The Department of Transport (DoT) epitomises a broken department under a directionless ministry. This important state department is unable to administer essential systems designed to ensure motorists stay on the right side of the law, leaving the public with no option but to break the law, despite every effort to comply. It is sad when the state needs to grant reprieve upon reprieve of compliance deadlines, resulting in catching up becoming a mammoth task and relaxation of regulations becoming the norm. 

The current extension to the expired driver’s licenses debacle is just one of a range of systemic breakdowns within the DoT, signalling a bigger issue of administrative incompetence that pervades the department. These negatively impact on the economy and the country’s citizens, leaving OUTA to believe that the President should recall the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula. He has now been in office for over two years but appears unable to address the significant failures in his department.

The challenges that motorists face when trying to obtain or renew their driver’s licences have given rise to a new norm of paying “facilitation fees” to circumvent the department’s inefficiencies. This illustrates how corruption breeds when administrative chaos is ignored for years.  The department’s inability to fix these problems makes it difficult to ensure functional and accountable governance and service delivery to it citizens and stonewalls the fight against corruption. 

A department fraught with systemic failure

The DoT has serious issues and systemic failures across many fronts, which pushes up costs for business and individuals. Some of these issues are: 

1) The failure to address the problems and inefficiencies around the implementation of AARTO and the demerit point system.

2) The failure to end the e-toll fiasco, with endless broken promises of a solution.

3) The Road Accident Fund remains in a serious state and despite a “stay of pay-outs” (which merely exacerbates the problem down the line and causes serious problems for those in need of these claims) there is no public clarity on how this fund will be rescued. 

4) The failure to address the inaccuracies of eNaTIS (the vehicle registry system), which requires urgent rectifying as the system plays an important safety, security and legal role. 

5) The International Air Services Council has been out of commission since March this year, which is not only a serious transgression of the law but has also hampered the allocation of out-bound flight routes to local airlines. The failure by the Minister of Transport to appoint a new council in time (or extend the outgoing council for a few months) has had a negative impact on jobs and revenue for South Africa and is inexcusable.  

6) The failure to address the ongoing problem of too many road fatalities.

7) The taxi industry’s ongoing problems over route allocations, vehicle roadworthiness, driving skills and violence.  

Government unable to engage its critics

OUTA has reached out to the Transport Ministry on several occasions, with virtually no response.  We are not alone, as other civil society organisations are also ignored when raising concerns. This frustrating conduct does government no favours when it comes to building trust between the state and its citizens, who are forced to rely on media accounts and speculation related to many developments.

On other fronts, local government elections are supposed to take place in October, and we expect interesting developments with the ANC having failed to meet the party-list registration deadline and the legal battle to postpone the elections. The disarray within the ANC is a reflection of the disarray in government, and its woes are mounting. The donations the ruling party once received to manage its affairs are drying up, due largely to a tougher economy, new laws requiring transparency of political party donations, a reluctance to support a political party losing its popularity and being involved in corruption, and  ̶  probably the most important issue  ̶   reduced revenue from corrupt activities. This makes for a very interesting dynamic at the polls. 

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, along with the National Energy Regulator (NERSA), appears to be on a mission to introduce 2 500 MW of new nuclear build, which is at odds with the Integrated Resource Plan that covers the development of South Africa’s energy.  You can read more on what OUTA has done about this elsewhere in this newsletter. 

Once again, we thank you for your support, which enables us to do our work. We wish you all the best for the month ahead.