Department of Home Affairs 2008/09 Annual Report briefing

NCOP Health and Social Services

26 October 2009
Chairperson: Ms D Rantho (ANC; Eastern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Home Affairs presented its 2008/09 Annual Report. The Annual Report addressed the strategic objectives, performance, financial situation, progress, challenges and priorities of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). In 2007, DHA had embarked on a Turnaround Programme which addressed issues of service delivery, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), human resources, and financial administration, which had been problematic in the Department for some time, as well as addressing effective management and leadership. The previous Turnaround Programme of 2003 had been unsuccessful as it had not been designed to address the deep-seated structural issues. The challenges for the DHA were gaps between management and governance, poor infrastructure and lack of proper environment for staff and citizens, corruption by officials in conjunction with syndicates, the poor culture of service delivery, low level of qualification and skills of many officials, and lack of up-to-date technology. The DHA required the co-operation of South African Police Services (SAPS), State Security, National Port Authorities (NPA) and the National Defence Force (NDF) to protect the borders. Immigration officials were also receiving intensified attention and decisions still had to be made to close loopholes and ensure policy in the Immigration System which facilitated economic development, human solidarity, interaction and free movement. The 'Who Am I Online' Information Technology (IT) driven initiative, that would replace existing technology and achieve an integrated online system, was designed to improve turnaround time and service delivery. Improved IT security was achieved through E-directory stabilisation, biometric access control management, antivirus servers and firewalls across the country and implementation of the National Immigration Information System. Expenditure on technology had allowed faster tracking and tracing, and quicker issuing of birth registration and identification certificates. The Automated Fingerprint Identification System provided on-line fingerprint verification to determine if previous records existed. Access to the DHA was improved through opening of 45 additional service delivery points through mobile units and call centres. Memoranda of Understanding had been entered into with China, Nigeria, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, to foster international co-operation in preparation for the 2010 World Soccer Cup.

Members interrogated the people living in South Africa with undocumented status, foreigner occupancy of Reconstruction and Development Programme housing and fraudulent marriages contributing to that problem, economic migrants seeking asylum, what security existed for true asylum seekers. The Members questioned what the non-negotiable aims of the Department comprised. They further asked questions on overspending and underspending of the DHA budget, accessibility of mobile units, lease agreements and refurbishment of offices. The mandate of the Department of Public Works as against that of the DHA was questioned. Cultural issues around birth registration, the importance of compulsory training and professionalism of officials, and use of technology  also received attention.

Meeting report

Ms D Rantho (ANC; Eastern Cape) was elected to act as Chairperson, as Ms R Rasmeni was attending another meeting.

Annual Report 2008/09: Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs(DHA)
Mr Malusi Gigaba, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, apologised for the absence of the Minister, who had been assigned to act as Chairperson of the Government Administration Cluster Committee, which was in session that day. He also apologised for the absence of the Director General of the Department, who had been assigned to other work for that day. He noted that the Department would be represented by  and also for the Director-General (DG) who was assigned other work for that day and who would be represented by Mr Nkhize.

Mr Gigaba noted that in 2007, DHA embarked on a Turnaround Programme which addressed issues of problematic service delivery, ICT, Human Resources and challenges of staff within the Department, and financial administration, and also addressed the need for effective management and leadership. The support intervention task team, comprised of the DHA, National Treasury and Department of Public Service and Administration, had identified that these areas were responsible for the problems that DHA had been experiencing year after year. In the past a number of interventions had been tried, but it became clear that the problems facing the DHA were structural in nature and could not be dealt with superficially.

In 2003, the then-Director General, Mr Barry Gilder, had introduced a Turnaround Programme, but this had not dealt with the deep-seated structural problems of the DHA as highlighted in the five points mentioned above. In addition, the budget then was insufficient for new projects, such as IT and service delivery, and there was not sufficient capacity within the DHA to undertake the enormous task. Furthermore, that budget did not allow for hiring of consultants to achieve the goals of the programme, nor did it enjoy the buy-in of the officials of the DHA.

The new Turnaround Programme that commenced in 2007 enjoyed support at the highest level, including the Ministry and the Department as a whole. In the 2008 budget speech, the former Minister of Finance granted the DHA R800 million to allow for external capacity to assist in undertaking the necessary turnaround of the strategic vision.

The first phase of the Turnaround Programme, a six month phase, dealt with the vision and design of the DHA towards accomplishment of the newly-designed programme which was to be implemented by 2012. The other objective in the first phase was to shorten the turnaround time of ID documentation and problems which existed with issuing of ID documents. The second phase had recently been completed, with workstreams focusing on the five turnaround issues, and introducing the changes for the turnaround. The final phase was the process of embedding the changes of the previous two phases into the culture of the DHA. The programme was expected to end in December 2009.

