The Congress of South African Trade Unions and the ANC will ask Cabinet to postpone implementation of the e-tolls for a month.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi tweeted late on Thursday afternoon, “ANC and Cosatu leadership agreed to postpone etolls by month to allow task team more time to explore alternative funding.”
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven told the Mail & Guardian: “A decision has been made to ask government to postpone the e-tolls for a month to allow more time for the task team looking for alternative funding [for the tolls] to continue their work.”
The ANC said: “The leadership has collectively agreed to postpone the implementation of the e-toll collection system by a month. This will give the task team more time to explore alternative funding mechanisms.”
Vavi said the mass protest action planned for Monday will also be delayed.
Meanwhile, a ruling on whether the e-tolling of Gauteng’s highways will go ahead next week will be handed down in the North Gauteng High Court on Saturday, despite this announcement.
“I plan to give judgment at 11am on Saturday,” Judge Bill Prinsloo said. “The matter stands until then.”
If an interdict preventing e-tolling in Gauteng was granted, it could be in effect for the rest of the year, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Thursday.
“If the interdict is granted, in all legal reality, it must stand until the end of litigation, which would not be set to end any time soon … maybe until the end of the year,” said treasury lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett.
This was due to the time required for the review, as well as further court hearings and appeals.
He said if the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) defaulted on one month of its payment, the government would have to pay its entire debt.
“It does not mean that government would not be able to meet it [the debt], it has to, but at what cost? For this country to sustain R20-billion in unbudgeted capital is a serious matter,” Gauntlett said.
He said the government would have to neglect other social and economic obligations to pay off the debt.
“The milk has been spilt with regards to the roads, and people are using them. The issue now is how to pay for them. It has to be paid for. You can say you don’t like it, but you can’t say that it is irrational.”
He said the previous four delays to the e-toll system had come at a “great cost”. — additional reporting by Sapa