Don't start a war with motorists over driver's licences, OUTA warns
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) estimates that come 1 April 2022, South Africa will still have well over one million motorists with expired driver’s licence cards. OUTA says this is a significant problem and not one that government will be able to wish away or dump in the laps of its citizens.
“The state cannot simply ignore this problem, as it will leave motorists at the mercy of overzealous or corrupt law enforcement officers who may use this as an opportunity to extort bribes from the motoring public,” says Adv Stefanie Fick, executive director of OUTA’s accountability division.
“Administrative difficulties and significant backlogs in the renewal process of driver’s licence cards have been the order of the day long before the arrival of the pandemic or the breakdown of the card printing machine at the end of 2021. These problems are largely due to difficulties in securing bookings through the online booking system forced onto motorists.”
OUTA calls on the Minister of Transport to extend the deadline for all expired driver's licence cards to be renewed, and for the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) to engage with OUTA and other stakeholders to find meaningful solutions to this problem. “We already met with Minister Mbalula earlier in March to suggest that the Department of Transport extends the validity period of licence cards from five to ten years. This is in line with many countries and will go a long way to alleviate the administrative pressures on both the state and the public in this regard. We were promised a follow up meeting in two weeks, but as of today, we are still awaiting the Minister’s response to our proposals.”
Last week, OUTA wrote to the Minister of Transport to consider a further extension of the deadline.
“Should the Minister not wish to extend the driver’s licence renewal deadline or the validity of driver’s licence cards, OUTA proposes that law enforcement agencies be instructed to not issue fines for motorists whose driver’s licence cards have expired in the past 12 months, as this may lead to unlawful enforcement. The public’s inability to comply with the regulations is largely due to the department's incompetence and the public shouldn’t be punished for it.”
Fick warned that government should not start a war with citizens that it cannot win. “OUTA is considering a legal opinion that may lead to another civil disobedience campaign.”
Voice note by Adv Stefanie Fick here
Video by Adv Stefanie Fick available here