The DHA had finally appointed a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Deputy Director General level, and he had the unenviable task to sort out the financial administration of the Department. Two disclaimers had been received from the Auditor-General, one with 100 points of emphasis and another with 27 points of emphasis, for 2006 and 2007, and in the 2008 financial year, there were only six points of emphasis, but the seriousness of these issues meant that this also resulted in a disclaimer. The financial challenges were revenue collection and capital asset management.

Other challenges which showed progress in the ten year review were capital, information technology and corruption. However, as long as there was a market for corruption, with large amounts of money being offered to officials for human trafficking and smuggling, corruption would continue to be a challenge. DHA could not arrest people in the community and required the co-operation of South African Police Service (SAPS), State Security, National Prosecuting Authority, and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to protect the borders. Immigration officials were also receiving intensified attention, and decisions still had to be made to close loopholes and ensure the drafting of policy in the Immigration System which facilitated economic development, human solidarity, interaction and free movement.

Mr Vusmuzi Nkhize, Deputy Director General: Civic Services, DHA, presented on the DHA performance against strategic objectives. The Identity Document (ID) turnaround time had been improved from 127 days to an average of 40 days through implementation of operations management, process reviews and ID Track and Trace. Improvement in the quality of issuance of enabling documents was achieved through redesigned processes in front line offices, and online fingerprint verification in 217 offices. These processes reduced the need for manual fingerprint verification and resulted in issuing of on-the-spot temporary identity certificates, and emergency and temporary passports within a maximum of two working days.

Access was improved through opening of 45 additional service delivery points through mobile units and call centres for status check. This eliminated the need for the applicants to travel far. DHA statistics showed that 96.25% of calls were answered within twenty seconds.

In April 2008, new legislation allowed for new late registration of birth process, where ten fingerprints of applicants were searched against record on the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) to determine if previous records existed. A large scale programme of providing IDs to 16 year-olds was undertaken in co-operation with the Department of Education and the SA Broadcasting Corporation.

The strategic objective to manage migration effectively by enabling movement of skilled workers into the country and securely facilitate their entry, stay and exit was done through targeting and maintaining 35 large multi-national accounts, seen against the targeted 50 accounts. The objective was to adhere to turnaround times for temporary and permanent resident permits, to clear travellers within 1.5 to 2 minutes at OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport and Durban International Airport, and provide a uniform and standardised law enforcement strategy to enforce the Immigration Act. The National Immigration Information System (NIIS) linked reception centers and enabled efficient processing of asylum seekers. Training was delivered to all Inspectorate staff. Thirty new middle management deputy directors were appointed to the Inspectorate in February 2009, and a centrally based Analysis Unit comprising of eight officials was finalised. Special projects addressed xenophobic incidents and management of displaced persons. Refugee status, determination and granting of asylum was finalised within six months and refugee travel documents were issued within ten days.

Domestic, regional and international co-operation was fostered to ensure Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with China, Nigeria, Lesotho and Zimbabwe were developed, thus laying the foundation for organisational readiness for the FIFA Soccer World Cup.

The DHA's organisational structure had been finalised, adopted and implemented through advertisement and appointment of 528 employment positions, and 65% of misconduct cases were finalised.

The Formative Training Programme for Improved Immigration service and the Learning Centre Operating Model for training intervention and DHA accreditation were provided. Agreements on turnaround were concluded between the DHA and the unions and forum structures to enhance labour stability, and for the business of DHA to continue uninterrupted.

Improved IT security was achieved through E-directory stabilisation, Biometric Access Control Management (BACM) (which could also audit all transactions), antivirus servers and firewalls across the country, as well as implementation of NIIS at 6 refugee sites, that should result in fraud minimisation.

Only 96.9 % of the budget for 2008/09 had been spent. Thirty three offices had been refurbished, 1105 targeted staff had been trained and a revenue support team had been established to address non-compliance. Internal audits identified key issues to be ineffective control over cash and assets, inadequate capacity in offices and training on basic internal controls, management and oversight, and inadequate document management. Concerted efforts were under way to rectify those issues. Key officers were appointed for counter-corruption and security services and 80 offices were monitored for compliance with Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS).

Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Chief Financial Officer, DHA, said that four programmes, namely Administration, Services to Citizens, Immigration Services and Transfers to Agencies fell under the umbrella of the DHA. DHA had underspent by R150 048 000, (96.9 % of the budget for expenditure on programmes). Under-spending was due to positions not being filled during the restructuring process at Senior Management Service level, Advanced Passenger Processing (APP) delays caused by late approvals by FIFA and the Airlines, debts written off, delay in finalisation of payment of employee benefits on retirement, and delay in implementation of the Smart ID Card project. APP would be instrumental in allowing airlines to send information on passengers to immigration officers in South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. There had, however, been over-expenditure on software and other intangible assets due to the implementation of 'Who Am I Online' Project. This was an Information-Technology driven initiative to replace existing technology and achieve an integrated online system to improve turnaround time and service delivery.

Action plans included the Integrated Receipting Engine System, which was to be implemented for accurate auditing of transactions from revenue collection, the clean up of long outstanding transactions on the Penalty Case System (PCS), the integration of the PCS with the Basic Accounting System to ensure compliance with the revenue management processes and immigrations regulations, and proposed legislative reforms to address penalties for non-compliance. There would also be alignment of Immigration Regulations with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and Treasury Regulations.

Development and implementation of the Asset Management System (ending in November 2009) would include verification of assets, bar-coding and consultation with the Auditor-General on the fair value of assets.

Mr Nkhize said that the challenges for DHA were still addressing gaps between management and governance, poor infrastructure and lack of proper environment for staff and citizens, corruption by officials in conjunction with syndicates, the poor culture of service delivery, low level of qualification and skills of many officials, and up-to-date technology.

Priorities for DHA were instilling of new values at every level of DHA through management, leadership and governance, operational control and sustenance of the Turnaround Programme. It was intended to develop staff through training, and to use modern technology to secure identity, access and efficient service. The DHA would fight corruption in partnership with the public, Government and key stakeholders. It intended to register every birth in SA. It would try to reach consensus and policy direction for management of migration in the interest of national security and development priorities.

Mr Mashamaite commended the DHA on its report and asked if the DHA was aware how many officials were working with syndicates, since the report made reference to the 'minority of officials who were working with syndicates'.

Mr Nkhize said that it was not possible to say how many officials were working with syndicates, as they worked in a clandestine fashion. Of the 7000 staff, most did honest work. Over 100 officials had been dismissed with clear evidence.

Mr Mashamaite asked if there was a time frame attached to the priorities of DHA.

Mr Nkhize replied that the three year strategic plan which included the APP specified the outcomes and time frames, but with counter issues it was difficult to give a time frame. There were measures in place for issues such as corruption and equipment in the programmes. The time frame for ensuring everyone had a birth registration and a first issue of ID was 2 years.

Ms Mncube asked if, in the DHA's effort to route out corruption, the stake holders had set guidelines for what would happen if non-negotiables were not adhered to and what the consequences would be.

Mr Nkhize said that there had been investment with the unions for management of the Turnaround Programme. However, the Minister recently discussed with the unions the role that they played, in an effort to develop a collaborative commitment and agreement on non-negotiables, so as to set a bottom-line.

Ms Mncube asked if the DHA had further committed to increase decentralisation of offices through mobile units for enhanced access to ID applications, since many people were unemployed and the offices were too far distant from their homes to make it affordable for them to attend.

Mr Nkhize said that Government was committed to rural development and DHA was in line with that commitment for renewal and accessibility of offices by rural areas. There were problems with the mobile unit concept. The DHA would focus on alternative ways such as use of 4x4 vehicles and hand-held equipment, to access areas that were difficult to get to after the rains.

Ms Mncube asked if the DHA, in their APP, envisaged a strategy to ensure that foreigners did in fact leave the country after the 2010 World Cup.

Mr M De Villiers (DA, Western Cape) requested a precise answer to this question.

Mr Jackie Mackay, Deputy Director-General: Immigration Services, said that the APP would assist by transmitting prior knowledge of passengers flying into the country. The databases would manage the risk of an undesirable person from entering the country, and would assist in corruption by tracking a visa issue. Embarkation cards would be introduced, and the strategy would include the inspectorate investigating where over-stayers were staying. A movement control system reflected real time data and would track how many passengers arrived, how long they stayed, when they left the country and whether they continued to stay legally in the country. At present they system could not pick up same day travelers. The biggest threat was those foreigners who did not use ports of entry to enter the country.

Ms M Boroto (ANC; Mpumalanga) asked how unqualified officials were recruited by the DHA, and if there was a strategy in place to use the trained people to develop and train new recruits, as this would affect the budget. She also asked if, in the plan to address penalties for non-compliance to PFMA, there would be new people appointed to a Committee who would be remunerated to ensure proper functioning of the project.

