Justice Projects comments on reported DA donation towards OUTA e-Toll battle

JOHANNESBURG – The conspiracy theory levelled by SANRAL’s Vusi Mona on radio this morning to the effect that a donation of R1 million by the Democratic Alliance to the OUTA legal fund “shows that OUTA is a front for the DA” was an absolutely astounding thing to hear being said out loud.

Anyone who has been paying attention to what OUTA has been saying and in particular, what was said just a few days ago, would realise that the process of litigating against a project the size and voracity of eTolls is enormously expensive and had OUTA has been battling to fund this litigation. Only on Wednesday, it was announced that if OUTA did not raise R1 million within three weeks, it may have to consider abandoning the litigation due to its inability to meet the legal expenses associated with it.

This would be a travesty of justice considering that not only do they have a very strong case to put before the Supreme Court of Appeals, but the judgment handed down in the Pretoria High Court ordered OUTA to pay SANRAL’s costs which amount to somewhere in the order of R30 million. If this costs order is allowed to stand there can be no doubt that a very dangerous precedent will be set and all NGOs will have to seriously consider whether they wish to expose themselves to potential bankruptcy if a court rules in favour of government and its very deep pockets. One such NGO which faces this prospect is QASA, an organisation which supports paraplegics and quadriplegics as they are one of the litigants involved in the OUTA litigation.

The misinformation being spread by SANRAL that OUTA’s case is “unwinnable” due to the “Constitutional Court having handed down a ruling” is also astoundingly misleading. It seems to have been forgotten that the Constitutional Court ruling was with respect to an interdict granted to OUTA to prevent SANRAL from implementing eToll and did not even contemplate the matter of the wasteful expenditure by SANRAL or any of the other matters raised in OUTA’s litigation.

Whilst we see the donation by the Democratic Alliance as an opportunistic political move, this is exactly what politicians do and suggesting that this qualifies OUTA as a “front for the DA” is simply ludicrous. Similarly, the drawing of parallels by Mr John Robbie between the DA donating to OUTA and asking if it would have accepted a donation from an international terrorist organisation like Al-Queda is outrageous in the extreme.

Whilst to our knowledge, COSATU has not funded OUTA, it has verbally leant its support to them and no-one has come forward accusing OUTA of being a front for COSATU, now have they? Instead, “another Marikana” has been mooted by COSATU and it seems that SANRAL finds this preferable to the courts intervening.

We find it particularly disturbing that a referendum on the eTolls issue has not been called in what is clearly such an important and emotive issue which affects the pockets of all South Africans. Indeed, we have to ask why in 19 years of South Africa’s democracy not one single referendum has been called, given that this is a mechanism of democracy open to all truly democratic governments.

JPSA completely supports the litigation by OUTA on the eToll issue and remains resolute that this is essential to tackle this matter in a peaceful and civilised manner. Our support of OUTA does not indicate that we are a front for or endorse the DA or any other political party for that matter; and it furthermore does not indicate that we dissent with government on everything they do.

It is unreasonable in the extreme for anyone to expect others to simply shut up and fail to take action when things are wrong when we live in a proclaimed democracy – not a dictatorship.

Best Regards,

Howard Dembovsky
National Chairman – Justice Project South Africa (NPC)
Association Not For Gain | Incorporated as a non-profit company under the Companies Act, 2008

One thought on “Justice Projects comments on reported DA donation towards OUTA e-Toll battle

  • June 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Had the DA been silent on the issue up until now, I would agree that their gesture was opportunist. We know from COSATU’s rejection of the DA’s wanting to be associated with the first drive-slow that the DA has identified with OUTA’s objectives from quite early on.

    I think the DA could have done better if they matched public contributions Rand for Rand rather than pay the whole lot up front. That would have signalled solidarity with the people. For a party that doesn’t want to be identified solely with rich white people, it doesn’t look good. That said, there are many ANC supporters who could put up a million for their cause but they don’t have a perception problem.

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