Mr Narend Singh MP said today that he was shocked by the vitriolic attacks from both the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport yesterday in the National Assembly, simply because he bemoaned the fact that there was not enough transparency around the controversial e-tolling project.
Singh's comments drew vicious responses from Minister Pravin Gordhan and Minister Sbu Ndebele. Speaking about the e-tolling project Singh said, "Minister, bail-out Gauteng, and remember KwaZulu Natal is on the way for there is huge opposition to the additional tolls in the Durban area to compensate for the construction of the Wild Coast Road!"
He added, "Perhaps, Mr Speaker, someone from the Executive can comment on media reports yesterday that a "well-placed senior government source" was quoted as saying plans for a new toll road around Cape Town, KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng were set to be shelved.
Instead of answering the question, Minister Ndebele instead launched a personal attack on Singh as well as calling him "opportunistic".
Minister Gordhan erroneously claimed that Singh was trying to cast "sinister connotations on an investment practice of the Public Investment Cooperation (PIC)". At no stage did Singh bring into question the practice of the PIC but merely bemoaned the lack of transparency and information to Parliament and the Committee on Appropriation.
It seems Minister Gordhan was taking cover under the guise of the broad mandate of the PIC.
It is clear that it is difficult for Government to defend their e-tolling project. Moreover, it is shocking that in a post-democratic era the debate around such a controversial topic could descend to such a gutter-style political rhetoric.