Tensions flared as EFF members protested the presence of AmaPanyaza before the premier’s speech.

Prior to Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi even stepping to the podium, chaos erupted at the Gauteng State of the Province Address (Sopa) because of the presence of AmaPanyaza.

On Monday night, the premier presented the Gauteng State of the Province address at the Nasrec Expo Centre, south of Johannesburg.

However, ahead of Lesufi’s address, chaos erupted with water bottles, and allegedly other missiles, flying through the air as the Economic Freedom Fight (EFF) legislature members contested the attendance of Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens, also known as AmaPanyaza, in the sitting.

In a video posted by the Gauteng ANC, rows and rows of wardens are seen seated at the address.

Protest over presence of AmaPanyaza

According to EWN, Philip Makwala, EFF Gauteng Legislature caucus leader, said they were protesting the presence of the AmaPanyaza in the auditorium.

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There were then subsequent videos posted on social media showing water bottles being thrown across the room and an alleged confrontation between EFF legislature members and beneficiaries of the Nasi Ispani programme.

The premier was however able to start his address, where he began by reflecting on Gauteng’s first Sopa delivered 30 years ago by the first premier of Gauteng, Tokyo Sexwale.

“At the time, as Honourable Jack Bloom can confirm, there was no Gauteng Legislature or Gauteng Departments to speak of. At the time, there was no Gautrain or the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to speak of. At the time, the Mandela Bridge was not even a figment of the imagination; nor was the Blue IQ multi-billion-rand investment in economic infrastructure development,” Lesufi said.

“At the time, there was no soccer stadium called ‘Soccer City’—the host venue for the historic 2010 Fifa World Cup showpiece. At the time, there was no low-cost housing, or what is known as RDP houses, to speak of.”

E-tolls scrapped by March

While the premier spoke of the province’s economy, unemployment, housing, crime, illegal mining, and load shedding, Lesufi also made an announcement on the strapping of e-tolls.

Lesufi said the system would be scrapped by March.

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“Last year, we assured the people of Gauteng that e-tolls would be a thing of the past. I am happy to report that on the 26th of January 2024, a final meeting was held between the Gauteng Provincial Government and the Ministers of Finance and Transport, respectively,” the premier said.

“We have been able to find common ground on issues related to the user pay principle, the quantum of GFIP debt, the quantum of sunken CAPEX costs, the CAPEX obligation of the province, the yearly maintenance costs of GFIP 1, the repurposing of gantries, the repayment of SANRAL GFIP 1 debt, and the future funding of GFIP 2 and 3. From where we sit as the province, we remain confident that we should be able to end the E-toll by March 2024.”

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana declared in last year’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement that the Gauteng government would pay 30% of the debt and the national government would eliminate e-tolls.


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