Minister for Home Affairs Media Briefing before Budget Speech
13 Apr 2010
The Minister of Home Affairs briefed the media before the Department's budget vote.
Journalist: The overhauling of refugee regulations, are you changing policy at all on refugees? Are you changing definitions?
Journalist: With regards to the late registration of birth do you still have problems where foreigners come and register their children saying my son was born in this town and trying to get an ID as well, do we still have that happening? My second question with regards to the ID’s themselves we have had cases where people applied for ID’s and they wait five years to get one because apparently the ID number has been duplicated or they can’t get their passport because somebody else has that passport number.
Journalist: I wanted clarity on the issue of the free visa for people coming to the country? How is it going to work and do we have figures right now, how many people are applying for these visas? With regards to the issue of fighting corruption, I remember the previous DG once gave us figures about how many officials that have been prosecuted over a period of time. Do you have those figures with you? How many officials have been prosecuted for corruption related activities within the Department?
Journalist: Also on the corruption issue, your biometric log on system have you started rolling that out? And by when will you be completed with that process.
Journalist: The function of screening out soccer hooligans, I think the idea of a free visa is great but the function of screening out the hooligans is that yourself or police and how is that going?
Ronnie Mamoepa: It’s called event visa which is available free following normal procedures. Okay?
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: Maybe I will start with the last question the screening of soccer hooligans is a joint operation we will be working with the police, Interpol and all the other agencies but more importantly with the police and the people in those countries where the hooligans are known. The qualifying countries probably know their own hooligans more than we do so we are working together with them so it’s a joint operation and some of them hopefully we will be able to stop from even coming. The sending countries have already indicated that even those who have not even brushed with the law if they come through they will be able to indicate to us, so we are working with them very closely. On the question of the biometric logon, we have already started rolling that out and we hope to finish by the end of this year but we have rolled out it to a significant number of offices. On the biometric logon, 3833 employees are already on that system the number of cases were plus minus 233.
The event visa is only for those countries that need visas to come to South Africa, so a lot of the qualifying countries don’t need visas but there are some who do, we know the biggest number from those who need visas are from Mexico, from MATCH data which is the company that’s selling tickets. Nigeria is also one of those that have many but the selling of tickets have not been finalised so we will have a pretty good idea. I think we must also remember there will be people coming who won’t have tickets because they will be watching the matches from the Fan Parks so the actual tickets will not give us an accurate determination of how many people are likely to come to South Africa because there will be those who just want to be part of the celebration and watch the matches in the Fan Parks and public viewing areas.
Coming to the question of duplicates in fact that is one of our challenges dealing with the duplicate ID’s, I think now we have been able to speed up, we have moved from a backlog of 29 000 active, when we say active we mean those who have come forward to about 6000. The problem with the past was that there was some regulation that said you couldn’t solve the duplicate without getting both people who were sharing the ID’s and that was almost impossible because if one person comes how are you going to trace the other one and that, I think that was partly why there was such an accumulation of these duplicates. Now we have moved away from saying you can only solve it if both people come, we are now trying to solve it as people come forward. I will tell you what the other challenge is that many people are very reluctant to change their ID numbers, now if there’s a duplicate it’s better to change the number and block the old number so that the other person can surface because the number has been blocked. If you say this person must continue using the duplicate, at some stage because we don’t know who is using the other ID, you might find that someone is doing crime on your ID and because we have not change your ID then when the police are looking for someone it may link up with you and your ID when it’s not you. So it’s been very difficult to convince people that it’s better to accept that we block this number and give you a new number. That is also one of the challenges because it takes a long time for people to be convinced to change their numbers which probably was the reason in the past there was a rule that we have to get both people and then see who the other person is and decide who gets the original number and who gets a new number, so we are trying to resolve it faster.
But it’s not something when somebody says I have a duplicate today you can say tomorrow that it solved because you have to look at a variety of issues, but it’s going much faster than it was before, we are also hoping that we can put measures in place that will minimize the occurrence of duplicates. About foreigners trying to say they were born here or there, foreigners do give birth in this country and indeed we have to give them birth certificates because it’s the right of every child to have a birth certificate. So that is not a problem but obviously we do say there is a difference between a certificate that’s given to a South African citizen and the one that is not a South African citizen because obviously the parents will be saying where they come from and so on.
