Home Affairs: Minister's Budget Speech


10 Jun 2008



10 JUNE 2008

Madam Speaker
Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba
Honourable Members
Director General and Senior management of the Department
Chairperson and CEO of the Independent Electoral Commission
Chairperson of the Film and Publications Board
Chairperson of the Refugee Appeals Board
CEO of the Government Printing Works
Our Distinguished Guests
Comrades and Friends

On 7th of September 2001, we witnessed one of our proudest moments as a nation at the successful conclusion of the UN World Conference Against Racism Xenophobia and other related Intolerances.

After nations of the world chose South Africa as an exemplary and fitting host for that historic conference, we pledged to enjoin our voice in declaring this century, as the century to advance the fight to end racism, xenophobia and other intolerances.

We need to answer the question as to why is it that today the world has reason to doubt our commitment to this very declaration made here on our soil.
Tomorrow the 11th of June will mark a full month since the outbreak of xenophobic violent attacks in the township of Alexandra in Gauteng.  While many South Africans from all walks of life have already expressed outrage and condemnation for this deplorable acts of prejudice, we want to use the opportunity of this budget debate to rededicate all our people to the principles of human solidarity, compassion, the fight against prejudice, and the cooperation of all sections of our society to find lasting solutions to the problems facing our country and our region.

On behalf of all South Africans who have embraced and continue to work tirelessly for democracy, I apologise to all those, South Africans and foreign nationals, who fell victim to the crimes of hate that have blotted our image at home and abroad. In total 60 people have died. Of these 22 are South African (19 died in Gauteng). Ten were from Mozambique, 5 from Zimbabwe, and 1 from Somalia.  The nationality of 22 victims is yet to be determined. 

We should reiterate that despite the problems that we face, South Africans should find constructive ways to engage with each other and find solutions to those problems. 

To wrongfully educate young people that their suffering is caused by the arrival of foreign nationals and South Africans from other parts of our country, completely runs against the ethos on which our democracy was fought for and attained. 

The response of our country and government demonstrates that which we can achieve as society when we work together.
The real damage and after effects of these acts of criminality, committed in the name of our people, will still be felt in our country long after the tents have been dismantled, and way beyond the street patrols of police and soldiers in our communities.  It will remain in the minds of our children who witnessed and participated in these horrific incidences.  It will define the lessons we are teaching these children about how they should deal with challenges and how to treat other human beings in the future.

With you permission, Madam Speaker, I’d like at this stage to invite the House to stand and observe a moment of silence for those who lost their lives during these attacks.

Thank you,

Madam Speaker

I believe that I will be speaking for many of my colleagues, thousands of our officials and millions of our people, in pronouncing this Budget debate on Home Affairs to be the most significant and important. 

Not only because this is be my last Budget Vote for the current term of Parliament and government, but also because this budget is going to fund the implementation phase of our Turn Around Programme in building the New Home Affairs. 

In line with the overall theme of government, for business unusual, we have now moved beyond the planning stages and we have started to implement real deliverables whose impact can be felt by our people on the ground. 

As pronounced by myself during my Budget Vote last year, after the report of the Support Intervention Task Team I believe that I have laid the foundation by bringing in a high level team of experts to initiate the Turn Around process. 

Central to the vision of the Turn Around is our customers (our people), their needs, their preferences and most importantly, our obligation to serve them in a convenient and efficient way, with a consistency that runs throughout the entire organization.  In a nutshell, our vision for the transformation of the department is premised on the need to give effect to our people’s rights - for this reason, it still remains our battle cry that “there is no option for failure”.

Of course, many challenges still face the department of Home Affairs, but I can confidently say that the Turn Around is changing the way we do business: the way we work and the attitude of our staff. This can only reverberate down to enhance the experience of our customers when they visit our offices.

Madam Speaker,

Last year when we delivered our budget vote I indicated that the building of the new Home Affairs should be about setting realistic delivery targets and meeting them consistently and efficiently.  We had undertaken to do everything to ensure that we can offer our clients reliability and agreed to use the platform of Parliament to report on the progress we have made.  We have asked that you should assess us not only on the pronouncements we made before you, but on our ability to deliver on our plans.  We are here to report that we have succeeded in realizing the key deliverables of the first phase of the Turn Around.

We said that we shall support the government’s initiatives for acquiring critical skills by improving our permitting processes, specifically work permits

I am glad that we have had a great deal of success in this area that is critical in support of economic growth in our country.  Last year the department issued over 13000 general and quota work permits.  Scarce skills have now been absorbed into our economy. 

The Large Account initiative, which was set up to assist companies with a large requirement of foreign skills, particularly in infrastructure development, has now been increased to include 20 such companies, instead of the initial four. Since its establishment, the unit has assisted in the recruitment of 1801 skilled foreign nationals.

We also made an undertaking to clear the refugee backlog and wind down the backlog project.

I commissioned this project after I realized that there were many asylum seekers whose cases had not been adjudicated and therefore remain without status determination except for the temporary asylum seeker permit.  Some of these asylum seekers had been waiting for status determination for between five and ten years.

