A political analyst believes that the Gauteng e-tolls will not have any affect on the African National Congress (ANC) when it comes to the elections in 2014.
The e-tolling project went live on Tuesday (3 December) on Gauteng’s freeways, amid severe criticism from public and rival political parties.
Anti-tolling lobbyists include the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Gauteng, which has been protesting against the project to “irritate politicians”, while the Democratic Alliance also promised to continue to fight to have e-tolls scrapped.
In an interview on Radio 702 on Tuesday (3December), Professor Stephen Friedman, political analyst at the Centre for the study of Democracy, said that anti-tolling lobbyists were chiefly from middle class groups with mini-bus taxis being exempt from having to pay to use the e-tolled roads.
“If you look at middle class suburban people who are protesting, obviously this has reinforced views that government has it in for the middle class, that government wants to take money from middle class people, to line the pockets of politicians,” the analyst said.
He warned that the crunch for people threatening not to get e-tagged, or paying e-toll bills, may come when they renew their vehicle licences.
He suggested there might be a case where people would not be able to have their licences renewed until they paid for e-tolls. “I would expect that to be the time in which people start coughing up because I don’t think there are too many people who would drive around without a licence in order to not pay tolls.”
Friedman said he didn’t expect people to vote against the ruling party in 2014 because of the implementation of e-tolls.
“A fair amount of the protest is coming from people who are opposed to the ANC anyway. They will obviously vote against the ANC, but they were always going to vote against the ANC.
“The big question mark, and really the organisation which has turned this into a different sort of protest, is Cosatu, and I really don’t think that Cosatu’s members votes are going to change as a result of this (anti e-toll rhetoric),” Friedman said.
He noted that Costu’s members were not unused to a scenario in which they went against the ANC on policy issues, but continued to vote for the ruling party regardless.
“I don’t think this is going to affect the ANC’s standings at the polls. It certainly may make its relationship with middle class groups and Cosatu more difficult, but its not going to affect the electoral outcome.”