Immigration Amendment Bill: Adoption, Department & Government Printing Works Strategic Plan & Budget 2011/12

Home Affairs

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

The Committee approved the B version of the Immigration Amendment Bill, which included recommendations from the Committee discussed in previous meetings. The Democratic Alliance recorded its objection to the Bill in its entirety. A DA Member attempted to raise further questions on the implementation of the Bill, but the Chairperson ruled that the time for questions had passed, and that the queries had already been responded to in full.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) presented its Strategic Plan and Budget for 2011/12 to the Committee. The Department outlined some of its achievements, including the passing of three bills, during 2010/11. It aimed to ensure that
children were registered within 30 days after birth, that all South Africans over 16 had been issued with Identity Documents (IDs) and to provide efficient and accessible service delivery, to achieve integration of key systems and upgrade IT infrastructure for improved security and data integrity. It also aimed to ensure ethical conduct and a zero tolerance approach to corruption. It would develop and implement service delivery standards to improve operational efficiency and conduct a customer satisfaction survey. It noted an improvement in the turnaround time for issuing documents. It noted its contribution to the Government’s objectives. The Department reported that it had reached a settlement with Gijima and other suppliers on the contract disputes on the “Who Am I Online” project, which would now proceed. The Department outlined the figures for the budget, noting that the allocation for 2011/12 was R5.46 billion, less than the 2010 allocation of R5.83 billion, which included amounts for the World Cup. R1.72 would be allocated to administration, R3.09 to citizen affairs and R587.6 million to immigration affairs. Its proposed revenue streams and estimates were also outlined. Members were concerned with proposed tariff increases for applications, and asked if any exemptions were possible for poor people. They asked about the slow progress of the Zimbabwean dispensation issue. They asked whether the Department’s Turnaround Strategy was complete, whether the Department’s proposed economic migration paper would be linked to any other tools, and sought clarity on the trusted traveller programme. They queried the Gijima matters and settlement, commented that the Department should share its fingerprint records with the SAPS, and asked how issues of corruption were to be addressed, including vetting processes.

The Government Printing Works (GPW) presented its Strategic Plan and Budget 2011, noting that it aimed to optimise its production process, replace its outdated and depleted assets, and implement a technological migration with a stronger focus on IT and electronic documents. This included automation of official gazette distribution and better management of its resources. The GPW had budgeted R500 million for the 2011/12 MTEF period, of which R161.93 million was intended for asset replacement, R52 million on new IT systems, and R48 million on its facilities. It sought assistance from the Committee for extra funding. Members questioned for what purposes the additional funding was required, and also sought more clarity on the necessity of charging fees for access to gazettes and on the proposed electronic distribution of gazettes. They also commented that explanatory notes were needed on some items, and questioned certain expenditure.

Meeting report

Immigration Amendment Bill [B32B-2010]: Adoption
Mr Monwabisi Nguqu, Senior State Law Adviser, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, read out the B-version of the Immigration Amendment Bill (the Bill), dealing with each clause in turn, and noting that this version included all the changes that the Committee had suggested at previous meetings.

The majority of Members indicated that they wished to adopt the Bill, and voted to do so.

The Democratic Alliance registered its objection to the Bill in its entirety.  

Ms A Lovemore (DA) sought clarity on how the some of the provisions in the Bill would be implemented. She asked specifically how the Department of Home Affairs (DHA or the Department) how it intended to implement the provision that related to domestic conveyances.

Adv A Gaum (ANC) suggested that Ms Lovemore was out of order. He pointed out that she had attempted to advance her argument against that particular provision before, and was now attempting to do so again in a different way. He pointed out that the time for deliberating on the Bill and asking questions had passed.

The Chairperson agreed that the time for deliberating on the Bill had passed. The Committee now needed to move forward, and this Committee would not be able to comment on the implementation of provisions once they were passed.

Ms Lovemore voiced her perception that all her questions had been “squashed” in one way or another, and said that part of the Committee’s role did involve asking the Department how it would implement some of the provisions in the Bill.

The Chairperson said she did not want to open the issue up for debate.

Mr M Mnqasela (DA) said that the Chairperson should offer protection to members when they asked questions or spoke in the Committee. He would not like to see the Committee becoming divided along party lines, with some Members questioning what others were asking. However, he agreed that since a majority vote was taken the Committee was no longer discussing the Bill. He asked that the Department should answer the question, rather than the Committee attempting to do so.

