President Cyril Ramaphosa has instructed minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula to work alongside finance minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng premier David Makhura to find a solution to e-tolls.
In a statement published by the presidency on Saturday (6 July), Ramaphosa said that the trio should submit a solution to cabinet, dealing with the impasse around electronic tolling on Gauteng.
Ramaphosa’s statement comes after a public Twitter spat between Mboweni and Makhura this week.
Makhura pledged to scrap e-tolls in his state of the province address, however, Mboweni has voiced his support for the tolls and believes they should continue to operate under the ‘user-pays’ model.
“The president has noted and finds extremely unfortunate and deeply regrettable recent public exchanges between finance minister Tito Mboweni and the Gauteng Provincial Government on this matter,” the presidency said.
“Such exchanges on social media are unbecoming of their high offices and fail to provide the leadership required in this instance.”
Ramaphosa said that the cabinet proposal should be tabled 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.”
Delivering his state of the province address at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto on Monday (1 July 2019), Makhura said that his intention remains to scrap the failed tolling system, almost six years after it was first implemented.
“One of the issues that remains on my radar screen is the final resolution of the e-toll matter. Our position has not changed. We remain determined to ensure that e-tolls are not part of the future of our province.
“We anxiously await the finalisation of details by national government on the mechanics of settling the debt. We are even prepared to contribute something as the provincial government to ensure the e-tolls are scrapped. There is no turning back,” Makhura said.
In June, transport minister, Fikile Mbalula, suggested that e-tolls could be done away with, in an interview with the SABC.
“The solution could be that the e-tolls go but if they go, how are we going to address the issues that we are faced with in terms of the debt? The strategic goal is to ensure that South Africans are part of the solution in the long term.”
“It is not an easy issue that we say scrap and that is it. The fact of the matter is that people are not paying and the debt is ever-growing,” Mbalula said.
However, Mboweni has been vocal in his support for the system, saying in December 2018 that Gauteng motorists must pay up, as nothing comes for free.
He said that the over R40 billion of debt of the roads must be paid, and the user-pays principle is the method in which to do it.
When Sanral announced that it would be freezing its pursuit of court cases against motorists who were not paying, Mboweni criticised the roads agency, saying that the move would put the country’s credit rating at risk.