e-Tolls back into court – DA, ANC swap sides over “network of patronage”

There are delicious ironies around the e-toll controversy in Gauteng. But none top the political one where the ruling ANC is fighting for the imposition and the official opposition against. It should actually be the other way around. The ruling party, after all, is led by a committed socialist who eschews the market economy through a deep but misguided belief that prices are and must be determined by the cost of labour inputs. And the user-pay principle at the core of the e-tolls wouldn’t sit well with many inside the governing party. On the other side, the DA ostensibly supports free enterprise.But so numerous and substantial is this particular “network of patronage” that the politicians have swapped ideological sides. When historians reflect on the period of inevitable change South Africans are now living through, they are sure to earmark the e-tolls protests as one of the key tipping points. Civil society has turned a blind eye to a great deal of cronyism and corruption, but as our parents taught us, it is impossible to fool all of the people all of the time. – Alec Hogg

News24 Correspondent

Johannesburg – The Democratic Alliance on Wednesday said that it would be submitting an objection to proposed changes to laws on e-tolls.

The main opposition party suggested that the fact that the proposed amendments to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act were published in the Government Gazette on December 7, was a “sneaky December holiday move [that] fails the real spirit of the public comment test”.

e-tolls
Picture: Facebook

“The DA is preparing our objection against this amendment, and we will file it before the deadline.”

South Africans have been given one month to submit comments about proposed amendments to legislation, meaning any objections need to be lodged by January 6.

The proposed amendments will essentially make those not paying their e-toll bills liable for a traffic fine.

The new legislation aims to make it a crime to not “comply with the directions conveyed by a road traffic sign by using a toll road without paying the toll charge”.

It also aims to change the structure of the traffic infringement notice. While, currently, each traffic infringement is recorded on a separate form – with a unique reference number or magisterial district, as well as photographic proof of the wrongdoing – the new form can contain multiple infringements.

However, there are no unique reference numbers per infringement and photographic proof is provided for only one incident; the rest are available for downloading.

Read also: E-tolls: Govt owes more than R2m in unpaid bills, so why should we pay?

According to Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance’s (Outa) committee member Rob Handfield-Jones, these changes would lead to legal headaches, as well as disadvantaging those without access to the internet to download the photographic proof.

Another proposed change was that the authorities would have 90 days, instead of 40, to issue the notices from the date of the infringement.

“That’s absurd,” said Handfield-Jones. “Part of the notice is meant to be a deterrent…  What is the actual point of that? Where, then, is the behaviour change?”

On Wednesday, the DA said in a statement that it would raise the points around the lack of unique number and magisterial district reference and full-proof provision, as well as the fact that the proposed changes appeared to indicate that infringement notices would not be necessarily need to be sent by registered mail.

“[This proposed change is] also potentially unlawful as a court adjudicating an infringement will have no proof that an accused ever received such a notice.”

Both the DA and Outa urged the public to submit their comments.

Information on how to submit comments for the amendments is available on the government gazette website, as well as Outa’s website. – News24