Department of Home Affairs Annual Report 2010/11

Home Affairs

11 October 2011
Chairperson: Ms M Maunye (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) presented the Annual Report and financial statements  for 2010/11 to the Committee, stressing that for the first time in sixteen years, the DHA had received an unqualified opinion from the Office of the Auditor-General, although there were still some matters of emphasis raised. The Department presented an overview of the achievements and priorities. The National Population Register campaign had been launched, which had resulted in an increased number of birth registrations of newborns, as well as those not registered before. There was increased registration of adults, and 724 new IDs were issued. Stakeholder Forums were launched in 254 municipalities, which aimed to monitor and improve the service delivery and achieve lessened corruption and better coordination and communication. The Births and Deaths Registration Bill had been assented to, and this also aimed to improve service delivery, through streamlined processes for registration by non-biological parents, registration of orphans and abandoned children, putting in more stringent measures for late birth registrations and more severe penalties for fraudulent attempts to register. In an attempt to expand on access to services, 46 additional hospitals were connected to the DHA systems, and ten new service delivery points were opened. 24 offices had been refurbished. A Centralised Adjudication Hub was opened to process temporary and permanent residence permits, and over 80 000 permits had been received and adjudicated upon. A case management system was introduced in the Inspectorate, which provided data. The Documentation of Zimbabweans Project had resulted in 275 762 applications for permits, had reduced the number of undocumented or incorrectly documented foreigners and had normalised migration flows between the two countries. DHA had implemented the Working Time Arrangement and Acting Allowances claims procedures, which had, respectively, greatly reduced overtime payments and acting allowances. 42% of the 417 new posts had been filled, and another 1 029 contract workers were converted to permanent staff, which reduced the need to use consultants. Performance agreements were now drawn and aligned to the DHA strategy.  A Youth Forum was launched in March 2011. On the governance front, the Department had designed a new structure and civic and immigration functions were organised under nine provincial managers, with the structures now corresponding to local and provincial structures to ensure better cooperation. The Department aimed to improve the security-consciousness of its officials, and build better and more secure platforms.  

The financial statements were presented, and it was noted that there had been open lines of communication established with National Treasury. Unbudgeted debts and over-expenditure from previous years were regularised. The DHA overspent, because it had settled debts incurred in the previous financial year, but it had also now managed to recover money owing in previous years from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. Expenditure on capital assets increased by 47% due to settlement of the Gijima contract. The matters of emphasis raised by the Auditor-General related to uncertainties about pending cases, material losses arising from assets written off and debts written off, the lack of processes and systems that produced actual performance results against planned indicators, non-disclosure of business interests by certain senior managers, some employees engaging in remunerative work without written permission, the fact that not all debts were settled in 30 days, and the fact that the internal audit function was not always effective. DHA realized that it had to capacitate the provinces in financial management, to strengthen asset management processes, ensure the proper rollout of LOGIS and BAS accounting systems, and implement record management.

Members asked what actions DHA intended to take in relation to the audit findings, what it would do to avoid overspending in future, and noted that the asset register was now the responsibility of internal employees. They asked what was being done to mitigate against high legal claims, how the targets would be maintained, asked about the settlement of the Gijima matter and its impact on the department, and asked about the new premises. They called for further explanations on the new systems, and asked if the subsidisation of passports was to continue. They also asked if rural hospitals were connected to the DHA networks, and how it intended to improve its employment of disabled people. Finally, questions were asked about border management.

Meeting report

Department of Home Affairs Annual Report 2010/11
Mr Mkhulesi Apleni, Director General, Department of Home Affairs, started his presentation on the Annual Report of the Department of Home Affairs (the Department or DHA) by announcing that, for the first time in sixteen years, the Department had achieved an unqualified audit opinion.

He said that his report would present an overview of the achievements and strategic priorities of the Department.  

Mr Apleni said that in an effort to mobilize the defence of identity and citizenship, the Department launched the National Population Registration Campaign in March 2010. It mobilised its officials, communities and its government partners at local and provincial level, and this had resulted in registration of 524 newborn babies within 30 days of birth, 507 babies of between 31 days and 12 months old, and 946 who were registered within a year. A large number of undocumented citizens were registered on the National Population Register (NPR). A total of 724 Identity Documents (IDs) were issued to applicants 16 years and older.

