Immigration Amendment Bill: Adoption, Independent Electoral Commission 2011 Strategic Plan, budget & preparations for 2011 Local Government elections, Film & Publications Board 2011 Strategic Plan & budget

Home Affairs

06 March 2011
Chairperson: Ms M Maunye (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Home Affairs presented the Committee with a redrafted version of the Immigration Amendment Bill, incorporating all the changes requested by the Committee during previous meetings. The Committee went through the Bill on a clause-by-clause basis. The DA objected to provisions in clause 2 relating to corporate permits, and to clause 3. The DA, IFP and COPE objected to the deletion of clause 4(k) dealing with immigration practitioners, and clause 23 which amended the references in the Immigration Act to immigration practitioners. The DA raised objections to clauses 12 and 13, owing to the lack of discretionary language dealing with critical skills and gazetted businesses respectively. The DA, IFP and COPE recorded their objections to clause 15. The DA also objected to clauses 20(b), 21, and 25(a). In general, the DA, IFP and COPE recorded their objection to the content and substance of the Bill, and the DA expressed dissatisfaction also with the processing of the Bill. The majority, however, voted to adopt the Bill. Some further questions were asked for clarity on visas.

The Independent Electoral Commission (the Commission) presented its strategic plan and budget for 2011 to 2014 and outlined the preparations for the upcoming 2011 local government elections. It was noted that the strategic plan was developed after a consultative process, covering five years, and included annual performance plans, indicators and targets. Quarterly reporting would be made to the executive authority to
facilitate effective performance monitoring, evaluation and corrective action. The Commission sought to promote the principles of peaceful, free and fair elections, and aimed to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness, and foster public participation with a view to deepening democracy. The budget figures for the next three financial years were presented.

The Commission then outlined preparations for the 2011 local government elections, noting that over 23 million were registered to vote after the first registration weekend. By 7 March 2011 there were 164 registered political parties, of whom 105 were registered on a national level and 59 on a municipal level. The Commission had worked with media houses to ensure that journalists covering elections understood the electoral processes, had a Twitter page and mobile site to educate more people on their responsibility to vote. The Election Timetable would be published one day after announcement of the election date, and this would also include information about the applications to cast special votes, and visits to disabled voters in their homes. The counting process was outlined, as well as the testing of results, with parties allowed to second information technology auditors to do the same. The IEC outlined that it faced challenges around low voter turnout, disputed ward and municipal boundaries, the difficulties in creating Braille templates and parallel structures in political parties. Members asked whether voting stations would be set up in correctional centres, possible ways to make voting more accessible, especially for foreign-based citizens, in the 2014 general election, investigations into electronic voting, and what information was given to people about the power of their vote. Members also enquired the percentage of young voters, what plans were in place for flood-affected areas, how intra-party conflicts would be handled, and whether educational material was written in an understandable way.

The Film and Publications Board (FPB) then presented its strategic plan and budget to the Committee, outlining its mandate, targets and strategic goals. The Board aimed to reach out to 20 million South Africans, aim for a single classification system, classify 50 000 or more
films, DVDs, publications and games, and establish strategic partnerships with industry, government and non-government organisations locally, regionally and internationally. It was intending to train 10 000 law enforcement officers, social workers, child care workers and Life Skills orientation teachers and was hoping to integrate cyber-safety into the school curriculum. Its challenges included the need to improve registration, submissions and compliance by all distributors, align its classification with the views of the public, improve its profile and reposition itself and source more funding. Members asked about the restructuring process, the period for implementation of the turnaround strategy, the necessity for a brand awareness campaign and the amounts paid for administrative staff, consultants’ fees and salaries.  

