'Tolls not reality yet'
While Gauteng motorists can expect to start paying to travel on most of the province's highways soon, the plans still face heavy opposition.
By Amukelani Chauke and Andile Ndlovu
While Gauteng motorists can expect to start paying to travel on most of the province's highways soon, the cplans still face heavy opposition.
Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi yesterday issued a stern warning to the ANC-led government, saying that should it implement the tolls, it stands a huge risk of crossing swords with its own people.
This follows judgment in the Constitutional Court yesterday that the government had a right to determine policy within the framework of the constitution - a decision that now paves the way for the South African National Roads Agency to implement e-tolling on certain Gauteng roads.
Reading out the Constitutional Court's judgment, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke said: "What is more, absent of any proof of unlawfulness or fraud or corruption, the power and the prerogative to formulate and implement policy on how to finance public projects reside in the exclusive domain of the national executive, subject to budgetary appropriations by parliament."
Speaking to journalists at the Cosatu conference in Midrand, Vavi said he was not surprised by the judgment, but that it was "immaterial" to his federation's opposition against e-tolls.
"We are still in discussions with the government, and it has not said it is going to steam ahead with [e-tolls].
"But we want to warn the government: don't even think about it because you are just going to bring in an unnecessary conflict between yourselves and the people that voted for you," he said.
Wayne Duvenage, the chairman of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, urged the public to "do what they did in April", and refuse to buy e-tags as there were still "major loopholes" in the proposed system.
At a media briefing in Johannesburg yesterday, Duvenage said the public was not consulted sufficiently by Sanral on "a major policy implementation decision".
"Remember e-tolling was going to start on the 30th [of April] and there was no clear indication that it was going to be interdicted.
"Most motorists decided to watch the space and not buy e-tags.
"Lo and behold, they didn't have to. We're advocating that possibly the same behaviour could happen again," Duvenage said.
Before an interdict was granted in the Pretoria High Court, the ANC and Cosatu formed a task team to investigate an alternative fund raising model to repay the R20-billion loan the government used to upgrade roads.
The Cabinet also established a government task team, led by deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, to probe the e-tolls debacle.
Vavi said it was still in talks through these platforms, and added that should e-tolls be implemented before discussions have been concluded, the federation would do everything in its power to oppose the e-tolls.