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The unexpected reason you may not be able to renew your driver’s licence in South Africa

There is a critical shortage of “face value forms” in South Africa which are supplied by the national Government Printing Works (GPW) for issuing motor vehicle and driving licences.

In an open letter to the Ministers of Transport and Home Affairs on 10 April, Ricardo Mackenzie, the Provincial Minister of Mobility in the Western Cape, implored the powers that be to urgently escalate and resolve the pressing issue of limited face value forms, which is all but a recent one.

Mackenzie highlighted that the GPW recently dispatched a “few boxes” of these documents to the Western Cape “just to keep us going for the week” and ensured the province that it is “working on a plan to clear all backorders.”

However, the problem is much more serious than it seems.

“The Western Cape currently has a backlog of 750 boxes of forms that have not been supplied, from orders placed on 7 July 2023 and 21 September 2023. Before this, we have had to close orders in our system because they had not been fulfilled,” said Mackenzie.

As a result of the stationery shortage, the Western Cape had to drastically reduce the number of forms supplied to its various municipalities. The City of Cape Town, with the highest demand, is now alarmingly close to the end of its stock.

“We have raised this issue repeatedly but are not getting a satisfactory response or a sense that there is an urgency to deal with a matter that is not complicated and can be resolved,” said the provincial minister.

“If we run out of these forms, and cannot supply our municipalities, there will be no motor vehicle licence discs; no vehicle registration certificates; no temporary driving licences for those beset by an emergency; and applicants who pass the test will not get their learners’ licences.”

Driver’s Licence Face Value Form

New driver’s licences on the way

Mackenzie brought to light the shortage of face value forms on the same day that the Minister of Transport, Sindisiwe Chikunga, announced that the country will receive new driver’s licence cards by the end of the month.

At a media briefing regarding the shutdown of Gauteng’s e-tolls on 10 April, the transport minister said that her department is at the “tail end” of the procurement process for the new printing machine that will be capable of producing the more technologically-advanced cards.

“I can tell you now that before the end of [April], we will be printing new driving licences and will launch at least the first 100 per province,” said Chikunga.

It is unclear whether the application procedure for the new cards will be the same as for the outgoing ones, where face value forms are a critical part of the process.

If so, the issue will likely affect the rollout of the new licence cards across the country as it is currently doing.

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