Allowing private providers to handle driver’s licence card renewals will create competition for customers and solve South Africa’s woeful service delivery problems at driver’s licence testing centres.
That is the view of James Peron, the president of the Moorfield Storey Insitute and author of books including Exploding Population Myths and The Liberal Tide. He has also written for several publications, including The Wall Street Journal in Europe, Reason, HuffPost, and The Johannesburg Star.
In a recent letter published on Wheels24, Peron delves into the troubles facing South Africa’s driver’s licence regime, including the breakdown of the country’s only card printing machine, which has worsened an already-existing backlog of renewals.
Peron compares the situation in South Africa and the United States — which has its own problems in the form of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) — with the seamless experience of renewing a driver’s licence card or getting vehicle licence plates in New Zealand.
He suggests that South Africa consider a similar approach as its arch-rival in rugby by opening up licencing services to privately-owned entities. Two of the funniest books written satirising the old regime in South Africa were Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure by the novelist Tom Sharp.
A British expat, Sharpe moved to South Africa in 1951 but was arrested for “sedition” in 1961 over a satirical play he wrote and duly deported. The old National Party governments were never really known for having a sense of humour — especially about themselves.
Several decades later, we are witnessing something reading like Sharpe’s fiction, but it’s a costly dilemma for South Africans. It started in November when the only government-owned machine to produce driver’s licences died and no substitute was available.
Some 500,000+ licences have backlogged since and the government doesn’t have any incentive to fix it. In fact, they are financially better off leaving it broken.
Individuals who can’t replace their licence in a timely fashion have to obtain a temporary driving permit costing R90 and then still get the proper licence and pay the required fee as per normal.
That’s an extra R45 million from just the current backlog. Every day more people join the backlog and the rewards for ineptness grow.
Temporary permits are valid for only six months; those who have been wait-listed in November will have to pay for another temporary permit in May. The more inept the system, the greater the department’s revenue and the poorer the people.
The top four executives in the department pull in salaries averaging R1.5 million each, while the lower paid staff only average R100,000 each. The whole exercise took about 30 minutes. The licence was mailed to me and I received it with the Monday afternoon mail.
A huge difference is these organisations rely on people choosing to use their service rather than those of a competitor. Unlike the DMV in America, they have to have happy customers or they lose money.
I read of a 17-year-old who had his driving test ended when his fuel light came on. He complained to the private Vehicle Testing New Zealand and his father complained on Facebook.
VTNZ said their employee erred, refunded the test fee to the boy, called him up to personally apologise and rebooked his test free of charge. In New Zealand, people are treated as customers because there they actually recognise them as customers.
In other news – Actress Gail Mabalane mourns
Gail Mabalane has taken to her social media to reveal that she was triggered to cut her hair low following the death of her brother.
The star stated that her brother passed away in 2006 and after that, she had the urge to cut the hair which she felt was like a new beginning for her. Learn more