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Cosatu scores R24m from e-tolling
Wednesday, 18 April 2012 00:00
Written by Farzana Rasool
Despite strongly contesting the controversial e-tolling system and the harsh impact it will have on motorists, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) has apparently benefited from the project, to the tune of R24 million.
Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of transport Ian Ollis calls the federation’s behaviour hypocritical. “Cosatu’s disapproving public stance on e-tolling as being ‘ill-conceived, corrupt, and too expensive for this country’s poor’ clearly does not apply to their investment arm.”
This comes less than a month after the union slammed the profits made by Austrian company Kapsch TrafficCom, which has a majority share in the Gauteng e-tolling consortium. It already made R1.2 billion in SA in one year and Cosatu said it was outraged at these figures.
Ollis says the trade union federation reportedly made R24 million profit through investment in a construction company, which benefited from the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP), for which e-tolling was created.
Cosatu’s investment arm, Kopano Ke Matla, reportedly holds a 3% stake in road construction company Raubex, and Raubex received R800 million from a project which forms part of the GFIP.
“As Kopane’s ‘sole beneficiary’, Cosatu has thus made a significant profit from a road-infrastructure project that they have vehemently opposed on every possible platform. This is pure hypocrisy. While lamenting the impact of rising energy prices and transport prices on SA’s poor, Cosatu have in actual fact been capitalising on their misery.”
Media reports today said Kopano CEO Marake Matjila resigned as non-executive chairman of Raubex to prevent a perceived conflict of interest.
Ollis adds that Kopano’s primary objectives are to “pursue investment opportunities in a socially responsible manner” and to “select investment ventures that will directly contribute to the empowerment of workers and the communities in which they live”.
“It is not clear how the investment in Raubex reflected this mandate. Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi claims he was unaware of the investment company’s involvement in toll roads.”
The shadow minister says to restore its credibility in the e-tolling debate, Cosatu will have to resolve three key issues.
It will first have to assure SA’s poor that it has, as Vavi claims, withdrawn its investment from Raubex. “Failure to do so will make a farce of their commitment to socially responsible investment.”
Ollis adds that, secondly, the litmus test for Cosatu’s commitment to empowerment and social responsibility will lie in its decision on how to spend or re-invest its R24 million profit; and thirdly, Cosatu will not regain its credibility in the e-tolling dispute by withdrawing from public debate on the issue.
“They now have to prove that their principles have not been compromised by their tainted profits. Now is not the time to abandon South Africa’s poor on this crucial issue.”
The federation did not respond to ITWeb requests for comment on the matter.
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