Allegations of a corruption cover-up have greeted Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula's statement that his department did not want to ‘drown’ the country in debt and must find a funding solution for the Gauteng e-tolls, observes Legalbrief. According to an EWN report, Mbalula was responding to a written parliamentary question by the DA’s Chris Hunsinger, who asked the Minister for a date on which he would finally make an announcement on the future of e-tolls. He was also asked what the delay was in making the announcement for the e-tolls that were completed in 2011. The never-ending saga looks set to continue after Cabinet rejected a funding proposal by the Transport and Finance departments. Mbalula said that the department tabled various funding options around the e-tolls for a Cabinet decision. But after consideration of the options, Cabinet directed that both the Transport Department and Treasury re-look at the options and re-submit to Cabinet for consideration. The Minister said that the date for the announcement on the future of e-tolls in Gauteng could not be determined at this stage as discussions around funding for the system continued to take place. He said that the department was committed to finding a workable solution that did not ‘drown’ the country in debt but was equally sensitive to the public’s concerns.
However, Sanral CEO Skhumbuzo Macozoma has called on government to ‘bite the bullet’ and take a decision on e-tolls, says a Moneyweb report. ‘There are no easy answers. All the options we have presented to government have very significant financial implications and I think we must just make a decision. Bite the bullet and do so. There is not going to be an answer that is not going to affect South Africans in the pocket, including cancellation,’ he is quoted as saying. ‘Cancellation in fact is the most expensive of the options that are on the table. So, it’s a complex decision but it must be made. It’s not assisting that we (Sanral) don’t have a decision,’ Macozoma said. His comments follow Mbalula's parliamentary statement and Outa suggesting the reason the government has been unable to take a decision on the future of e-tolls could be related to corruption or the allocation of funds to areas where these should not be going. Sanral general manager of communications and marketing Vusi Mona, responding to a request for comment on Outa’s corruption allegations, reportedly said: ‘As an agency of the National Department of Transport, Sanral is not in a position to comment on e-tolls until there is a government pronouncement on the future of e-tolls. We will be guided by the National Minister of Transport in this regard.’