A motorcade protest against proposed e-tolls organised today (February 11) by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) began on a rather slow note, with lower turnout than previous actions but momentum is gathering.
Similarly to the previous motorcade protest, an ambulance, approximately 30 police cars, including metro police, an additional 10 police officers on motorcycles and several international and local news teams arrived at Marabastad on the outskirts of Pretoria for the planned Cosatu protest against the controversial e-tolling system.
However, at 7am this morning, less than 10 Cosatu activists were reportedly at the scene.
The time for the “drive-slow” protest march had been moved to 9am from 6am due to traffic congestion and by that time the Cosatu group had grown to just under 20 men who began creating their placards.
Cosatu was reportedly not concerned with the poor turnout, saying they have permission to protest until 7pm tonight. By 10am a motorcade of 100 cars left Marabastad and headed towards the city centre. When they reached the department of transport, they exited their vehicles and started protesting by vuvuzelas, song and dance.
Dumisani Dakile, Cosatu’s Gauteng provincial secretary, said the public should join the drive-slow protest and not just simply hoot their solidarity for the union’s protest.
Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu’s secretary general told South Africans at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto campus earlier this year that “the mother of all battles is coming this year against the e-tolls, the banning of labour brokers and corruption… we are in so much trouble when it comes to the deep rot of corruption.”
Last year in November, the government warned Cosatu that any protester on the Gauteng freeways caught vandalising property would be arrested and duly charged following Dakile’s call for protesters to destroy the e-toll gantries.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has since expressed its outrage over the e-tolling system and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) has been granted leave by the North Gauteng High Court to take their fight against the e-tolling system to the Supreme Court.
“Many tolling cases have failed around the world, when the public have not been engaged in an open and transparent manner and when the system is too costly. This (South African) case is no different,” said OUTA today on its Facebook page.
Despite the outcry against e-tolling by various political parties, alliances and the public ,Ben Martins, South Africa’s transport minister, said e-tolling should be active by the end of March because he believes South African taxpayers should pay more should they want to use well-maintained roads.