Members asked whether the IEC allowed for voting stations to be set up in prisons for the upcoming local government elections. She asked whether the Commission was looking into ways to make voting more accessible in the general election to take place in 2014, especially for foreign based citizens. They asked whether the IEC was looking into electronic voting and adapting that to South Africa. They asked whether the Commission informed people of the power of their vote to remove failing or incompetent government and replace it. They asked what the percentage of young voters was in the recent registration weekends held by the IEC. They asked how the IEC would address issues in flood affected places. They queried what the Commission would do in light of certain intraparty conflicts which might affect the upcoming elections. They asked whether the Commission’s education material would be friendly to those who were less educated and could not read.
Members asked when the Board would finalise its restructuring process in order to employ more staff. They asked what period the Board intended to implement its turnaround strategy. Members asked why it was necessary for the Board to embark on a brand awareness campaign. They sought clarity on what the FPB’s consulting fees were spent on. They asked why the Board spent a lot on administrative staff. 

Meeting report

Consideration and Voting on the Immigration Amendment Bill [B32-2010]
Mr Tsietsi Sebelemetja, Director: Legal Drafting, Department of Home Affairs (DHA) read out the Bill from a version that now incorporated the proposals made in the last meeting.

The Committee voted on the Bill on a Clause by Clause basis. Mr Monwabisi Nguqu, State Law Adviser, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, read out all the Clauses in the Bill prior to Members’ consideration and approval.

Clause 1 was approved without amendments.

Clause 2 was approved with amendments. The Democratic Alliance (DA) objected to the provision in the clause relating to corporate permits.

Clause 3 was approved by the majority, with amendments. However, the DA recorded its objection to the clause.

Clause 4 was approved by the majority, with amendments. The DA, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Congress of the People (COPE) objected to the deletion of (k) which dealt with immigration practitioners.

Clauses 5 and 6 were approved without amendments.

Clauses 7 and 8 were approved with amendments.

Clauses 9, 10, 16 and 23 were approved without amendments.

Clause 12 was approved by the majority with amendments. The DA objected to clause 12(d) because of the lack of discretionary language around what qualified as critical skills.

Clause 13 was approved by the majority, with amendments. The DA objected to clause 13(a) on the grounds of a lack of discretionary language around what qualified the list of businesses to be instituted under the Clause.

Clause 14 was approved by the majority, with amendments. The DA objected to the clause, again because of a lack of discretionary language.  

Clause 15 was approved by the majority, with amendments. The DA, IFP and COPE recorded their objections. The DA objected specifically to the inclusion of the word “nearest” in relation to Refugee Centres, and the use of the word “may”, in relation to the powers granted to the Director-General under the Clause.

Clause 20 was approved by the majority, with amendments. The DA objected to clause 20(b), which related to overstaying by a foreign national.

Clause 21 was approved by the majority, with amendments. The DA objected to the clause, specifically on provisions relating to domestic conveyances in the Bill.

Clause 22 was approved with amendments.

Clause 23 was approved by the majority, without amendments. The DA, IFP and COPE objected to the clause as it intended to delete Section 46 of the Immigration Act, which would do away with immigration practitioners.     

Clause 25 was approved by the majority, with amendments. The DA objected to clause 25(a) as it did not recognise the possibility of Department inefficiencies in processing status applications.

Clause 26 was approved with amendments.

The Bill was then approved by the majority of the Committee in its entirety.

The Democratic Alliance expressed its dissatisfaction with, and objection to the content and processing of the Bill.

The IFP and COPE registered their objection to the content and substance of the Bill.   

Discussion
Ms A Lovemore (DA) sought clarity on whether a person intending to visit South Africa needed to have two visas. She said that Clause 8 of the Bill, dealing with port of entry visas, would preclude refugees and asylum seekers from entering the country because they were unable to obtain a port of entry visa.

Mr Sebelemetja responded that asylum seekers did not need to have a port of entry visa prior to entering the country. This was covered in the Refugees Act, which provided that no visa would be needed if the person declared his or her intention to seek refuge in the country upon entry. People seeking to enter the country for reasons other than asylum did need a port of entry visa, and would then receive a specific visa outlining the purpose of their visit.

Mr Jackie McKay, Deputy Director General: Immigration Services, DHA added that a visa was a document that airlines needed to convey a person from one country to another country, where a port of entry visa stating the purpose of the visit was required. People entering South Africa from visa-exempt countries would not require a port of entry visa, but would still, on arrival, receive a visa that detailed the purpose of their visit in the country. An asylum seeker entering the country would be issued with a transit visa upon entering the country.     

