South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) president Neren Rau has distanced SACCI from gross misrepresentation by Sanral media spokesperson Vusi Mona, who claimed SACCI’s “significant endorsement” in supposedly backing the e-toll system yesterday. News24 reported on Tuesday that Rau has objected to Sanral media spokesperson “twisting our words”. He said in a statement “SACCI remains opposed to e-tolls because of the high collection costs and the overall burden the tolls will have on the economy. However, SACCI will advise its members to abide by the law if the e-toll law is implemented on December 3 because of the high cost of non-compliance.”Rau said the organisation had been in talks with the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) on e-tolling, and that their concerns had been shared with the government.
OUTA Chair Wayne Duvenage said “There was a massive difference between grudging compliance (SACCI’s position) and enthusiastic endorsement. Business has less latitude than individuals in taking strongly oppositional position. SACCI’s caution can hardly be construed as ‘endorsement’. What is particularly worrying is the extent to which Sanral’s PR spin has degenerated into gross fabrication, motivated by Sanral’s desperate efforts to manufacture the impression of enthusiastic compliance”.Duvenage adds “There have been many examples of misrepresentation by SANRAL and this latest deception is just another incident which further destroys their credibility”.
However OUTA takes no pleasure in the farcical situation that is unfolding with respect to e-tolls. The Catholic Bishops warned in their recent statement that e-tolling has brought upon us ‘an extraordinary emergency’ with respect to good governance”.
OUTA urges the motoring public to assert their human rights, as defined in Chapter 2 of our excellent constitution. As former Irish President and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr Mary Robinson said in a recent visit to South Africa “Human rights do not belong to Government, they belong to people. It is by concerted citizen action, motivated by civil courage that human rights become meaningful”.
OUTA will shortly announce the launch of its ‘OUTA Assist’ support service for motorists who may find themselves harassed by officials acting in contravention of the bill of rights, to try and intimidate motorists into buying e-tags. Furthermore, donations from this initiative will be used to fund the first court challenge against a genuinely disgruntled member of the public who is summonsed for non-eToll payment.