Department of Home Affairs 2012/13 Annual Report

NCOP Health and Social Services

18 February 2014
Chairperson: Ms R Rasmeni (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) came to the Committee to present their annual report and address some of the issues raised by the Auditor General.

Members of the Committee expressed their satisfaction with their new smart ID cards, especially with how swift and smooth the process was.  Also the Department was applauded by the Committee for turning things around and making it more efficient. There had been positive comments from the public.

In the presentation, though there were many successes and the Department exceeding their targets, there were areas of failures that the Committee felt overshadowed these successes. The Department conceded that they had realised there was a problem with setting targets properly, and needed to understand the system better, as the Auditor General had reported.

The Committee was concerned about the filling of funded posts in the Department, and with the fact that the number of vacant posts seemed to be going up instead of coming down. The Department explained that the intention, with the devolution of powers to provinces, was to fast-track things. But the provinces did not have the capacity, and it was only now that there was a Deputy Director and Assistant Director in place to discharge the Human Resource functions. The Department had to look at perhaps appointing a service provider that would assist in going through the applications.

With the duplicated IDs that the Department was working on retrieving, and issuing new ones, the Department said they had approached MTN and Vodacom to assist in locating those people.  However, they had said that FICA prohibited this, but that they were working on finding a flexible solution.

Ports of entry were still an unresolved issue, and though the Department had produced a comprehensive plan to the Committee on how they would deal with the matter, it was still not resolved. A Member said that when someone was blaming another, they were actually saying they did not have the skills to address the problem, and questioned if the Department had the capacity or the skills to deal with ports of entry. Then again, with the vacancy rate so high, how could the Department achieve its targets?

The Deputy Minister explained the latest litigation case that involved the Department. The case was a result of the Department looking into closing refugee centres that they thought had a very small number of newcomers, and rather placing them where the centres were most needed.

Meeting report

Annual Report Briefing: Department of Home Affairs
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director General, Department of Home Affairs, took the Committee through the annual report of 2012/13.

The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) of government had twelve priority outcomes. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) contributed directly to three of the twelve outcomes: all people in South Africa are and feel safe; a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path; and an efficient, effective and development-oriented public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship. 

The Strategic Plan is grounded on three Outcomes that align with its mandate and priorities

Outcome 1: Secured South African citizenship and identity.  Measurable objectives were to ensure that registration at birth was the only entry point for South Africans to the National Population Register (NPR); to issue Identity Documents (IDs) to citizens turning 16 years of age and above; and to ensure the identification and registration of South African citizens and foreign nationals to enhance the integrity and security of identity.

Outcome 2:  Immigration managed effectively and securely in the national interest including economic, social and cultural development.  Measurable objectives were to ensure a secure, responsive and flexible immigration regime in support of national security, priorities and interests; to implement effective and efficient asylum seeker and refugee management strategies and systems; to facilitate the efficient movement of bona fide travellers to support national interests and priorities, and to prevent and prohibit the movement of undesirable persons in the interest of national security; and to contribute towards realizing a positive skills migration trend of around 50 000 migrants annually.

Outcome 3:  A service that is efficient, accessible and corruption free.  Measurable objectives were to transform the culture of the organization in support of securing identity, citizenship and international migration; to ensure ethical conduct and a zero tolerance approach to corruption; to obtain a clean audit report; and to ensure secure, effective, efficient and accessible service delivery to clients

Strategy to transform the Department, 2011 - 2014
The strategy was to achieve and maintain a clean, secure National Population Register (NPR); effective implementation of proactive, risk-based and efficient management of immigration; ongoing transformation of DHA values as embodied in its organizational and service delivery approach, practice and capacity; effective harnessing of technology to support the achievement of the above priorities; and developing state and civil society partnerships in support of the service delivery and security mandates of the DHA.

Overview of Progress
Continuous improvement of service to the people 2009 - 2013
The number of health facilities connected for online registration of births and deaths increased from 118 in March 2009 to 334 in March 2013.  From March 2011 to March 2013 there was a 20.4% increase in the number of births registered within 30 days – that is, from 500 524 to 602 530 births.  93% of passports that were applied for through the live capture process, were delivered within 13 working days.  There had been a steady expansion of the footprint of Home Affairs from a total of 273 frontline offices in March 2006 to a total of 403 in March 2013.  A Corporate Accounts Unit had been established to service projects and institutions of national importance, such as Eskom, with turnaround times of two weeks achieved.  There had been substantial progress with regard to Civic Services, in terms of securing the NPR, ensuring all citizens were registered, and delivering services according to acceptable standards.

The facilitation of large volumes of persons through ports of entry and support for large international events was reasonably efficient and secure. 

