Spat Over E-Tolls Highlights the ANC's Lack of Coherence in Policy Message
By Joburg Post
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?
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.
The spat between ANC's senior officials over offical government policies in not a unique thing. However, given the need for the policy certainty especially in regards to costs related to infrastructure development, the ANC needs to do better! The past 10 years have been defined by the growing risk of policy uncertainty that defined the Zuma years. For Ramaphosa to truly win over the private sector within South Africa and abroad, he can't have the face of South Africa's fiscus and the face of South Africa's preeminent economic engine engaged in "twar" over what should be internal ANC policy debates. It undermines general confidence in the government's ability to give clarity of way and may derail much-needed investment in the economy.