The Chairperson concurred with Mr Mnqasela that a division along party lines was undesirable. Members of the Committee must serve the country through their political parties, not the reverse. Ms Lovemore had raised the issue of conveyances constantly, and the issue had already been dealt with extensively.

Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Strategic Plan and Budget 2011
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director General, DHA presented the Department’s strategic plan and budget for 2011. He noted that the Department’s achievements in the 2010/11 financial year included registration by the Department of
47 health facilities for its online birth registration, making a total of 192 health facilities connected overall. The Department had issued 337 328 Identity Documents (IDs) to people turning 16, and 811 864 to those over 16, from April 2010 to February 2011. The South African Citizenship Amendment Bill of 2010, the Births and Deaths Registration Amendment Bill of 2010 and the Local Government: Municipal Electoral Amendment Bill of 2010 had been assented to and signed by the President.

The Department’s turnaround times on the issuing of IDs had improved. There was a waiting period of, on average,
54 days for the first issue of an ID, 47 days for an ID reissue, 24 days for the manual processing of passports and 13 days for the live capture process for passports. The Department had contributed to the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, by issuing visas and processing visitors. The Department contributed to three of the twelve national outcomes, ensuring that all people in South Africa were and felt safe, facilitating a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path, and providing an efficient, effective and development oriented public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.

Mr Apleni noted that the key aims included a
review of the policy and regulatory framework to manage economic migration. The Department also intended to develop policy options for managing the migration of skilled and unskilled migrants. The Department would focus on being a responsive, proactive and secure permitting regime, which was essential to managing economic migration. It would seek to facilitate the movement of regular travellers across neighbouring borders.

The Department aimed to ensure that children were registered within 30 days after birth. It would try to issue IDs to every South African of 16 years and older. It would ensure efficient and accessible service delivery to clients, integrate key systems and upgrade IT infrastructure for improved security and data integrity. It wished to ensure ethical conduct and a zero tolerance approach to corruption. It would develop and implement service delivery standards to improve operational efficiency and conduct a customer satisfaction survey.
Mr Apleni then turned to the
“Who Am I Online” project. The Department had reached a settlement of the dispute with Gijima and other suppliers, subject to the fulfilment of various conditions precedent, in order to proceed with the modernisation of the Department’s IT infrastructure and systems. He reminded Members that the original bid by Gijima of R2.1 billion was approved, and a contract was signed, for delivery on the project in 2008. Concerns over escalating project costs (which reached R4.5 billion by 2010) coupled with lack of progress led to an investigation by the Department early in 2010. In April 2010 the Department notified Gijima, the prime contractor, that it regarded the contract as invalid, but Gijima disputed the repudiation of the contract. The Department, in order to avoid indefinite delays through costly and lengthy litigation, then entered into negotiations to amicably resolve the dispute and allow for the urgent completion of the project, in line with the Department’s original requirements and original cost estimates. The Department had established a risk management committee to prevent future recurrences of this nature.

Ms Rudzani Rasikhinya, Chief Financial Officer, DHA, tabled the Department’s budget. The Department had been allocated a budget of R5,46 billion for the 2011/12 financial year. The Department would allocate R1,78 billion for administration purposes. R3,09 billion was allocated to citizen affairs and R587,6 million for immigration affairs.

She pointed out that the budget for the forthcoming financial year was lower than the 2010/11 budget of R5.83 billion, because this had included allocations for the World Cup. The estimated amounts for revenue collection in the following financial years were set out (see attached presentation for full figures). The Department would aim to establish a trading account by 1 July 2011. It would seek to strengthen financial management and clear the audit issues, to achieve an unqualified audit report.

Mr Mnqasela commended the Department on its presentation. He was especially pleased that the Director General would be heading up the Department’s administrative body.

Mr Mnqasela asked about the proposed tariff increases on applications for identity documents, and wondered if there could be exemptions for poor people who could not afford the new tariffs, and who had genuinely lost their identity documents.

Mr Apleni responded that the tariff increases on ID applications would not be enforced on first time applicants and that an exemption would still be in place for people who had genuinely lost their documents. The Minister of Home Affairs had the right to waive the tariff and that still remained in place.

Mr Mnqasela sought clarity on the slow progress of the Zimbabwean dispensation issue.