So in terms of late registration that’s where there may be a problem where people may come and say I was born here or I was born there and that’s why also late registration takes a bit of time. But with the system that we are using in the campaign we find that its quicker but it’s also more accurate because if you go to my village as Home Affairs and we come there to apply and we get a team from the village to assist Home Affairs with saying whether these people are genuine South Africans or not, it’s easier. If you go to my village even now they will know who my grandfather was, who my father was, where they are buried and all that. So we don’t have to get all these documents that people ask for in the offices, so we are able to determine that yes we are South African and apply for your birth certificate on the spot during the campaign. So it’s going much faster than it would go in the offices because in the office they will ask for all sorts of documents but even in the offices we are trying to improve the pace by making sure that we have teams from the community who sit with the adjudication teams in their offices to assist them where there maybe difficulties. So we are hoping that indeed we will eliminate this issue of late registration of births.
In terms of refugees whether we are changing policy, well there are international laws about how you deal with refugees so and there international definitions of who is a refugees so that we can’t change because we are signatories to those international protocols. But we may change how we process them but also because at the moment there is no separation between a genuine asylum seeker and a economic migrant in the law so we would have to then look at the law and change how it’s grafted so as to allow us how to separate those tow. Fundamentally on refugees I don’t think there will be a great change because we would still be tied to our international obligations and to the international protocols.
Maybe before I stop I just thought it might be important for you to meet our team especially the senior managers. They are sitting at the back I don’t know why they sit at the back but the person who is assisting us with our IT who is connecting all these hospitals and his team is Sello Makau (ph), so if you want IT related issues, questions there he is. The person who is going to do all the good things we have talked about human resources is Avril Williamson, there she is, and the person who doing all the campaigning on civic issues is Mr Mkezi Vusi (Sunrise). The person who is dealing with the 2010 issues on all the immigration and refuges issues is Jackson MacKay, did I leave any of the DDG’s I think that’s the team at senior management. And there is also Mr Kannesen (ph) who deals more with our strategy plans and all those issues I have an advisor political, he not really political he is just an advisor on many things, Vusi Mlhapo (ph), some of you may know him from his previous life, when I was Minister of Health and having all those problems of the strikes and so on he was the President of NEHAWU. There are also other officials from the Department but because we are running out of time I will just stop there.
Media briefing ends.
INTRODUCTION BY MINISTER NKOSAZANA DLAMINI-ZUMA
Today is our budget vote in the National Assembly tomorrow it will be in the NCOP. We have decided to structure our budget vote into two main parts. Firstly though we should look at the main issues we had raised last year and report on some of them of course we only got last 30 minutes it means we have to prioritise on what we are going to report on. We will try to report on everything even though the time is too short and secondly what we are going to do with this budget if its approved and obviously envisaging on some of the challenging objects that we are still facing. As you know we have raised a number of issues last year, we raised the issue of looking at our birth registration and ID with the view of ensuring that our population registrar is acquired and consolidated as well as starting a culture of entering our Population registrar at one point which is at birth and on that matter we are going to report that the campaign has started as you know it has been launched by the President himself. Before the launch we had actually piloted what we wanted to do in two district one in Susonge in KZN and another one in OR Tambo municipality district so by the time we are pretty sure what to expect and how to go about it.
We are happy to then say that this campaign is also supported by the fact that we have linked 142 hospitals to home affairs so that mothers who deliver in the hospitals can now register their children even before they leave the hospitals that is what we have done last year and in the coming year we will be linking another 120 hospitals so that most of the hospitals as they do deliveries would be linked to home affairs and mothers can therefore register their children and we are assisting them to get used to this culture of registering their babies within 30 days and this is very important because it just makes life easy for that child as that child grows because whatever service it needs it will have a birth certificate when it need a ID it will not be a hassle whether the parents are alive or not alive when you have a birth certificate particularly for those who are over 16 because normally we should be getting ID at 16 but there are people who are well over 16 who do not have ID’s. Part of the reason why some of them don’t have ID’s is that they were never registered so they don’t have birth certificate they go to Home Affairs and say I would like to apply for an ID but because they were not registered thy have to start by going through a process that’s called late registration of birth but we can’t do away with until we are sure the majority of South Africans has been registered. This campaign has actually started as well it’s a joint campaign the registration, the ID, the late registration of birth is one campaign and it has paid off because we see in just two of the districts we’ve done we were able to register over 100 000 new people and of course we also had our own back log of people who had already applied to Home Affairs and we’ve been able to deal with that back log the figures you’ll find in my speech but basically is shows that last year we were able to register people who are over 16 who had never been register more then 300 000 of them have been registered it shows us the extent of the problem but we hope that this campaign will eliminate that problem so that we don’t have this late registration of birth .
