Fikile Mbalula

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Image: Flickr

Mbalula ‘reckless’ for excluding vehicle discs in licence extensions – DA

The DA says it’s time government ‘moves into the 21st century’ and begin the process to get vehicle registrations across South Africa onto online platforms.

Fikile Mbalula

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. Image: Flickr

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it’s alarmed at the “reckless and unnecessary fiasco” caused by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s decision not to include the grace period for car licence disc renewals along with driver’s licence extensions.

The Department of Transport had released a clarification statement on Saturday 9 January confirming the extensions of the grace period.

The statement followed Mbalula’s New Year’s Eve tweet setting out the extensions.

But as the Justice Project SA’s Howard Dembovsky pointed out, this new extension has not been published in the Government Gazette.

“Failing to gazette the latest extension means that motorists cannot rely on Mbalula’s promises online,” said Dembovsky, adding that “Tweets are not law”.

‘Reckless Mbulala’: No beaches, but long queues at traffic offices

The department confirmed that while extending the validity of all learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licence cards, and professional driving permits (that had expired between 26 March and 31 December 2020) until 31 August 2021, but that this extended grace period does not include vehicle licence discs.

“By so doing, Mbalula has recklessly disregarded the call by President Ramaphosa to South Africans to avoid any sort of unnecessary gathering, such as ridiculously long queues at licensing offices and post offices across South Africa in order to comply with a completely inane and unnecessary regulatory oversight from the Transport Department,” DA MP Tim Brauteseth, the party’s NCOP Member for Transport, said in a statement on Sunday 10 January.

‘Razzmatazz head-in-the-Moët’ approach

Brauteseth said excluding vehicle licence discs from the list effectively put people at risk of COVID-19 infection when queuing up at traffic offices.

“If it is so necessary for government to prohibit South Africans from accessing beaches and enforcing strict curfew times, they should at the very least, meet citizens halfway and provide them with relief through other measures,” said Brauteseth.

The current second wave of the pandemic has clearly presented a “new set of circumstances that urgently requires new strategies, and not the “razzmatazz head-in-the-Moët’ approach” we have seen until now, he added.

Call for online platform and urgent extension of grace period

Brauteseth cited the example of the DA-managed Cape Town Metro which he said has for a number of years allowed motorists to renew vehicle licences online.

“It is a modern and efficient method typical of our approach to a people-centred government.”

The DA called on Mbalula to avoid a COVID-19 tragedy and urgently extend the grace period for vehicle licence renewals to 31 August 2021.

“We also urge the minister to move into the 21st century and immediately set in motion a process to get vehicle registrations across South Africa onto online platforms once and for all.”