Driving licence card printing must be decentralised

Issued by Thamsanqa Mabhena MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Transport
05 May 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Thamsanqa Mabhena MP.

On Wednesday, the Department of Transport announced in a press statement that the country’s only driving license card printing machine has broken down – again.

South Africa’s driving licence card printing machine has experienced multiple breakdowns over the past two years, leading to significant backlogs. These cards have been in use since 1998, and the Department announced plans for a revamped driver’s licence card and new machines. In September 2022, Cabinet approved the new driving licence card, with a pilot phase scheduled for November 2023. However, the current licence card and printing machine are only set to be decommissioned on April 1, 2024.

The Department of Transport’s administrative deficiencies have forced them to restart the procurement process for the new driving licence card. Given this situation, the Department must immediately decentralise the printing process to reduce turnaround time for new driving licences. By devolving this process to provincial authorities, we can expedite service delivery and create a buffer against national blackouts when the printing service is unavailable.

Although the Department has rejected the DA’s suggestion, citing incapacity and resources, we maintain that devolution aligns with the constitutional principle of subsidiarity. This principle ensures that social issues are addressed at the most effective level, bringing government closer to the people, increasing responsiveness, knowledge, accountability, and collaboration. It enables cooperation between government and local community groups, as demonstrated by the success of the LEAP officers in Cape Town’s crime hotspots.

In light of the ongoing issues surrounding the driving licence card machine and the Department’s continued mismanagement, the DA reiterates our call for each province to independently produce the service. A practical and risk-mitigating solution would involve providing each province with its own machine, ensuring sufficient backup in case of future breakdowns. This approach is consistent with our previous recommendations and would improve overall service delivery and responsiveness to citizens, despite the Department’s consistent failures.