Cosatu plans new e-toll protests

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IOL news oct 25  toll roads_oct 14 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File Photo: Leon Nicholas

Johannesburg - The Congress of SA Trade Unions in Gauteng said on Monday it was  planning renewed protests against e-tolling, starting in February.

"Cosatu in Gauteng notes that the e-tolls have not been scrapped by government since our last demonstration," provincial secretary Dumisani Dakile told reporters in Johannesburg.

"Therefore... the campaign to occupy the highways and massive demonstrations will continue," he said.

The protest would start on February 11.

"We are going out... we will occupy freeways on that day."

He said the action would be carried out in other provinces to ensure it became a "national act".

The second protest would be held on February 25, the same day as  the opening of the Gauteng legislature.

"People there (at the opening) were invited to wear suits and ties. We will wear t-shirts and demonstrate with the workers, we will fight for the scrapping of e-tolling."

The third protest would be held on March 7, the anniversary of Cosatu's nationwide strike lasy year against e-tolling and labour broking.

"There must be a stayaway on that day. The country must come to a standstill."

Dakile said the protests last year were "a taste of what is to come".

"Even if it means that there must be action every week... until government listens to us, we are prepared to do so."

On Friday, the High Court in Pretoria granted the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) leave to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein.

Outa had applied to appeal a December 13, 2012, judgment, which dismissed its bid to have the electronic tolling of Gauteng's major  roads scrapped.

Dakile said Cosatu hoped renewed protest would elicit a response  from government.

"Thus far government has not come to the party and therefore we cannot say that this action has been successful so far... But we believe we have been successful because these issues have remained in the public domain... we have managed to conscientise society."

He said protests in Sasolburg earlier in the month showed what could happen if government did not listen to its people.

"The recent protests in Sasolburg demonstrate that if people in power just do what they want, this will happen."

Zamdela residents started protesting on January 20 in opposition  to the proposed merger, in 2016, of the Metsimaholo municipality in  Sasolburg, with the Ngwathe municipality, under which Parys falls.

Four people died, several were injured and hundreds arrested. Several cars were set alight and government buildings damaged.

Cosatu provincial leader Phutas Tseki denied the union federation was calling for similar violence at the e-toll protests.

"We do very well in explaining to our members why we are out on the streets. So we will continue to promote non-violence. Some of the things (in Zamdela) were very unfortunate... and they were beyond the control of leaders of the action there."

He said the violence was caused by residents who simply wanted to be "unruly" and did not care about the merger. - Sapa

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