OPINION | Mbalula, recall the driving licence fees notice and start again

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 • OUTA is calling on the RTMC and the Transport Department to fix the latest licence fees notice.

 • The RTMC claims the R250 fee is the standard price for driving licences.

 • The confusion arises from the RTMC and Department of Transport's inability to communicate clearly. 

 • For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) calls on the RTMC to recall, rewrite and reissue its poorly worded notice about fees for motoring services

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) should stop blaming everyone else for its mess and rewrite its faulty draft amended regulations on fees for driving licences and motoring-related services.

The Department of Transport notice containing the draft amendment to RTMC regulations and a new schedule of fees was gazetted for public comment on 3 September. It included an apparently new fee of R250 for "Online booking for the renewal of credit card format driving licence". 

The RTMC has hit back, claiming this is the standard fee for getting a licence, not a fee to book a slot in the queue. The public debate over the proposed regulations and the RTMC's different interpretation underline the inadequate drafting. "We simply can't tell from their ambiguous wording in the schedule what it means," says Advocate Stefanie Fick, OUTA's Executive Director. 
licence fee online
The table of new licence fees as published in the Government Gazette on 3 September 2021.

OUTA takes exception to the RTMC's view that OUTA is misleading the public on the R250 fee in the notice, and the RTMC's claim that this is merely the standard fee rather than a booking fee. 

"They are desperately attempting to deflect their own mess onto OUTA, claiming misrepresentation of their services and fees," says Fick. 

"However, OUTA, like the rest of the public, can only interpret the meaning of their published fees from what is described in the gazette." 

The confusion arises from the RTMC and Department of Transport's inability to communicate clearly. 

What OUTA wants:

An explanation: OUTA has today written to the RTMC and Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, asking them to explain the confusing fee proposals. Our letter is here.

Accurate information: OUTA has repeatedly asked the RTMC, via Twitter, for a copy of the previous notice and fees, which the proposed fees schedule purports to update. We have not received any response to this. 

OUTA has been unable to find such a notice. While the RTMC notice purports to amend the RTMC Regulations, neither the original 2007 regulations nor their 2009 amendment includes most of the fees now listed in the proposed amendment: the only fees in those are "transaction fees". The new version has a long list of fees.

A redo: The RTMC should withdraw this notice, rewrite it and reissue it. "We recommend that the Department of Transport should recall this notice and fix it for a reissue, as it is impossible to ask the public to comment on a notice so ambiguous and inconsistent in the descriptions provided," says Fick.

Fees should be clear, justified, and publicly known

This confusion over the fees is compounded by the failure of the RTMC and Department of Transport to have provided the public with an online clear list of all vehicle and licence fees. Instead, motorists face a murky situation of national fees charged by RTMC and additional provincial fees, which vary from province to province. This is particularly problematic given the corruption entrenched in the driving licence system. The RTMC needs to explain why it proposes charging a set R250 national fee – which it says is for all driving licence renewals – when this is clearly higher than the current fee, even with provincial additions. 

The renewal fee in the City of Cape Town is R140, including the R72 RTMC transaction fee. Is this R250 a new fee or a massive increase? Is this another way to boost revenue at the expense of citizens? 

How should we read another fee on this same schedule, which similarly reads "Online registration of a motor vehicle by the title holder" for R700? If the driving licence renewal fee is inclusive of the licence card, are we to interpret this line item as including in the R700 fee the licence disc for the vehicle being registered? When asked if this is indeed the case, the RTMC representative said (in a radio interview) that this is not the case for this item and the public will still have to pay for the licence disc in addition to the R700.

This statement was first published on the OUTA's website here.

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