Cosatu stands firm against e-tolls
Johannesburg - As the new e-tolls dispensation brokered by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa comes into effect today, members of the ANC-led alliance remain divided over the issue, with Cosatu reiterating its call for the system to be defied.
Cosatu and the SACP are known to be staunch opponents of the system, even with the new tariffs announced following Ramaphosa’s intervention.
“There is still not unanimity in the alliance about the desirability of e-tolls, but the summit commends the review of e-tolls by government and acknowledges that this shows that our movement listens to and cares about the people,” the summit concluded.
However, despite the summit declaration, Cosatu acting general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said they maintained their call for the public to disregard the system and not pay.
While agreeing on most issues, including the challenges facing Cosatu, the Nkandla debacle and problems at state-owned enterprises such as the SABC, e-tolls and the National Development Plan appeared to remain divisive subjects in the alliance.
Contention over aspects of the NDP, which have partly contributed to the woes of axed Cosatu affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers, in the federation, were still unresolved by the summit’s end.
Even so, the alliance has come out of its five-day meeting in defence of recent government actions on controversial issues, including the Nkandla debacle. It also defended the government’s decision to defy the court ruling instructing it to arrest Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir during the recent AU summit in Sandton.
Speaking at the conclusion of its gathering last night, alliance leaders described as a distortion suggestions that President Jacob Zuma was central to the issues related to security upgrades at his private homestead.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe led the offensive, saying: “The parliamentary ad hoc committee on Nkandla must conclude its work. And the civil and criminal processes for those involved in the inflation of prices must be concluded.
“Let’s not forget the public protector found there was no undue influence or corruption on the part of the president.”
The alliance leaders described the decision not to arrest Bashir as a political consideration, which needed to be understood, not only as a judicial matter.
They claimed arresting Bashir would have had dire consequences for the country elsewhere on the continent, including its peacekeeping missions.
The judiciary didn’t escape the alliance’s criticism either, with the leaders coming down hard on what they believe is an anti-government stance by some of the country’s courts.
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke came in for specific criticism on some of his public comments, including his assertion that too much power resided in the Presidency.
Mantashe and SACP general secretary and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said they were entitled to criticise some of Justice Moseneke’s comments as he had made them on public platforms.
They took particular exception to his comments in the US in 2012 and again last year.
“By implication, the deputy chief justice gave notice that our courts should be involved in matters that are properly in the jurisdiction of the executive and Parliament,” they said.