DA: E-toll case part of larger campaign

The Democratic Alliance is challenging the constitutionality of the so-called e-toll bill.

FILE: DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane attend the State of the Nation Address. Picture: Renee de Villiers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday said the legal challenge it's launched against e-tolling is part of a far bigger campaign.

Despite an expensive election campaign on the go, it believes it's not wasting money by launching a legal challenge.

The opposition party is basing its case on a technicality in the so-called e-toll bill, saying it has been incorrectly handled in Parliament and is therefore unconstitutional.

DA Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane says his party plans to launch other interventions too.

According to the party, the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill was not debated widely enough and provinces should have had more input.

"We believe that the incorrect tagging of the bill effectively prevented provincial legislatures from deliberating on behalf of the affected people. Not enough consultation took place on such a critical bill."

Maimane doesn't deny this is an election issue, but says it's an important move as it speaks to the rule of law in the country.

"Surely part of our job is about making sure that the rules apply to everyone and they work for everyone. So, if you tag a bill incorrectly and then you create legislation around it to support an incorrect beginning in the first place, it sets a precedent."

But the Transport Department's Tiyani Rikhotso disagrees.

"We have always subjected ourselves to any process that we have been required to participate in and we remain confident that we have done everything required by law."

The DA said it served legal papers on President Jacob Zuma, the Department of Transport, the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and others.

A high court has been asked to hear the case urgently.

Sanral says it's not commenting on the matter at this stage.

It says it will push ahead with preparations for the launch.

Government is yet to announce when e-tolling will launch but has indicated it will be before the end of the year.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) recently gave up its legal challenge to stop e-tolling.

It ran out of money and failed to convince courts to intervene in government policy.