Ms Lovemore sought clarity on clause 2, relating to corporate visa applicants, and what provisions applied to them.

Mr McKay responded that corporate visa applicants had to register their businesses in the country, regardless of their country of origin, prior to being granted permission to operate in the country.

Ms N Mnisi (ANC) commented that she thought the Committee, having voted on the Bill, would not be questioning it further.

The Chairperson and Adv A Gaum (ANC) concurred with Ms Mnisi, and said that the time for asking questions and deliberating had passed.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) 2011 Strategic Plan & Budget, and preparations for 2011 Local Government Elections: briefings
Adv Pansy Tlakula, Chief Electoral Officer, Independent Electoral Commission, presented the  strategic plan of the Independent Electoral Commission (the IEC or the Commission), noting that it was developed after a consultative process and would cover a
period of five years. It included an annual performance plan, the Commission’s strategic goals, measurable objectives, performance indicators and targets of the Commission’s programmes. It also included a budget in respect of strategic goals and would form the basis for the Commission’s annual report. Procedures would be established for quarterly reporting to the executive authority, to facilitate effective performance monitoring, evaluation and corrective action where necessary.

The IEC would broadly seek to promote the principles of peaceful, free and fair elections. It would
improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness, manage free and fair elections, foster public participation with a view to deepening democracy, and supporting the core business. The Commission would promote the acceptance of and adherence to democratic electoral principles and position the IEC as a continuously improving organisation. It would also promote the acceptance of and adherence to democratic electoral principles internationally, in keeping with its first strategic goal. The Commission had held six meetings with relevant stakeholders in pursuit of achieving its first strategic goal. It committed to holding 14 such meetings in the 2011/12 financial year.

In respect of the Commission’s second strategic goal, the Commission would review and improve implementation of and adherence to organisational policies and the achievement of strategic goals and objectives by the Commission. The Commission committed to review its policies and procedures and to adhere to organisational policies and the achievement of strategic goals and objectives.

The Commission’s third strategic goal committed it to providing accessible registration venues for voters to register to vote. It promised to enable voters to register to vote, to maintain liaison and funding of registered political parties, comply with Election Timetables for electoral events, provide electoral material storage and distribution, and to secure and maintain local offices and venues for electoral events. 96% of all voting districts had their boundaries 7.5 km or less away from the voting station in urban areas, and the boundaries 12.5 km or less away in rural areas.
22 000 venues where voters could register to vote had been provided. The Voters’ Roll would be updated on an annual basis. So far, 22 999 273 voters were registered. The Roll would be checked twelve times, on a quarterly basis. The Commission fully supplied all voting stations with the necessary material. The Commission had offices in 234 municipalities in the country which were fully functional.

In keeping with strategic goal four, the Commission endeavoured to
inform and educate the public on democracy and electoral processes. It would position itself as the leading repository and generator of knowledge on electoral democracy in the country, and would intensify communication with relevant stakeholders on electoral democracy. The Commission would hold 3 314 voter education events and have 50 partnerships with strategic partners in order to increase its scope.

The Commission would develop its human resources strategy and plan to provide adequate and competent Human Resources. It would develop, implement and maintain the human resources training         and skills development plan. It would provide integrated support services, and provide timely funding of projects aligned with its strategy. It would comply with financial legislation, policies and procedures as well as develop, implement and maintain a supply chain management framework. It would develop an ICT strategy and plan and maintain a stable ICT infrastructure. 

