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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
20 August 2003
NATIONAL ROAD TRAFFIC AMENDMENT BILL: NEGOTIATING MANDATES
Documents handed out:
National Road Traffic Amendment Bill [B31B - 2003]
The Committee received provincial negotiated mandates. The Eastern Cape had requested that public hearings be held. The Department urged that proceedings not be prolonged so that the matter could be concluded.
The Chairperson said that discussions would be focused on the provinces' negotiated mandates.
Mr Kamal Paneay (Special Delegate from KZN) said that KZN supported the Bill as long as there were no alterations to the main contents and the essence of the Bill.
Dr Nel (NNP)(FS) said that concerns raised included the time for expired licences to be re-issued, invalid or expired licences in relation to insurance claims and reasons for only testing eyes after five years renewal. The only amendment proposed was that the date of application for licences specified in clause one should apply in clause two.
Mr Mangcu (Department) said that exceptions and exemptions were to be included and that once the Bill was an Act, the categories listed would be taken care of. Formalising and streamlining had already been done.
Dr Nel sought clarification and asked whether those in hospital, prison or outside of the country would be eligible for the extension of six months from the date specified in the Gazette.
Mr Mangcu agreed. Regarding the eye test issue, Mr Mangcu said that it was important to test that people were still fit to be on the roads after 5 years. The necessary infrastructure and institutions did not have the capacity to conduct tests other than eye-tests at the present time.
Mr Raju asked about diabetic drivers whose eyesight deteriorated quicker than non-diabetics, and whether any provisions were made for them.
Ms Dlulane (ANC)(EC) said that the EC mandate would be presented as is because she was not present when the Committee discussed the Bill.
Mr Windvoel said that he failed to understand why people were working and living outside the country and still require South African driver's licences. Only diplomatic missions and students in foreign countries would be granted the exemptions.
The Chairperson explained that people moved to other countries to work voluntarily and seek opportunities for better lives. They were not criminals. Issues around tax should however be looked at. The EC required the Committee to have public hearings because ordinary people would be affected, especially those involved in public transport.
Mr Mangcu said that the exemption should not be left too open. The purpose of introducing the credit card system was so that there would be one type of licence. If people had had enough time to convert to the credit card licence. He urged that exemptions be restricted. Concerning public hearings, he said that it was not possible that taxi and bus drivers did not have the correct licences by now.
Reverend Chabaku (ANC)(FS) warned against blanket statements, saying that there were people with fraudulent licences.
Reverend Moatshe (ANC)(North West) presented the mandate from North West, saying that the omission of students studying abroad was the only point raised. Otherwise the province supported the Bill.
Mr Mangcu said that students abroad had already been covered.
Mr Nyakane (UDM)(Limpopo) said that concerns raised in the Limpopo province included confusion about the cut-off date as advertised in the media, high fees and strenuous traffic fines. North West supported the Bill.
The Chairperson mentioned that the problem of data not captured was between the individual and Home Affairs, and that the Department of Transport was attempting better relations to alleviate the problem. Regarding fees, it was made clear that provinces could exempt people if they wanted to.
Mr Mangcu confirmed that communication between the Department and provinces was a challenge that needed to be addressed. Communication needed to be centralised. Concerning fines, once issued, they become a matter for Public Prosecution.
Dr Conroy (Guateng)(NNP) apologised for submitting his province's mandate late. Issues raised concerned unforeseen circumstances regarding the application for exemption. The MEC should not be prevented from granting exemption.
Mr Mangcu said that the danger of the proposal was the removal of the deadline. Five years was considered sufficient time for all South Africans to have converted their licences. The Guateng proposal defeated the purpose of uniformity and opened for unnecessary criticism.
Mr Windvoel said that backdoor methods should be used to achieve better audiences. If a majority had reached a consensus, one was bound to matters discussed and agreed upon.
The Chairperson said that Members of Standing Committees were not informed by the MEC's of provincial legislation.
Mr Paneay asked how many people had not yet converted.
Mr Nyakane asked if a general fee could be prescribed so that people in poorer areas could afford to pay them.
Reverend Moatshe proposed that the Committee forward the Bill. Foreign missions in other countries could keep South Africans up to date on happenings in the country.
Mr Raju (DP) urged that Members not plead poverty or ask for discounts from legislators.
Ms Thomson disagreed with Mr Raju. The real reasons for negotiating mandates had to be explained because a great deal of time was spent on them.
Mr Mangcu said that fees were endorsed by Government. People paid for the printing of the card and costs added were determined by the provinces. Eye-testing was important because good eyesight was critical to those using the roads. The onus was on the applicant to declare his or her medical condition. He said that 72 455 people in the EC had not yet converted their licences.
The Chairperson asked for opinions on the hearings in the EC.
Mr Windvoel mentioned that some people's documents could not be traced as they were initially not on any kind of database. The Department should grant a concession in this case and waive fees the levied.
Mr Mangcu pointed out that a driver's licence was a privilege and not a right. There had to be copies of documentation for all people in some or another database. Legislation provided that the relevant officer should be satisfied that the applicant was competent on the roads before issuing a licence. Fraudulent licences were still being manufactured and verifying the authenticity of licences was very important. Replying to Mr Windvoels' request for waiving of fees, Mr Mangcu said that it was the call of the MEC.
The Chairperson said that it rested with the Committee to agree on public hearings. Time had been made available between 1 and 5 September 2003 for hearings, with the Bill to be discussed on 19 September 2003.
Reverend Moatshe asked if public hearings would make a meaningful contribution.
Mr Windvoel asked what would happen if all provinces made such a request.
Mr Kwgare (ANC) said that public hearings could strengthen debates, and were therefore useful.
The Chairperson attempted to capture Committee sentiments and said that it seemed the content of the amendments did not warrant public hearings.
Mr Mangcu pointed out that prolonging the issue would jeopardise efforts. He urged that the matter receive priority as it was dragging on. The Bill empowered the Minister to determine he date and the matter needed to be fast tracked.
The Chairperson said that EC should have its hearings on reception of the document.
Mr Windvoel said that provinces should be free to conduct hearings on section 76, and that plans should be made in advance and the relevant Committees should be advised.
The Chairperson decided that the four-week cycle would be followed and scheduled dates would stand as is with the Bill to be finalised by 3 September 2003.
Reverend Moatshe suggested that when provinces were informed of forthcoming legislation, public hearings should be held first and then a mandate should be sent.
The Chairperson said that NCOP Committees in the various provinces should be dealt with during Provincial Week. Communications posed a problem as it was difficult to brief counterparts.
Meeting was adjourned.
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