Refugees Amendment Bill, Immigration Amendment Bill adoption; Public Service Commission & Departments' own performance reports, & 4th quarter 2010 report

Home Affairs

20 June 2011
Chairperson: Ms M Maunye (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee adopted amended versions of the Refugees Amendment Bill [B30D-2010] and the Immigration Amendment Bill [B32C-2010].

The Committee received a briefing from the Public Service Commission on the quality of services provided by the Department of Home Affairs (the DHA). The presentation and its findings were formulated on the PSC’s pilot Citizen Satisfaction Survey, which had been adopted as one method by which the PSC engaged citizens. The survey assessed numerous criteria. It assessed accessibility to services, treatment of the public by the service provider, the availability of information on public services and knowledge and competence of staff. The survey also assessed the condition of the facilities in which services were delivered, fairness and equity in service delivery, value for money in public service delivery, provision of redress where a promised standard of service had not been met as well as the outcome of the encounter with the public service. Full details were given of the percentage results in these categories, and by provinces. The PSC, based on the findings, then came up with a list of recommendations that the DHA should follow to improve service provision. The PSC recommended that the functioning and manning of call-centres be investigated at service points. Systems needed to be upgraded to ensure that service users could be assisted telephonically within reasonable time. Service points needed to be upgraded to ensure accessibility by the elderly and disabled. Information desks at service centres should be manned at all times with trained and informed officials. Officials needed to be trained and informed in order to provide service users with the correct information. The Department would have to develop mechanisms to ensure that formal records of complaints were captured and attended to in an effective and efficient manner. Feedback on how complaints raised were handled and resolved would have to be communicated back to the service users.
Members questioned the methodology used for the survey and questioned the apparent variances in service provision between urban and rural centres. They commented that there were DHA offices which were not easily accessible for disabled people and elderly people. They expressed serious concern over the statistics that showed that people were unable to contact the Department, the fact that many seemed to be fearful or negative of making complaints, and the low results on officials’ knowledge and competence. The issue of redress needed improvement. Members also enquired whether non-citizens had been surveyed, how the report would be used to interact with the DHA, and whether there was any correlation between this survey and the recent government election results.

The Department of Home Affairs briefed the Committee on its performance in the 2010/11 financial year. The three main outcomes were listed, as securing
South African citizenship and identity, managing immigration securely and effectively, and providing services that were efficient, accessible and corruption free. Each outcome was would be attained through the setting of measurable and achievable goals, and some of these were listed. It was noted that the live capture process would contribute to combating of fraud and corruption, but progress on this had been hindered by the dispute with Gijima/AST. The new strategic focus was on achieving a negotiated settlement, which had been recently concluded. The Department was also trying to limit levels of duplicate identity documents, and noted its progress. As part of the objective to improve leadership and capacity, the Department had trained 15 managers, out of 400, on a Management of Customer Service Pilot and 75 officials, out of 1000, in a customer service pilot. Over 275 000 Zimbabweans had applied for work, business and study permits by the deadline of 31 December 2010.

The Department finally briefed the Committee on its 4th quarter expenditure of 2010/11. It had been allocated R5.8 billion in the last financial year, and had spent R6.5 billion. Overspending was attributed to settlement of the prior year’s outstanding debts as well as unpaid claims from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation that were not budgeted for. Approvals had been given by National Treasury.

Members were critical of the fact that some of the targets were not measurable – such as those for births, and were highly critical of the lack of significant training, the fact that regulations under the Refugees Amendment Bill, which were still to come back to Parliament, were not mentioned, and misleading timelines, and unacceptable progress on track and trace. Members felt that far more time needed to be allowed for more detailed interaction. Members also commented that security at ports of entry needed improvements and the Border Management Agency must be speeded up. The Department also needed to make provision for over-spending. It was agreed that the Department would provide written responses.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that 20 June had been International Refugee Day. She commented that the Committee was concerned with attacks on refugees and strongly condemned any such attacks in South Africa.

Refugees Amendment Bill [B30D-2010]: Adoption
Advocate Deon Erasmus, Chief Director: Legal Services: Department of Home Affairs, briefed the Committee on the amendments which had been made to the Refugees Amendment Bill [B30D-2010], following the recommendations and resolutions taken at the Committee’s meeting of 14 June 2011. The main changes related to the Refugee Appeals Authority.

