Govt challenges e-toll ruling in ConCourt

2012-05-23 15:59

Johannesburg - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has made an unusual appeal to the Constitutional Court in a bid to set aside the high court order halting e-tolling.

"At the heart of the dispute in this case, lies a fundamental issue regarding separation of powers and whether or not a court can exercise discretionary judgment over a governmental policy decision on appropriate funding mechanisms, revenue sources and the allocation of nationally raised revenue," Gordhan said in court papers.

"Citizens who enjoy higher than standard infrastructure ought not, as a matter of policy, to be subsidised by others who do not."

In the affidavit, he warns that South Africa would face a dark economic future if the order was not set aside urgently.

According to Beeld newspaper, the appeal application papers were handed to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

In a statement on Wednesday, government spokesman Jimmy Manyi said Gordhan was being supported by the Minister of Transport, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, the Gauteng MEC of Roads and Transport and the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral).

"To prevent further harm to Sanral's rating and the company's very existence, government has asked the Constitutional Court to hear the matter urgently, in the second half of July 2012," said Manyi.

Gordhan regarded his request as so urgent that he asked Chief Justice Mogoeng to convene the Constitutional Court during its annual July recess to hear the application.

His main objection to the interim court order issued by Judge Bill Prinsloo in the High Court in Pretoria on April 28, was that Prinsloo ignored the constitutional principle of separation of powers.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) applied to have e-tolling halted.

"The South African government is of the view that Justice Prinsloo's judgment is an unprecedented intervention in public finance matters and is a fundamental breach of the division of powers as stipulated in the Constitution," said Manyi.

He said Gordhan also pointed out that the equitable division of nationally collected revenue between provinces, which was governed by Constitutional principles, would be compromised by a replacement of toll revenue with general government support.

"Furthermore, this uncertainty could hurt the ability of other state-owned enterprises such as Eskom and Transnet to access capital markets, jeopardising the implementation of government's wide-scale infrastructure projects," said Manyi.

Business Day newspaper reported it was an unusual move for Gordhan and his colleagues to approach the Constitutional Court directly, rather than appealing to the High Court.

In the affidavit Gordhan said South Africa would have to brace itself for negative international credit ratings. Essential services to schools, hospitals and roads would be adversely affected if the temporary court order remained in place until a revision process, and the subsequent appeals, were concluded.

He said treasury would not be able to do any long-term planning if the courts issued orders derailing the planning process.

It was imperative that the Constitutional Court considered the matter to "determine the limits of this kind of judicial intervention", Gordhan said.

Outa spokesman Wayne Duvenhage told Sapa that the court papers had been lodged.

"Their [government's] argument is based around its right to introduce policy that it deems appropriate. If they can't do that, then they say it could damage the country's economy.

"We are arguing that it is not the court interdict that is the issue, it is about the poor decisions around e-tolling. Government cannot introduce policies that are oppressive on the country's people. Policies need to be reasonable," he said.

The other applicants in the case are the transport department, Gauteng's roads and transport MEC, the water and environment affairs department and its director general.

The High Court order prevents Sanral from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of a judicial review. Sanral CEO Nazir Alli resigned on May 7.

  • Loo - 2012-05-23 16:10

    JUST HANG ON . .with all the bail money collected from the spear arrestees the sanral debt will be paid in no time ....

      George - 2012-05-23 18:43

      What the government are saying is we don't believe in democracy and we won't listen to the will of the people confirmed by the high court as being just and proper. A government like that has reached its sell by date. The DA must (symbolically at least) ask for a vote of no confidence and the government must resign in shame.

      thomas.robbertse - 2012-05-23 21:19

      Pravin is now challenging technicallities. No matter which court he uses, if such court rules against the country's people, it will loose againt the people of the country. At principle level it is wrong to be corrupt and then be secretive about it. It takes no rocket scientist to spot the errors in the conduct of the e-tolling system and processes proposed by Sanral and backed by government. I see a nose bleed coming again.... Big time!!

      jaba.kov - 2012-05-25 14:55

      At the heart of the dispute in this case, lies a fundamental issue regarding separation of powers and whether or not a court can exercise discretionary judgment over a CORRUPT governmental policy decision…

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-05-23 16:15

    SA will face a dark economic future if this goes ahead and our cash goes overseas. The minister's statement is fraught with issues and has so many holes it wouldn't hold an elephant.

      Faizie - 2012-05-23 17:00

      Dude we are paying back a loan that came from overseas. Pay unto Caesar what is Caesars

      michael.ntshabele - 2012-05-23 17:36

      The debt that we inherited is largely from abroad, now that the beneficiaries feel they are no more in power they must negate anything coming from current govt. Facts are facts and I have a serious reservation about the IQ of a person who thumbsdown an undisputable fact.

      Chris - 2012-05-23 19:52

      Hey, those foreigners made an investment in which they expected fat returns - and they should have realised that a fat risk comes with it. Tuffies on them!