The other aspect that we had raised in our budget vote was the issue around the back log of passports, in fact in our budget we had to apologise to the nation because there was a huge back log around passports and we were getting calls almost every day about people wanting to travel and their passports are not there so we want to also report that we have cleared that back log and now we are just dealing with the normal flow of people that applied and because we have a machine that was launched just before my time the new machine is able to print 4000 passports an hour so we are able to actually deal with the flow of the normal checking from the office coming to head office some people get their passport where there are no issues your bio matrix can be checked on the spot from the office you applied for live capture and everything you can actually get your passport within 14 days. There are still areas that need to be checked butI haven’t had sms or calls about passports for a long time so I think that problem is behind us.
We also raised the issue of our footprint that we are located mainly in urban areas but even in urban areas we tend to be located where the old white Home Affairs was situated if you go to the town ships it is very difficult to find Home Affairs in town ships so we are expanding our footprint and even in the rural areas it is even worse. Last year we had said we are going to open 13 new offices but we are happy to report that we exceeded the target we opened 21 new offices and this year we are planning to open 10 but if we are able to do more of course we will do more and in KZN particular we are partnering with social welfare there because they have a program of building one stop service centres so we are partnering with them so that in that one stop centre home affairs should also be part of that one stop so we are hoping that will also assist us to get to the very rural areas in KwaZulu Natal in other provinces we also said last year that we would be partnering with Thusong, we are happy with the progress there. We had a problem with our Nyanga Refugee reception centre we are happy to report that we have relocated that office to Maitland and the Deputy Minister will be saying a lot more around the refugees. We are also happy to say that refugee seeking asylum permits would be able to get one on the same day. We also opened a new refugee reception centre in Musina which was a challenge but they were happy that there is a reception centre there now.
We have also talked about the introducing the track and tracing which has just been introduced around the issue of ID we are happy we have extended that now to other documents like when you apply for a passport, birth or death certificates all those we know are able to do that particularly with passports it is very useful for people to know when to come collect their passports and where the process is when they want to travel urgently. We also of course talk about trying to change the attitude of people at home affairs to adhere to the Bathopele principles and so on that is very difficult to quantify obviously but from the feedback from a lot officers now there is a change of attitude we are not yet there, there is still others that complain but we are happy with the feedback that we are getting so as I am saying that part is very difficult to quantity but we are going to have a program through our learning centre which will look at changing the ethos and values of people who work at Home Affairs but also improving their capacity but it has to be understood that it is very difficult for a young person just after matric to be employed at Home Affairs and after a few day orientation is put there to work with the public and sometimes what we consider as rudeness is actually the person being out of his or her depth and is being defensive, we want to make sure that people are trained and confident so that they know what they are doing and therefore able to deal with the public in a much more friendly and efficient way. We also talked about our immigration policy and we said that we were going to be looking at separating the economic migrants from asylum seeker of course we knew that was not going to be achieved very easily and we just said we are going to review that but we have started our consultations because we think on a matter like that we can’t just sit in the office and legislate, we must consult.
So we started our consultation with COSATU in particular because they will have a big interest on the separation of economic migrants from asylum seekers. But that was only the beginning of the consultation we are going to be consulting a range of stakeholders before we even go to Parliament, so that is on course. We also had said we were going to prepare for 2010 and we mentioned a whole range of areas and things that we were going to be attending to. One was going to be making sure that we have an integrated system in our ports of entry that can assist us both in the security but also in the facilitation of movement of people. We are happy to say that is on course, that system is now as we speak being piloted at OR International Airport and as soon as we are satisfied we will be rolling it out to the priority ports of entry before 2010 we are hoping to role it out to the major ports of entry, about 34 of them and after 2010 we will do the rest, so there we are also on course. We have had to work with the South African Revenue Services because they also were looking at their all systems at the same ports of entry so we have been working very closely with them and other Departments, so we are happy with that even though we had to change service providers somewhere in the middle but we are happy we are on course.
We also talked about training airline liaison officers who were going to be stationed in the major hubs of air transport coming to South Africa for the World Cup. We identified a number of countries that would act as hubs and we are happy to say that we have negotiated with those airlines and we will be placing our airline liaison officers once their training is finish. That will help us in terms of advanced processing passenger processing so that they are located at those airports and they would be able to assist in the pre processing of the passengers before they come to South Africa. So all those things that we said we will do preparing for 2010 are on course and indeed during 2010 we will have very special lanes for people who will be coming for the World Cup so that they don’t wait for too long. And for those countries who need visas, for people who are coming for the 2010 we will be giving them special free event visas if they have tickets to the World Cup, so there also we are on course.
