DA’s Maimane campaigns over e-tolls

The Democratic Alliance's (DA's) Mmusi Maimane took his campaign to be Gauteng premier to the e-tolling system, vowing to hold a referendum about the controversial system should his party take power in the province in the 2014 general elections.

Maimane also said the DA would seek an interdict against further e-tolling being rolled out in the province.

"Given enough time, we will certainly see more tolls being polled in this province," said Maimane. "I would expect at least 300km of the provincial highways will be tolled in phase two of this project and it will no doubt be pushed in the same manner as the first phase."

He pointed out that interdicts have been successful where the party governs in the Western Cape, pending a review of the system. 

Should his party win the province, they would be able to enter into mediation with the national government over the etolls, under an existing mechanism in the Constitution and the 2005 Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, Maimane said. 

Maimane kicked off his "Believe" campaign to be Gauteng premier in August, when he won the DA's internal race for the candidacy against seasoned politician Jack Bloom. The party, which already governs in the Western Cape, has made it a key part of its 2014 campaign.

But insiders within the party have told the Mail & Guardian that the DA have a slim chance of winning the province outright, but may be able to govern in an alliance with a like-minded party.

'At the mercy of the courts'
Maimane was thin on details of how he would continue to fight etolls should his party not win Gauteng.

He said the party's current legal plans were "at the mercy of the courts". The DA has taken legal action over the classification of the legislation governing e-tolling, arguing that it was incorrectly tagged and should be declared unconstitutional. 

Asked what he would do if he did not make it as premier, Maimane turned the question back to the importance of the party winning. "It is important for people to know that if we get an ANC government in place … they've already proven they can railroad things like e-tolls in place. What other legislation can they put in place in the same way?"

The Sunday Independent has reported that Maimane may be heading to Parliament come 2014 to contest the parliamentary leadership position from the DA's other rising black star, Lindiwe Mazibuko.

Last month the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) announced that it would not be appealing the Supreme Court of Appeals' against it in the Constitutional Court, concluding its arduous legal challenge of the e-tolls.

According to the proposed legislation, the maximum amount that will be charged for the e-tolls is R450 on the frequent user discount. If found guilty, a motorist can be fined or subjected to imprisonment not exceeding six months. The legislation also imposes a civil fine of R 1 500, according to the Automobile Association

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Verashni Pillay
Verashni Pillay is the former editor-in-chief of the Mail & Guardian, and inaugural editor-in chief of Huffington Post South Africa. She has worked at various periods as senior reporter covering politics and general news, specialises in mediamanagement and relishes the task of putting together the right team to create compelling and principled journalism across multiple platforms.

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