Ms A Lovemore (DA) sought clarity on the establishment of sub-committees under the Status Determination Committees, saying that the Bill was not clear as to how they were established.

Adv Erasmus replied that the definition of the Status Determination Committee in the Bill outlined that a sub-committee could only be established by the Status Determination Committee.

Adv Mongameli Kweta, Senior State Law Adviser, Office of the Chief State Law Adviser, said that he agreed with Adv Erasmus on the Status Determination Committee. All the changes agreed to in the last meeting were properly reflected in the new version of the Bill.

The Committee adopted the Bill, as amended.

Immigration Amendment Bill [B32C-2010]: Adoption
Adv Erasmus said that Clause 13 of the Bill, relating to the deletion of the words “in consultation with”, had been the only outstanding issue from the previous meeting. It was decided by this Committee that these words would be retained.

Mr Monwabisi Nguqu, Senior State Law Adviser: Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, said that the State Law Advisors agreed with the Department. The correct changes to the Bill had been made, and the D version of the Bill reflected what had been decided.

The Committee approved the Bill, as amended.  

Public Service Commission report on service provided by the Department of Home Affairs
Mr Paul Helepi, Commissioner: Public Service Commission, said that the Public Service Commission (PSC) was working hard to produce information of a high standard, to assist Parliament with its oversight responsibilities. The presentation and its findings were formulated on the PSC's pilot Citizen Satisfaction Survey. 
As part of its mandate of monitoring and evaluation (M&E), the PSC had, since 2001/2002, adopted Citizen Satisfaction Surveys as one way of engaging the citizens. Such evaluations helped to ensure that the needs of the citizens were answered, and would promote good governance.

Ms Irene Mathenjwa, Chief Director, PSC, briefed the Committee on the survey the PSC had conducted on services provided by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA or the Department). The survey had been undertaken to develop South African-specific drivers of citizen satisfaction and to assess the citizens’ level of satisfaction with the services rendered by the selected Public Service Departments. The survey on DHA had been carried out in 2009/10.

The survey assessed numerous criteria, including accessibility to services, treatment of the public by the service provider, the availability of information on public services and knowledge and competence of staff. The survey also assessed the condition of the facilities in which services were delivered, fairness and equity in service delivery, value for money in public service delivery, provision of redress where a promised standard of service had not been met, as well as the outcome of the encounter with the public service. The survey took in a specific gender, age and educational level demographics (see attached presentation for further details). The Department’s scores were then tabulated and were then ranked, as a percentage. The DHA had received high ratings in the following areas:

Facilities 99.2%, accessibility 98.5%, value for money 98.3%, courtesy 97.8% and fairness and equity 96.2%.

However, the Department had some less favourable ratings in other areas, as follows:
 

Accessibility to facility- 65%. convenience of operating hours 74.6%, access for the disabled and elderly 53% , and ability to contact service points telephonically -52.2%.

At provincial level, the PSC survey found that 87.5% of the service users in Gauteng were the most satisfied with aspects of accessibility to services, and 32.7% of the service users in KwaZulu-Natal were the least satisfied with this driver.
At provincial level, all service users (100%) in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Gauteng were the most satisfied with the display of courtesy by officials, and 35% of the service users in KwaZulu-Natal were the least satisfied with this driver. The overall percentage of people who felt they had been treated courteously by officials was 72.2%. At provincial level, all service users (100%) in Gauteng were the most satisfied with timeliness in service delivery and 17% of the service users in the North West were the least satisfied with this driver. The overall percentage of people satisfied with the service delivery, within the prescribed timeline, was 51.5%.

The survey also assessed the Department’s ability to provide information to the public. At provincial level, 84% of the service users in Mpumalanga were the most satisfied with all aspects of provision of information and 46% of the service users in KwaZulu-Natal were the least satisfied with this driver. The survey also assessed the knowledge and competence of the staff at Departmental centres. At provincial level, all service users (100%) in Gauteng were the most satisfied with all the aspects of knowledge and competence of officials, and 45.2% of the service users in the North West were the least satisfied with this driver.

