Opposition to toll roads earmarked for the Western Cape holds out the strange prospect of two bitter political foes - the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) - working together.
On Monday, the DA officially launched its campaign to stop the South African National Roads Agency Sanral) from building an e-tolling system similar to that in Gauteng.
The DA-run City of Cape Town has filed an urgent application for an interdict against Sanral to stop it from taking any steps to implement the proposed N1 and N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project.
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DA Western Cape leader Ivan Meyer said the party’s campaign would go door to door. The campaign was coming despite Transport Minister Ben Martins having said the government was committed to e-tolling.
Western Cape transport MEC Robin Carlisle made it clear that fighting the imposition of an e-toll would be a political battle.
"Anyone who votes in favour of the ANC (African National Congress) will be voting in favour of the toll road. Anyone who votes against the ANC will be voting against the toll road," he said.
Cosatu, which is an ANC ally, has been at the forefront of opposition to the tolling of urban roads. Its Western Cape provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, said the movement would co-operate with the DA’s campaign.
When asked by Business Day if Cosatu would support the DA in its opposition to a Western Cape toll road, he said: "Sure, and we hope they (the DA) will join our (anti-toll-road) campaign."
The DA and Cosatu have been political rivals, having been on opposite sides on many issues.
Mr Meyer said he welcomed Mr Ehrenreich’s stance on the tolling of urban roads. "The DA, along with other political parties and nongovernmental organisations, see that the toll roads are anti-poor. Now if only the ANC, and in particular its (Western Cape leader) Marius Fransman, can see that."
He said Mr Fransman was part of the provincial cabinet in 2007 that raised no objection to the toll roads and the minutes of the meetings proved his support for the project.
Mr Fransman accused the DA and, in particular, Mr Carlisle of political grandstanding. "The ANC’s view is that there should be a round of proper public engagement on such a toll road and then a final view be made. Right now Mr Carlisle is just making an issue where no issue actually exists.
"He is trying to divert attention from the fact that the DA’s bus rapid transport system benefited the wealthier areas and not the poor parts of Cape Town."
He said the ANC was not in favour of tolling roads, especially if they harmed the poor.