Tweets are not law, Mr Minister

Justice Project South Africa (“JPSA”) is alarmed that on 31 December 2020, Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula falsely and irresponsibly tweeted:

“In order to ease the pressure on motorist and to allow sufficient time for authorities to clear the backlogs as a consequence of the earlier restrictions, we have extended the validity of learner’s and driver’s licences, vehicle licences, professional driving permits”.

As of 5 January 2021, no government gazette which gives any effect to the said extension of the validity period of vehicle licenses and the discs associated with them has been published. This rubbishes the Minister’s claims that as of 31 December last year the said extension had already been effected.

He did not say “we will” or “we are going to” extend the validity period of vehicle licenses, he said “we have” done so.

Despite his unfortunate tendency to take to social media to promote himself, the Minister is a trusted public official whose word should be beyond reproach. It is only when or if the appropriate amendment is published in the government gazette that it will be of any force and effect. Twitter is not a substitute for the government gazette. Full stop!

Several media houses have published the Minister’s false claims and as a result, it is not unlikely that trusting members of the public who have taken him on his word have been fined.

Members of the public are advised to place no reliance in tweets emanating from the Minister of Transport unless specific, verifiable references to official government publications are provided to back up his claims.

UPDATE

Since we put this media release out, Minister Mbalula has deleted his tweet. This is not an unusual behaviour of dishonest people. That is why we made a screen capture of it before putting this media release out.

On Saturday 9 January 2021, the Department of Transport put out a media release “clarifying” the situation. It appears below and is also incorrect. It refers to the Government Gazette of 30 November 2020.

Although the Minister signed the amendment on  30 November 2020, no Government Gazette dealing with licensing was published on that day. The date of the said gazette was 3 December 2020.

The amendment to direction 6 appeared at regulation 2 on page 4 of Government Gazette 43958 of 3 December 2020. As can be seen at regulation 3, its date of commencement was the date of its publication in the Government Gazette.