The Department launched Stakeholder forums, which had enabled people to get involved in government on their own terms. They were launched in 254 out of the 282 municipalities. The purpose was to monitor and improve the delivery of the services of the Department, to combat corruption related to the Department, and to coordinate efforts and communicate with communities to identify needs and assist the Department in meeting those needs.

The Births and Deaths Registration Bill was assented to and signed by the President in this financial year. It was hoped that the amendments would improve service delivery by streamlining processes such as the registration of children by persons other than biological parents, the registration of orphans and abandoned children, and the changing of details. These amendments were also intended to improve security by putting in more stringent measures for late registration of births, and by increasing the maximum penalties, in an attempt to discourage fraudulent birth and death registration, from five to fifteen years imprisonment.

Mr Apleni then reported on the increased access to services. In an attempt to expand and improve access to DHA services, 46 additional hospitals were connected to enable online registration of birth, resulting in a total of 192 hospitals now connected. The Department opened ten new service delivery points during the review period. The expansion of the footprint was part of a larger strategy aimed at providing citizens in all communities with adequate access to services. The Department also successfully refurbished 24 offices in terms of the new “look and feel” concept adopted by the Department during 2008. Improvements included better management of space and queues, better seating and improved signage.

Steps taken to ensure the secure management of immigration included the establishment of a Centralised Adjudication Hub for processing of Permanent and Temporary Residence Permits applications. Already, 80 053 permits had been received and adjudicated.

A Case Management System had been introduced in the Inspectorate, which would apply to all inspectorate offices, and this provided data on the activities such as arrests, investigations, prosecutions and deportations.

The Documentation of Zimbabweans Project resulted in 275 762 people applying for permits by 31 December 2010. This had greatly reduced the number of undocumented, or fraudulently-documented foreigners and asylum seekers, and it had also normalised migration flows between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The Immigration Bill of 2010 was passed by the National Assembly and was referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence. Mr Apleni outlined that some of the amendments set out in this Bill included restricting applications for a change of status when a visitor was in South Africa, repealing some provisions, according a special status to immigration practitioners, and revising provisions relating to visas and permits. Amendments to the Refugees Act included improving the capacity, effectiveness and efficiency of status determination, and establishment of a decentralised Refugee Appeals Authority.

Mr Apleni touched upon human resource (HR) matters. The Department had now implemented the Working Time Arrangement, which had reduced overtime payments to staff, which was noted by the drop in overtime claims from R20 million in 2009/10 to R10 million in 2010/11. A decrease has also been recorded in Acting Allowances claims, from R5,8 million in 2009/10,  to R1,4 million in 2010/11. Of the 417 posts newly created in 2010/11, 178 (42%) were filled. 1 029 contract workers were made permanent staff members. The increased workforce resulted in a significantly reduced use of consultants in areas where they were not necessary. Performance agreements had been aligned to the strategy of the Department, and it was hoped that this would drive a performance culture and enhance organisational performance. In focusing on its future leaders, and supporting the call of the government to invest in youth, the Department had also launched a Youth Forum in March 2011, with the support of the Director General.

Mr Apleni then turned to issues of governance.  The Department had designed a new structure that was integrated and aligned to all three spheres of government. Civic and immigration functions were organised under nine provincial managers. Home Affairs structures would correspond with local and provincial structures, so that cooperation at local level was assured. This model was designed to enable managers to take charge and manage at all levels, while ensuring accountability and oversight.

In order to ensure that it performed a central role in national security, the Department was aiming to develop a cadre of disciplined, professional officials who were security conscious, caring and responsive to the needs of all South Africans. It aimed to build a platform of processes and systems that were secure and integrated, to enable the Department to secure the identity and status of all who lived in South Africa. It aimed to implement an operating model that was appropriate to a security Department that must deliver services effectively to every citizen and to other clients and sectors. Finally, it would develop effective partnerships with communities, and across all spheres of government, to enhance national security and effective service delivery. All of this would be done while also transforming the Department.