The survey looked at value for money. At provincial level, all service users (100%) in the Eastern Cape, Gauteng were the most satisfied with value for money, and 53% of the service users in KwaZulu-Natal were the least satisfied with this driver.
 
In the area of seeking redress for problems or unresolved issues with the Department, the survey found that of the 42.9% service users who experienced problems, 12.5% did lodge complaints. Those who had not lodged complaints gave various reasons for not doing so, including that they were not aware of where to lodge the complaint (43.3%), they did not feel it was worthwhile (30%), they had nothing specific to complain of (28.3%), or they were afraid of staff, or scared to get in trouble (1.7%). At provincial level, the prevalence of service users who experienced complaints was high (68.4%) in KwaZulu-Natal, and lower (18.2%) in Gauteng.

The overall findings of the survey led to the following percentage outcomes on the view of the public about the work of the Department:
Fairness and Equity 90%

Outcome 83.5%
Value for Money 79.5%
Knowledge and  Competence of staff 75.1%
Courtesy 72.3%
Facilities 62.4%
Accessibility 61.4%
Information 65.3%
Timeliness 51.5%

The PSC, using these findings, then came up
with a list of recommendations for the DHA to follow to improve service provision. The PSC recommended that the functioning and manning of call-centres be investigated at service points. Systems needed to be upgraded to ensure that service users could be assisted telephonically within a reasonable time. Service points needed to be upgraded to ensure accessibility by the elderly and disabled. Information desks at service centres should be manned at all times with trained and informed officials. Officials needed to be trained and informed in order to provide service users with the correct information. The Department would have to develop mechanisms to ensure that formal records of complaints were captured and attended to in an effective and efficient manner. Feedback on how complaints raised were handled and resolved would have to be communicated back to the service users.

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that the variances in service provision were due to the gap between centres in urban areas and those in rural areas. She commented that many DHA offices were not easily accessible for disabled people and elderly people. There were offices staffed by unfriendly officials and the amount of information desks at DHA centres was insufficient.

Adv A Gaum (ANC) thanked the PSC for the presentation. He asked who had conducted the survey and how the results had been put together. He asked whether the PSC had instituted new indicators for the 2009/10 survey, as opposed to the 2006/07 survey.

 
Ms Mathenjwa replied that the survey had been conducted and designed by the PSC. The drivers in the survey had been sent to departments, to solicit their views, and then they were added to the survey. Due to the new drivers in the survey, it was not possible to outsource this to an external service provider to conduct the survey, but a service provider had been contracted to assist with cleaning up the data. The PSC had instituted new drivers, which differed from the 2006/07 survey, and the next survey would encompass the newly instituted drivers and use them to draw comparisons and assess improvement.

Adv Gaum sought clarity on the statistics relating to the Department’s operating hours.

Mr Indran Naidoo, Acting Director General, PSC, responded that the DHA’s operating hours had been extended, and that had been of great benefit to service users. The Department had instituted shifts for lunches, mobile centres and opening on Saturdays and that had contributed to the improvement in operating hours.
 
Mr M Mnqasela (DA) commended the PSC for its survey. He commented that in some areas the Department showed an improvement and in others it showed a decline in service provision. He said that the Committee needed to gain a better understanding of why some provinces showed more satisfaction with the services provided as opposed to others. He asked who had commissioned the survey and what the reaction from the DHA had been, if indeed there had been interaction between the two on the survey.

Mr Mnqasela expressed serious concern over the statistics that showed people being unable to contact the Department. He said that the issue of people seeking redress when they felt aggrieved needed to be improved. The Committee needed to understand why people were afraid to speak out when they were being mistreated or they were receiving poor services.

Ms Mathenjwa reiterated that the survey had been conducted and designed by the PSC. The statistics relating to redress were reflective of the feelings of service users. They either felt that their complaints were not being dealt with or that they would not get redress if they raised a complaint.

Mr Naidoo added that most service providers struggled to get DHA officials on the phone to assist them with their queries. The PSC had tried to contact the DHA itself telephonically, to test the validity of the claims, and had had a call dropped whilst holding for service. Sometimes the Department’s call centres voice prompts led to a dropped phone call. That was an area needing serious improvement.

