Mbalula's licence fees proposal is 'beyond outrageous and shows deep contempt for SA citizens' - AA

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Motorists wait in a queue to renew vehicle licences.
Motorists wait in a queue to renew vehicle licences.
ER Lombard

Earlier on Tuesday, Wheels24 reported Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has published a new proposed amendment in the Government Gazette on 3 September. The fee for online bookings for driving licence cards will cost motorists R250. 

The Automobile Association is the latest organisation to reject the proposal after OUTA and the South African Institute for Driving Instructors.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) claims in a tweet that nothing has changed and that the cost is still R250 for driving licence applications. However, this is not clearly stated in the Gazette and implies the online application fee excludes the fee motorists would need to be pay in addition at the DLTC when they show up for appointments. 

READ | Minister Mbalula now wants motorists to pay double for driving licences and card renewals

"Proposed amended fees for services offered by the RTMC announced by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula are beyond outrageous and show deep contempt for the citizens of South Africa", says the Automobile Association (AA).

The organisation says the proposed fees – seen in the context of the poor to non-existent service delivery rendered by the RTMC currently – seek to extract as much revenue from already cash-strapped citizens without providing any associated benefit to them. 

According to the AA, the proposed fees – contained in a Government Gazette published late last week on 3 September – demonstrate a lack of sensitivity to the current plight of motorists who simply cannot renew their driving licences. 

natis exercise
Wheels24 reader Otto Schmid recorded his attempts at trying to get an online Natis slot to renew his driving licence card.

"The proposals include a charge to motorists of R250 for online bookings to renew driving licences (for the booking only, excluding the actual cost of the licence), R700 for online registrations of motor vehicles, and R700 for online change of ownership of motor vehicles. These fees are additional to so-called transaction fees of R72 for every transaction performed at the RTMC and R99 to deliver driving licence cards.

"These proposed fees must be seen in the context of the RTMC's stated surplus for 2019/2020 of close on R262 million, which already indicates motorists are being substantially over-charged for services rendered by the Corporation. Further, the proposed fees should be seen in the context of the R9.3m annual remuneration of RTMC CEO Advocate Makhosini Msibi, who is responsible for ensuring all its systems work.

"The driving licence renewal and vehicle registration system is broken and must be replaced. Yet amid all the delays and extensions, the only viable option government sees is to announce new fees for services that aren't actually rendered. Why should citizens who are already paying taxes to be expected to pay even more simply to make online bookings? This all amounts to 'double-dipping' by government purely aimed at revenue generation with no benefit at all to motorists, and with no tangible evidence of improved road safety in the country," notes the AA.

READ | 'Why should law-abiding citizens pay?' - Outa rejects government's extortion fees plan for driving licences

Road safety is the core function of the RTMC, yet road fatalities remain at historic high levels. The AA questions how a surplus of close to R262m is possible given this dire state of the country's roads, but that more money is being extracted from motorists for online licence renewals.

licence booking, natis system, rtmc
Image: Wheels24 reader Hermione Hurwitz

The Association adds that the publishing of the proposals – and the actual content of the Gazette – are also an insult to citizens. 

"These proposals are published at a time when millions of motorists cannot renew their licences through no fault of their own, and a time when many people are struggling financially. Yet the government thinks it's wise to add to citizens' misery by suggesting excessively high rates to perform even the most basic functions that should already be covered by the Transport Budget financed through taxes," says the AA.

In addition, the Association says the content of the Gazette lacks context, does not provide any motivation for how the proposed fees were decided, and does not provide any explanation of services to which it refers. The AA says further confusion is created by simply including fee structures for software development and operational support by the RTMC without any explanation as to why they have been included.

"If the Department of Transport and the RTMC were serious about public consultation, they would have considered this document thoroughly before publishing it and included a detailed explanatory memorandum as is convention – something they have clearly not done. Not only are the proposed fees outrageous, but how this is presented to the public also is sub-standard and makes a mockery of any previous statements that the Department of Transport is intent on fixing the system for the benefit of citizens," says the AA.

The Association says it will make a formal submission to the Department of Transport highlighting its concerns. It is launching an online petition against the proposed fees to collect signatures to support its submission, which must be made BEFORE Monday, 4 October.

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