Mr Apleni said that the Zimbabwean dispensation issue would move faster after the issuance of passports to those Zimbabweans in the country who did not have them. After a meeting between the Minister and her counterparts, a deadline of July 2011 had been set for the dispensation to be fully implemented adjudication was ongoing for those who had passports. Another meeting would be scheduled with the Minister and the Zimbabwean representatives.

Mr Mnqasela said that the Department should monitor the scarce skills issue.

Mr Apleni responded that the issue of attracting people with scarce skills was being looked at by the Department of Economic Development and the Department of Labour was looking at quotas for scarce skills.

Mr Mnqasela commented that the Department should seek to monitor the functionality and capacity of the seventy-two ports of entry in the country.

Mr Apleni replied that the Department would duly monitor ports of entry and assess the security measures at some of the ports. Corruption was an ever-present danger at the ports which was also ever-evolving, old techniques of monitoring no longer applied and the Department was working on ways to address the issue. The Department would work closely with the Hawks, SAPS and the National Intelligence Agency to fight corruption.

Mr Mnqasela asked that the Department must provide timeframes for those areas where it proposed to improve. He expressed satisfaction with the Department’s goal to address gender imbalances.

Mr Apleni noted that the Department would continue to address the issue of gender imbalances.

Ms Lovemore thanked the Department for its comprehensive presentation. She asked whether the Department’s Turnaround Strategy (TAS) was complete. She sought elaboration on the Department’s stated goal of seeking to robustly improve its management. She asked what had happened with the Department’s focus on fraud and corruption in the last two years.

Mr Apleni replied that the Department’s TAS was not complete and would not be complete until people everywhere were satisfied with the Department’s service. The TAS merely provided a building block for the Department to continue to improve its services. He reiterated the points that he had made when responding to Mr Mnqasela in regard to corruption.

Ms Lovemore queried the large number of identity documents that had not been collected from the Department’s offices by those who had applied, and asked why this was so, and what the Department intended to do about it.

Mr Apleni noted that many young people, especially those under the age of 17, saw little use for an identity document thus after having applied for one they failed to collect them. This was one of the reasons the Department held a large number of uncollected IDs in its offices.

Ms Lovemore also commented on the large number, around 45 000, of duplicate identity documents and asked over what period this had built up, and what action had been taken to remedy it.

Mr Apleni responded that the Department was working hard to address the issue of duplicated IDs, and said that the mobile phone number of the Director General was displayed, and that members of the public who were dissatisfied were invited to call him directly if they had problems which were not being adequately addressed.

Ms Lovemore felt that the Department should have more concrete plans in place for
asylum seekers and for refugee management pertaining to third country nationals, which was on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agenda. She asked whether the Department’s proposed economic migration paper would be linked to any other tools.

Mr Apleni responded that the Department would look at the issue of asylum seekers and review its policies on refugee centres and their locations. The Strategic Plan was reviewed annually and, where there were unresolved issues, provision was made to address those issues in the following year.

Ms Lovemore asked where the money offered for repatriation was held, and if people received this in appropriate cases.

Mr Apleni assured Ms Lovemore that the repatriation funds were saved in a separate bank account from the Department and payments were made where applicable.

Ms Lovemore asked for an explanation of the trusted traveller programme, and said that the scarce skills permit was outdated.

Mr Apleni noted that the Department was looking into implementing a fingerprint system for people from Swaziland and Lesotho who worked in South Africa but travelled home frequently. That system would look to lessen the bureaucracy for the Department.

Ms Lovemore felt that the Department’s inclusion of a plan to conduct an audit on whether standard operating procedures (SOPs) existed was alarming. She commented that the waiting times for the issuing of ID’s and permits had gone up and steadily did so constantly.

Mr Apleni said that the audit on SOPs was proposed as part of the risk register and was essentially a mitigating factor so that the Department could improve its standard practices. The Department was trying to improve its timelines for ID and permit issuance, and was working constantly to improve this.

Ms Lovemore
asked whether Gijima had a case in light of the Department’s settlement of the case on the “Who Am I Online” initiative.

Mr Apleni reiterated that
the Department had sought an amicable resolution to the dispute with Gijima and had placed the national interest above its own in settling the case. He did not want to comment on whether Gijima had a strong case.