Mr Helepi added that the Department’s officials and public servants in general needed to show courtesy when dealing with members of the public.

Ms Lovemore said that non-citizens were entitled to service delivery too. She asked whether the PSC had had interaction with any non-citizens whilst conducting its survey.

Mr Naidoo responded that the PSC had not looked at non-citizens in conducting its study due to the focus of the survey and budget constraints. It would look into carrying out a similar survey, focused on non-citizens, in future.

Ms Lovemore questioned the statistical soundness of the survey, considering the small number of people who had been surveyed. She said that the survey could not be used to draw conclusions about the DHA. She asked whether the report would be used to interact with the DHA. She said that the statistics relating to people seeking redress were of serious concern, especially in light of the amount of money the Department had spent on Turnaround Strategies. She said that most people’s expectations of services provided by the Department were low and she sought clarity on the statistics relating to service users expectations.
 
Mr Naidoo responded that the survey had been conducted using sampling. The sampling had been purposefully conducted to get a better picture of how the service users felt about the services they were getting from the Department. The results of the survey were triangulated with other surveys that the PSC conducted. He provided an example of where a survey conducted on the PSC Anti-Corruption Hotline had shown that the issue of timeliness of the Department came up consistently. The survey showed that the Department was relatively fair, and that perceived or real corruption in the Department was not as widespread as had been suggested.

Mr Naidoo confirmed that the PSC had shared its findings on the DHA Survey of 2006/07, and DHA had improved in areas that were isolated as poor in that survey. There had been limited improvement in timeliness in the Department. With regard to the comments on redress, he noted that people in urban areas tended to complain, but not so much those in rural areas, because they had misconceptions about what would happen if they laid a complaint. The survey had been conducted in local languages. If the PSC had a bigger budget it would have surveyed more people. PSC was seeking to establish coordination with universities to improve surveys.

Ms Mathenjwa said that the expectations statistics mostly showed that the service users had received what they had gone to the Department to get, but that it had come after a prolonged period of time.

Mr Helepi commented that a round table discussion may be needed to deal with issues of xenophobia and the issue of ‘non-citizens’ and addressing the need to provide equal public services to both groups. The PSC would have to look at using indicators to show areas of weakness in departments, so as to assist in improving service provision, and adding to this by looking at evidence, on the ground, around service delivery.
  
Ms H Makhuba (IFP) thanked the PSC for its presentation. The survey showed that there was still a major problem with service provision, especially in KwaZulu Natal (KZN). She asked what the reasons were for the dissatisfaction in KZN and whether there were suggestions to improve there. She asked why the provision of forms statistics had gone down. She expressed concern over the statistics relating to officials knowledge and competence, as they were too low.
  
Ms Mathenjwa replied that where the survey showed improvement, this reflected the perceptions of the people who had participated in the survey. She stressed that the PSC did not assert its own opinions at all in the survey.  The PSC had conducted the survey in both urban and rural areas in KZN, and the findings reflected how the people in those areas perceived the services of the Department.

Ms S Bothman (ANC) said that the Committee needed a fuller picture, as opposed to just getting statistics for the highest and the lowest satisfaction levels in the provinces. She asked whether illiterate people had been sampled for the survey. She asked what the ‘value for money’ driver looked at specifically. She said that transparency at the Department had not been mentioned and asked why that was the case.

Ms Mathenjwa replied that the PSC had used both spectrums of the extreme for this presentation, being the province with the highest level of satisfaction and the province with the lowest. More detailed information was available and would be provided to the Committee on request. She noted that 47% of the people sampled in the survey, had completed schooling up to Matric. It was, however, considered to be too sensitive to include information on levels of schooling as one of the drivers. The value for money driver was formulated based on the costs that people paid to get services from the Department and their level of satisfaction with the pricing. All the results from the survey leant towards showing how transparent the Department was in its dealings. The findings implied that the Department was largely transparent in its dealings, although there were issues in some areas where attention needed to be paid to improvements.

