Right to Repair SA (R2RSA), a Section 21, not-for-profit company, specifically formed to champion the Right to Repair campaign initially launched in 2013, has appointed Gunther Schmitz as its Chairman effective 23 August. Schmitz has been involved with the campaign for many years and was one of the initial founders of R2RSA. “As a workshop owner and member of the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), the current anti-competitive nature of the motor industry in South Africa directly affects my business so I am passionate about the campaign and the changes it aims to bring about,” he says.

Filum Ho, CEO of Autoboys, has been appointed as Vice Chairman and Ian Law, Group Sales and Marketing Director GUD Holdings, is the newest member of the steering committee.

The Right to Repair campaign aims to allow consumers to select where their vehicles are serviced, maintained and repaired at competitive prices in the workshop of their choice. “There is a need for a fair and competitive regulatory environment that enables freedom of choice for the consumers and gives aftermarket Small Medium Enterprises a chance to stay in business,” says Schmitz.

He believes the status quo in South Africa cannot continue. It is exclusionary and unsustainable. “Competition is the basis for an inclusive and sustainable economy. It’s all good and well to give a BEE investment group a shareholding in a large dealership, but in the long run we need to make sure that the independent small business can compete. That is a far more sustainable way of assuring real change in our economic landscape. Current exclusionary practices mean start-ups are being driven out of business, and job creation is restricted as is the growth of this sector. Denying workshops the chance to repair vehicles because of warranties and access to information has allowed manufacturers to monopolise the automotive industry.”

Schmitz says the anti-competitive situation means inflated prices for consumers. “Extended warranties are locking consumers into periods where firstly, they have no choice but to use the dealer for repairs and secondly, they are at the mercy of the dealer who can charge whatever rates he/she chooses. Ultimately consumers are being denied the right to have their vehicle repaired at a workshop of their choice. We believe this also inhibits the consumer’s right to support local business. We are driving for much needed change,” he concludes.