E-toll decision is electioneering to save ANC Gauteng, experts say

The sun sets over an e-toll gantry on the N1 highway near Randburg, 16 September 2014. Picture: Michel Bega

The sun sets over an e-toll gantry on the N1 highway near Randburg, 16 September 2014. Picture: Michel Bega

The current governing party faces the very real risk of losing power in the province in May.

Electioneering is believed to be the reason behind the sudden “urgent resolution” by the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) to suspend e-toll collections with immediate effect, after the agency said the reason behind the decision was to ensure that the “political process” was “unhindered”.

The Sanral board yesterday said of its decision: “This resolution acknowledges that there is a political process under way to resolve the e-toll payment impasse. The suspension of e-toll summonses will allow this process to take place unhindered. Note that this is a suspension. The board urges road users – individuals and companies – to pay their e-tolls. All debt due to the state must be recovered – as Sanral has always stated. No debt can simply be written off.”

Political analyst Andre Duvenage believes the upcoming elections played a huge role in the decision made by the board. He said it was no secret Sanral was in financial trouble and that the issue of e-tolls had gained a lot of momentum, especially among Gauteng residents.

He said the success of the elections was more important to the ANC’s Gauteng provincial team, because of their current standing in the province.

“It is highly likely that the ANC Gauteng could lose the elections, so they are not going to do anything that will work against them.”

Another political analyst, Ralph Mathekga, said he believed Sanral had buckled under political pressure from the ANC’s Gauteng provincial government, because the party risked losing Gauteng on a provincial level.

Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni echoed Mathekga’s sentiments, saying “we are dealing with an entity that is not united”.

He said he believed political pressure was not the only reason Sanral came to its resolution. There was also the moral argument of the e-toll payment method.

Mathekga said he was interested to see what happened next as the agency’s act of succumbing to pressure was a victory for not only the ANC provincial government, but also Gauteng residents.

– jenniffero@citizen.co.za

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