Provincial Managers in the Department of Home Affairs on the state of their provinces

Home Affairs

29 August 2011
Chairperson: Ms M Maunye (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received a briefing from Provincial Managers in the Department of Home Affairs. The presentations focused on the state of the Department’s provincial offices after the first quarter in Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.

The Limpopo Provincial Office highlighted the Department’s presence/footprint across the Limpopo province. The Provincial Offices had been located according to population demographics in each area in the province. The province was ranked 5th in the list of ID delivery turn-around times. It was ranked 6th in the list of late registration of birth (LRB) turnaround times. The Provincial Office had registered 46 817 applications for IDs with first applications and reapplications noted in the total. The Provincial Office had received 12 980 applications for passports in the quarter. The Department had received a total of 1.9 million immigrants at its various border posts in the first quarter. The Department’s inspectorate had arrested 862 people in relation to immigration; it had detained 818 people, deported 759 people and prosecuted 21 of its employees. As part of the Provincial Office’s outreach programme, it had visited 655 schools and received 11 574 ID applications, 390 LRB applications and had distributed 3712 IDs. The Provincial Office had also worked to resolve the issue of duplicate IDs, having received 194 duplicates from head office and returned 256 duplicates to head office. The Provincial Office had projected to spend R48.9 million in the first quarter but had managed to spend R48.1 million (43%). The Department had generated R14.3 million in revenue in the first quarter.

Amongst some of the challenges confronting the Provincial Office, was the non functionality of municipal offices, the non connectivity at small offices, delays in finalising death duplicate cases at head office, insufficient computers for use (Officers sharing), staff deployment to head office (Expenses on Office of origin’s budget), system downtimes due to cable theft and ID vetting delays amongst other challenges. Amongst some of the achievements the Provincial Office there was the appointment of key staff, the delivery of IDs by door-to-door, the appointment of the Director for Finance and Support, the appointment of 61 Front Office Clerks and deployment to hospitals, the appointment of the Provincial Manager and allocation of the budget to relocate 11 dilapidated and /or uninhabitable offices to new locations.

The Gauteng Provincial Office highlighted its presence in the province. The Department had been ranked second in the list of provinces with the fastest turnaround time with respect to IDs being dispatched from head office and sent to the provincial office. The provincial office was ranked sixth with respect to turnaround times on delivery of ID to applicant. The provincial office was ranked third in turnaround times for informing an ID applicant of the status of their application. The Provincial Office had visited 209 schools in lieu of its ID campaign out of a target of 200 thereby exceeding the target. It had received 8903 applications from the schools it had visited. The Department had dealt with 2 426 incoming immigrants in the first quarter, extended 16 104 Section 22 permits and issued 161 refugee IDs. The Provincial Office had filled 1509 vacancies and had 188 unfilled posts (89% filled).

The Provincial Office had been allocated R339 million for 2011/12 and had thus far spent R108 million representing 33% expenditure in the first quarter. The Provincial Office had a number of corruption and fraud cases which were undergoing due process and pending rulings. Amongst some of the Provincial Office’s challenges, it listed the overcrowding of the main refugee reception centre Marabastad due to the closure of Crown Mines, the delayed completion of cases, the backlog of unresolved queries such as duplicates, amendments, unabridged certificates, confirmation letters and naturalisations and the indecision on the naming of children upon birth leading to issues with the LRB 30 day provision.