Ms Rhudzani Rasikhinya, Chief Financial Officer, Department of Home Affairs, presented the financial statements, again reiterating that this was the first time in sixteen years that the Department had achieved an unqualified audit opinion. She ascribed this to the open channels of communication that the Department had striven to maintain with National Treasury (NT). The Department was allocated R5,8 billion in this financial year, but had actually spent R6.5 billion, thus showing overspending of R687 million. The overspending arose because certain debts incurred in the previous financial year had to be paid in this financial year. There was an increase of 46% in Departmental revenue, because DHA had managed to collect money owed by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) from previous financial years. The expenditure on capital assets increased by 47%, due to settlement of the Gijima contract. She added that the amount of R84 million relating to settlement of that contract was included in the line item for interest and rent on land.

Ms Rasikhinya stated that the Auditor-General (AG) had raised three matters of emphasis in the audit report. There were significant uncertainties amounting to R1.209 billion, due to various pending cases. The AG noted material losses amounting to R28.5 million, relating to debts written off. There were also material losses amounting to R38.233 million, relating to assets written off. In relation to predetermined objectives, the AG had noted that there were not valid performance management processes and systems that produced actual performance results against the planned indicators. In relation to compliance with laws and regulations, the Auditor-General had noted the non-disclosure of business interests by certain senior managers. Certain employees had performed other remunerative work without written permission. It was noted that the internal audit function was not always effective. Not all payments due to creditors were always settled within 30 days.

Ms Rasikhinya noted the Department’s commitment that, in order for it to maintain an unqualified audit opinion, it would need to capacitate the provinces in financial management, in preparation for the decentralization of certain functions. It also realised that it had to strengthen asset management processes, including doing asset verification on a monthly basis and disposal of redundant assets. It would need to ensure the proper rollout of LOGIS and BAS accounting systems, and implement the LOGIS asset management module. Records Management policies and procedures would need to be fully implemented.

Ms Rasikhinya noted that the presentation included various graphs and tables on the financial statements (see attached presentation for full details).

Mr A Gaum (ANC) asked what the Department was planning to do in relation to the findings on predetermined objectives and compliance with laws and regulations. He further wanted to know what the justification was for overspending, and what the Department was planning to do to remain within its spending budget in future.

Mr Apleni explained the AG would audit performance information. The Department needed to be ready, firstly, in terms of processes. The track and trace system was not currently in operation. Monitoring would happen on a quarterly basis.

Mr Apleni conceded that in relation to non-compliance, lack of discipline was a major issue. Nothing actually prohibited public service officials from engaging in other business, but they had to declare their interests. Letters have been written to those implicated, so that they could declare properly. A counter-corruption system was in place to follow up on that. He pointed out that the major problems arose when public servants entered into contracts with other government departments through their own companies.

Mr Apleni then explained the over-expenditure, noting that in the previous financial year, DIRCO and other suppliers  were owed R759 million, although the DHA was having to return money to the National Treasury. The budget of 2010/11 went to basics first, and DHA had seen to the settlement of old debts. In the 2011/12 budget that would not happen, because all debts arising from previous years had now been settled.

Ms Rasikhinya added that the consultants had previously been responsible for the preparation of the asset register, but in the 2010/11 financial year it was the responsibility of internal employees and in particular was seen as a responsibility of every senior manager. The LOGIS system was now used to register assets, instead of EXCEL.

Mr M Mnqasela (DA) wanted to find out what the Department was trying to do to mitigate against high legal claims. He also asked how the Department was planning to sustain its achievements and targets and maintain momentum.

Mr Apleni stated that triplicate forms have been introduced, so that there was no cheating on claims. The majority of these claims were from the procurement side. A list of items to be procured was now given to the Minister to make sure there was funding available. In other words, there would be no tenders issued unless there was first the assurance that there was financial backing.