  • thepatrickwinter - 2012-05-23 16:19

    So all the heavy weights are jumping in on this one. Me thinks they are anxious about the repurcussions of losing and the public getting a taste for victory. Their thumbs must be aching. Pravin should be more concerned about the banks creating money from thin air. Thats the next big bubble.

      Alf - 2012-05-23 17:08

      Maybe Pravin also feels his pockets could do with a bit of extra lining! And/or they already get presure from overseas. He is supported in his bid by the minister of transport - I would not even mention that I know the twit! As for the minister of water affairs - does he hope that some extra waves from that corner will sway it in government's (ANC's) favour? An alternative to pay for the tollroads would be to cut the annual subsidy to the Zuma family in half. That would already create round R 10 million. Plus start5 taxing all government and parliament members and limit their perks etc. This would also give everybody an idea of how many people want government jobs to actually improve the country and serve the people who wote them in. This could create a few surprises!

  • Jay - 2012-05-23 16:20

    Dear Gauteng Road Users. This Govt will go to any length to get e Tolling back on track. They will even manipulate, threaten and corrupt the Justice System! Stand FIRM and DEFIANT! Continue the Fight! I will NEVER Buy an e Tag.... At Worst, I will use alternate roads! Stand Up as we did a few weeks ago, and FIGHT THIS CORRUPT ANC Govt! I REST MY CASE..... Do NOT BUY an e Tag

      Johnnie - 2012-05-23 19:54

      As Mr. Gordhan has said - if you use the road you must pay, that is right, the only snag is why must one section of the public pay and one section ie taxis, government and employees ride free. This road does not belong to Government, it belongs to the City of Johannesburg - all ride all pay. It is a pity Mr.Gordhan changed completely, he was always somebody people could look up to, now it looks as if he has been with the ANC for too long.

  • Heinrich - 2012-05-23 16:27

    Lets do projects that will not hurt the pockets of our people. The e-tolling project is a dissaster to our people. its unacceptable and unnecessary. poor planning with a narrow mind. The government is out of order, order comrades

  • Jake - 2012-05-23 16:43

    Is it not a case of desperately trying to keep the blacked-out pages that were handed to COSATU, secret? Are they cornered and trying to avoid the general public insight into contracts that could have a few people doing time?

  • paul.lastrucci - 2012-05-23 16:45

    I say Gordon knows exactly where the revenue streams are going! He is making the appeal on behalf of his rotund buddies who enjoy the higher than standard lifestyle at the expense of those who do not. Politicians have got him by the short and curly's!!, "Pravie" my man you should be smarter than this!! With all the unnecessary shufflin' this debt could have been paid a while ago!!! and not destined for some dude in a far away land that is calling in his favours.

  • judith.taylor.56 - 2012-05-23 16:45

    I regularly drive on these so-called high quality roads, which they are not. The high accident rate resulting in daily snarl-ups means they are not meeting the specification of smoother easier travel. The observable decay of the surfaces and the badly designed storm water reticulation means that corruption has played a part here. There is no economic sense in exporting more than half of the revenues to Europe, when we need them here. The whole thing is a planning shambles of the first water.

  • Sechaba30 - 2012-05-23 16:46

    So government is fighting its own people

      mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2012-05-23 17:17

      my point bra, how do u take citizens to constitutional court?

      jaba.kov - 2012-05-25 15:04

      Yes. And this will be good to our democracy; for the ANC will pay in the voting booths for stealing from the people! The people will win! the ANC will pay for their economic crimes.

  • mikenortje - 2012-05-23 16:52

    For goodness sake there has to be a review, how the hell can the collection be more than double the cost of the road, somewhere there is fraud and corruption. Time to follow the money. It is the same as TV lic, out of every R1 collect 80c got to collecting it, so I ask what is the point, a better system has to be found. I personally would increase VAT then everyone pays - and dont come with the poor will suffer, basics are ZERO VAT

  • Triumphant - 2012-05-23 16:53

    So basically, the bully got kicked in the teeth and now instead of telling the teacher he's telling the Principal. I really don't see how maintaining a credit rating is more important than the simple fact that e-tolling will infuse runaway inflation and fundemantally cause economic implosion in the economic boiler room of the country. Surely the Finance Minister has the Fiscal sense to see that or his golden handshake just that good that he's indifferent to it.

      Press - 2012-05-24 00:10

      Yes - why bother about a credit rating from western agents - as Mantashe says - the ANC doesnt need the west . . . . .

      Adam - 2012-05-25 15:18

      Is Magoeng not one of zumas puppets????.

  • Nosiphom - 2012-05-23 16:58

    The South African government is of the view that Justice Prinsloo's judgment is an unprecedented intervention in public finance matters and is a fundamental breach of the division of powers as stipulated in the Constitution," Its not a public that is the problem, the treasury can distribute our tax money as it deems fit. We are objecting to e-tolling. The milking of a few members of the public who have no option but to use the service.According to my economics, roads are a public good to be paid for by public money for the benefit of the public. they are not to be an an enrichment scheme.As we stand today SANRAL is has made a profit - ot pay bonuses to its executive. SNARAL should just maintain and build new infrastructure, with money from treasury. They should never have been an SOC - that was the first mistake!

