Govt takes e-toll challenge to ConCourt
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, according to reports on Wednesday.
In an 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.
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 an affidavit Gordhan says 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,
Gordhan regards his request as so urgent that he asked
Mogoeng to convene the Constitutional Court during its annual July recess to
hear the application, Beeld reported.
His chief objection to the interim court order issued by
Judge Bill Prinsloo in the High Court in Pretoria on April 28, is that Prinsloo
ignored the constitutional principle of separation of powers.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) applied to
have e-tolling halted.
Gordhan says the courts do not have the power to make
decisions about the validity of government policy, or how the government
Furthermore, he says the Treasury would not be able to do
any long-term planning if the courts issued orders derailing the planning
Business Day reported that Gordhan says at the heart of the
dispute "lies a fundamental issue regarding the separation of powers and
whether or not a court can exercise discretionary judgment over a government
The high court judgment could set "a precedent for
future judicial intervention along similar lines", he warns.
It was imperative that the Constitutional Court considered
the matter to "determine the limits of this kind of judicial
intervention", Gordhan says.
Outa spokesperson 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.
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 the SA National Roads Agency
Limited (Sanral) from levying or collecting e-tolls pending the outcome of a
judicial review. Sanral CEO Nazir Alli resigned on May 7.
Government spokesperson Jimmy Manyi recently said a review
would be done of Constitutional Court rulings to assess "the impact of the
judgments of the Constitutional Court on the transformation of society".
President Jacob Zuma appointed Mogoeng as Constitutional
Court Chief Justice in a storm of controversy last September, to replace
retired Judge Sandile Ngcobo.
Mogoeng was regarded as conservative and relatively
inexperienced after having served less than two years in the Constitutional
Court before his appointment.