The Mpumalanga Provincial Office had a presence in nine Thusong Service Centres, eleven mobile units and connected in eight hospitals in the province. The Provincial Office had installed electronic queue management systems in two offices in the province. The system gave an estimated waiting time for customers and indicated the number of customers waiting in line to be served. The Department had taken on an initiative involving the Phelophepa health train. The train normally provided health services to rural areas but had incorporated other Government Departments this year in order to provide services to remote communities.+

The Provincial Office had been earmarked to be the lead in a pilot project. The Executive Management Committee had identified the need for the Provincial Office to embark on a project aimed at documenting all the immigrant communities and families who live in and around the borders of the Republic of South Africa. The Pilot would be carried out in Bushbuckridge and Nkomazi Local Municipality. Those were one of the areas in the provinces with the highest concentration of illegal immigrants. The strategic objective of the project was to pilot a project to profile and build a coherent and credible database of immigrant families who have settled in and around certain local municipalities around the country. The Department had received a budget allocation of R145 million for 2011/12 and had spent R19.2 million of it representing 15% expenditure. The Department had several cases relating to fraud pending with investigations ongoing. Amongst some of the challenges the Department faced it included the challenges brought on by a shortage of staff service points which were only being visited once per week instead of permanently. Hospital offices were not fully operational as a result. There were challenges around LRB as applicants did not show up for interviews, and did not have all the necessary documents. The influx of illegal foreign nationals through the porous borders was a challenge as well as the opening of Thusong Centres without the involvement of Home Affairs. The existing offices were not according to Department specifications, and human capacity was neither available nor equipped to work in those Centres.

Members asked about the various Provincial Offices asset registers and their status. They asked about the influx of immigrants at Lebombo border post. They queried why the various presentations did not tie in with the Department’s strategic plan. They asked what was being done to fill vacancies. They asked whether there was policy in place to tackle corruption and illegal crossings at border posts. They commented that Department should not place the employment of female employees above the provision of services to the average citizen. They commented on the profiling of immigrant communities.

Meeting report

Mr Major Kobese, Head of Policy in the Office of the Director General: Department of Home Affairs, thanked the Committee for inviting the Department. In the coming weeks the Department would have the other Provinces brief the Committee on their annual quarterly reports. The Department was in the process of filling the vacant provincial manager positions with a view to the Minister of Home Affairs’ stated objective of obtaining a 60%-40% split in favour of female employees.

Briefing by the Limpopo Provincial Manager
Ms Florah Motsitsi, Provincial Manager for Limpopo: Department of Home Affairs (DHA), briefed the Committee on the progress of the provincial office’s work in her province.

Ms Motsitsi highlighted the Department’s presence/footprint across the Limpopo province. The Department had 10 offices in Capricorn district, 8 offices in Mopani district, 6 offices in Sekhukhune district, 18 offices in Vhembe district, and 6 offices in Waterberg district. The Provincial Offices had been located according to population demographics in each area in the province. The province was ranked 5th in the list of ID delivery turn-around times. It was ranked 6th in the list of late registration of birth (LRB) turnaround times. The province had dealt with a total of 38 160 late registration of births. That figure included people who had exceeded the 30 day registration provision. The Department had registered 46 817 applications for IDs with first applications and reapplications noted in the total. The Department had received 12 980 applications for passports in the quarter.

The Department had received a total of 1.9 million immigrants at its various border posts in the first quarter. The Department’s inspectorate had arrested 862 people in relation to immigration; it had detained 818 people, deported 759 people and prosecuted 21 of its employees. The Department had made several gains in the first quarter, including the opening of 5new district offices, 21 local offices, 20 small offices and 7 branch offices at various Thusong Service Centres in the province. The Department was continuing to work to improve service delivery with 21 out of 45 Health Centres connected in the first quarter with two in Mopani and Sekhukhune being the most recently connected. The Department had negotiated to occupy space at a further 14 hospitals.

As part of the Department’s outreach programme, it had visited 655 schools and received 11 574 ID applications, 390 LRB applications and had distributed 3712 IDs. The Department had also worked to resolve the issue of duplicate IDs, having received 194 duplicates from head office and returned 256 duplicates to head office. The Department had also established a digital complaints database to assist in improving access to the Department. There had been 334 complaints received on the database with 20 thus far finalised. The Department had 201 vacancies, 180 funded and 21 unfunded.

