National

Cosatu doubts effectiveness of govt e-toll bid

Gillian Jones

Cosatu's Zwelinzima Vavi says government's application to the Constitutional Court to scrap a court order halting e-tolling, will fail.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.

“We have no doubt that the government is going to learn the hard way again with the Constitutional Court when it fails in this application,” Vavi told reporters in Johannesburg.

It would likewise fail in its appeal against the judgment by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

“The government is wasting time running in the courts at huge expense to the taxpayers.”

On April 28, the high court handed down an order preventing the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of a judicial review.

Last week, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan applied to the Constitutional Court to set aside this court order. Gordhan argued that judge Bill Prinsloo had ignored the principle of separation of powers.

Vavi rejected this argument.

‘False claim’
“In our view it’s a complete false claim ... that’s just an attempt to blackmail the judges not to make judgments in the best interests of the law, and the supreme law of the country, which is the Constitution.”

Instead of wasting time at courts, the government should be talking to Cosatu to find an alternative way to fund the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project. Cosatu has suggested, as an interim measure, a 14 cents a litre increase in the fuel levy.

Vavi emphasised this would only be a temporary solution.

“We will not reveal what we believe should be really a long-term solution for now because that is subject to discussions with the ANC.”

Vavi rejected an earlier comment by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, at a media briefing on e-tolling, that a decision taken in a meeting between the ANC and Cosatu to delay the Gauteng e-tolls by a month was just a suggestion.

Annoying
“It’s quite annoying ... to be told that our agreement with the ruling party is a mere recommendation to the super power, the government,” Vavi said.

In April, while the high court was hearing the e-toll arguments, the ANC and Cosatu decided to postpone implementation of the tolls.

“The ANC says it is a strategic political sector. When we engage it we engage a strategic political sector, not an NGO that can only make recommendations to the super power, being government,” Vavi said.

The ANC, chosen by a majority, was the most important player in South Africa, not the government, he argued.

Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini said the union federation expected the ANC to have communicated the outcome of that meeting to the government.

“The actual effect of that particular discussion was indeed the announcement that was made by the ANC, not Cosatu, that we have agreed to postpone or defer the implementation of the e-tolling for 30 days,” Dlamini said. – Sapa

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