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Friday, June 14, 2024

Government U-Turns on Driving Licence Validity Period Extension

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The South African government has decided to keep the driving licence validity period at five years, abandoning plans to extend it to eight or ten years.

This is despite previous statements by former Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula and current Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga suggesting the extension was imminent.

However, both Chikunga and Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) CEO Makhosini Msibi confirmed the proposal was never presented to the cabinet.

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Chikunga had indicated in August last year that the proposal would soon be reviewed by the cabinet.

This was based on a study initiated by Mbalula to align South Africa’s driving licence validity with international standards.

In September 2022, Mbalula announced that the cabinet had approved a new smart card driving licence and suggested extending the validity period from five to eight or ten years, supported by transport MECs.

Read: South African drivers’ licence expiry after 5 years illegal, says Afriforum

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Msibi acknowledged a study that considered extending the licence validity to up to 20 years or indefinitely, focusing on health aspects, such as mandatory eye tests.

He emphasized that the current five-year period would remain due to health and safety concerns, noting that many accidents are linked to health issues.

The Automobile Association (AA) expressed disappointment that the extension proposal was not presented, arguing it would align with international norms and ease renewal delays.

AA spokesperson Layton Beard highlighted the practicality of an extended period and suggested integrating eye tests by registered opticians into the system to enhance efficiency.

Beard also noted the financial burden of renewals on motorists, pointing out that driving licence renewals are a significant revenue source for the government.

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Wayne Duvenage, CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa), criticized the decision as “ludicrous” given the administrative and financial burdens on drivers.

He referenced a previous attempt to extend the validity period to ten years by former minister Dipuo Peters, which was reversed without explanation.

Duvenage accused the government of being out of touch with the needs of citizens and suggested the decision was influenced by revenue considerations.

The government’s decision means the driving licence validity period will stay at five years for the foreseeable future, with no immediate plans for change.

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