Department of Home Affairs turnaround strategy: meeting with the Media


14 Sep 2009

Introduction: Deputy Director General of Home Affairs Department Vusi Mkhize

Good afternoon colleagues, we really appreciate the opportunity to engage with you, we’ve just held a briefing with the Portfolio Committee, they needed some understanding about progress made thus far, and feedback on the turning around and transformation of the department.

I have my colleagues with me, Mr Jackie McKay, Deputy-Director General for Immigration Services, I have on my left hand side, Ms Tampane Molefe-Sefanyetso. She is the Acting DDG for Human Resource.

We will be glad to take some questions, and be able to respond to questions to the best of our ability.


Journalist: Yes thank you Mr Mkhize, I was at your briefing you gave to the portfolio committee earlier - a few questions on your problem statement that you put out as a document there. Firstly on corruption in the department, how many prosecutions have there been over the past year for corruption and how widespread would you say corruption is within Home Affairs.

Second question, you mentioned, well, the document states, there are serious gaps in capacity at the department. Of your total workforce, how many people would you describe as being under skilled and not up to par when it comes to performing their jobs. You also referred to outdated IT infrastructure, what would it cost to bring that infrastructure up to date. Then you mentioned there was a critical massive senior management and supervisors not in place, how many are not in place? Then finally, you’re department presented a turnaround strategy to MP’s five years ago back in 2004, what was stated there was very similar to what was stated to the committee today, how long is this turnaround strategy going to take. Thank you.

Vusi Mkhize:
 Thank you very much. I think on the issue of corruption, I would firstly in terms of the numbers, I would allow our colleague Ms Sefanyetso to indicate briefly, I think she has stated on average how many people already have been fired under the quest for the department to show zero tolerance on corruption and fraud and we will continue to that, she will just indicate the numbers. How widespread is corruption, the issue of corruption is quite, and the department has not shied away from the problem. It is just generally an endemic problem to have a situation where constantly throughout the years; this has become a culture to solicit bribes, to solicit any other untoward mechanisms for people to be rendering services, for them to then solicit bribes. The issue of syndicates is one of the longstanding problems where the department is doing everything it can to really root out, but as you know the problem of corruption emanates from generally, I think there is a, quite clearly in the country generally, if you listen to everyone talking, it doesn’t matter whether its in private sector, or public sector, the issue of just moral decay and the lack of doing work honestly with integrity remains a challenge.

Home Affairs officials are just part of the South African society and it becomes necessary that these issue of corruption be approached from all angles by all society in South Africa must make sure we fight this corruption, because it takes someone else from outside to influence and grease the palm of the one inside the department. So I believe there is a need for a very strong holistic approach to deal with the issue of corruption throughout the department and throughout the society.

In that way we would be able to, when we recruit people, we know that we recruit people with commitment to serve honestly and with integrity. In a nutshell for me, we do have a challenge, but the impression is sometimes created that all Home Affairs officials are corrupt which is not true, we do have people who are corrupt  but definitely there are people also who on everyday toil under very difficult circumstances to make sure they do their work as honestly as possible. That will assist to balance our approach then to dealing with this, encouraging those who are honest to continue to be honest, rather than to pin them in the same brush and therefore then demotivating them even if they want to remain clean and continue to be so that we recognise those who are committed to do their work and encourage them to do it as honestly as possible, but also come down hard on those who are corrupt and who continue to corrupt our people and our syndicates. Whether they are people from outside the people, or from inside the department, we just need a strong strategy to deal with it. But, Tampane, do you want to say anything about the issue of numbers?

Tampane Molefe-Sefanyetso: Thanks Mr Mkhize, I think as we mentioned earlier that on average about 120 officials have been dismissed, however, we also need to understand that there are other disciplinary actions or sanctions that could be taken against those people who may have transgressed, so we’re looking at all those processes depending on the gravity of the transgression, but on average 120 from the past financial year to current.

