The Department of Home Affairs presented its Strategic Plan and Budget Overview for 2011-2014, emphasising birth registration within thirty days of birth, the issue of Identity Documents to all eligible citizens and residents, secure and efficient management of migration, securing a clean audit report and fighting fraud and corruption as the Departments five main points of focus for the next three years. The Department’s key challenges included ensuring that all South Africans had birth certificates and over the age of 16 had Identity Documents, the separation of economic migrants from genuine asylum seekers, unacceptable levels of fraud and corruption, the contaminated National Population Register, out-dated information systems, the uneven quality of front office service delivery and the attraction of scarce and critical skills into the country.
A number of questions from the Committee related to the statement made during the presentation that the Department was considering setting up offices in schools. Questions were also asked about the Department’s setting up of offices in a number of hospitals so as to register newly born babies before they leave the hospitals. The long queues of refugees in the Department’s service delivery points were highlighted as a concern and was the setting up service delivery points for refugees near border posts a possibility? Committee members asked questions about the “smartcard” ID system. Problems about the Department’s “mobile truck units” as delivery points were also raised.
The Chairperson welcomed the Department and on behalf of the Committee, expressed her frustration at not having received the presentation at least seven days in advance of the briefing. The DHA Director-General, apologised for the absence of the Minister of Home Affairs and for the fact that the Committee had not received the presentation in good time.
Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Strategic Plan and Budget 2011-2014: briefing
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, DHA Director-General, presented the Department’s Strategic Overview for 2011 to 2014. He began with an overview of the Department’s performance and achievements for the period 2010/11 in civic services and immigration services. The opening of new service delivery points, the implementation of the Counter Corruption strategy and an improved audit report were amongst the Department’s achievements for 2010/11.
The Department’s key challenges included ensuring that all South Africans were issued with birth certificates and that all South Africans aged 16 years and above were issued with Identity Documents, the separation of economic migrant workers from genuine asylum seekers, the high levels of fraud and corruption, a contaminated National Population Register (NPR) and the collection of IDs, out-dated information systems that were not sufficiently secure and integrated, the uneven quality of front office service delivery and the insufficient attraction of scarce and critical skills into the country. Strategic responses to each of these key challenges were presented. DHA service delivery points had been set up in a number of hospitals around the country. The possibility of setting up service delivery offices in some schools was also being considered.
The Department contributed to three of government’s twelve priority outcomes, namely Outcomes 3, 5 and 12. The Department’s strategy was based on its three major outcomes of secured South African citizenship and identity, the effective and secure management of immigration in the national interest, and an efficient and accessible corrupt-free service. The strategic objectives, measurable outputs and targets for each of these outcomes was presented
Problems experienced with the Department’s human resources were highlighted including the fact that males occupied 53% of managerial positions, despite constituting only 40% of the Department’s total employees.
Who Am I Online (WAIO) was flagged as a problematic project because of escalating project costs (the tender for the project was secured by Gijima in 2008 for an amount of R2.1 billion but the cost of the project by 2010 had escalated to R4.5 billion).
The Budget structure for 2011-14 was divided according to three main programmes: Administration, Citizen Affairs and Immigration Affairs. The Department’s expenditure for the programmes during the period 2009/10 was 98% of the amount that had been appropriated for that period.
There would be an overspend of 12.55% for 2010/11 which would be due to the Department’s settlement of debts, including debt owed to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. Processes to prevent further debt had been implemented.
The total budget for 2011/12 would decrease by 6.35% from the previous year. Compensation of employees and goods and services each constituted 40% of this amount.
The Department planned to establish a trading account, strengthen financial management in the Department and clear its audit issues so as to achieve an unqualified audit report in the future.
Ms M Boroto (ANC) asked about the feasibility of the Department setting up offices in high schools considering the disruption this could potentially cause. Furthermore, safety was already a problem in schools and setting up DHA offices in schools would compound that problem.
