In response to Parliament’s transport portfolio committee Chairperson, Ruth Bhengu’s statement to caution OUTA on its messages to the public, we would like to clearly express our views on this matter.
It is not a legal requirement to get an eTag and the people must be made aware of this fact. OUTA have never supported the breaking of any law and we have never told people not to pay their eToll bills. We have merely warned the authorities of the many unintended consequences of forcing an irrational and seriously unpopular policy onto the citizens of South Africa, which will have the impact of inciting civil disobedience and which will compel many citizens to feel justified in their approach to break the law. Not our recommendation, but theirs.
Statements made directly by the public in expression of their actions and frustrations against the Government’s plans were given loud and clear at the few public engagement sessions held in November 2012. This was not OUTA’s doing. You only have to read the responses to press statements and blog discussions on the subject of eTollsand you will see how the people feel. Messages from the Faith Based organisations are also just as strong on this matter.
The Transport portfolio committee is very aware of OUTA’s stance against eTolling. Our members have presented objections and input to the GFIP Steering Committee in 2011 and to the IMC in 2012 and if indeed the portfolio committee had any interest in OUTA’s views (a very strong opponent with the only legal challenge on the matter), they might have expressed the foresight to request a meeting for input from OUTA on the matter. “Let’s not play these games at this late stage of the debacle” says Wayne Duvenage, the chairperson of OUTA.
“OUTA’s legal challenge is one avenue we have conducted to expose the wrong doings of what it, along with many others have condemned as an ill-conceived plan which is not in the best interests of society” says Duvenage. We still have to make our announcement on the possible continuation of our legal challenge or other avenues open to the body. Until then, OUTA has never condoned civil disobedience. We do however call for civil courage, a more sustainable manner of active citizenry wherein people can exercise their legal rights to express their disgust at the lack of respect for citizens input. Not purchasing an eTag is one such legal right they have to snub a policy which they feel is not in their best interests. It’s a matter of personal conscience.