Mr Nkhize said that requirements for staff had changed over time, and the DHA had identified training gaps through the turnaround and new administration. The DHA did not recruit people who did not meet its requirements. The Learning Center and SANAI formative training programme had assisted in terms of effective training and upskilling. Middle managers also attended training to upgrade their management skills. The approach was to train people within the Department to direct a team internally, rather than hire consultants.

Mr De Villiers said that he was pleased that the unspent grant was allocated back to the DHA by Treasury. He asked if there would be extra cost incurred in the strengthening of the Bid Adjudication Committee, Loss Control Committee, Expenditure Control Committee and Budget Management Committee. He also asked for clarification around the situation of leases of property to the DHA, what happened on conclusion of the lease agreement, and what cost was involved.

Mr Nkhize said that all the Committees mentioned were comprised of internal members and there were no new cost issues involved. An official's post would not be affected. Training would require one day in two weeks of commitment from 9am to12 pm during the training period. In future, lease expenditure and assets needed to be renegotiated so that asset evaluation no longer had to go through the present costly process. The unspent budget allocated to the DHA would be converted back to the DHA.

Mr Apleni said that the DHA did not enter into lease agreements with landlords. That was the mandate of the Department of Public Works (DPW). The DHA paid municipality and electricity bills to the DPW.

The Acting Chairperson said that in the Eastern Cape, mobile units existed, but these did not have functioning computers, and officials were therefore performing their work manually, with hard copies often disappearing within the unit or through freight. She added that she had spoken to a manager from Mtata, who said that there were no offices in certain villages in the Eastern Cape. Ms Rantho asked why only 33 offices had been refurbished by the DHA.

Mr Nkhize said that the DHA was considering outsourcing mobile units and all options to achieve maximum benefits on mobile units. There was a shortage of offices and the strategy of the DHA was to serve areas that were undermined by apartheid.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) said that there was no mention in the report of deportation of foreign nationals. He asked how many foreigners were deported and what the cost to Government was for deportation.

Mr Mackay said that he did not have the data with him but would report to the Chairperson.

Ms Mncube asked if the MoUs could be a vessel for enforcing arrest of individuals who were in the country illegally.

Mr Nkhize said that the DHA was at advanced stages of finalising MoUs with the Departments of Health, Education and Housing, as well as banks for online verification, to assist with fighting corruption. This integrated effort would identify those who were citizens and those who were in the country illegally.

Ms Mncube said that many ordinary people still held the view that the DHA did not respond adequately to them. However, when the media was involved, the DHA had responded speedily. She asked to what extent the toll-free number was being marketed over and above the direct line.

Mr Nkhize said that the DHA had marketed the toll free number at every platform. The toll free number was 0800 601100, and 32551 for status check on SMS. The Minister had established roles for the media to assist in marketing and also to minimise citizens using the media for response to issues.

Mr De Villiers asked what documentation was available for birth registration, especially in the deep rural areas, to address corrupt officers at clinics registering birth certificates and also to address children who were not at school when they were 16 years old.

Ms M Makgate (ANC; NW Province) raised the issue of certain cultures delaying the naming of their child and registering the child at a young age. She asked if there was a budget to accommodate for this.

Mr Nkhize said that the present campaign for birth registration would be an intermediary device which would have major returns for the DHA after two years. It would give data on citizens, including children who were not previously in possession of IDs. The budget was insufficient but the Treasury had stipulated that the DHA had to find ways to implement the campaign. A pilot study at Sisonke was identifying issues around birth registration processes, and feedback on counter issues, and where the DHA had failed this would be highlighted.

Mr De Villiers believed that payments by each Province were costly, especially in terms of bank costs. He suggested that payment should be done on a national basis via computers, so that invoices could be sent via e-mail and payments could be done via internet.

Ms Makgate asked how the DHA would assist Government in planning for compliance by undocumented foreigners. She said that it was a common situation that foreigners married South Africans for convenience of citizenship.

Mr Nkhize said that public education on the issues around marriage and value of identity would play a role in addressing the challenge of such marriages. It was difficult for the DHA to intervene, especially when two consenting adults decided to marry.

Mr Faber asked which Provinces were not matching standards.

Mr Apleni said that the DHA now had tools in place to track and trace and rank performance of Provinces. The DHA would make reports available to the Select Committee. The focus was on utilising technology to enhance processes and decrease internal delays so that costs were lessened down the line. With the success of the programmes, National Treasury was more likely to allocate money to systems which were tight.

