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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on the future of e-tolls is long overdue. Sanral has suspended its bond auctions, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters has delivered her budget speech and Vusi Mona’s media statements are showing signs of desperation. OUTA, along with the unions, church and business organisations and millions of motorists, have demonstrated active citizenship to hold government accountable on the e-toll fiasco, and now patiently awaits Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on the way forward.
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While the bronze image of Cecil John Rhodes was being removed last week from the steps of the University of Cape Town, his ghost still hovered ominously over the mineral rich dunes of the Pondoland Wild Coast. For the third time since 2007, the Perth-based mining entrepreneur Mark Caruso is trying to secure mining rights for his venture capital company MRC Ltd, via his South African subsidiary Transworld Energy Mineral Resources (Pty) Ltd. They face formidable opposition organised by the Amadiba Crisis Committee, which came into existence eight years ago when TEM/MRC made their first attempt to obtain mining rights in 2007. This was ultimately defeated after a long and arduous six-year struggle.

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“Muster Rhodes is treating Sigcau un-righteously. He will have a fall. He will have a fall,” said Reverend Peter Hargreaves in 1895 to Sir Walter Stanford, the Chief Magistrate of the Eastern Cape. The incident was arguably the start of the “Rhodes must fall” campaign. The increasingly hubristic Rhodes had issued an arbitrary warrant of arrest for the King of the Mpondo nation, iKumkani Sigcau ka Mqikela. If King Sigcau and Rev Hargreaves had not charted a non-violent response a far greater loss of life than occurred in the Jameson fiasco, would almost certainly have occurred.
 
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It was clever for the GFIP E-toll Advisory Panel to use the National Development Plan to contextualise and frame their report and recommendations to resolve the etoll impasse.  But was it wise?

It would have been wise for the panel to couch their analysis in terms of the wisdom generated from the Dinokeng Scenarios back in 2009 when an inclusive group of 33 high profile leaders explored what South Africa might look like in 2020. Three possible futures were imagined, each depending on how the State and Civil Society chose to relate to one another.  Now that six years have elapsed revisiting the scenarios in the light of what has actually happened is very startling.  But the anti e-toll movement provides some hope.

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About John GI Clarke

John Clarke hopes to write the wrongs of the world, informed by his experience as a social worker and theologian, to actualise fundamental human rights and satisfy fundamental human needs.  He has lived in the urbanised concentration of Johannesburg, but has worked mainly in the rural reaches of the Wild Coast for the past decade.  From having paid a fortune in toll fees he believes he has earned the right to be critical of Sanral and other extractive institutions, and has not held back while supporting Sustaining the Wild Coast (www.swc.org.za), the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (www.safcei.org.za) and the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (www.outa.co.za), in various ways.

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