Mr Norman du Plessis, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer, IEC, presented the Commission’s budget for the 2011/12 to 2013/14 financial years. The Commission had a budget of R816 196 000 for the 2011/12 financial year, with an additional R469 000 000 set aside for the local government elections to be held later in 2011. The Commission allocated R 5 661 910
to promote the principles of peaceful, free and fair elections. It budgeted R 29 824 116 to improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness. It set aside R140 573 972 to manage free and fair elections. It set aside R 62 018 066 to foster public participation with a view to deepen democracy. It set aside R553 446 275 to support the core business of the IEC. He then outlined the budget for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 financial years, giving a comparison to the 2011/12 figures (see attached presentation)

Mr Mosotho Moepya, Commissioner, IEC addressed the Committee on the Commission’s preparedness for the upcoming local government elections. The IEC had received the final set of ward demarcation data from the Municipal Demarcation Board on 1 September 2010. There were 8 metros, 226 local councils, and 44 district councils. There would be a total of 4 277 wards for the 2011 local government elections, which represented a 9.8% increase from the 2006 total of 3 895 wards. The Commission had undertaken a process of Targeted Communication Registration (TCR) in December 2010, which had led to a review of population settlement patterns. This had informed the new municipalities’ formations.

There had been two voter registration weekends on 5 and 6 of February, and 5 and 6 March 2011. There was a constant increase in the registration of voters on the voters’ roll, with 23 161 975 people registered to vote after the first registration weekend in 2011. As at 7 March 2011 there were 164 registered political parties, of whom 105 were registered on a national level and 59 on a municipal level.

The Commission was committed to carrying out Civic and Democracy Education (CDE). The Commission had formed partnerships with civil society organisations and had held collaborative stakeholder engagement in an effort to educate citizens on their responsibility and right to vote. The IEC had worked with media houses to train journalists covering elections, to ensure that they understood the electoral processes. It had undertaken further new initiatives, including a Twitter page and a mobile site to reach out to more people and educate them on their responsibility and duty to vote. The Commission would consult with the Party Liaison Committee (PLC) on the Election Timetable a day after the proclamation of the Election Date and this Timetable would then be published in the Government Gazette.

In keeping with Section 55 of the Local Government: Municipal Election Act, any person who, for exigent reasons, could not vote in their own area could apply to the IEC for permission to cast a special vote elsewhere in their voting district. The Commission had consulted with political parties and had published regulations relating to Special Votes (SV). In keeping with those regulations, the IEC’s opening and closing dates for SV applications would be included in the Election Timetable. The Timetable would indicate dates and times when home visits to disabled or infirm voters would take place, and when the office of the Presiding Officer would be open. There would be approximately 200 000 trained election officials for the election. The Party Liaison Committees had been consulted on the appointment of presiding officers before those contracts had been finalised.

Counting would take place immediately after the voting at each voting station. Party agents and observers would witness every aspect of the voting and counting processes. Results systems would be audited and tested extensively, with parties allowed to second their information technology auditors to do the same. Results would be audited and result slips would be scanned and made available online.

The IEC outlined the challenges that it faced in regard to the elections. These included low voter turnout, disputed ward and municipal boundaries, the multiplicity of ballot papers that made it difficult to create a Braille template, and parallel structures within political parties.

Discussion
Ms Lovemore noted that the Commission’s strategic plan up to 2015/16 was not included, despite this being mentioned in the agenda line for the meeting. She felt that the document presented was too general, and did not include enough details up to 2015/16.

Adv Tlakula replied that the Commission had prepared a report on the strategic plan, based on information it had received, to explain its plans for the next financial year. National Treasury had mandated the IEC to draft a strategic plan which included 2015/16, and this could be provided on request.

Ms Lovemore asked whether the Commission allowed for voting stations to be set up in correctional centres for the upcoming local government elections.

Adv Tlaluka noted that local government elections did not permit voting in correctional centres, although that was permitted in national elections.

Ms Lovemore asked whether the Commission was looking into ways to make voting more accessible for the general election scheduled for 2014, especially for foreign based citizens. She asked whether the IEC was looking into electronic voting and adapting that to South Africa. She also enquired whether the IEC informed people of the power of their vote, and that it could remove and replace a failing or incompetent government.