  • customdesign - 2012-05-23 17:01

    You people have such a small minded view about the local economy- the people in National Treasury have huge budgets to work with - if that money is not collected by the road users who are using the highways they will have to be collected somewhere else. This will damage long temr planning and investment capitol set aside for other projects such as hospitals, small busness investment, husing, education and the like. Some of the small minded views by economists who really do not understand macro economics are going to hurt our economy more than they are doing it justice. If those using the roads dont pay for it, everyone else not using the roads will have to suffer as a result. The consequences of SANRAL failing will be very bad for us in the long run.

      Alan - 2012-05-23 17:26

      Yes, the ANC government can start by cutting down on ANC tender fraud costing billions and also the huge waste of money by ANC politicians, with their mansions and Mercs. The Scamral loan can easily be paid from the fiscus, then the ANC needs to put into action a plan where the collection costs don't waste nearly all the income.

      mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2012-05-23 18:08

      Huge budget ur gout foot!

      janine.doubell - 2012-05-23 19:37

      Hmmm... What about the people who suffer under the e-tolls and won't be able to pay other bills... like lets say house bonds? I think they will suffer too in the long run. Some South Africans live on less than R10 a day. How will they afford the increase in food and other necessaries? Do you think it's a better idea just to leave them and hope they can figure it out for them selves? I am pretty sure they wont get help from the government.

      Johnnie - 2012-05-23 20:16

      The people are not complaining about the paying, they are complaining about the collecting of the fees, which will be higher than the fees collected. As you say the people using the roads must pay - quite right, so let the taxis also pay.

      jaba.kov - 2012-05-25 15:08

      You are thick

  • Richard - 2012-05-23 17:16

    Now Pravin Gordham is begging the Concourt to protect the clans offshore investment scheme.If the Concourt slips on this one then JZs contraversial appointments will have paid off,to WHOSE benefit.

  • Alan - 2012-05-23 17:23

    Oh Manyi and Gordhan, give it up. Do you not realise that there is mass opposition against you? Now ANC pride is at stake and you will be wasting tens of millions more taxpayers' money going to court. You never consulted properly, you barged ahead and did a TWENTY BILLION RAND DEAL with very dodgy overtones, with apparent gross overspending. And you invested billions of govt pensions in the scheme, thinking that the ANC could just railroad things through as usual and you could make a fat profit. You have clearly overstepped the mark this time. Now buzz off Manyi and the rest, your arrogance is NOT appreciated.

  • Alan - 2012-05-23 17:23

    Let them go to the Constitutional court. Logic should prevail. If not we still don't buy etags and don't pay without photographic proof and the system will collapse anyway.

  • SynJyn - 2012-05-23 17:47

    What does Gordon think the tax payer must pay for all the maladministration, bribery and corruption. He must control expense and take the people responsible for maladministration, bribery and corruption to court so as to have them jailed, then he will not need to look for new money all the time.

  • dewaldmontgomery - 2012-05-23 18:14

    Let's try again, since my comments were removed. They are LYING, as USUAL. 1) Their OWN DOCUMENTS show how they plan to e-toll ALL urban areas (all cities), and REPLACE existing toll booths with e-toll over time, so their argument is flawed that a fuel levy will unfairly punish people in other areas. It's not like they plan to send bills to Zimbabwe or Zambia for those trucks using our roads anyway. 2) They IGNORED the layman when we objected to e-tolls (like they ALWAYS ignore us in ALL the decision making, or like they do: public meetings, and then go against the general consensus anyway). 3) They claim they INFORMED the average person by proclaiming a toll road in the government gazette. Flawed again. The 'average person' (i.e. taxi owner, small business owner, general employee) DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO the gazette. How about using the MEDIA instead? Gosh, the first time I realized the R21 was about to be tolled, was when I saw the yellow T-sign on the new road signs. And I guess that was already too late.

  • mzwandile.dlamanzi - 2012-05-23 18:18

    Mogoeng Mogoeng should be responsible for sworning new President and carbinet ministers, writing articles and giving special lecturers at universities. Geting him involved here will be like conflict of interest by the top brass.

  • peter.mokoena.31 - 2012-05-23 18:44

    There we go again, now they are trying to enforce Sanral down our throat. Sanral shoul first be unmasked for us to see if the very same people are not the ones who will soon be asking for our votes in the name of together we can do more.. We see the faces in government but I guess it is time we know beneath!

      jaba.kov - 2012-05-25 15:14

      South Africa is an amazing country with so many possibilities. However, the lack of opposition in government means the ANC can do whatever they want. Absolute power corrupt absolutely. Madiba would puke if he was young enough to realise what happened to our ANC

  • Reece - 2012-05-23 18:46


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