Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has revealed that South Africa has a backlog of 320,000 driving licence, with demand growing by 90,000 each month.
Speaking to ENCA, Mbalula said this backlog is caused by corruption among back-office staff at driving licence testing centres (DLTCs).
Over the past few weeks, many South Africans trying to renew their driving licences expressed frustration with the system.
One of the main complaints is the online booking system, where it is exceedingly difficult to get a slot for licence renewals.
Gauteng MEC for public transport and roads infrastructure, Jacob Mamabolo said government officials who hijack the system are to blame for the problem.
He said many slots are allocated to services like new driver’s licence applications, but not to driver’s licence renewals.
While not directly mentioning corruption, Mamabolo hinted at something “dodgy” going on at driving licence testing centres.
Mbalula has now echoed Mamabolo’s concerns, saying “it is all corruption – it is a problem which is happening in the back office,” he said.
Possible extension of grace period
The driving licence renewal problems are so severe that the Automobile Association (AA) has called for an immediate moratorium on fining motorists without renewed driving licences.
“It’s an absurd situation where motorists cannot renew their discs or cards and are then stopped and fined for not having done so,” the AA said.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) wants Mbalula to change the driver’s licence validity period from five to 10 years.
“This should save the SA consumer and government time and money as well as improve the administration and manageability of the renewal process by the state,” it said.
Mbalula said he will consider the proposal to extend the validity of driver’s licences because of the current problems.
“My team will report to me tomorrow and I will make a pronouncement and decision by the end of the week,” said Mbalula.