E-tolling solutions, not conflict, on Cosatu-ANC meeting agenda
CONFLICT would not be on the agenda when the Congress of South African Trade Unions met leaders of the African National Congress on Thursday to discuss the controversial e-tolling system, the trade-union federation said on Thursday morning
The press briefing in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, followed a meeting of Cosatu's central executive committee and took place days before the federation had initially planned to stage a national strike opposing e-tolling on Gauteng's freeways.
On Wednesday, Cosatu said the strike scheduled for Monday, April 30 - the date when e-tolling is meant to start - was postponed to the second week of May, after its meeting with the ANC and when the current court action against e-tolling by others opposed to the system was completed.
Zwelinzima Vavi, Cosatu general secretary, on Thursday would not disclose any details of how the talks with ANC would proceed and what issues would be discussed. He said the priority at the meeting with the ANC would be to represent Cosatu's members.
"This (e-tolling) is being implemented and we are duty bound to act in the best interests of our members, some of whom have no option but to use their own transport to commute between home and work," Mr Vavi said.
He added that the media interpreted Cosatu's stance on e-tolling incorrectly and exaggerated disagreements between Cosatu and the ruling party.
"There will always be some difference between an independent government and an independent trade union," he said. "But you must not make those out to be an immense ideological gulf."
Mr Vavi said that Cosatu would seek a resolution that avoided e-tolling.
"Going ahead with tolling on April 30 in the midst of public outcry would be a huge mistake," he said.
Also on Thursday, Sdumo Dlamini, president of Cosatu, said the federation did not have a problem with Kopano Ke Matla, its investment arm, being involved in the construction of Gauteng's toll roads.
Kopano Ke Matla owns 3% of Raubex, the construction company that won the tender to rebuild the R21 freeway as part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.
"Kopano Ke Matla are involved in construction. There's nothing wrong with that. It is a business that got paid through Raubex, therefore there is nothing for them to pay back (if e-tolling is scrapped) as the roads are already built," Mr Dlamini said.
Earlier this month, Marake Matjila, CEO of Kopano, resigned as nonexecutive chairman of Raubex, shortly after Mr Vavi said he had been unaware of Kopano Ke Matla's activities.
Raubex said at the time that considering its involvement in national roads privatisation projects, Mr Matjila believed it was appropriate to stand down to prevent any perceived conflicts of interest.
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