The backlog project processed and cleared in excess of 100 000 cases. Amongst these more than 60 000 files were found to be dormant, either because the applicants have acquired another form of status or had made multiple applications.  Many claims had clearly been abandoned because the applicants did not have a legitimate claim for asylum and in fact had abused the process.

We learned many lessons from administering a project as large as this, including the identification of a number of weaknesses in our systems.

These are now being addressed through a dedicated workstream within the Turn Around Project. The backlog project was administered by a team of dedicated professionals, most of whom have been absorbed into our mainstream Refugee Affairs operations.

The UNHCR assisted with training during the project and continues to offer invaluable support and assistance to the Department.

We have promised to investigate the needs of the department and to identify critical posts that require to filled within the current financial year

As we indicated during the Budget Vote last year, the filling of critical vacancies within the department had to be done in line with the new business model and the new organizational structure of the department.  We had decided that until the approval of the new structure, we were not going to fill vacancies only to relocate people shortly thereafter in terms of the new structure.  We did however critical posts that required filling during this financial year.  A total of 1636 critical posts, including 297 appointments to stabilize leadership and operations at Head Office were filled.  We have also brought in a number of short term appointments of high level managers as part of our Management and Leadership Support programme.

We are in the process of acquiring a new passport system

As promised last year, we have proceeded to acquire a new passport production system. The new system, which will have the capacity to produce the e-passport, will be installed in the Government Printing Works by August this year. 

The main benefit of the new system will be the reduction in the passport production turnaround time due to the printing systems ability to print higher volumes. The implementation of online fingerprint verification and subsequent interface with the passport completion processes will further enhance the turnaround times and issuance within 10 days.

Training for GPW staff on the new system has already commenced.

Track and Trace system has changed the experience of our customers when they enquire about progress in their applications

This was one our key undertakings made last year when we promised you and the public that in order to enhance the management of the ID production process and better handle client enquiries, we would implement a track and trace for ID applications in all our offices.  We can report that the system is now fully operational in all our permanent offices nationwide.  We are receiving positive feedback both externally and internally.  Track and Trace has clearly worked as a management and a service tool.

We are well on track to improve the ID production process

We continue to take very seriously our constitutional obligation to provide every South African with an identity document that serves as a key for access to rights and services in our country.   By introducing an operational management system as part of the roll out of the new process, we are eliminating blockages in the production process.  This means that we will be able to offer our clients reasonable and reliable time frames within which they can expect their documents. 

When the Turnaround started in May last year, it was taking as long as 180 (six months) days to produce an ID. Now, 10 months later, the average turnaround time stands at 75 days (two and a half months). We are well on our way to our aim of 60 days (two months) by the end of the year.

Online fingerprint verification

In addition to the transformation of the ID production process, we have also implemented a project to ensure that the verification of finger prints is done electronically at local offices even before applications are sent to Head Office.  We started with the rollout of online fingerprint verification in 40 offices during March 2008.

The online verification makes it possible for our counter staff to conduct real- time fingerprint comparison of citizens whose fingerprints were previously registered on the automated fingerprint identification system (AFIS). This leads to improved turnaround times in respect of ID re-issues, temporary identity certificates, emergency and temporary passports that previously required average turnaround times of 7 days for centralized manual fingerprint verification.   This enables the Department to issue Temporary Identification Certificates immediately and ensures a reduction in corruption and fraud.  

Madam Speaker,

The allocated Budget for the Department of Home Affairs for 2008/2009, to be considered by this House, is R4,5 billion, representing a total increase of 28.5% from the previous financial year, further increasing to 4.8 billion for the 2009/10 baseline and 5.2 billion in the outer year of the MTEF.

Major increases are as a result of the transfer to the Independent Electoral Commission as they prepare for the general elections next year, as well as in anticipation for our obligations for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

We are also grateful that the Cabinet and the National Treasury in particular, has continued to recognize the significance of the Turn Around and have made available a further R300 million for each of the next two financial years,   for work associated with the programme.  I need to clarify the point that the budget for the turn around programme is not only allocated for payment to the current team of experts working in the department, but covers generally all the consequential work being done as part of the transformation of the department.

The work of the Turn Around itself is fully integrated into the strategic plan of the department and is aligned to all business units within the organization.

The right to citizenship, equal access to such citizenship and recognition thereof by the state, is an important obligation that we have to our people, linking back to the time when South Africans adopted the Freedom Charter.  It is for this reason that our Civic Services branch remains a key component of our operations. 

We are determined that this process should improve, and this is one area of our work that should happen immediately. 

The twin objectives for the improvement of the civic service systems is to ensure that we serve our customers efficiently, and to create an identification regime that is sanitized, credible and secure.

Roll out of the Smart ID Card

The Smart ID Card has been the only outstanding element of the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) and we are indeed happy that we can finally implement it over the period of the MTEF covered by this Strategic Plan.  Cabinet has now approved the model and roll out plan for the card and the replacement of the current green barcoded ID book.

The smart card will be the culmination of the ID process transformation that we have been implementing since last year.  It will see the streamlining of the production process, reduce turn around times for the ID and ensure the integrity of the Identification system.  The roll-out will go hand in hand with the NPR clean up to ensure the sanitation of our population register.  The pilot for the Smart ID Card commences in December this year.