Mr Apleni answered that the use of school facilities for DHA offices was just an example he had given. It was envisaged that old school buildings that were no longer being used as schools could be used by the Department. The Department would discuss the matter with the Department of Education.
Ms Boroto asked about the tender process around the “smart cards”. It was true that the technology associated with the smart cards would cause people who issue ID photos to lose their jobs but this was not a good enough reason not to implement the smart card system as the system had the potential to significantly decrease fraud associated with IDs.
Mr M De Villiers (DA) asked what the cost of the smart cards for citizens who were already in possession of an ID would be.
Mr W Faber (DA) asked why there had been such a delay in implementing the smart card system.
Mr Apleni replied that the implementation of the smart card system required a great amount of infrastructure which was yet to be put in place. The Department needed to consult with Cabinet to resolve issues such as the cost of smartcards and who was to carry this cost.
Mr Faber asked why there had been a delay in implementing an electronic voting system for the IEC.
Mr Apleni replied that the IEC presented its projects to Parliament separately, despite reporting to the Minister of Home Affairs.
Ms Boroto asked why the queues of refugees at service delivery points were so long. This was particularly problematic in the urban areas, while in the rural areas the issue of long queues seemed to have improved. Was the training of front office staff addressing this problem?
Mr Apleni answered that the problem of the large number of refugees in the DHA offices and queues was a legacy of South Africa’s past policies which did not differentiate between economic migrants and refugees. Permits issued to refugees entering the country allowed people to work in the country. The reason for the long queues of refugees was because of people who abused the system. People coming to South Africa as visitors received a 90 day permit, once the 90 day permit expired they queued at DHA and claimed to be asylum seekers.
Ms Boroto asked why the fee for a temporary ID was as much as R140. This was too expensive for a temporary document.
Mr Apleni replied that the application for a permanent ID document and a temporary ID had been “delinked” meaning that people could apply for a temporary ID without having necessarily to apply for a permanent ID. This option had been created for people who had temporarily misplaced their permanent IDs. Permanent IDs and temporary IDs were therefore now separately charged for.
Ms D Rantho (ANC) spoke of a specific case of a deceased former exile who had been based in Tanzania and who had brought his children back to South Africa from Tanzania. When the grandmother of the children contacted the DHA Pretoria Office, she was told that in order to get birth certificates for the children she needed to go to Tanzania. The woman had thought Tanzania was a place in Johannesburg. Why had the DHA not offered the necessary information and assistance to this woman?
Mr Apleni answered that stakeholder forums had been established to address these issues. He requested Ms Rantho give him the details about this case so that the Department could take the matter forward.
Ms Rantho asked if it was possible for the programmes implemented in Elliot last year to be replicated in the border areas.
Mr Apleni answered that the Department had already started a pilot project in the border areas in Mpumalanga. Once this pilot project had been carried out it would be implemented in the Eastern Cape.
Ms Rantho commented that people were not told what information and documentation they needed to have with them when they went to the DHA. This meant that many people had to go to and from their homes to collect the right documentation.
Mr Apleni replied that information about what documentation was required had been pinned up in the DHA offices so that people did not have to rely on a DHA official to give them such information. The Department would also like to broadcast this information on radio stations.
Ms Rantho said the mobile service delivery trucks experienced problems when they drove out to the rural areas because there was often insufficient signal for their computer systems to operate. This resulted in data not being captured and then lost.
Mr Apleni said the Department was monitoring its 117 mobile trucks. The Department had a contract to ensure that the satellites were properly managed in each province.
Ms Rantho said the idea of having DHA offices in hospitals to register newly born babies was a good one. However, many babies were still born at home and were not registered for birth certificates. What could be done to ensure that these babies were registered?
Mr Apleni agreed with this point and said the Department wanted to consider the possibility of setting up DHA offices in clinics.