Ms P Maduna-Petersen (ANC) commented that the Department had improved in some of the drivers in the survey. She asked when the survey had been carried out.

Ms Mathenjwa responded that the survey had been carried out in 2009/10.

Mr J Thibedi (ANC) asked how the survey’s findings reflected on the recent local government elections and whether unhappiness in the survey had manifested itself in voting patterns.

Mr Naidoo replied that there was no correlation between the survey and the elections. The survey had been designed to assess service delivery and could not be used to definitively point towards voter trends. Any dissatisfaction with government was not often raised when the survey was being conducted. The fairness driver was the closest point that could be correlated with dissatisfaction with the Department. The more the DHA moved towards automated systems and removed the human element, the more likely it would be that corruption would be eliminated. 

Mr Helepi added that the pace of the move towards an automated system was dictated by the pace of the development of service provision. Service delivery levels were still progressing to a higher level to achieve higher efficacy.
 
Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on its Performance 2010-2011

Ms Rudzani Rasikhinya, Chief Financial Officer, DHA, briefed the Committee on the Department’s performance in 2010/11.

She noted that the Department’s strategic plan was underpinned on three Outcomes. Outcome 1 was to
secure South African citizenship and identity, Outcome 2 related to immigration that was managed effectively and securely in the national interest, including economic, social and cultural development. Outcome 3 was for service that was efficient, accessible and corruption-free. Each Outcome was would be attained through the setting of measurable and achievable goals. The targets in the presentation were for the financial year 2010 – 2011.

Objective 1 required the DHA to ensure registration at birth was the only entry point to the National Population Registry. The Department had registered 946 031 births (of children between 0-1 years old). That represented 87% of the estimated total births, or 17% above the set target. The Department had finalised 190 091 applications for late registration of births and had allocated ID numbers to these people within the targeted turnaround times. The regulatory framework had been strengthened to deal with the late registration of births and deaths through the Births & Deaths Registration Amendment Bill and Citizenship Amendment Bill, which were assented to and signed by the President.
The Department endeavoured to provide identity documents (ID) to all citizens who were 16 years and older. The Department had issued 495 774 IDs to applicants turning 16 years old, thereby reaching its set target.
 
The Department endeavoured to secure processes and systems to combat fraud and corruption. This would be done through the live capture process. The dispute with Gijima/AST meant that there was no progress on reaching those targets. No progress could be made with regard to those targets. The new strategic focus was on achieving a negotiated settlement, which had been recently concluded. The Department also had further targets limiting the levels of duplicate ID documents. The Department had finalised 16 242 cases thus far relating to duplication. 55 784 cases had been resolved with no need to issue an ID and 28 788 had been resolved with the ID issued, so the total resolved cases were 84 572. The cases had been dealt with as persons came forward. Often, one person would have two ID numbers, one of which was stopped.

The Department’s plans to integrate the Movement Control System (MCS), National Immigration Information System (NIIS) and its Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) had been stalled by the need to reach settlement in the “Who Am I Online” (WAIO) project which had initially been tendered to Gijima/AST. That prevented the Department from meeting its objective to integrate key systems and upgrade IT infrastructure for improved security and data integrity.

In line with the Department’s goals to establish the Border Management Agency, the DHA had developed a position paper outlining the necessity and importance of such an Agency. The Border Management Agency was still under discussion at the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster level. In alignment with its goal to ensure ethical conduct and a zero tolerance approach to corruption, the Department had conducted a baseline study on causes and scope of corruption within the Department. The draft baseline study with findings was awaiting approval from all the relevant role-players. 

As part of its objective to improve leadership and capacity, the Department had trained 15 managers (out of 400) on a Management of Customer Service Pilot and 75 officials out of 1000 had been trained in a customer service pilot. The DHA’s training targets had not been met due to internal procurement processes that could not be finalised during the 2010/11 financial year , but the programme was piloted in five offices in Gauteng. Feedback from the pilot would be used for the nation-wide rollout.

Amongst its other achievements in 2010/11, the Department also highlighted the Documentation of Zimbabweans Project which resulted in over 275 000 Zimbabweans applying for work, business and study permits by the deadline of 31 December 2010.