Adv Tlaluka confirmed that the IEC was indeed looking into ways to improve accessibility for voters abroad, and that would be undertaken after an alignment of the domestic laws with the judgment that had mandated foreign based citizens to be allowed to vote. The IEC would undertake two study tours to assess the viability of electronic voting, prior to its implementation in South Africa. The IEC did not dabble in informing people of the power of their vote, as that would involve delving into politics, but merely informed people of their civic duty to vote. 

Adv Gaum sought an explanation on the variations in budget totals from the Commission.

Mr Du Plessis responded that the totals varied due to the fact that in the 2011/12 financial year there would be compensation for the elections in 2011. In years where no elections were being held, there was less money allocated to the Commission. An additional budget document would be provided to the Committee with a more detailed budget breakdown. 

Mr M Mnqasela (DA) thanked the IEC for a well thought out presentation. He asked for a progress report on alleged rigging in the Midvaal region. He asked about the percentage of young voters in the recent registration weekends held by the IEC.

Adv Tlakula responded that the DA and the ANC had held meetings with the IEC in Midvaal in light of the allegations in that region. The DA had objected to certain people being included in the voters roll there but had raised the objection in a technically incorrect manner. The issue was being attended to by the Commission. There had been a preliminary figure of 80% registration of young people in the registration weekends held by the IEC.

Mr Mnqasela asked if the IEC had any special plans on how to address issues in places affected by floods.

Mr Moepya responded that there had been less than twelve flood affected regions, and those regions would be addressed before the close of business on 9 March 2011.

Ms Mnisi echoed Mr Mnqasela’s concerns about the flood affected regions. She commented that the IEC needed competent and adequate electoral staff for the upcoming elections. The Commission needed to intensify its communication with stakeholders.

Mr Du Plessis responded that finding competent election staff was a huge challenge as the task required experienced people. The IEC would, however, address the issue in the correct manner.

Adv Tlakula added that the IEC was holding ongoing consultations with stakeholders.

Mr Mnqasela asked what the IEC would do about certain intraparty conflicts that might affect the upcoming elections.

Mr Terry Tselane, Commissioner, IEC, replied that the issue of intraparty conflict was a complex one but there was little the IEC could do about it, as IEC did not delve into party political issues.

Ms Lovemore asked whether the Commission consulted with the government on security conditions in parts of the country, with a view to promoting free and fair elections.

Mr Tselane replied that the IEC did hold consultative meetings with the government and the Security Cluster to assess security conditions and ensure fair elections that were free of violence and intimidation.

Ms M Gasebonwe (ANC) commented that there were some farm workers who wanted to vote but were sometimes blocked by their bosses, and asked what could be done. She also asked whether the Commission’s education material would be friendly to those who were less educated and could not read.

Adv Tlakula responded that a memorandum of understanding would be signed between farm owners and the IEC, to ensure that farm workers were allowed to vote in the upcoming elections. Election material would be simplified so as to be easily understood by the less educated people.

Film and Publications Board (FPB) 2011 Strategic Plan and Budget: briefing
Ms Yoliswa Makhasi, Chief Executive Officer, Film and Publications Board, presented the Committee with the strategic plan and budget. The Film and Publications Board (FPB or the Board) outlined would seek to
enforce implementation of the Films and Publications Act. It wished to achieve a classification system for the country. It set out some of its targets: to classify not less than 50 000 films, DVDs, publications and games, to reach out to not less than 30 million South Africans (directly and indirectly), to train no less than 10 000 law enforcement officers, social workers, child care workers and Life Skills Orientation (LO) teachers, and to achieve 80% convergence ratings of classification decisions. It wished to roll out cyber safety education in schools by integrating it into the LO curriculum. It also aimed to achieve digitisation of records. Finally, it wished to establish strategic partnerships with industry, government and the non-government organisation (NGO) sector in South Africa, regionally and internationally.

Ms Makhasi said that the Board would implement a turnaround strategy, and this, once approved, would lobby for more resource allocation through grants. The Board would explore other revenue streams of sponsorships, partnerships, and a review of the tariff structure. It would also push for the recruitment of new skills and retraining of staff, and review and streamline work processes and systems in order to ensure efficiency. It would introduce new technologies to ensure faster turnaround times, accurate capturing of data and reporting.

