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Johannesburg - Momentum in the fight against the tolling of Gauteng’s highways could be wavering as neither political nor civil groups at the forefront of the battle have a concrete plan to fight the government’s decision.
This comes as, in a charm offensive to sway motorists into buying e-tags, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters published e-toll tariffs, saying most motorists would only pay R100 a month on tolls, if they registered as e-toll users by buying e-tags.
Peters’ tariffs are up for a 30-day public consultation period and she will announce the exact date for the launch in the third week of next month.
Her move comes after the Supreme Court of Appeal this week dismissed the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance‘s (Outa) challenge to e-tolling.
Outa is still reeling from the judgment but said its board would meet this week to discuss future plans. Its chairman Wayne Duvenage says the organisation needs R1.5 million to challenge the ruling at the Constitutional Court.
“Outa is advised that it has solid grounds for this appeal. But Outa will be confronted by a shortage of funds,” said Duvenage.
If Outa does not raise such funds, it will be unable to proceed with the appeal.
Publicly, union federation Cosatu has vowed not to go down without a fight.
But aside from announcing that the national office-bearers have been tasked to find a date in November to stage a national protest, the union has not offered any financial solution.
This week, when general secretaries of Cosatu affiliates met in Rustenburg, e-tolls were on the agenda. But according to a leader, who attended the meeting, but could not be named, a plan had not been thrashed out.
Cosatu president S’dumo Dlamini later told journalists: “There is clarity from Cosatu that we are taking action on the streets of our country against e-tolls and for a fully integrated safe accessible public transport system,” he said.
But a leader in the gathering said although Cosatu would continue pushing for the scrapping of e-tolls, there was a growing acceptance among some of its leaders that the system could not be stopped.
“This is like the Growth Employment And Redistribution (Gear),” he said.
Then president Thabo Mbeki forged ahead with Gear amid serious opposition from Cosatu and the SA Communist Party in 1996.
However, the leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to speak publicly on the matter, said the federation did not want to be seen caving in easily as this would ferment allegations that Dlamini wanted to sell Cosatu to President Jacob Zuma.
While DA, AgangSA, the Freedom Front Plus, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the Automobile Association of SA have said they were disappointed by the ruling, none has said how it will fight the e-toll battle.
In a statement, DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said: “E-tolling will kill jobs in Gauteng and make it harder for people to make ends meet. The power of the vote is the surest way to stop tolls.”