Mr Apleni said that in order to maintain the momentum of improvement, the Department had introduced Responsibility Managers. The managers were given responsibilities in line with what was stated in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). If there was any financial misconduct, this would be dealt with accordingly, as the managers had signed performance letters setting out their responsibilities and programmes. Manual processes were being phased out, because they were responsible for many problems in the past. The Smart Card was also being piloted.

Ms P Maduna (ANC) stated she was disappointed with the low number of Indians, Coloured and disabled employees within the Department. and further wanted to know if the Gijima settlement would have an impact on the Department.

Ms Rasikhinya explained that there were interventions in place to deal with the recruitment of Indians, Coloured and disabled employees. She noted that the statistics seen by the Committee in the audit report were taken from the track and trace systems.

Ms Maduna asked what impact the settlement of the Gijima contract would have on the Department.

Ms Rasikhinya responded that the Gijima dispute had been settled. National Treasury was going to deposit the money so that it could deliver on what the Department was looking for.

The Chairperson enquired about the plans of the Department to move into new premises.

Mr Apleni stated that this matter lay with the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the move of the DHA was dependent on how DPW handled the issue. The DPW had found a building for the DHA, as previously there had been disputes between the two departments on the buildings, but now that a suitable building had been found, contracts had been signed. One compromise was made, namely that certain staff members would be moved to the BVR building, which also housed some civic officials dealing with civic matters, as this building belonged to the State. The Ministry of Home Affairs had been moved to Arcadia, to another government building. No rental would be payable by the DHA for these new buildings. The process would be finalised in November. The current lease of the current building was being run on a month-to-month basis.

The Chairperson wanted an explanation on the systems that the Department would be using.

Ms Rasikhinya explained that the Department would use systems that were in line with the National Treasury’s requirements, because the current system was not integrated. The new one would be Integrated Financial Management Accounts (IFMA) system, and the PERSAL system would no longer be used. This was being piloted in phases, especially in the provinces. So far, it seemed to work well, and had showed some successes in Limpopo. It would now be tried out in the national department.

Dr C Mulder (FF+) asked if the Department was subsidising the printing of passports, and asked if over-budgeting would still happen.

Ms Rasikhinya replied that the Department subsidised the printing of passports, due to increases in passport prices. National Treasury did not want the costs of printing passports to go through a vote, and so it was agreed to open a trading account. The R400 paid for the passport would pay Government Printing Works (GPW), and would cover the printing costs, but would exclude the employee costs. This would be done over a two-year period. The auditing of the account would be done using a special type of accounting system, by the Auditor-General, and a report on that would be included in the Annual Report. Increased costs would still be apparent next year,  because there were still some issues of “look and feel” that still needed to be maintained, so money would need to be spent on branding, to ensure that there was consistency in the way the Department looked at national and provincial level.

Ms S Rwexana (COPE) commented that the relationship the Committee had built with the Department has helped the Committee to have a better understanding of how DHA worked and the challenges it faced.

Ms Rwexana asked if rural hospitals were connected to the network of the Department. and what its plans were to recruit the disabled.

Ms Rasikhinya said efforts had been made in rural areas to connect hospitals, but this was a challenge. Some hospitals were connected, and there were offices opened in those rural areas.

Ms Rwexana asked what plans the DHA had to increase its employment of disabled people.

Ms Rasikhinya said that the DHA had a mechanism in place. The Department was currently liaising with the provinces so that it could get a list of disabled employees, but noted that six had already been employed.

Mr Mnqasela wanted to know how long it was going to take to have Border Management Agents.

Mr Apleni stated that the focus of the Department was to support the process, although the responsibility for this actually fell within the Department of State Security, who had been mandated to look into the issue. That was why the Department was piloting a security project at the OR Tambo Airport. Lessons would be taken from that project and, if it proved to be a success, it would be rolled out to other airports.

The Chairperson asked how far the Department was regarding plans to deploy Defence Force personnel at the borders.

Mr Apleni replied that this matter rested with the Defence Review Committee. The Department would be making a presentation, to try to see what the targets were and there would be study of the marine routes to try to ensure that all ports of entry were secured. The Department of Home Affairs was to liaise on the provision of sufficient capacity.

The meeting was adjourned.

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