Of cause there was an issue that I must also talk about of the smartcard, the issue of the smart card from the Home Affairs side, we cancelled the tender because of the problems that had been experienced and in a way it was a blessing in disguise because our infrastructure in the frontline offices was not ready to actually deal with the mass production of a smart card. So we are going to be taking this year as a year of preparation, we are going to be preparing our front line offices. We will be doing things like rolling out the life capture because when we introduce the smart card we would like to capture our information online and not on paper, our photos, signatures online, so that is one of the major areas that we will be working on to prepare for the smart card. Hopefully if we are ready by next year we can then start dealing with the, looking at the actual production of the smartcard but this year we will be preparing for infrastructure at our front offices.
Maybe one of the things I should emphasize is that in the past elections we have had what was called ID Campaigns and we would really like to inform the public that the ID campaigns now, there is not going to be any special ID campaigns heading to elections but the campaign is on course and we want them to join us in the campaign and not wait for the elections because in any case once the voter registration is closed you can’t enter the voters role even if you get your new ID after that. And also we want to make sure that the citizens understand that the ID is for life, for everyday you will need it for many other things so it’s better to have it. We are also going to be rolling our ID campaign in the schools making sure that 16yr olds in all the schools get their ID’s, 16 and above because we want to get to a point where we had said where we are only issuing new ID’s to 16yr olds and new birth certificates to newborns.
Our challenge, some of the challenges for instance in our offices are just how people manage the queues and all that, it looks like a small thing but our feedback is that where the queues have been managed properly people notice and they give feedback to us that there is proper queue management. So in this year we are going to be piloting and hopefully rolling out a new kind of electronic queue management which will give people a number and it will allow us to know how many people came to the office and to make sure that all the people who came were served, but it will give us an indication how long people waited for because it will say when they got their queue ticket and when they were served. It will assist us to manage our offices better and we are already piloting that at Khayelitsha office and we are seeing a difference there in the times that people take waiting in the queues. So generally we are hoping that we will be working on all the areas to make sure that Home Affairs eventually becomes a Department of excellence and of choice, we can only achieve that if we improve.
The last two things I just want to mention before I hand over to the Deputy Minister are that we are working our qualified audits. We are putting systems in place, strengthening our audit committee, making sure that our adjudicating committees are in place and strengthened and the system for procurement. So we are strengthening that whole area asset management. So we are hoping that we can get an unqualified audit in a year’s time and a clean audit in 2yrs, that’s a tall order but we hope that, that’s what we are working towards. Then there is corruption which Home Affairs is no expectation to, the existence of corruption as it exists in many countries and in many places. What we are trying to do there is both dealing with our systems to make it difficult for corrupt activities but also strengthening anti corruption unit. We have decided that there must be a strong anti corruption unit lead at a DDG level and we will in due course be advertising for getting new people to deal with our anti corruption. But at the process level we are also rolling out our biometric log on system where we will make sure that somebody who has logged on to a particular function there could be a paper trial that traces the actual person who dealt with that at every step. Part of our problem was that t was very difficult to trace when we get for instance a passport that was issued fraudulently to trace who are the people who dealt with that passport. So this will also assist us in trying to deal with corruption even on the birth registration it will also assist us if people are entering birth that are none existent, we are able to see that now, once we have rolled out. We have rolled out many offices but we are going to be finishing that rollout during this year. So those are some of the issues that we had raised and these are some of the things that we had been reporting on and some of the priorities that we will be setting for ourselves. At this point I will ask the Deputy Minister to deal with some of the areas that he deals with on a daily basis
INTRODUCTION BY DEPUTY MINISTER MALUSI GIGABA
Just briefly to speak on a few issues maybe four or five, starting with the Learning Academy the Home Affairs Learning Academy we have decided last year to establish this academy we were able to conclude the business case for the academy it’s a special academy of its kind to deal with issues of the skills base of the department, leadership capabilities to ensure that anyone who gets recruited into Home Affairs gets an induction before they even start working and maybe in future to provide training broadly even to young people introducing them to the culture and system of Government. We concluded the business case for the learning academy we were able to register the academy as a learning site we are now waiting for our accreditation so that the academy is fully registered.
The bulk of the work of the registration of the academy is concluded during the course of this year one of the decision were taken that the academy will also deal with policy development as well as knowledge management for the Department during the course of this financial year we will provide training on customer care, the core business of Home Affairs which is civic services as well as immigration management services and we will deal with customer service management. So we will provide training both for supervisors and managers in the Department as well as front office officials. We have also met with Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), and discussed with them the possibility of secondment especially by the banks of some of the officials and managers in the banks to assist us with our front office operations because the banks are quite efficient in that regard and we think that Home Affairs should not be an exception and they had agreed. So during the course of this financial year we will be embarking on that project together with the banks and business in general to improve our front office operations.