Mr Matshaya Thifhelimbilu, Director of Finance for Limpopo: DHA briefed the Committee on the provincial office’s budget and expenditure. The Department had planned to spend R48.9 million in the first quarter but had managed to spend R48.1 million (43% of the year’s allocation). The Department had generated R14.3 million in revenue in the first quarter. The Department had numerous revenue collection/generating offices across the province, in the Capricorn district it had seven such offices, in Mopani it had four, in Sekhukhune it had six, in Vhembe it had thirteen and in Waterberg it had seven such offices.

Amongst some of the challenges confronting the Department, was the non functionality of municipal offices, the non connectivity at small offices, delays in finalising death duplicate cases at head office, insufficient computers for use (Officers sharing), staff deployment to head office (Expenses on Office of origin’s budget), system downtimes due to cable theft and ID vetting delays amongst other challenges.

Some of the achievements included the appointment of key staff, the delivery of IDs by door-to-door, the appointment of the Director for Finance and Support, the appointment of 61 Front Office Clerks and deployment to hospitals, the appointment of the Provincial Manager and allocation of budget to relocate 11 dilapidated and /or uninhabitable Offices to new offices.

Briefing by the Gauteng Provincial Manager
Ms Lerato Afilaka, District Manager for Operations for the West Rand and Sedibeng: Department of Home Affairs, briefed the Committee on the Gauteng Provincial Office’s progress.

The Department highlighted its presence in the province. The Department had nine offices in Johannesburg, five in Randburg, six in Alexandra, eleven in Soweto, and six in Roodeport. It had eight offices in Pretoria, seven in Akasia, four in Garankuwa, five in Mabopane, four in Soshanguwe, five in Cullinan, three in Mamelodi and three in Centurion. The Department had been ranked second in the list of provinces with the fastest turnaround time with respect to IDs being dispatched from head office and sent to the provincial office. The provincial office was ranked sixth with respect to turnaround times on delivery of ID to applicant. The provincial office was ranked third in turnaround times for informing an ID applicant of the status of their application.

The Department had thus far secured six accommodative places out of twenty-five health facilities in Gauteng with negotiations to secure space in four more ongoing. The Department had visited 209 schools in lieu of its ID campaign out of a target of 200 thereby exceeding the target. It had received 8903 applications from the schools it had visited. The Department had eight mobile units which had visited 321 sights in the first quarter and received 4298 ID Applications, issued 2510 IDs, registered 135 LRB cases and 407 birth registrations. The Department received 34 516 first time ID applications and 75 877 applications for passports. The Department had dealt with 2 426 incoming immigrants in the first quarter, extended 16 104 Section 22 permits and issued 161 refugee IDs. The Department had filled 1509 vacancies and had 188 unfilled posts (89% filled).

Ms Pumeza Mdwara, Director of Finance and Support for Gauteng: DHA briefed the Committee on the provincial office’s budget and expenditure. The Department had been allocated R339 million for 2011/12 and had thus far spent R108 million representing 33% expenditure in the first quarter. The Department had a number of corruption and fraud cases which were undergoing due process and pending rulings.

Amongst some of the Department’s challenges, it listed the overcrowding of the main refugee reception centre Marabastad due to the closure of Crown Mines, the delayed completion of cases, the backlog of unresolved queries such as duplicates, amendments, unabridged certificates, confirmation letters and naturalisations and the indecision on the naming of children upon birth leading to issues with the LRB 30 day provision.

Briefing by the Mpumalanga Provincial Manager
Mr Robert Zitha, Acting Provincial Manager for Mpumalanga: Department of Home Affairs, briefed the Committee on the progress of the provincial office’s work in her province.

Mr Zitha highlighted the Department’s presence across the province. The Department had one provincial office, three local offices, twenty-one medium local offices, and thirty small local offices. The Department had a presence in nine Thusong Service Centres, eleven mobile units and connected in eight hospitals in the province. The Department had run a mobile unit campaign in which 10 Mobile Units each with a full teams consisting of a Mobile Unit Operator, full LRB committee and 3 clerks had been in Mpumalanga from 24 January 2011 to 5 March 2011. In that time period the mobile unit had visited 320 different venues in various areas in the province. The Department had managed to ensure connection to eight hospitals in the province with work ongoing to connect a further eight. The Department had refurbished seven offices across the province.

