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The Oppressed Majority.
According to a survey just released by BP Ultimate and the South African Automobile Association, just over three-quarters of South African drivers contravene the rules of our roads every single day.
While these authoritative bodies have put their own spin on these results to come up with the peculiar notion that more punitive measures are needed to bring this number down and therefore promote safer roads in the country, certainly a commendable objective, we think there's another lesson staring us all in the face from the pages of this survey.
After all, isn't South Africa now a democratic state? Doesn't the majority dictate our goals as a country, our stated missions, our social policies? And 76% of road users makes up an overwhelming majority, even more than the 66.66% which the governing party the ANC didn't manage to achieve in the last general elections.
So, if the rules of the road are so unpopular that the majority of road users don't agree with them or see any value in complying with them, surely that's a strong argument (if not an open and shut case to be honest) against imposing further, draconian and downright socially destructive punitive measures enforcing them?
The points demerit system, in case you hadn't already cottoned on to my tone, is completely and utterly dysfunctional in our particular transport scenario. All it will result in is many, many more drivers driving around with no licenses whatsoever. And this fact is completely obvious, and has now been proven definitively by this survey - we as South Africans don't obey the existing regulations, so why would new even stricter ones be any different? Of course they wouldn't.
It isn't like the corrective services system could even come close to coping with a sudden influx of 76% of the population all driving without licenses and completely flouting this unjust, profit-driven set of laws.
Nor could the economy survive as much as a single day without these individuals. The promised punishment could simply not be administered, period.
Yes, many, many more fines could be written out, sure. But they don't say that this new system is being implemented to milk more of our limited funds from us, oh no. Because if they did society would reject them even more publicly and vociferously. So they hide them behind the "keeping our roads safer" line of nonsense. This system will not and can not make a single iota of difference to the safety of our children on our roads - it's nothing more than an enforced stealth tax.
The thing is, it isn't like we South Africans drive around on our admittedly very dangerous roads every day because we want to, for fun. Well, maybe some of us are fortunate enough to do so, but for the most part our presence on these hallowed stretches of tarmac is driven entirely by necessity. We need to get around the place in order to make money, contribute to the economy, consume products, live life.
We don't have any alternatives. Yes, projects like the Gautrain and BRTs are excellent initiatives to reduce our dependency on the common automobile for basic transport, but they can't and don't cater to any more than a select few. These solutions are nowhere near prolific enough, not to mention reliable or affordable enough, for them to be considered any level of replacement for any kind of number of cars and drivers on our roads. Most of the people for whom these options work are already using them after all. Those not utilising these services are doing so mostly because they don't cater to their unique transport needs.
Removing licenses therefore from this horde of drivers teeming about our road network won't remove the drivers from the equation. Only their licenses. Their human needs will remain, and the car will remain their only option, so they'll continue to use it. Perhaps confiscating the vehicles would work but again, the impact such a move would have on our economy would run catastrophically deep.
In fact, the only real difference I can think of, apart of course from a dramatically increased number of unpaid fines bolstering the theoretical financial positions of municipalities across the country, will be to the car insurance industry. Which will very rapidly collapse, as the huge increase of people driving without licenses realise that their motor insurance is no longer applicable, and drop their premiums like veritable hot potatoes.
So, what all of this muddled arguing leads inexorably to, is this one point. If we are a democratic society where the needs and demands of the majority are what are implemented and adopted as a nation, then why on this particular issue is the clear voice of the majority trampled upon and spurned in favour of an even more punitive stealth tax attempting to silence this majority population through fear and financially-crippling fines?
Surely, if the majority has spoken, which this AA/BP survey proves unequivocally, then implementing this system means that the administration has ignored the wishes of this majority with disdain and in fact is working not with or for the nation, but in direct contravention of our expressed wishes. If the powers that be actually listened to our unspoken voices, what they should be doing in response to this news is abolishing, or at least dramatically paring-down, the existing overcomplicated road law system.
Which they won't of course because it's never actually been about us, the people, at all, but always been about pure, simple revenue collection which just couldn't be scaled-down now as the entire system this revenue supports would collapse.