Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has revealed that more than 1.4 million expired driver’s licence cards remain unrenewed and that President Cyril Ramaphosa himself was also struggling with his card renewal.
In a media briefing on Friday, Mbalula acknowledged that the situation was a big problem impacting all South Africans.
“It affects everybody. If you are a judge, you are affected; if you are the president, you are affected,” he stated.
“The president, the other day, said to me in Cabinet, he has been struggling with his driver’s licence renewal.”
“So you can understand the magnitude of the problem we are dealing with,” the minister stated.
Mbalula said 1,424,756 driver’s licence cards that expired during the applicable grace period, from 26 March 2020 to 31 August 2021, still had to be renewed.
That means only 49% of the 2,813,016 cards that expired during the period were renewed.
Motorists who still needed to renew were given until 15 April 2022 to finalise their applications.
They will then have a three-month grace period for which their expired licence card remains valid, as long as they have proof of a renewal application.
Mbalula said the department was concerned that the pace of renewal remained sluggish in all provinces.
However, he explained that an extension beyond 15 April 2022 could be problematic, as government’s plan to lift the state of disaster would nullify directions issued under the disaster regulations.
The table below shows the five provinces with the highest renewal rates. Mbalula said the remaining four provinces had renewal rates below 50%.
|Driver’s licence card renewals by province|
|Provinces||Expired licences||Renewed licences||Renewal rate|
Mbalula said his department had agreed with transport MECs to extend the operating hours of driver’s licence testing centres (DLTCs) in different provinces to tackle the backlog. They are also open over weekends.
In his update on the backlog, Mbalula said the department had produced 628,150 new driver’s licence cards by 28 March 2022 — reducing the backlog from over 1.1 million to 522,830.
This was for motorists who had already applied to renew their licences.
Mbalula said the driver’s licence card account (DLCA) centre was operating 24 hours a day to produce the cards.
The Department of Public Service and Administration had also granted approval for the DLCA to exceed the 30% cap on overtime for its employees.
“In conclusion, we are confident that the measures we have in place will enable us to clear the backlog in the system without putting the motorists on the wrong side of the law through no fault of their own.”
Licence validity period
Mbalula also said the RTMC was commissioned to research whether changes needed to be made to the five-year validity period of South African driving licences.
This comes after calls from the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse and the Automobile Association of South Africa to extend the validity to 10 years.
“Various countries in the continent have renewal periods that range from 2 to 5 years, and a number of other countries require renewal at anything from 6 to 15 years,” Mbalula said.
“Others have integrated the driving licence into their identity cards.”
Mbalula said the research would look at the relationship between the renewal period and road safety and other factors that should be considered for revising the 5-year validity period.
“This work is already underway and will be concluded by 30 April 2022,” the minister stated.