Johannesburg - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is under fire from ANC alliance partners over his comments slamming the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) for temporarily suspending the issuing of summonses to motorists for recovery of e-toll debt.
Mboweni, who was recently slammed by Deputy President David Mabuza for his Twitter views of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), appears to be on a collision course with his party, the ANC, especially in Gauteng.
The country’s economic hub is a target for opposition parties in the May 8 elections.
On Thursday, Gauteng premier David Makhura praised Sanral for suspending the summonses and default judgments against those who were not paying e-tolls.
“The ANC-led provincial government remains positive that President Cyril Ramaphosa will hasten the process to finalise this matter since it has been a burden to motorists and has impacted negatively (on) business in Gauteng.
“(The) urban tolling system is not a viable option and it has never worked anywhere in the world. It is within this context that we stand firm with the residents of Gauteng that e-tolls do not have a future in our golden province,” he added.
But Mboweni said he was “very unhappy” with the Sanral board’s decision to temporarily suspend summonses to recover e-toll debt and said it must be reversed “immediately”.
Speaking on Thursday at the introduction of the new SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner, Edward Kieswetter, in Pretoria, Mboweni said: “It’s a very bad decision It’s not helpful in the bond market. It is undermining what we said in the Budget that we support the 'user must pay' principle and they must reverse that decision immediately.”
Cosatu called on the ANC to rein in Mboweni. Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said it was not the first time that Mboweni had spoken out of turn, adding that the ANC must stop him in his tracks because he was behaving as if he was outside the ANC and the cabinet.
“We know that Deputy President David Mabuza does not take him seriously, but his statements are not doing the ANC any favours. He cannot be allowed to issue instructions to Sanral and also behave like a free agent,” said Pamla.
“What is troubling about these provocative statements is that they create an impression that the centre is not holding and the minister is operating outside of the mandate of the ANC,” he said.
The SACP said there were engagements in the alliance on the e-toll matter and they wanted the issue of e-tolls to be resolved.
SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said the alliance had to come with a single “programmatic” voice on the matter.
“The alliance has to play its role as the strategic political centre of the national democratic revolution.
"In this regard, there are engagements within the alliance. As the SACP, we will continue with the alliance engagement with the aim of ensuring that we all emerge with a single programmatic way forward as we all want this thing of e-tolls to be resolved,” said Mashilo.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko could not be reached for comment.
ANC provincial spokesperson in Gauteng Tasneem Motara was also not available for comment.
ANC acting national spokesperson Dakota Legoete referred enquiries to ANC Gauteng provincial secretary Jacob Khawe, who could not be reached for comment.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse also slammed Mboweni’s comments, saying they showed the government was a house divided.
Outa chief executive Wayne Duvenage said this indicated that the government was speaking with a forked tongue. He called on Sanral to make public its board’s resolution on the decision not to go after defaulting people.