'Step off Twitter and assist the taxi industry': DA’s Thamsanqa Mabhena slams Fikile Mbalula

20 November 2020 - 10:15
Fikile Mbalula was told to give Twitter a rest and address the violence which took place during a taxi strike in Gauteng.
Fikile Mbalula was told to give Twitter a rest and address the violence which took place during a taxi strike in Gauteng.
Image: Sunday Times

DA's shadow deputy minister of transport Thamsanqa Mabhena has slammed Fikile Mbalula, telling him to tweet less and do more to address the taxi strike violence.

Earlier this week, the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) mobilised a chaotic protest in and around Gauteng, demanding Covid-19 relief funding that was promised to them.

Protesters blocked highways and prevented matric pupils from arriving on time for their matric exams. The protesters also allegedly hijacked a commuter bus belonging to the City of Tshwane.

The protest led Mabhena to demand a response from the minister of transport, who has been active on Twitter.

Mabhena said the DA condemned the violence and intimidation towards private citizens during the taxi strike.

“We are particularly disturbed by images and video clips on social media depicting what seem like taxi marshals intimidating and damaging private property, such as cars.

“There have also been reports of passenger being kicked out of buses and a Tshwane Metro bus driver being intimidated with violence, which resulted in the city halting all bus operations,” he said.

He said there was no reason the strike could not have been peaceful and condemned the damage of private property and violence.

“The NTA should take full responsibility for the members’ actions and we urge law enforcement agencies to hold them to account,” Mabhena said.

He also slammed the government for not making available much-needed Covid-19 relief funds to operators, as it initially committed to do.

“The DA calls on the minister of transport Fikile Mbalula to step off Twitter and pay full attention to his department, particularly the processing of the Covid-19 relief funds to assist the taxi industry,” he said.

“The transport department had set aside R1bn in Covid-19 relief funds, yet they’re yet to pay these funds towards the taxi operators for promised relief.”

While Mbalula is yet to respond to Mabhena, he replied to a tweet that EFF deputy president Floyd Shivambu tagged him in about the NTA, saying it would not be “taken for a ride” by a “small boy”, referring to Mbalula.

Responding to the tweet, Mbalula questioned the relevance of his age to the matter and said he had always engaged with members of the NTA in a respectful manner.

“I don't know where does age issues come in, I've displayed utmost respect for the NTA people in all my engagements with them. Yesterday they chose to play the man,” said Mbalula.