Mr De Villiers expressed his extreme frustration at not having received the documents long enough in advance to have been able to properly prepare questions for the meeting. The absence of the Minister and/or Deputy Minister was also unacceptable.
Mr De Villiers asked for more details on the current status of the 417 priority posts identified for 2010/11 (of which only 178 had been filled according to the presentation) and the 1 076 priority posts identified for 2011/12, both of which had received funding.
Ms Avril Williamson, Chief Human Resources Officer, DHA replied the Department had filled an additional 39 posts to date so that 52% of the 417 posts identified for 2010/11 had been filled. Recruitment plans were in place to fill 419 of the 1076 positions effective as of 1 July 2011.
Mr De Villiers asked for why the Department fell significantly short of its 2008/9 target to issue new passports within 10 days, and why the 2010 target had been set at 19 days. What could be done about the failure to meet these targets?
Mr Apleni said these targets had had to be amended based on the reality of the situation.
Mr De Villiers said it seemed the Department did not have enough information about its offices. How could the Department do proper monitoring and evaluation of its offices if it did not have this information?
Mr Apleni replied that the Department knew the number of its offices and the locations of these offices.
Mr De Villiers replied that because he had not received the presentation in time he had been unable to cross-check the presentation with his own research.
Mr De Villers asked what the costing for WIAO was and how it would influence the 2010/11 budget.
Mr Apleni replied that WIAO had been costed for and included in the budget.
Mr de Villiers asked how the Department planned to increase its human resources capacity if there was to be a decrease in funds allocated to the Administration programme in 2011.
Mr Apleni replied that the budget for compensation for employees from 2010 to 2011 showed an increase of 13.4%.
Mr De Villiers asked what the Department would do to address its problem of under spending on certain programmes. If the problem was partly due to invoices not being submitted on time, did the Department have a plan to rectify this?
Mr Apleni replied that the Department had decentralised the procurement process and that directors for finance in each province were being appointed to handle the finances.
Mr Faber asked what the Department was doing about immigrants who were running businesses in the townships. In the face of high unemployment, this problem was fuelling xenophobia.
Mr Apleni replied that a paper addressing this issue had been taken to Cabinet.
Mr Faber asked if there was sufficient capacity to implement the Enhanced Movement Control System. Would plane flights still run on time?
Mr Apleni replied that the system had already been implemented.
The Chairperson said there was a problem with foreign nationals purchasing child-headed homes in the townships and informal settlements to open up businesses. In Freedom Park in February 2011 there had been an outcry from the community about this. In conjunction with stakeholders it was decided to close the shops until the status of the foreign nationals could be established. The community needed to be educated about the status of foreign nationals. The status of foreign nationals needed to be monitored and the Department needed to work with the police and the Department of Human Settlements on this issue.
Mr Apleni replied that a stakeholder forum, which included the Department of Labour, South African Revenue Service, South African Police Service, and the DHA, had been established to address this issue in Soweto, Gauteng.
The Chairperson asked in which hospitals the Department had set up 46 offices. Furthermore, where were the 126 additional offices in health facilities to be set up and how were these to be spread out across the country?
Mr Apleni answered that a list of the location of the hospitals would be sent to the Chairperson.
The Chairperson asked if skilled workers coming into the country could be monitored and placed where they were needed. Should they be given special permits to work in the country? How do we develop our own human capacity if skilled workers have to return after a number years?
Mr Apleni agreed that this needed to be better regulated. A policy was being worked on to deal with this issue.
The Chairperson said the Department should not wait until children reached Grade 12 to register them for IDs as a high proportion of children had already dropped out of school by the time they had reached Grade 12. The Department should therefore aim to register school children at a younger age.
Mr Apleni agreed with this point and said the Department wanted to aim to send a letter to 15 year old children instructing them to apply for their IDs.
The Chairperson asked why Crown Mines Refugee Reception Centre had been closed.
Mr Apleni said that the reasons for this “cut across”.
The meeting was adjourned.
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