President Jacob Zuma has renewed media speculation of divisions within the ruling party after failing to attend the ANC Gauteng elective conference this weekend in Centurion, Pretoria. The president of the ruling party was scheduled to give a keynote address on Sunday as per the summit’s schedule – which was handed out on Friday – but the ANC’s deputy secretary general Jesse Duarte gave a brief speech in his place. This comes as the party’s provincial structure resolved to oppose the contentious e-toll tolling system in favour of a fuel levy. Newly-elected Provincial Secretary Hope Papo read out a declaration during the conference that slated the tolling system as too expensive.
“The current system is too expensive, traffic flows have been negatively affected. We would rather have a fuel levy,” Papo told the delegates. This also comes after Premier David Makhura established a review panel that examines the tolling system’s economic impact on motorists. To further add heat to the murmurs of speculation, former Arts and Culture minister Paul Mashatile (who has long been opposed to etolls) was re-elected as the chairperson of the province. “At the conference, we did not talk about scrapping the e-tolls. We said we don’t support e-tolling in its current form,” Mashatile told reporters at the elective conference in Pretoria yesterday. Mashatile was replaced as the minister of arts & culture by former Minister of Police Nathi Mthetwa during this year’s post-elections reshuffle.
Party spokesperson Zizi Kodwa was at pains to mention that the President did not attend the conference because he had another function to attend (and not because of any party infighting). “Other people had pre-arranged programmes which unfortunately could not be changed… He [Zuma] was hoping [to] finish on time today, but the programme is keeping him long,” Kodwa told reporters.
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