Cosatu unfazed by go-slow setback

Cosatu says although it's been denied permission to protest it will hold a mass gathering.

FILE: Gauteng motorists taking part in a drive slow against etolls on 11 February 2013. Picture: Theo Nkonki/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Trade union federation Cosatu has confirmed it will not go ahead with its drive-slow against the implementation of the e-tolls system in Gauteng after the Johannesburg Magistrates Court denied its request to protest.

But Cosatu says it will still hold a mass gathering at its headquarters at 8AM to determine how it will continue to fight the South African National Roads Agency Limited, which is leading the roll-out of the e-tolls system.

The court refused the federation permission to stage the protest on Thursday after some demonstrators got out of their cars and started dancing on the highway during the last drive-slow demonstration in December.

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) argued the action was in contravention of the National Highways Act.

The JMPD's Wayne Minnaar says: "Previously, with the last protest, motorcade demonstrators got out of their vehicles. They stopped on the freeways and walked on the freeways, which is contrary to the National Road Traffic Act."

Cosatu's Gauteng Chairperson Phutas Tseki says despite the setback officials are still expecting a large number of people at Cosatu House on Friday morning.

"It will be the organisation that we met with on Thursday and other civil society groups that have an interest in supporting Cosatu against the e-tolls."

He says the organisations include the National Association of School Governing Bodies, a bikers club, the Bishops' Conference and the South African Council of Churches.

"If the court disapproves our march against the e-tolls we will go back to the drawing board and decide on what the next step should be," says Tseki.

Government continues to defend the controversial project, saying it will be impossible to build and maintain roads without the money which is due to be collected through tariffs.

A bill, which will allow tariffs to be collected, is moving through Parliament and is expected to be signed into law soon.

At the same time, a court battle over e-tolling in Gauteng will be heard later this year.

If the controversial system is implemented, motorists will pay at least 30 cents per kilometre to use a large stretch of provincial highways