S.African opposition urges probe of toll road contracts
South Africa's main opposition DA party on Sunday called on the government to clarify whether Johannesburg toll road contracts benefitted companies linked with the governing ANC.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) said in a statement that Public Protector (mediator) Thuli Madonsela had received its request that a probe be opened. No mention was made about the exact contents of the plea.
“It is vital that this investigation goes ahead so that we know the truth about who benefits from these controversial contracts, and whether there was any corruption,” DA spokesman Jack Bloom said.
The Sunday Times reported that several companies with ties to the African National Congress (ANC) had benefitted from the deals.
The ANC agreed on April 26 to postpone for a month the start of highway tolls around Johannesburg, buckling under pressure from the trade unions and civil society.
The delay was to allow more time to study other means of financing major improvements already made to highways around Gauteng, the tiny but rich province that includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria.
The Cosatu trade union federation argues that the tolls will place an undue burden on the poor, even though the mini-bus taxis used by most South Africans will be exempt from paying.
The government says the fees are needed to pay off loans that finance the highway upgrades.
The Sunday Times said the main contractor chosen to set up the electronic toll collectors, Electronic Toll Collection Consortium (ETC), had only identified nine out of 33 suppliers.
ETC is controlled by Austrian-Swedish Kapsch TrafficCom, a former subsidiary of Swedish defence group Saab which has been found guilty of corruption in the sale of fighter aircraft to South Africa.