Like many others, delegates from Justice Project South Africa participated in the “stakeholder engagement” event staged by Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and held at Gallagher Estate on Friday 6 February 2015.
Attendance at the event was relatively good, considering that the invitations to it were sent out at the last minute. JPSA received its invitation on Wednesday morning, some complained that they had only received them on Thursday, and we know of at least one other organisation that has not yet received an invitation to the event. Despite this event being called a “stakeholder engagement” no representatives from national government or SANRAL were at the event.
Although the Premier went to great lengths to assure delegates that the entire process has not been a waste of time, effort and money, JPSA has now joined the ranks of those who are unconvinced that this is true. Throughout the process, JPSA has often been the lone voice saying “give the process a chance” but since the release of the report on 15 January 2015 and attending the “stakeholder engagement” on Friday it has found itself joining the ranks of the disillusioned. This is very disappointing indeed.
While the Panel has categorically stated that e-tolling policy “in its current form” must be reviewed, found it to be inefficient and unpopular with the people and has further labelled it as being both anti-poor and “the perfection of apartheid”; it has simultaneously recommended that it should be retained in a subtly different manner as part of a so-called “hybrid funding model”.
It has further been recommended that Phase 1 of the GIFP should be funded solely by the Gauteng Province and that a levy on fuel should not be part of the “hybrid funding model” for what comprises the current e-tolls debacle. In stark contrast, a levy on fuel has not been excluded from the recommendations for the hybrid funding of Phases 2 & 3 of the GFIP.
Premier Makhura has said that he will wrap this exercise up by the end of February and will thereafter take the Gauteng Provincial Government’s recommendations to National Government.
JPSA looks forward to seeing what these final recommendations end up being, but is not optimistic about what they are likely to be. It is apparent that admitting that a blunder has been made in attempting to force e-tolls down the throats of Gauteng residents does not form part of the agenda.
JPSA will be releasing a more in-depth report on its observations surrounding the entire process and the contents of the Panel report shortly but is aware of the fact that this will not be considered by the Premier since we were told on Friday that he would only consider it if we submitted it prior to leaving the event.
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)