Discussion
Ms Lovemore commented that the report was astounding because the DHA was quoting targets that it could not measure – such as those relating to registration of unknown numbers of births and deaths, She said that the regulations relating to the Refugees Amendment Bill would still have to come back to Parliament. That had not been noted in the presentation, even though it had been promised at the time.

Ms Lovemore described the training of 15 out of 400 Department officials as “shocking” and there could be no justification for it. Ms Lovemore sought clarity on the Department’s standard operating procedures, as highlighted in the presentation. She asked who could receive the report on corruption noted in the presentation, and where it was. She also criticised the timelines in the presentation as misleading and inaccurate. She said that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) issues noted in the presentation should not affect the country’s handling of refugees. She said that there was unacceptable progress on the track and trace issue noted in the presentation. She expressed dissatisfaction with the Gijima/AST settlement and said that Gijima was being paid for work that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) was carrying out.    

Dr John Carneson, Chief Director for Policy and Strategy: DHA replied that the late registration of births was a complex matter.

Ms Makhuba commented that the Department should have measurable targets. She asked when the Department would achieve the targets it had set out with regard to the live capturing of data. She asked what the Department was doing to sort out the duplication of Ids, as it was an ongoing problem with far reaching implications.

Ms D Mathebe (ANC) expressed concern over the short time the Committee had to interact with the Department and proposed that in future meetings enough time must be given to the Committee to ask questions of the Department.

Mr Mnqasela said that the presentation had been interesting. The Department’s strategic plans and performance plans needed to be better developed. He proposed that a long day be set aside for the Committee to interact with the Department on issues. Not enough progress had been made on late births and deaths registration. The Department had promised to bring the regulations on the Refugees Amendment Bill back to the Committee when these were prepared, and he, like Ms Lovemore, commented that this was not reflected in the presentation. Mr Mnqasela also thought that the security at the ports of entry needed to be improved and more should be done to speed up the establishment of the Border Management Agency. Issues around the provision of Section 22 Permits for asylum seekers needed to be better addressed. 

Ms Bothman proposed that the Committee should get a written response to outstanding queries and then have a long engagement with the Department on another day. 

Mr Mnqasela supported the suggestion by Ms Bothman.
 
The Chairperson proposed that the long meeting with the Department take place in the third term.

Ms Lovemore expressed support for the proposal to get written responses from the Department on the issues raised, and to have further engagement in the third Parliamentary term.

Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs on Quarterly Expenditure
Ms Rasikhinya briefed the Committee on the Department’s expenditure in the 4th quarter of the 2010/11 financial year. The Department had been allocated R
5.8 billion in the last financial year and had spent R6.5 billion. Overspending was attributed to settlement of the prior year’s outstanding debts as well as unpaid claims from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) that were not budgeted for in the 2010/11 financial year. The processing of the payments was done in consultation with National Treasury and the necessary approval had been granted. The amount relating to DIRCO was approximately R709 million whilst the sum owed to other suppliers was R267 million.

The Department had projected to spend on six areas in its fourth quarter budget for 2010/11. The fourth quarter expenditure on compensation of employees had been R757 million of the allocated R2 billion.
The overspending of 11.9% against the linear projection of 25% was mainly due to the expenditure described for DIRCO, payment of bonuses, overtime, and extension of contract workers. The Department had spent R994 million on goods and services. Variances were mainly due to the settlement of debts and Who Am I Online settlement.

The Department had spent R4.6 million on interest and finance leases, in line with agreements. The payment of interest on finance leases was as reflected in the lease agreements. The Department spent R988 million on transfers and subsidies in the fourth quarter. It had been allocated 1.6 billion for the programme. Transfers were in line with cash flow projections of the institutions to whom it transferred money. The DHA had spent R46.8 million on payments for capital assets. This was due to the defrayment of capital expenditure. The Department had spent R28.4 million on the payment of financial assets.

Discussion
Ms Bothman said that the DHA needed to make provision to compensate for over-spending, when it became clear that this would happen, because of exigent circumstances. Overtime expenses and bonus payments should also be budgeted for.

The Committee agreed to get written responses to the questions raised in the meeting, and to hold a longer meeting in the third term.

The meeting was adjourned.

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