Outa in­ten­si­fies fight over e-tolls

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - BONGANI NKOSI bongani.nkosi@inl.co.za

JUST weeks af­ter Fi­nance Min­is­ter Tito Mboweni told mo­torists to pay their e-toll ac­counts, the Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse (Outa) is plan­ning to fight the move.

Outa chief ex­ec­u­tive Wayne Du­ve­nage said they are taking the le­gal route in their fight against e-tolls.

Du­ve­nage said Outa would rep­re­sent four clients in high court, in­clud­ing a Joburg com­pany that has re­ceived sum­monses from San­ral to pay R1.8 mil­lion in e-toll bills.

Mboweni men­tioned in his midterm bud­get speech in Par­lia­ment last month that e-tolls would not be scrapped and that mo­torists must pay for driv­ing on Gaut­eng free­ways.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Blade Nz­i­mande also in­sisted in Par­lia­ment this week that the govern­ment had not de­cided to do away with e-tolls.

Nz­i­mande said the coun­try needed to set­tle the debt it owed for the sys­tem. “How do we pay the debt that we have at this point in time?”

E-tolls have met with op­po­si­tion from road users from the out­set. Outa es­ti­mates that three mil­lion mo­torists are not pay­ing their ac­counts.

Du­ve­nage said non-pay­ment was ex­pected to con­tinue: “Our view is that we don’t care what Nz­i­mande says be­cause the peo­ple aren’t go­ing to par­tic­i­pate in your ir­ra­tional schemes.”

Outa also ac­cused the ANC in Gaut­eng of play­ing pol­i­tics over the e-tolls is­sue in a bid to avert los­ing votes.

It said it found the party’s march to the Union Build­ings last week, which it joined, “quite funny”.

Premier David Makhura led throngs of al­liance mem­bers and civil so­ci­ety ac­tivists in a march call­ing for the scrap­ping of e-tolls.

Du­ve­nage said: “It was very amus­ing to see the ANC provin­cial putting pressure on the ANC na­tional. It’s a very dif­fer­ent pressure be­cause Nomvula Mokonyane (Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter) was Gaut­eng premier in 2007 when this scheme was ap­proved.

“She sup­ported na­tional govern­ment in its plan to bring in the e-tolls. The provin­cial body of the ANC has now done an about-turn. That was the amus­ing thing.

“The next amus­ing thing was the per­son re­ceiv­ing the mem­o­ran­dum from the ANC was Min­is­ter Jeff Radebe who signed the e-tolls scheme into place in 2007,” Du­ve­nage said.

Du­ve­nage looked no fur­ther than the up­com­ing elec­tions to ex­plain the ANC’s an­tics.

“E-tolls are now a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball. In six months’ time we have elec­tions. You can see what’s un­fold­ing now. You have an ANC in Gaut­eng that lost a lot of votes in 2014.”

Outa said it came back from the march more con­vinced that the fight was now headed to court to have the sys­tem de­clared un­con­sti­tu­tional.

“That’s why civil so­ci­ety and pol­i­tics are two sep­a­rate en­ti­ties. Civil so­ci­ety fights mat­ters every day. Politi­cians fight mat­ters every five years,” he said.

The ANC in Gaut­eng has de­nied its po­si­tion on e-tolls has any­thing to do with next year’s elec­tions.

African News Agency (ANA)

MO­TORISTS pass an e-toll gantry along the N1 high­way in Joburg. | Itume­leng English

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