Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gambling on Civil Disobedience

I believe that an interesting situation is going to unfold over the next few weeks in South Africa. With the prospect of high toll fees being introduced by the South African government without proper consultation, I expect, and would hope that this would give rise to one of the most significant public protests since the collapse of apartheid.

If ever there were a case for using civil disobedience in South Africa, this issue would be it. With the rampant amount of corruption on display in government and its associates (a la Julius Malema's charitable trust fund to which he appears to be the sole beneficiary), it is about time the public took a stand against them.

Patrick Craven of COSATU has already made a blanket statement addressing the unfairness of the new toll fees and the dire effect it will have on the working class in the country. Additionally, this comes in the realisation that the world economy is in a seriously fragile state. The world's powerhouses are being downgraded in terms of their credit rating - albeit by S&P, the rating rocket scientists that failed to spot the problem with Lehman Brothers which led to the collapse of the world economy in part 1 of the crisis. Unless the South African government is naive enough to believe that this will have only a limited impact on the man in the street locally, surely they realise that taxing to fund NHI and imposing a road tax that really should have been catered for through ring-fenced fuel levies is not going to help the public right now.

As it is, things are tight. Increasing the cost of transport will inevitably increase inflation which in turn will place added pressure on the reserve bank to up interest rates. This is likely to stifle any green shoots that we may have seen emerge over the last year. With more expensive funding come job losses and restricted growth. So the vicious cycle is likely to continue to burden the masses.

So what is the way forward? Is it time for the public to really put a stake in the ground and gamble on civil disobedience as the answer. For me, it seems like a logical way forward - if South Africans in fact have a stomach for such mass action. All it would involve is the entire public (bar a few SANRAL officials and the totally spineless), to simple NOT PAY the toll fees or register for the e-tag system. There is no way the government will be able to prosecute 5 million people through the legal system and an alternative approach to enforcement, or reconsideration of the toll road funding would need to happen.

The government was foolish in their approach to the toll roads. Without providing any credible alternative, they cannot expect to increase a basic cost across the board for the public. Further, if one considers that those impacted by the new cost would largely be people forced to live in certain areas due to the previous apartheid regime, that makes it even more unacceptable. If South Africans do not create some serious pain for government about this, they can expect much more of the same going forward.

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If you're certain winning a jackpot of some sort would solve all your problems, toll fees included, perhaps now is a good time to consider to buy lottery tickets online from anywhere in the world. If you're based in South Africa, you may want to check out the best online casino South Africa; or if you're based in India, then click here to visit a great Indian casino review site, if that's more your style of gambling instead of civil disobedience.

Related article: Toll fees South Africa - options going forward for the public.