South Africa’s plan for digital driver’s licence cards.


Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has revealed that he is ready to present his proposal for a new digital driver’s licence card to cabinet ministers.

He said the proposal includes re-looking at the five-year validity period that currently applies to South African driver’s licence cards, adding that an announcement would be made once it passes cabinet.

“The solutions are there. They have not been implemented. We are ten years behind on the issue of the new card,” Mbalula said during an interview with SABC News’ Vuyo Mvoko.

“We’re done with that work. I am chairing the inter-ministerial committee on the work. I am done with the process of the new card, and we should be in cabinet [soon], and we’ll make pronouncements on that in a very short space of time.”

The minister also spoke of potentially changing the five-year validity period that currently applies to South Africa’s driver’s licence cards.

“We are also looking at the duration time. It is five years, but in terms of the national land transport act, that issue is not very clear that it has to be five years,” Mbalula said.

He said his department had researched the matter.

“I’ve got the report now, and I’m ready to go to cabinet with new proposals to probably re-look at the five years in terms of the driver’s licence,” the minister said.

However, he added that he could not provide further information until his proposal had passed cabinet.

MyBroadband reached out to the Department of Transport (DoT) for further details, but it had not responded by the time of publication.

AfriForum launched a legal challenge to the 5-year validity period for driver’s licence cards in May 2022, saying that fines issued to motorists with expired cards are illegal.

It argues that the regulations stipulating the validity period were inconsistent with the National Road Traffic Act, which states a driving licence was indefinite unless the licence was suspended or cancelled.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa)  and Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) also support the extension of the driver’s licence card validity period.

“We have done the research, and many countries around the world have a 10-year validity period,” Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said.

“We hope the minister announces his decision on this matter as soon as possible. He is behind on this announcement.”

The AA has also called for the validity period to be extended.

South African cabinet ministers were first asked to look into an all-in-one card system for driver’s licence, smart ID, and social security information in April 2022.

At the time, Mbalula acknowledged that South Africa was ten years away from the rest of the world regarding driver’s licence cards.

“God-willing, I will no longer be minister by [the time an all-in-one card is rolled out],” he added.

“When you go for Sassa, when you go for everything, you will have a single card at your disposal,” Mbalula said during a media briefing on the Easter road fatality statistics.

However, South Africa will be rolling out a new driving licence card in the meantime.

The minister initially said that the new driver’s licence card would start rolling out towards the end of 2022, targeting July for a pilot phase and October for an official launch.

Shortly after his initial announcement, Mbalula revealed that the new driver’s licence card had been delayed, with his department now targeting October 2023 to begin the pilot phase.

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