Austrian maker of toll-road systems, said it would get an annual revenue boost of “significantly more” than Euro50 million (R664m) for eight years from the Gauteng project.