Viva! E-Dompass Viva!

2013-06-11 07:34

GAUTENGER'S ARE WE FALLING for the recent spin doctoring (e-toll technology award, let us celebrate, ja right!)? Are these just more media tricks meant to numb us into submission? The e-dompass protest is about our basic right to free movement, it is about ethics and transparency in high value public sector projects, and it is also about gross discrimination and perpetuation of inequality by the state. Therefore the protests and legal challenge must continue.

I for one would not complain if I knew my money was being spent effectively to uplift the many “still disadvantaged”. Pretty soon, you will PAY to walk on pavements and breathe fresh air, and worse we will start to accept this as normal. In the meantime, many ineffective state bureaucrats will get a decent, guaranteed return on their pension fund, while your savings dwindle.

The e-dompass is simply unethical. It fails the test of “equal consideration of interests of all stakeholders”. Yes it will benefit the state pension fund, it will benefit a few politicians who have interests in the local companies involved, it will favor some multinational companies unevenly I will add, it will favor by all accounts the donor funds of the ruling party, and a few thousand more SANRAL employees. However, it will on balance not favor the millions of Gauteng motorists who are clearly the most important stakeholder group in this matter, and whose interests have been given the least consideration in this decision.

E-dompass is frankly discriminatory in the same perverse way that the apartheid dompass system was. Like its apartheid predecessor, this new technology of oppression and inequality also makes a clear statement: “If you cannot afford to pay to use these roads you simply shall NOT BE ALLOWED to use these roads”. This amounts to unfair and disadvantageous treatment of citizens. The state must appreciate that the freedom of movement, like healthcare and education, is a basic need and yes basic right of every citizen, and from an ethical standpoint, it is arbitrary and no different if SANRAL stated: “Because you belong to a certain race group you simply shall NOT BE ALLOWED to travel on these roads”. Segregating the road systems by affordability prevents the citizen from accessing a basic right.

On the other hand, if you travel using the Gautrain and you have to pay a premium when compared to the costs of the metro rail, a taxi, or your car, you cannot complain about having to pay more, as travelling by Gautrain is not defensible, as a basic need or right of a citizen.

Are we to trust this same state to provide our people with “equal access” to healthcare (which is a tremendously difficult task given the size of our population and the huge costs involved), when they chose not to apply an easy ethical principle – “equal consideration of interests” – in deciding how to fund the building and maintenance of a freeway system? I have my doubts.

I wonder whether the various opposition groups have the ability to mobilize with more zeal many of its constituents. Imagine if they for starters could act in solidarity and use a more effective grassroots strategy to mobilize their constituents to participate in a mass rally to reject the e-dompass. After all many of us can spare the time to do the Discovery-702 walk the talk.

I wonder whether a mass protest, with a huge middle class presence, will alarm the state. I also wonder whether asking today's court system to rule favorably on behalf of the citizen, is as hopeless as travelling back in time, and asking the lackey apartheid court, to reject racial segregation.

So your lordship, I ask you: “Racial differences used to curtail a citizen’s basic right to free movement. Affordability differences used to curtail a citizen’s basic right to free movement. Are they ethically any different?”

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