South Africa 5.9.2013 06:00 am

Bill on e-tolling proving to be a technical nightmare

File photo. Anti e-tolling protestors are seen demonstrating under an e-toll gantry on the N1 South, 6 December 2012, during a drive slow protest. Picture: Refilwe Modise

File photo. Anti e-tolling protestors are seen demonstrating under an e-toll gantry on the N1 South, 6 December 2012, during a drive slow protest. Picture: Refilwe Modise

It is not known how long it would take to reclassify the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill from Section 75 to 76, which once signed into law, gives the green light for e-tolling to commence in Gauteng.

According to political analysts, the reclassification of the Bill could take a “few minutes” or a “few months”. Analyst Shadrack Gutto said there were two options: “There is one process where it can be removed from 75 to 76, or it could be transferred from 75 to 76.”

To remove the Bill would take a longer period of time, said Gutto, as this meant it involved including the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Parliament. Transferring it meant that the Bill would only be dealt with by the National Assembly, he added.

The Mail & Guardian has reported that President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers have advised him against signing the Bill under Section 75 as it would not “survive” a Constitutional Court battle. Explaining the two sections, political analyst Marisa Lourenço said classifying the Bill as Section 75 in the start allowed for the speedy implementation of e-tolls.

“A section 75 classification hastens its implementation and it being signed into law; the only impediment would perhaps be a legal challenge, probably in the High Court or constitutional court, initiated in the main by opposition parties,” said Lourenço. Bills, or proposed legislation, could be introduced in section 74, 75, 76 and section 77.

Section 74 is for Bills amending the Constitution, section 75 relates ordinary Bills not affecting provinces, section 76 is for ordinary Bills affecting provinces and section 77 is for money Bills.

Classification under section 75 meant the Bill can be debated and approved by the National Assembly and does not necessarily require approval by the NCOP.

Because the Bill will affect several provinces, it should be classified under section 76. But, this would have meant that current disagreements in relation to e-tolls including inadequate public consultations would stall the signing of it into law.

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) has called the current situation as ” quite technical”. “This whole thing is quite technical but this is something put to government by the Freedom Front Plus three months ago. I will say one thing, e-tolls has now become an electioneering issue,” Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage said.

Outa takes its battle against e-tolls to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein on September 25 and 26.

 

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