Mr Faber commented that this information would assist for oversight visits to Provinces.

Mr Faber also asked for an explanation on the overspending of R6 million on refurbishment, and underspending of R3 million on municipal services.

Mr Apleni said that overspending on refurbishment was not in the control of DHA, due to funds from within the DHA being used for refurbishment of property where the court issued a directive for refurbishment, whether the DHA had budgeted for it or not.

Ms Makgate asked why new offices were built or rented out by the DHA, when an existing building could be renovated.

Mr Apleni said that the mandate for building of offices and even border posts was that of the DPW.  The refurbishment of property was the responsibility of the DHA. Ironically, the DHA was refurbishing property of the private sector and was forced to rent property. The DPW was focused on schools and other structures and did not presently respond readily to the DHA's requirements.

Mr Mashamaite asked what could be done to address the issue of immigration where foreigners did not use border posts, entered unreported, or illegally occupied RDP housing and received grants illegally. The issue of patrolling fences had to be intensified to prevent illegal entry and further problems in the country down the line. Non compliance would create increased irregular expenditure. He asked what provisions were in place for non compliance.

Mr Apleni said that non compliance was a major problem. By next year it was expected that managers would deal with the key performance areas. DHA review meetings would deal with issues of structure, adherence to performance agreements and asset management and there would be accountability within the DHA for not delivering on financial management responsibility.

Mr Mashamaite asked the DHA to shed more light on the project of 'Who am I' online (WAIO).

Mr Nkhize said that DHA IT systems were outdated, and were not compatible with new security features. The purpose of WAIO was basically to replace the current legacy system and to integrate systems for online port-of entry information with other countries. DHA had spent a lot of money on core infrastructure to introduce systems which were used at various service points. At the moment the focus of WAIO was on preparation for 2010, as part of the Government directive to DHA. WAIO had also been used to introduce APP.

Mr Gigaba said that the DHA had planned a variety of interventions for professionalising services. The Learning Centre model was to be launched before the end of the financial year and induction was compulsory for everyone hired by DHA for 3 weeks to 2 months, depending on the type of training required. Presentation of officials was important and name tags had been distributed to most officials since 2006.

The Learning Centre would facilitate specialised training and assessed branches of the Department accordingly. Intensive training of managers would enable some of them to become trainers themselves. The DDG's (zonal managers) would measure whether the training had an impact on DHA performance. The project would commence with a few offices and expand to civic service and national immigration.

Ms Makgate asked how the DHA would manage the process where foreigners occupied RDP houses.

Mr Gigaba said that immigrants had often been blamed for what South Africans were doing. The DHA would not give a RDP house to anyone who did not have a South African ID document. It was in fact often the South African citizens who caused problems through renting out their RDP houses, turning houses into tuckshops, and allowing marriages of convenience. South African women needed to be better informed on the Immigration Act and DHA's right to deport immigrants who married for convenience. Furthermore, the BACM IT Programme was intended to eliminate fraudulent marriages by securing the National Population Register. This Programme was difficult for even the Minister to access. In the case of fraud, fingerprints and ID made it clear which official was responsible for fraud. However, it was in the officials’ interest to fight corruption and have this information secure.

People used means of sheer determination to gain access to countries such as Spain, Italy, the USA and South Africa. In the US for example, where there were much higher budgets and 6-metre high electric fences for border control, Mexicans continued to enter the country.

In South Africa, many border fences were broken, as 4x4s had simply driven over border fences. The fence was important and needed to be maintained and patrolled by the army and police. The most sustainable way of managing immigration, was through the variety of policy measures ensuring that people entered through the proper channels. It was not in the country's interest to stop immigration. For example, many migrants arrived in South Africa to buy goods each weekend and money brought in to the country created jobs in South Africa. The challenge was to strike the balance between economic development and security. 

Although South Africa reserved rights of entrance, it had a policy, owing to problems in Zimbabwe, that only those who committed crimes were deported. The problem with undocumented migrants, who were mostly unskilled, was that they fabricated the need for asylum. Economic migrants seeking asylum compromised the security of true asylum seekers and these two processes needed to be separated. 80% of Zimbabweans seeking asylum had no claim. Undocumented migrants had their rights and the Government had an obligation to protect their human rights. DHA and other departments managing borders had to assist with channeling migrants through the correct ports of entry.

Status for certain nationals who had abused the system and who had no valid claim for asylum was being reviewed, and at the convenience of the Select Committee, DHA would addressed these issues with the Committee.

The Acting Chairperson thanked the DHA for the information shared on the status of Home Affairs in the country.

The meeting was adjourned.


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