Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said transport minister Fikile Mbalula is not providing South Africans with accurate information about the ongoing driver’s licence debacle.
Thousands of motorists are stuck with expired driving licence cards because the twenty-year-old machine that prints them all has been out of order since November.
Mbalula revealed the machine is so old that it is the only one in operation globally and had to be sent to Germany for repairs.
Instead of taking responsibility for the mess, the minister insinuated that his administration inherited the problem.
He added that they are working on solutions to the ongoing mess, including a new driver’s licence card that will be printed with a new machine.
Duvenage said Mbalula’s comments were disingenuous, considering he has been the transport minister since 30 May 2019.
“For the minister to say they are now dealing with the problem in the sixth administration and that they have inherited this problem is not true,” Duvenage said.
“This administration, with Mbalula in charge, has been in power for nearly three years.”
Duvenage added that the new driver’s licence cards, which Mbalula is punting as a solution to the current problems, have been spoken about for many years.
It is also not a quick fix to resolve the current backlog of around half a million driver’s licences.
“The new printing machine and new cards are not going to be introduced in the next few months. Mbalula is talking about the end of the year, and we will be lucky if this is the case,” he said.
“Even after the security elements have been dealt with, it will still have to go through many design iterations and get multiple approvals before it can be implemented.”
Duvenage asked what the plan is to fix the problems between now and when the new machine and driver’s licences come on board.
“We are already two to three months behind in producing current driver’s licences, and it sounds like the machine, which is being fixed in Germany, will not be in operation before the end of February,” he said.
The driver’s licence debacle, he said, impacts law enforcement and the police’s ability to enforce certain laws.
“It also impacts job seekers. One of the requirements of having a job is having a [valid] driver’s licence,” he said. “This is starting to severely impact society.”
Mbalula promised to introduce new measures in the interim, which will be announced soon.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula’s comments about the issue
We are introducing a new card license machine, at the first cabinet sitting of this year, I’ll present it for approval. This is a process that has been ongoing
The old machine broke down during this process. It’s now being fixed in made in Germany where it was made. pic.twitter.com/THvn6x96qP
— FIKILE MBALULA | MR FIX (@MbalulaFikile) January 12, 2022