We have set aside a total of R114 million for the 2008/09 financial year.  This amount will rise to R335 million in the 2009/10 financial year as the volumes of the roll out increase.

In order to properly manage the roll out, we will issue a limited number of these cards to identified vulnerable groups and continue with a staggered roll out in the following years.  Discussions will be held with the IEC regarding the use of these cards during the 2009 general elections.

Late Registration of Birth

Due to the fact that many of our people did not have access to citizenship and documentation, the late registration of births has continued.

My biggest concern, however, has been that the system has been abused over a long period of time by officials and community leaders who have assisted people who were not entitled to citizenship to gain fraudulent IDs.
The new regulations establish a process with clear checks and balances and a vigorous verification process.   

Contact Centre

Home Affairs now has an excellent Contact Centre which deals with both civic services and immigration inquiries.

The volumes of enquiries for the call centre have been increasing dramatically growing from an initial 4000 calls a month at its inception to a 100 000 calls per month currently.

Clients can also interact with the Department regarding their applications in their home language, and no have to queue at DHA offices in order to enquire regarding their pending applications.

A new Organisational Structure

The organizational structure of the department was not designed in line with its new mandate.  Nor did it take into account the vastness of such a mandate, its complexities and it centrality in achieving the macro objectives of a democratic government. 

The new structure of the department has now been approved by the Minister of Public Service and Administration and the period of the MTEF will see its full implementation. 

The new structure does not only identify structural boxes and the placement of people but supports a new approach to the functioning of the department, including the reporting, accountability, quality assurance, leadership support and performance management.

In line with the recommendations for our new vision and design, our new structure creates a partial separation between our two main core business branches with a shared support structure.  This has allowed for more clarity in the reporting lines and dedicated management responsibility for civic services and immigration at lower levels.

At the conclusion of all job evaluations and the rematching of job profiles, the new establishment of the organization will increase from the current 7000 to 9200.

System for Refugee Status Determination

The process of the transformation of the refugee system has been underway since last year with the introduction of a new technology solution that allows for integration of systems in all our reception offices. The backlog project offices have been merged with the main reception offices, some of the inhabitable offices were closed and a refugee centre of excellence has been created.

At a policy level, we are certain that the changes we have proposed in the Refugees Amendment Bill, 2007 will go a long way in streamlining the process of status determination.

Office and Infrastructure Refurbishment

While the roll out of the new office of the future Home Affairs will take long, we have decided that we need to do something about the state of the offices that we are currently occupying.    We have set aside a budget to improve the walling, internal design, counters, waiting chairs and signage in all our offices.  

We are doing everything in our ability to ensure that our offices are upgraded and refurbished, including the introduction of a queue management system in our offices.  By the end of this year, the refurbishment plan will have covered a total of 150 offices.  Our exhibition at the foyer has detailed presentation of how these offices will look. 

Professionalisation of the National Immigration Branch

The National Immigration Branch of the department carries an important and complex mandate in facilitating the department’s role to support our country’s developmental and security objectives.

As part of the Turn Around, we have put in place a number of initiative to professionalise the branch and position it to succeed in carrying out this important mandate.  In additional to the work that is being done in the improvement of our permitting section, the Turn Around is transforming the Immigration Inspectorate and port control.

We have acknowledged that there are gaps in our present policies, and have embarked on a review of these policies. What is important for the country, though, is that in reviewing our immigration policies we must be mindful of our position as a developmental state within a wider development community – the Southern African Development Community. 

Madam Speaker,

When we consider this policy review, we must also be mindful of our international human rights obligations, and the standards set in our constitution.  We must seriously guard against the tendency to be reactive and to seek to avoid unintended consequences. 
The ANC government has been criticised for its policy of integration of asylum seekers and refugees.  Although this policy, as with other immigration policies including deportation, is up for robust debate, I would caution this house to heed the advice of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and not establish refugee camps in the future. 
Unveiling the DHA Centres of Excellence

The design of the prototype for the new Home Affairs office, its operational procedures, workflow, and structure, has now been finalized. We intend to introduce DHA centres of excellence that will serve as incubators for training and the roll out for the Home Affairs offices of the future.  Our plan is to roll out these centres of excellence in our busiest centres in each province over the period of the MTEF.  The first of these centres is planned for Soweto this year.
Improvement in our systems and policies for financial management
We have had great success in addressing most of the weaknesses identified by the Auditor-General with regard to our financial management systems.
Restructuring of the Government Printing Works
The restructuring of the GPW is very important as it should ensure efficiency in the production of security documents in our country, including the smart ID card, the e-passports, and permits.

We are of the view that the GPW needs to be transformed to position it to become a competitive and viable player in security printing here at home, across the continent and globally.  A lot of work, involving the National Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises has already been done and we shall intensify this process over the period of the MTEF.

2010  FIFA Soccer World Cup

We have allocated an amount of R162 million towards our preparations to meet the department’s obligations for FIFA World Soccer World cup in 2010.

These include plans to improve and secure our visa system and the new Movement Control System.

I thank you for this opportunity.


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