Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Trade union federation Cosatu says President Cyril Ramaphosa should call finance minister Tito Mboweni to order after a social media spat with Gauteng premier David Makhura over the scrapping of e-tolls. 

The SA National Roads Agency's (Sanral’s) e-tolling project, launched in 2013, has largely been a failure as a result of low levels of compliance from Gauteng motorists. 

The Gauteng Cosatu comments follow a disagreement between Makhura and Mboweni which played out on Twitter late last week.

The finance minister, who has been vocal about the need to keep the e-toll system functioning, criticised Makhura’s vow to remove it from Gauteng’s roads. In a series of tweets, Mboweni emphasised the need to comply with the user-pay principle of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.

Cosatu said it “strongly condemns” Mboweni’s attitude towards policy direction.

“As the person who has employed Tito Mboweni he [Ramaphosa] must act decisively against him because he is going to throw the administration into a crisis,” said Gauteng spokesperson Amos Monyela. “What Mboweni said is not interlinked with the manifesto of the ANC.”  

Makhura said he had engaged with Ramaphosa and transport minister Fikile Mbalula on the issue of e-tolls, and he had referred the matter to the president to make a final resolution. 

Deadline

The presidency said in a statement that Ramaphosa had mandated Mbalula, Mboweni and Makhura to submit a solution to cabinet on the impasse around e-tolls by the end of August.

“The president says such exchanges on social media are unbecoming of their high offices and fail to provide the leadership required in this instance,” the presidency said.

Monyela said Mboweni was “disrespecting” intergovernmental relations by using social media as a platform to engage Makhura on the matter.

“We don’t want ministers who are going to conduct the business of government through social media. Ministers need to sit down and engage with their counterparts at the provincial level and see how they are going to resolve issues that are raised by the people,” he said.

In March Sanral said it would halt e-toll debt collections. This includes historic debt and summonses applied for from 2015.

The decision to suspend the process of pursuing historical debt was seen by civil groups such as the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) as heralding the end of e-tolls.

mjoo@businesslive.co.za