Secondly on the Learning Academy during this financial year we will recruit 244 young people in the internship program, you should be aware that the adverts had already gone out towards the end of the past financial year, these young people should be commencing with their internship soon. We are also going to recruit 300 young people in the National Youth Service Program that process should also start in due course. Now with regards to the Government Printing Works which as you know deals with all security printing for Government. The passports it will also deal with the smart ID card that is why the Minister said among others that the cancellation of the previous tender was a blessing in disguise because we intend to position the Government Printing Works as a strategic player in the smart card and passport business in the security printing sector. So we are developing its’ capacity to do this security printing for Government and hopefully for other Governments whether in our region or even the continent. You should be aware that the Government Printing Works has been commissioned by the African Union to do the diplomatic passports for AU officials it has been asked by SAA to do the crewmember certificate which will in a way be a smart card. So there is some work taking place in developing both the skills base as well as bringing on board the technological base infrastructure for us to begin to pilot and to have a sense of how the smart ID card will be run once the project commences. The Government Printing Works will in a few months time move to a new facility much better facility, high technology, high security this is a project that we have been working on for a couple of years so we will finally relocate the organisation to a new facility and we will continue with the modernisation projects to ensure that the organisation has sufficient technological capability to do a whole range of things that it’s suppose to do in terms of security printing.
With regards to the Films and Publications Boards we had in the past financial year been waiting for the President to sign the new amendment Bill into law, which has happened the regulations have been proclaimed hopefully our fights with the South African National Editors Forum will be over or suspended for a while but that being the case, now we are not fighting about anything in that regard. The Film and Publication Board is now operating under a new act and we should within 30 days finalise the appointment of the council of the Films and Publication Board. We will also dedicated R15mn to the public awareness campaign around the 2010 World Cup insofar as the protection of children is concerned because we think it’s a major and urgent challenge to ensure that children are protected during the World Cup from paedophiles and other sorts of criminals and predators. So it’s important that we educate the public about how to protect children from accessing illicit material or from being abused. At the end of the day we are of the view that the crime of child pornography is a crime of child abuse beyond the image that you see, whether on DVD, or video or photograph it’s a child that has been abused for real and even if according to the law even if it’s a simulated image it represents a child who potentially can be abused. We are going to dedicate the cause of this financial year to putting up the structures, the institutions and the resources to implement the Act and we will dedicate R15m of the Budget of the FPB towards public awareness around issues of child pornography.
Finally around issues of refugee affairs, we made serious strides in the past financial year among others when we presented our Budget vote last year we indicated there were serious problems with regards to the operational efficiency and the capacity that we had. During the course of the year we increased the refugee status determination offices in order to increase the amount of decisions made to grant asylum seekers either their refugee status or to decline them where there was no valid case in the application. We increased our refugee status determination offices we increased our offices as the Minister has indicated we opened a new office in Musina, the office in Maitland is much bigger and better located, it has enough office space than the one we had in Nyanga East and we intend during this financial year to open a new office in Bloemfontein to ensure we have sufficient capacity. Even as we do so we are hopeful that once we conclude the process of separating economic migrants from refugees and asylum seekers it will help us a lot because the overwhelming majority of the people who frequent our asylum seekers, our refugee reception offices and apply for asylum in South Africa are economic migrants and they state so in their applications so it’s not something that we are scratching out of our heads it’s what they themselves say. So the separation of economic migrants from asylum seekers will assist us a lot because we are concerned that we should comply with our international obligations to provide protection to genuine asylum seekers and refugees and we think that the clogging up of the system by economic migrants does in actual fact undermine the obligation to protect genuine asylum seekers as required by the law. So far we have been working under the present legislation, under the present conditions by increasing the capacity we have increasing the physical infrastructure, ensuring that we provide assistance to everyone who presents themselves to our offices for such attention.
We will as well as separating economic migrants from asylum seekers, we will embark on a program to overhaul the entire policy and legislation around refugees and asylum seekers with the intention that we should establish new processes, new systems, we have been sending delegations around to do international benchmarking and once we have completed that process we will then develop a new process, new systems, overhaul the system because we think the present system is not efficient enough to deal with the challenges that we have. With that being the case we were able in the past financial year drastically to improve our operational efficiency, for example where it took seven days in the past to issue just the Section 22 permit the asylum seekers permit, we now issue that in one day. One refugee status determination officer would issue five decisions in one week we now issue seven decisions in one day per refugee status determination officer which is a drastic improvement. We provide them with all the support that they require in terms of country profiling and research so that they make valid decisions we know there are still problems but we are continuing to improve on those, thank you.
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