Editorial: Poll road

 

Cape Times – Editorial
18th April 2013

THE DA’S election campaign got off to a bumpy start this week with a row over the “Mandela” poster and a curious call to Western Cape voters to treat next year’s poll as a referendum for the proposed Winelands toll road.

Launching the toll road campaign, Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle proclaimed that “Every vote for the ANC in the April 2014 election will be a vote for the toll road.

“Every vote against the ANC, regardless of which party, will be a vote against the toll road,” he said. “I call on the voters of the Western Cape to show the ANC the real teeth of a functioning democracy.”

It may be that the MEC – and can this be the same Robin Carlisle who favours the construction of a huge toll plaza and office block on Chapman’s Peak Drive? – has bitten off more than he can chew.

Accused by Carlisle of a “deafening silence” on the toll road issue, the ANC’s provincial chairman Marius Fransman was quick to say that his party was not, in fact, in favour of the toll.

In this Fransman is following the lead of ANC and SACP leader Jeremy Cronin, who as deputy minister of transport took a very strong stand against the Winelands toll plan – a fact Carlisle and others in the DA may have forgotten.

As for the ANC’s trade union ally, Cosatu has fought a long and determined battle against toll roads in Gauteng and apparently intends to do much the same here.

So it looks as if the DA’s attempt to develop a political campaign around the toll road, complete with street-by-street activism to mobilise residents from Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain to Somerset West and De Doorns, may backfire, and a vote for the ANC in April 2014 will just be a vote for the ANC, and a vote for the DA will just be a vote for the DA.

The Winelands toll road is undoubtedly a bad idea. It is not the best way to finance road maintenance and places an unnecessary extra burden on the poor. So far the process has been marked by an alarming lack of transparency on the part of the SA National Roads Agency, Sanral.

But it should not be treated as election fodder for the voting cattle.

 

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