In terms of the skilled, we are about 7500 in terms of total workforce, this now tops from the DG to the bottom end. We can’t necessarily say out of that 20% is not skilled and 80% is skilled, however we need to put proper context to see, as we are in the transformation mode, one of the biggest thing that we had to look at is to review and re-engineer our processes, so that in itself says to anybody whether you have been in the department for 20 years of whatever, you have to go through a retraining process. So on average we will say we are at above 60% in terms of reskilling our employees in terms of the new processes, and if you are looking at the technical competences, whether people have got matric certificates, whether they have got whatever, we can confidently say that our employees yes, do have your initial technical skills be it your qualifications, however in terms of new processes, we are in that process of reskilling our employees.

The mass not in place, management and leadership, we have got an establishment of 12000 posts as it has been reviewed and approved last year, that gives us a total number of 148-150 senior management posts and out of that we’re comfortably at 78 and middle management we’re talking the level of Deputy Directors and Assistant Directors, average around 900 and of that about 495 combined have been field, and as it has been mentioned earlier we are in the process of filling those posts. At senior management level within the Immigration Services and the Civic Services environment, the process is underway to fill those other posts, we will continue with the rest of the other branches once we have got the head of the other branches, Thanks.

Vusi Mkhize: Let me just emphasize the issue of skill, the staff general in terms of skills, we are saying here in the statement its uneven level of skills, so people are at different levels of skills and we would like to make sure that at least when we talk of a supervisor, that the level of skills of supervision and management are almost equal through the country so that we are able to apply equal norms and standards even to measure performance and be able to monitor performance by the different levels of managers and hence the issue of business process reengineering, requires a different kind of manager, a cadre who really understands what it means to do operations management for example, which might never have been there as a key competence that is required, how to really deal with key strategies on people’ s management to inspire them to perform but also to be able to ensure that they do  their work as diligently as possible.

So these are issues we are looking at about really up skilling so that we raise the bar in the department, because without that we are labour intensive, and we do need highly skilled people who constantly keep abreast with developments both within the organisation but also in terms of the trends around people management, around operations management, of cause within the technological advancements because the department is getting more sophisticated in terms of its strategies, if you look at how we deliver services, we’re talking now of online verification, which was never there, we’re talking now of electronic track and trace systems that were not there, people must be able to interpret those reports, rate them and be able to intervene where there are backlogs.

Currently we have already rolled out live capture; we are going to continue to role out live capture in offices. All these things need a creative mind, a willing to learn kind of a person and officer, an officer that can be able to be innovative in also addressing problems that occur within his or her sphere of operation.

On the issue that was raised about to bring that up, it will be quiet difficult to attached the costs at this stage about upgrading our IT infrastructure because its quiet a huge task, here we are talking of different areas in terms of IT infrastructure for the department but there is a platform that has been indentified that would be used by the department to make sure our systems are upgraded and make sure our systems are integrated and make sure our systems are up time in terms of network, because if we look at us going through the route of using technology more and more, you will see there will be a need to increase the size of bandwidth for example so that when the transmission of information from a local office to the printing or the central processing facility takes place as soon as possible. So you don’t want an electronic highway that is less fast, if you look at all those initiatives that we are looking at, it’s quite a very comprehensive strategy that is being addressed to improve our IT systems.

Journalist: I hear you say it’s quite difficult to attach a cost, but you must have scoped this; is there any sort of ballpark figure, I mean are we talking tens of millions, hundreds of millions, is there a ball part figure?

Vusi Mkhize: I think that would be quite difficult because we have different components of our ID that we are looking at. If you look at the issue of upgrading our Home Affairs national identification system, it would require its own costs, we cal it a techno refresh system. It will require its own cost to be attached to it.

If you look at the issue of upgrading the infrastructure itself in terms of networks, It needs its own cost, so if we look at the holistic picture, creating the systems like the one for immigration, it is called the immigration management formation system it needs its own costs.  If you look at 2010 requirements it needs its own costs, so to give a ballpark figure at this stage is quite difficult, but we have done scoping in terms of what needs to be done and then as we continue to do further and further drill down, we are then able to say in a ballpark this is what we need to do. If we look at our electronic document management system, which we want to implement and move away from manual records, it requires its own cost, so if we look at it from all those angles we might have to then cost each of them and bring them together and then it would be able to give us a ballpark figure, but it’s a huge initiative that we are looking at, but with its own different components.

End of media briefing


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