The Department had installed electronic queue management systems in two offices in the province. The system gave an estimated waiting time for customers and indicated the number of customers waiting in line to be served. It added a professional impression to the Department’s dealings with the public. The Department had taken on an initiative involving the Phelophepa health train, (“Phelophepa” combined elements of Sotho and Tswana to roughly translate to mean “good, clean health”). The train had been in Mpumalanga from 6 June to 15 July earlier in the year under the operation of Transnet. The train normally provided health services to rural areas but had incorporated other Government Departments this year in order to provide services to remote communities. The pilot of the project was in Mpumalanga. The train had allowed people to apply for first issue IDs, reissued IDs and LRB amongst other activities. It had generated a total of R71 thousand for the Department and had been useful in reaching distant communities.

The Department had been earmarked to be the lead in a pilot project. The Executive Management Committee (EMC) had identified the need for the Department to embark on a project aimed at documenting all the immigrant communities and families who live in and around the borders of the Republic of South Africa. The local municipalities and areas across the country which had a common border with neighbouring states would among others include Mantsopa, Bushbuckridge, Nkomazi, Musina, Phongolo, Mafikeng, Matatiele, Umjindi and Phalaborwa. The Pilot would be carried out in Bushbuckridge and Nkomazi Local Municipality. Those were one of the areas in the provinces with the highest concentration of illegal immigrants. The strategic objective of the project was to pilot a project to profile and build a coherent and credible database of immigrant families who have settled in and around certain local municipalities around the country.

The Department had held 18 Stakeholder forums in local and district municipalities. The Province was currently in the process of meeting with the Local and District Municipalities to elect members. The Department had been ranked ninth in turnaround times for the amount of days it took to process an ID application. It had been ranked second in the turnaround time it took to get an ID to an applicant, and it had been ranked third in the turnaround time it took to inform a person about an ID application which had been processed. The Department had dealt with 41 367 first time ID applications, 26 260 reissued IDs, 18 687 birth registrations and 4 747 LRB cases. The Department had also processed 35 413 passport applications. The Department visited 198 schools and received 6 624 applications for IDs. It had processed 3.4 million people crossing into and out of border posts in the province with Lebombo and Oshoek being two of the busier border posts. The Department had filled 624 vacancies and had 67 vacant funded posts and 512 unfunded vacant posts.

Mr Milingoni Nemutshili, Director of Finance and Support for Mpumalanga: Department of Home Affairs, briefed the Committee on the provincial office’s budget and expenditure. The Department had received a budget allocation of R145 million for 2011/12 and had spent R19.2 million of it representing 15% expenditure. The Department had several cases relating to fraud pending with investigations ongoing.

Amongst some of the challenges the Department faced included the challenges brought on by a shortage of staff service points which were only being visited once per week instead of permanently. Hospital offices were not fully operational as a result. There were challenges around LRB as applicants did not show up for interviews, and did not have all the necessary documents. The influx of illegal foreign nationals through the porous borders was a challenge as well as the opening of Thusong Centres without the involvement of Home Affairs. The existing offices were not according to Department specifications, and human capacity was neither available nor equipped to work in those Centres.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked whether the door-to-door delivery of IDs by youths was not illegal. She sought details on the asset register which was not mentioned in any of the presentations. She asked how much was being spent on allowances for “Acting Managers”. 

Ms Motsitsi replied that the door-to-door delivery of IDs was done by youths who were employed by the DHA and was therefore legal.

Mr Kobese replied that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Minister of Home Affairs had stated that she would not sign paycheques for “Acting” officials as the Department sought to tackle the problem by appointing permanent staff.

Mr Thifhelimbilu replied that Limpopo’s asset registers were found to be in order and the Office was looking to improve its reporting of asset registers. There had been a problem with a matter of emphasis in declaring some assets with respect to specificity on the type of asset.