Adv Gaum said that the South African Police Service (SAPS) should get access to the Department’s database of fingerprints, and asked why this had not yet been done. He asked why the Department could not get DNA when taking in applicants.
Mr Apleni replied that the Department was working on linking the SAPS systems to the National Population Registry so that SAPS would have access to the fingerprints.

Ms S Rwexana (COPE) asked whether the Department had learned any lessons from the corruption around driver’s licences. She asked whether the proposed smart card system could not possibly be abused.

Mr Apleni replied that DHA would receive full information from the Department of Transport prior to implementing the smart card system. The smart cards would contain all the biometric information on a person, including driving license information, and the chances of fraud would be low.
Mr J Thibedi (ANC) asked whether the Department could combat corruption solely through the deterrent of vetting. He asked when corruption occurred, and whether this was most likely at ports of entry or further on in the system. He also commented that the Department should look at lessons from other countries when seeking to address the issue of scarce skills.

Mr Apleni replied that vetting was instituted at a payment level at the port of entry, and it was an effective way of monitoring corruption. The Department would work hard to combat corruption and was taking on lessons from other countries on how to combat the issue.

Ms P Maduna-Peterson (ANC) asked how the Risk Committee was constituted.

Mr Apleni replied that the Risk Committee was made up of external as well as internal people associated with the Department.

Ms H Makhuba (IFP) sought clarity on the fraud and corruption cases in the Department, asking in particular whether the perpetrators were Departmental staff or citizens, and why these cases took so long to process.

Mr Apleni replied that the Department of Public Service and Administration dealt with the corruption and fraud cases relating to the DHA. The main reason why cases were not more quickly resolved were the procedural practices allowed for employees prior to any disciplinary hearing.
Government Printing Works (GPW) Strategic Plan and Budget 2011/12

Mr Joe Engelbrecht, Chief Executive Officer, Government Printing Works, presented the strategic plan. He noted that the GPW aimed to optimise its production process, replace its outdated and depleted assets, and implement a technological migration, with a stronger focus on IT and electronic documents. It also wished to automate official gazette distribution and manage its resources. It would also look to implement a new structure and improve its marketing. Key projects included investigation and commissioning of a new security printing division, implementation of the ABC costing methodology, creating capacity to print passport visa pages in-house, and implementing new systems and developing a new facility.

Mr Rassie Barnard, Chief Financial Officer, GPW presented the budget. The GPW had budgeted R500 million for the 2011/12 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. GPW would spend R161.9 million on asset replacement, R
52 million on new IT systems, and R48 million on its facilities. GPW asked the Committee to advise and assist it in obtaining the necessary additional funds that it required.

Ms Lovemore commented that she was dissatisfied at having to pay to access some of the gazettes printed by GPW and asked if the fees were necessary. She also asked for what purposes the GPW needed additional funding.

Mr Engelbrecht responded that the GPW had two sources of revenue; one from the government when it required legislation and regulations to be printed, and the other from the private sector. The printing service had to finance itself. This was the reason that there were charges for accessing the gazette. The GPW had assessed the viability of producing and sending gazettes electronically to subscribers, save paper and postage costs. Access to the electronic gazettes would be free. The reason why the gazettes were not free at the moment was to prevent people from using the gazettes for their own profit.
Mr Barnard added that the additional funding was needed for the replacement and upgrading of dilapidated equipment.  

Ms S Bothman (ANC) commented that GPW should have included explanatory notes to fully explain its planned expenditure and the proposed increases in certain expenditure areas, such as professional services.

Mr Barnard noted that the expenditure estimates were estimated expenditure for a particular financial year which did not take into account the previous year’s assets. The GPW could send explanatory notes on planned expenditure to Ms Bothman.
Ms Bothman asked what the production stores were used for and what they produced. She commented that there seemed to be more money dedicated to administrative staff, but less was being produced.

Mr Engelbrecht responded that professional services dealt with all the machinery and special projects that needed outsider input. This was equipment related and IT related. The GPW had made a profit of R93 million in the last year and estimated making a profit of R103 million in the next financial year.

Ms Bothman asked how the “transfers received” were used.  

Mr Barnard responded that the transferred money was predominantly for the new passport facility which the GPW had had constructed.

Mr Mnqasela asked when the Committee could visit the GPW’s new printing facility.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee would have to decide when to conduct the oversight visit.

Mr Engelbrecht said the Committee was welcome to visit at any time.

The meeting was adjourned.

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