The FPB faced many challenges in conducting its work, including the need to improve registration, submissions and compliance by all distributors. There was also a need to improve and maintain alignment between FPB classification and the diverse views of the public. It needed to work continuously to improve its profile, and reposition itself, and to meet inadequacies in the budget.

The Board strove to be
a content regulator that classified materials and monitored compliance by distributors, in order to protect children from exposure to undesirable content. It aimed to achieve this mandate through effective use of technology and other applicable tools, to empower members of the public with information; and to deliver services in an efficient manner.

Ms Makhasi said that the Board had a number of strategic goals. It sought to
enhance, integrate and implement a constitutionally sound regulatory framework. It wished to develop and maintain organisational capacity and capability. It wanted to form and maintain national and international partnerships, and co-ordinate initiatives that supported the business of FPB. It sought to position itself as a viable, credible and professionally run organisation. The FPB would seek to build ties with law enforcement agencies to better fulfill its strategic goals.

She said that the FPB would need adequately skilled and competent staff, who were satisfied and had high morale, and it would work on retaining experienced and relevant staff. It would need to engage a new media strategy and resources to implement
that strategy. In order to remain viable and sustainable, it would need to strategically position its brand and improve brand awareness. It would also need an effective governance system, productive and sustainable relations with stakeholders and partners, and prudent financial management.

Mr J Poshoko, Chief Financial Officer, FPB, presented the Board’s budget for the 2011/12 financial year. The Board received funding through four streams of revenue. Grants from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) totalled R65, 4 million, classification fees totalled R8, 2 million, registration fees accounted for R1,1 million and annual renewal of certificates totalled R500 000. The FPB had been allocated R75, 659 million for the 2011/12 financial year. It was aiming to spend R30,6 million on personnel costs, R6,2 million on professional services, R6, 57 million and R2,41 million on other projects, including a conference (see attached presentation for detailed figures).

Discussion
The Chairperson asked when the Board would finalise its restructuring process in order to employ more staff.

Ms Lovemore asked over what period the Board intended to implement its turnaround strategy.

Ms Mnisi asked how the Board proposed to fill its vacancies and achieve the job creation goal set out by the President. She also asked why the Board’s performance incentives were so high.

Ms Makhasi replied that the FPB Board, having looked at the viability of the FPB and its business model, had decided upon a five year turnaround strategy. This was in the process of being approved, and once approval was obtained the filling of vacant positions would commence. She added that bonuses and performance initiatives were given to staff who had carried out their work with excellence and diligence.

Ms Natalie Skeepers, Deputy Chairperson, FPB, added that performance bonuses were paid only to staff who had carried out their duties and responsibilities, and then only after Board approval.

Ms Lovemore asked why it was necessary for the Board to embark on a brand awareness campaign.

Ms Makhasi responded that the FPB needed to embark on a brand awareness campaign because people needed to be made aware of who classified movies and games, so they could contact the Board, as also to enhance its scope through spreading the FPB name.

Ms Lovemore asked for details on the consulting fees. She asked why the Board spent less on classifiers than on administrative staff.  

Ms Makhasi replied that the FPB Board spent a lot of money on administrative staff as it had compliance monitors in different provinces who drew their salaries from the Board, so this was an unavoidable cost.

Ms Skeepers added that the FPB’s consulting fees related to legal assistance which could only be sourced externally.

Ms H Makhuba (IFP) asked whether the Board intended to train teachers and social workers about its work.

Ms Makhasi replied that the FPB identified people who could carry the message of the FPB, and would partner with them to gain their assistance. More needed to be done, but the FPB had developed a guideline setting out the areas where the Board needed to focus in order to improve the way it did its work.

The Chairperson asked what the Board was doing to combat cyber bullying.

Ms Makhasi responded that combating cyber bullying was hard to address fully, as some sites with the bullying problem were hosted outside the South African jurisdiction and were outside the FPB’s control.

The meeting was adjourned.



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