Gauteng freeways: In the end, someone has to pay. Picture: The Times/Daniel Born
Gauteng freeways: In the end, someone has to pay. Picture: The Times/Daniel Born

When I was a young undergraduate studying communication, I was taught that the message isn’t just the thing that’s important — it’s the only thing that’s important.

Given that politicians are so fond of their own voices, it would seem that Twitter is a medium just made for them. Let’s not bother about the press secretaries, gatekeepers or spokespeople — you know, the people who act as your filter and keep you from embarrassing yourself in public; let’s get out there, freak flags flying, straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

There are just two problems with that approach. One is overstepping the mark in a bout of hot-headedness. The other is the actual message. Just ask Helen Zille.

Here’s the thing: Twitter is like those original Usenet groups in which keyboard warriors would machine-gun all their enemies in the water, except it’s even worse. No filters, no restraint — just you, Gauteng premier David Makhura, and you, minister of finance Tito Mboweni, slugging it out for all to see.

It doesn’t really matter that the on-again, off-again e-toll saga has become a proxy war between two political heavyweights. What does matter is that the Gauteng freeway improvement project — those beautiful new roads we got for the 2010 Soccer World Cup — has to be paid for.

President Cyril Ramaphosa should have shut them both up with this six-letter tweet: p-o-l-i-c-y.

There, fixed it for ya.