Wonkie is disappointed that Julius Malema has not seen it fit to make the high toll road fees in Gauteng a racial issue – when it actually is one. But perhaps that is because, he too, like most senior South African government officials, has lost touch with the masses. What else can one expect after moving to a posh Sandton neighbourhood and being escorted from one sushi party to the next by a state-funded, VIP blue light brigade?
Now, on the surface, the toll fees make perfect, logical sense:
1. Roads are expensive to build and maintain; and
2. People that use the roads should pay for them.
Just scratching the surface a little, on the first point – yes, they are. In South Africa though, for reasons likely only the tender processors and Nazir Alli of Sanral will ever know, it’s much more expensive to build roads than in first world countries like USA. And on the second point, should the people still need to pay for them given the fact that the national coffers receive massive fuel taxes and levies that amount to over 25% of the retail fuel price.
If one digs even deeper however, one will realise something uglier. The people that are being made to pay for these roads are the very people that were forced to live outside the city limits by the good ol’ apartheid regime. These locations, excuse the pun, are not the glorious suburbs people abroad aspire to live in. They were the apartheid-era dumping grounds outside the city for non-whites.
Of course, since the government changed in 1994 there was a huge influx of non-white people into Sandton – in fact, over 90% of the population of Soweto, Eldorado Park and Lenasia relocated as the socio-economic correction was remarkably instantaneous. Also, since most people move out of their homes and community at the drop of a hat, naturally that would have happened. Yeah, right. Whilst some of the wealthier members of the non-white communities may have moved to more affluent areas in Sandton and the like, the majority remain stuck with lengthy commutes and an appalling public transport infrastructure.
Considering the above perspective, the very people negatively affected by apartheid are now expected to pay up to R0.66 per kilometre extra for their daily commute by the alleged government of the people. That for Wonkie, is just wrong and South Africans should do something about it.
Certainly this could have been mitigated with the presence of a solid public transport infrastructure – or at least some secondary routes to avoid the tolls. The Minister of Transport, Sbu Ndebele, actually suggested that the people use taxis as they are a safe and reliable means of public transport. Wonkie will bet that Mr Ndebele will be as keen to use a public taxi himself as people in the Department of Education would be keen to send their own kids to a South African public school.
So what are the basic choices available to the South African public with respect to the high toll fees in Gauteng:
1. Start a revolution based on mass action;
2. Refuse to pay high toll fees and let the government try to take legal action against the entire province;
3. Suck it up, pay the high toll fees and continue whingeing about them for the next decade.
Since option 1 is likely to result in violence and economic disaster, it’s not a favourite. Option 2 would be the Mahatma Gandhi solution but do South Africans have the stomach to “be the change they want to see in the world?” – Wonkie seriously doubts it. One would also think that option 2 would be the favoured option for Mr Zuma – after all, think about the tens of thousands of jobs that will be created just to deliver those subpoenas.
This leaves option 3 which warmly embraces one of the favourite South African pastimes – whining. No guessing where Wonkie thinks this fork in the toll road will likely lead.
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