Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday issued a stern rebuke to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng Premier David Makhura following their heated exchange on social media over the contentious e-tolls saga.
Mboweni and Makhura were embroiled in a Twitter spat after the finance minister sparked the debate on Thursday night when he insisted “users must pay” for e-tolls.
So, when you invest in a toll road infrastructure, you expect a return for many years ahead as per contract. Right? Not the cost of your investment today. Future returns. That is what you do in business. Premier Makhura, correct? Or am I missing something here?— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) July 4, 2019
In fact, before I plant avocados today, I should do so knowing that I will harvest in ten years’ time or so. I need certainty that the policy environment will be supportive of my long term investment as an avocado farmer. Policy uncertainty stops bold risk taking investment.— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) July 4, 2019
Now Therefore, THE USER MUST PAY! Premier Makhura!— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) July 4, 2019
His tweets appeared to have been sparked by Makhura’s comments during his State of the Province Address this week, where the premier reiterated his stance that e-tolls were not part and parcel of the future he envisaged for Gauteng.
I have referred the e-tolls matter to [email protected] for final resolution; My engagements him and Minister @MbalulaFikile have been positive. Minister @tito_mboweni can continue to tweet as he cooks; he is a Minister, not the President. #NoTurningBack— David Makhura (@David_Makhura) July 5, 2019
The heated exchange, which even saw Makhura's executive weigh in on the matter, caused a furore on social media and massive backlash against Mboweni from users.
The Presidency has since issued a statement on the matter, saying Ramaphosa viewed the exchange between the Mboweni and the Gauteng provincial government as "unfortunate and deeply regrettable".
"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 public interest is best served through collaboration, not conflict, and the appropriate platform for leaders to express and reconcile differing views is Cabinet and other coordination forums."
The Presidency also confirmed that Ramaphosa had mandated Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, together with Mboweni and Makhura, to submit to Cabinet a solution to the impasse around electronic tolling on Gauteng freeways.
He called on the ministers and premier to table proposals to Cabinet by the end of August 2019.
"While the user-pay principle remains a policy of government, the electronic tolling system as part of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Plan (GFIP) presents challenges in its current form.
"The president expects that the consultations within government over the coming weeks will produce workable outcomes," the Presidency said.