Outa intensifies fight over e-tolls
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.
MOTORISTS pass an e-toll gantry along the N1 highway in Joburg. | Itumeleng English