Ms Afilaka replied that the asset register manager had yet to be appointed in Gauteng but that managers knew that asset registering was a function which they had to report on.

Ms Mdwara added that there had been minor issues with respect to the asset register in relation to specifying assets and movement of assets on the floor without being noted on the register.

Mr Nemutshili replied that the province had no outstanding asset register issues and was working to address vacancies.

Ms P Maduna-Petersen (ANC) asked why Vhembe district had 18 offices whilst Capricorn only had 10. She asked whether the deportation numbers in Mpumalanga were always high in December. She asked how the indicated regions in Gauteng were demarcated.

Ms Motsitsi responded that the Department was not paying rental at all 18 offices in Vhembe and could therefore afford to have more offices in that district as opposed to Capricorn where it was paying for all accommodation in all 10 offices.

Ms Afilaka replied that demarcations were set out in line with municipal boundaries. 

Ms T Gasebonwe (ANC) asked about security in Gauteng. She asked why there was no immigration movement at the Zanzibar border post in Limpopo. 

Ms Afilaka replied that it had outsourced security at some of its offices to a private security company with service level agreements.

Ms Motsitsi responded that the Zanzibar post had been flooded and closed as a result thus there had been no movement at that post.

Mr M Mnqasela (DA) commented that the focus in combating corruption should be on the vetting process. It was important that a speedy and efficient vetting system be undertaken. It appeared that corruption was not only affecting the Department of Home Affairs but pervaded other government Departments as well. He asked why there were pending cases across all the presentations. He said that he supported the approach to appointing female employees as part of an effort to achieve transformation; however that could not be done at the expense of the public and the people who sought and required public service. The progress around vacancies was slow and a fast track approach needed to be undertaken especially towards funded vacancies. The Committee had a responsibility to assist in securing more funding for the Department.

Mr Kobese responded that the problems with the vetting process rested with State Security as it took between 4 and 6 months to vet a potential employee. Every position that existed in the Department had a timeline attached to it and regardless of what gender the Department was looking to fill the position, the general public would not suffer as the vacant position was temporarily filled.

Ms Motsitsi responded that corruption was a pervasive issue but was being addressed through the appointment of dedicated personnel to tackle the issue. Corruption cases were being dealt with by head office and the Department was working to fill vacancies within its ranks. 

Ms A Lovemore (DA) voiced her frustration at being limited to asking only three questions due to time constraints. The Committee needed to have full interaction with the DHA Provincial Office representatives. She commented that none of the presentations tied up with DHA priorities as stated in the Department’s strategic plan. There was no mention of timelines and no measure of turnaround times. She asked why the number of duplicate IDs in Limpopo was so high. She commented that she was concerned about the constant focus on immigrant communities. The proposed profiling of immigrant communities would be targeting. She asked why the Department was pursuing that agenda. She commented that there appeared to be a lack of capacity in Gauteng to deal with the influx of immigrants. She asked whether the Gauteng Office had enough officials and whether they were equipped to deal with illegal and legal immigrants.

Mr Kobese replied that head office did not want to dictate to Provincial Offices on what they should include or exclude as they were given a certain amount of autonomy. He noted that the lack of timelines in the presentations and the weaknesses in the presentations. He promised that further engagements with other provinces would not have the same deficiencies. The issue of duplicate IDs was a serious problem at a national level. A task team had been set up to look into the issue of duplicate IDs led by the Civic Services branch. The Director for Civic Services may accompany other provincial offices set to brief the Committee to give a status update on the progress of the Department on the duplication issue. The profiling of immigrant communities had arisen as a result of the Deputy President’s visit to Provincial Offices. The project was in pilot form in Mpumalanga and was instigated to deal with undocumented immigrants and was focused on securing the country and ensuring that undocumented immigrants were accounted for.

Ms Motsitsi replied that the number of duplicate cases was high but that the Provincial Office had asked for a person to be sent from the head office to assist with addressing the issue in Limpopo.

