23 February 2012

South Africa: DA Response to Post-Cabinet Briefing - Constitutional Review and E-Tolling

press release

Two key announcements were made in today's post-Cabinet briefing that require further examination.

Firstly, the Democratic Alliance (DA) notes that the Minister of Justice will table further details on the review of the Constitutional Court's powers at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The DA awaits the tabling of the specific terms of reference for the Constitutional Court review. We will study those terms and comment on them once they have been tabled. The DA would support the review of the Constitution only if it is a self-assessment of whether government, as the executive, has adhered to Constitutional Court rulings in ensuring socio-economic transformation in South Africa. The Executive has no place reviewing the judiciary. President Zuma's comments to this effect are a serious affront to the principle of separation of powers, and belie the President's oft-stated commitment to uphold the Constitution. Cabinet should abandon this dangerous notion now.

Secondly, in reference to the Gauteng e-tolling project, Jimmy Manyi said during the briefing that "people must get used to it. It is a fact of life. It is not just a bad dream. E-tolling will go ahead. The government is determined to implement laws passed by Parliament, we will not tolerate disobedience."

E-tolling remains a profoundly bad idea, which will unfairly punish poorer commuters, and which has been imposed on Gauteng without proper public consultation.

Minister Gordhan's announcement yesterday of a R5,8 billion extra appropriation to fund the tolling shortfall has revealed the government's slip. This is not the "user pays" system the provincial and national governments have been using to justify the project thus far. Indeed, this subsidy from the general fiscus is completely the opposite of "user pays"; in effect, citizens everywhere in South Africa will now be subsidising the poorly planned and badly executed e-tolling system in Gauteng. They will also bear the brunt of the rise in inflationary costs from the building and maintenance of the e-tolling system. This will have a detrimental effect on poor South Africans across the country.

The announcement yesterday of a 20c rise per litre in the fuel levy raises a very important question: will the revenue generated from a higher fuel levy go towards funding the ANC government's disastrous e-tolling experiment in Gauteng? Is this the source of the R5,8 billion appropriation that Minister Gordhan announced?

The DA Leader in the Gauteng Legislature, Jack Bloom, will continue to oppose the implementation of e-tolling in the province.

Mmusi Maimane, DA National Spokesperson

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