Hunger strikes, protests and civil disobedience against e-tolls

Cosatu has vowed to continue its fight against the user-pays principle on Gauteng freeways until the government listens to the people.

“December 3 will represent the day on which our government has refused to listen to the views of the people and the poor,” Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile said on Tuesday.

The government had demonstrated its stubbornness and unwillingness to co-operate with the workers, he told reporters in Johannesburg.

“It represents a clear demonstration of cadres who have been power-drunk and believe that they could do as they so wish.”

E-tolling on Gauteng’s highways came into effect on Tuesday.

Dakile said the African National Congress would regret implementing the system when it came to the 2014 general elections as many in the province would not go to the polls.

He called on President Jacob Zuma to stop the system.

“We believe it is not too late for comrade Jacob Zuma to consider scrapping this system. We are making a humble plea to the ANC to listen to us before it is too late,” Dakile said.

He said e-tolls might have put a strain on the relationship between Cosatu and the ANC, and that Cosatu would evaluate its support of the party at its 2015 congress.

“Going to congress in 2015, we will need to ask if it’s worth it for Cosatu to continue to support the ANC. What will be the response of our members? I can’t predict,” he said.

He called on motorists to join in protests and civil disobedience. The success of the system depended on the co-operation and support of the public and motorists, Dakile said.

He called on those who had registered to de-register.

“It is on this basis that, as the federation, we are developing a de-registration form.”

Cosatu would occupy freeways, go on hunger strikes, hold sit-ins, lunch hour demonstrations and stay-aways, and would embark on civil disobedience.

He called on the country’s lawyers to be part of the protest and to represent, free of charge, motorists who were prosecuted.

The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) has thrown its weight behind Cosatu, despite motorists’ outrage that taxis are exempt from paying tolls.

NTA spokesman Theo Malele said that although the government had promised that taxis would not pay, 80 percent of the taxis in the province did not have permits.

“About 50 percent of those permits are lying with the permits board. How do we apply for exemption while the playing field is not even? This is an autocratic way of doing things,” he said.

He warned that e-tolls would lead to an increase in taxi fares, which would ultimately seriously affect the poor.

Cosatu said its protest action would start in January.

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Hunger strikes, protests and civil disobedience against e-tolls