Ms Afilaka replied that the Provincial Office recognised the need to capacitate itself across the board and was working hard to fill vacancies, especially those that were funded. 

Ms H Makhuba (IFP) asked whether the ID application system had changed since the increase in prices for IDs. She asked whether the Provincial Offices were facing a problem with IDs not being collected after being produced. She asked what the Provincial Offices were doing to address duplication of IDs and how death related duplications were handled.  

Mr Kobese replied that the issue of duplicate IDs was a serious problem at a national level. A task team had been set up to look into the issue of duplicate IDs led by the Civic Services branch. The Director for Civic Services may accompany other provincial offices set to brief the Committee to give a status update on the progress of the Department on the duplication issue. 

Ms Motsitsi responded that there had been a lowering of applications for reissuance of IDs since the tariff increase on IDs.
 
Ms Afilaka responded that the Department was addressing the issue of duplicate IDs through various means including conducting assessments of whether individuals who had several IDs in their names were alive.

Mr G McIntosh (COPE) commented that he had been impressed by the three Provincial Office presentations which the Committee had received. He asked how the Mpumalanga Office chose its locations for some of its offices in the province. He asked whether an impact assessment had been down prior to the closing of the Crown Mines refugee reception centre in Gauteng and why it had been closed down. He commented that he was in support of the profiling of immigrant communities as it might help in separating legal immigrants from illegal refugees. He asked whether extra money was offered to potential female employees to address gender equality in the Department.

Ms Afilaka responded that Crown Mines had been closed down to complaints by surrounding businesses in the area about the clientele attracted to the area by the location of the refugee centre. Refugee centres would be moved closer to the border as part of the Department’s broader reassessment of refugee centres.

Mr Zitha responded that the CSIR had assisted in the setting up of Provincial Office locations across the province.

Ms N Mnisi (ANC) asked whether there was any legislation in place to enforce the naming of a child upon birth so as to circumvent the violation of the LRB 30 day provision in the Births and Deaths Amendment Act of 2010. She asked how many port of entries in Mpumalanga had permanent staff. She sought clarity on the under-spending on compensation of employees in Mpumalanga and overspending on goods and services. She asked what plans were in place to address the shortages of staff in that province. 

Mr Kobese replied that there was no legislation which forced a child to be named at birth and different cultural and religious factors played a part in the delay in naming a child.

Mr Zitha replied that there was more expenditure on goods and services and less on employees due to the vacancies in the provincial office. 

Ms K Rwexana (COPE) asked whether there were any monitoring mechanisms in place with regard to revenue collected by the Provincial Offices. She asked whether there was a turnaround strategy in place to address the situation in Gauteng with respect to refugees in the province. She asked what mechanisms were in place to prevent corruption at the Lebombo border post in light of the numbers of people that crossed through the post. She commented that an Equality Bill should be fast tracked through parliament to address issues of gender equality in the country.

Ms Afilaka responded that refugee centres would be moved closer to border as part of the Department’s broader reassessment of refugee centres. The Provincial Office did have a strategy in place with respect to the collection of IDs, which would be addressed via the use of mobile units. The problem had also been addressed by the hike in tariffs on ID applications. 

Mr Zitha replied that measures were in place to prevent corruption with the Border Coordinating Control Board meeting on a fortnightly basis to address the threat of corruption at Lebombo amongst other places.

Mr J Thibedi (ANC) commented that there should be a focus on rural areas and stakeholder forums in attempting to address the question of birth registration. He asked whether the influx at Lebombo sometimes led to illegal crossings. He commented that the South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) should play a role in the prevention of cable theft at border posts.

Mr Zitha responded that there was the possibility of illegal border crossings but that the Provincial Office worked in coordination with security officials and the police to set up road blocks to stop illegal immigrants from crossing.

Ms Afilaka replied that stakeholder forums were being undertaken and work was being done to improve the forums.

The meeting was adjourned.


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