Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Monday admitted that e-tolling had not worked and that he would be meeting President Cyril Ramaphosa to devise an alternative funding model. “It is loud and clear for all to see that e-tolls have not worked,” said Makhura. Speaking at the State of the Province Address at the Gauteng legislature, Makhura said e-tolls had added to the cost of living for many motorists and public transport users in the province.
“Accordingly, I will engage President Ramaphosa in order to find a new and more equitable funding model to support the continued expansion of Gauteng’s road network and public transport system. Please send me!” he said, repeating Ramaphosa’s mantra which the president lifted from a Hugh Masekela’s song, Thuma Mina. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) welcomed Makhura’s acknowledgement, saying the compliance rate for e-toll users was only 29%.
“OUTA is preparing a submission for the Minister of Transport and the President and will engage with the executive to show the negative impact e-tolls have had on the public and on the SANRAL budget and to propose alternative funding models,” said OUTA transport portfolio manager Rudie Heyneke. “The collection costs and litigation costs are too high when measured against the revenue generated by e-tolls.” On Monday, Makhura began his address by congratulating Ramaphosa on becoming the new president, saying his election would herald a new dawn of hope, renewal and change for South Africa.
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South African president Jacob Zuma resigned Wednesday, bringing an end to his scandal-marred tenure and leaving the nation’s leadership in the hands of the ruling African National Congress’s new leader, Cyril Ramaphosa. “The ANC should never be divided in my name,” Zuma said in a televised address to the nation. “I have therefore come to the decision to resign as the president of the republic with immediate effect.”
Zuma spoke after the ANC announced it would hold a parliamentary vote of no confidence in him on Thursday. Calls for him to quit had grown since Ramaphosa replaced him as ANC leader in December, and his fate was sealed when the party’s National Executive Committee decided Monday to order him to step down. Ramaphosa, who was served as deputy president since 2014, will become acting president and the National Assembly must choose a replacement for Zuma within 30 days.
Ramaphosa is likely to be elected in a permanent capacity on Friday and deliver the state-of the nation address the same day. The keynote speech was postponed on Feb.
6, two days before Zuma was due to deliver it, due to the turmoil within the ruling party. Crisis Warning
In an interview with the state broadcaster earlier Wednesday, Zuma strongly criticized the ANC’s decision to remove him, calling it “unfair,” and said, “I think we are being plunged into a crisis that i think my comrades will not be able to handle.” The resignation gives Ramaphosa, 65, more time to convince voters before elections next year that he’s committed to meeting his pledges to rebuild a battered economy and clamp down on the graft that critics say has become synonymous with the Zuma era. While Zuma’s cabinet doesn’t have to resign, Ramaphosa will be able to hire and fire ministers as he sees fit.
With the national budget due to be presented to Parliament on Feb.
21, investors will be watching to see if he retains Malusi Gigaba as his finance minister. Zuma, 75, has spent years fending off allegations that he took bribes from arms dealers and enabled members of the Gupta family, who are one of his son’s business partners, to influence cabinet appointments and loot billions of rand from state companies. Gupta Raid
His resignation came just hours after the Hawks, a police investigative unit, raided the Gupta family’s Johannesburg residence. One of the Gupta brothers and four other suspects were arrested in connection with the alleged shifting of funds from a failed state-funded dairy project and are due to appear in court on Thursday, Johannesburg’s City Press newspaper reported. “Zuma’s exit was almost inevitable once it emerged that the ANC was willing to remove him through a vote of no confidence, his former supporters deserted him and the Hawks showed their intent with raids on the Guptas,” said Mike Davies, the founder of political-advisory company Kigoda Consulting.
Growth has averaged just 1.6% a year since Zuma took office in 2009, undermined partly by a series of policy missteps and inappropriate appointments that rocked investor and business confidence. Disgruntlement with his rule caused support for the ANC to fall to a record low in 2016 municipal elections and cost it control of Johannesburg, the economic hub, and Pretoria, the capital. A lawyer and one of the wealthiest black South Africans, Ramaphosa is widely expected to adopt more business-friendly policies, prompting the rand to rise more than any other currency against the dollar since his election as ANC leader on Dec.
It advanced to its highest against the US currency since February 2015 on Wednesday.
Shortly after 11pm on Wednesday evening, the rand was stronger against the major currencies:
- Dollar/Rand: R11.71 (-2.10%)
- Pound/Rand: R16.41 (-1.01%)
- Euro/Rand: R14.59 (-1.19%)
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The ANC is pushing full steam ahead with the reconfiguration of provinces, despite an outcry from opposition parties. The ANC policy conference called for a presidential commission to be set up, and for its work to be completed before the party’s elective conference in December. The ANC took a decision in 2007 that the number of provinces be reduced to six, instead of nine.
National executive committee (NEC) member Obed Bapela said the commission would look into the powers, functions and number of provinces. This was one of the rafts of proposals from the ANC policy conference that ended last Wednesday. “We have to harmonise powers and functions of provinces and local government because, in some areas, there is contestation of space,” Bapela said.
He was addressing the media following its policy conference at the Nasrec Expo Centre last week. The party took a resolution at its 2007 Polokwane elective conference to reduce the number of provinces from nine to six. It said at the time that this would help improve delivery of services.
At its 2015 national general council, it again called for a presidential commission, but this has not materialised yet.
At the time, the ANC faced criticism from opposition parties that this was an attempt to stay in power. The ANC has consistently received fewer votes at the polls since the 2009 national elections. There are fears that it could find itself with an even more reduced majority, or even on the opposition benches in provinces like Gauteng, where it only managed 53% in the 2014 elections and lost the metros of Johannesburg and Tshwane.
However, Bapela denied that the renewed urgency was linked to the upcoming 2019 elections. “This is a Polokwane resolution, it is as old as that, it has nothing to do with 2019,” he said. He said the move was motivated by the “concentration of resources” at a provincial level, whilst most of the delivery of services happened at a local government level.
“A lot of money goes to provinces and, when you go to municipalities, the equitable share currently is 9%. It used to be 7% (2007), and yet a lot of service delivery ought to happen at the municipalities,” Bapela said. Another key proposal is that demarcation should only happen every ten years, in line with the country’s census.
This comes after the ANC faced hostility and violent protests in places like Vuwani and Malamulela over demarcations.
However, Bapela said that the delimitation would be continuous because of rural to urban movement.