Jean-Jacques Cornish

Unions defiance campaign against toll roads

South Africa’s trade union umbrella has launched a defiance campaign against the tolling of upgraded roads in the country’s heartland province of Gauteng.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions is urging motorists not to pay for using the roads and to burn any bills they get sent by the company collecting the tolls.

Gauteng provincial secretary of COSATU Dumisani Dakile says they’ll be ceremonially burning toll bills in front of the offices of the South Africa National Roads Agency Limited.

He calls on the public to bring their bills to collectively torched as part of the defiance campaign.

It’s reminiscent of the apartheid era when liberation movements urged black South Africans to burn the identity documents they were required by law to carry at all times.

Opponents of the toll roads say they accept the user pays principle when it’s applied to newly-built motorways.

But they’re refusing to be charged for using existing roads that have been upgraded.

The defiance campaign has been ratcheted up new provincial premier David Makhura establishing a review panel to probe the impact of the system in the province.

COSATU says the panel should be given time and space to do its job.

Meanwhile there should be no prosecution for those refusing to pay tolls.


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.