People should not consider e-tolls as a pest, but should rather appreciate the world class infrastructure tolling made possible, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.
“People must not make e-tolls a gogga,” Mantashe said addressing people in the Wedela Community Hall in Carletonville.
“It is not a gogga, it’s a funding mechanism for world class infrastructure.”
Mantashe said Gauteng was a “smart province” and the infrastructure made travelling between Johannesburg and Pretoria easy, therefore people “must pay for it”.
He was addressing hundreds of people during his political lecture arranged by the National Union of Mineworkers.
The debate around e-tolls was “sterile” and needed to be elevated, he said.
“Let’s elevate the debate to world class infrastructure.”
Mantashe said at the start of infrastructure improvements and upgrades, such as the Gautrain and Rea Vaya bus systems, people were also resistant.
Now that they realised the improvements to travel time and the public transport system, people used the services.
“To get the province we are dreaming of, it means higher level of living standards and higher cost of living.”
Mantashe explained that e-tolls would not affect food and petrol prices because that was affected by the price of crude oil.
A legal challenge to e-tolling by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Appeal on October 9.
Outa announced on October 18 it did not have money to continue the legal fight against e-tolling. Outa’s argument remained that the SA National Roads Agency Ltd and government did not conduct a proper public participation process.
As Mantashe started his speech, many people took out their phones and tablets to take pictures and video clips of the African National Congress secretary-general.
The Wedela Community Hall in Carletonville was alive with song and dance ahead of his political lecture, with some people at the side and back of the hall waving tree branches, knobkerries and sticks in the air.
Many people went to the front to take pictures of Mantashe seated at the table on the stage. As they gathered in front of the stage, Mantashe got up and joined them in song.
Earlier, the singing and dancing crowd went out of the hall to encourage those standing outside to come inside.
Minibus taxis arrived with ANC members, dressed in the party’s shirts and singing struggle songs.
ANC Women’s League members were present in their green suits, while other people wore yellow shirts.
Mantashe told the crowd about his start as a mineworker.
He said everyone had a right to protest but said that right should not impose on the rights of others. He said protests should not turn violent because this did not benefit communities.
“If you protest and demand a clinic — don’t burn down a library,” he said.
Speaking about the leadership in trade unions, he said leaders should remember that workers were putting their lives in their hands.
There should be a level of trust between the union leadership and members, he said.
“What we do must not destroy our future,” Mantashe said.
“We must never cut our nose to spite our face.”
He said the country was better today than it was in 1994 and that the ruling party was focused on improving the lives of the poor.
Touching on corruption, he said the ANC-led government established Section Nine institutions, like the public protector and special investigation unit, to fight corruption.
“We have been firm on this matter [of corruption] and will continue to be firm,” Manashe said.
Rallying people to vote for the ANC in next year’s elections, Young Communist League SA national secretary Buti Manamela said there remained problems, but there had also been successes.
“Yes, there are problems but there is hope at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
“[Democratic Alliance leader] Helen Zille will dance like a bobejaan [baboon] at the next elections — but don’t be impressed by that. Look at what the DA is offering, they are the new apartheid government.”
He said people should not be impressed with Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele’s money because she would not share it with them.
Manamela said it was time to put education first and rid schools of violence, drugs and alcohol.