With regard to organisational transformation, the foundations were laid for a modernisation project to be rolled out. Also, systems were put in place for the devolution of Human Recourses (HR) and finance functions to provinces.  The Learning Academy began to play a significant role in training and staff development, having established accredited and relevant courses.  

The DHA facilitated the Second Conference of African Ministers responsible for Civil Registration in Durban, South Africa, which was of strategic importance.

Reliance on outdated systems that did not prove to be accurate for management information remained a serious obstacle to improving service delivery and audit outcomes.  This would largely be addressed through the modernisation programme.

There were multiple challenges in managing a complex and dynamic immigration environment. These ranged from policy and legislation to capacity and operations, and involved many role players and dependence on other departments. Historically the priority had been on securing the identity and status of citizens, but more focused attention was now being paid to immigration.

The issue of dependencies in general impacts on performance against objectives, such as reliance on the Department of Public Works.  Efforts were being made to strengthen working relations while seeking creative solutions.

Aligning and strategically managing the planning and budgeting cycle was a challenge, including HR planning, and steps were being taken to effect improvements going forward.

Overall performance against 51 targets
25.4% of the targets were fully achieved. Of the 41.2% of targets that were partially achieved, there was a good chance of achieving them in 2013-2014 if there were effective interventions. The remaining 33.3% were not achieved, and there was little chance of achieving them in the 2013- 2014 financial year.

Performance against strategic objectives
Outcome 1:
Strategic Objective (1.1):  To ensure that registration at birth was the only entry point for South Africans to the National Population Register (NPR).
Summary of Performance:  602 530 births were registered within 30 days:  The target was 594 000 births.
85 health institutions were connected and are operational:  The target was 80.

Strategic Objective (1.2)To issue Identity Documents (IDs) to citizens 16 years of age and above
Summary of Performance:  41 876 learners were issued with IDs.  The target was to issue 100% of South African learners who applied.

The main problem was a lack of an accurate method of measuring achievement. There is now an instrument in place in terms of a field for capturing the information.  Another challenge was to gain access to the database of scholars and visit schools on scheduled dates.  The existing partnership with the Department of Basic Education is being strengthened to ensure this happens across all provinces.

Strategic Objective (1.3): To ensure the registration and identification of all South African citizens, foreign residents, refugees and asylum seekers to enhance the integrity and security of identity
Summary of Performance:  National Identity System:  The new system was not designed as the contract with Cuba was not finalised. However, South Africa and Cuba signed an agreement to enable cooperation;
Live capture for passports and IDs: This was not rolled out to 167 offices, mainly because the sub-contracting agreement with SARS was not concluded in 2012/ 2013.
Pilot of smart card: Service provider tested sufficiently with 100 cards.
Existing EDMS records retrieved: Old system successfully resuscitated.
E-permitting and Visa system specifications approved: Specifications finalised.
100% of ID duplicates for clients coming forward resolved within 12 weeks was the target.  The main challenge was two persons sharing one ID number, as this requires both persons to come forward.
The Department published lists in the media; made announcements; and obtained contact details from various sources. Only a few persons could be contacted or came forward. Fewer than 2 000 out of about 19 000 cases.  A policy and strategy had subsequently been approved and was being implemented to take decisive action deal with this challenge.

Outcome 2:  Immigration managed effectively and securely in the national interest including economic, social and cultural development

Strategic Objective (2.1): To ensure a secure, responsive and flexible immigration regime in support of national security, priorities and interests.
Summary of Performance:  An immigration policy document was submitted to Minister for approval.  Additional research was being conducted to further develop the document.
A Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) was rolled out at three high volume foreign missions: Angola (1) and the DRC (2).

Strategic Objective (2.2):  To implement effective and efficient asylum seeker and refugee management strategies and systems.
Summary of Performance: Status Determination Committees (SDCs), with a minimum of two sub-committees, were not established as planned.  In the reporting period, the main reason was a delay in implementing the 2011 Refugees Amendment Act.
A strategy and plan was not developed for the relocation of existing refugee reception offices near borders because of unresolved policy issues related to court cases.
One refugee reception office (office accommodation) was not established along the borderline because the Department of Public Works (DPW) was unable to procure a site.  Site options have subsequently been identified by a service provider.

Strategic Objective (2.3): To facilitate the efficient movement of bona fide travellers to support national interests and priorities, and to prevent and prohibit the movement of undesirable persons in the interest of national security.
Summary of Performance:  The development and approval of Infrastructure standards for ports of entry was not finalised. Specialist assistance was required and was being procured.
An SLA was not signed with the DPW for the implementation of infrastructure improvements at ports of entry. Engagements were still ongoing while pursuing an alternative approach.
Improved residential and office infrastructure was not provided at six ports of entry. The main reason was delays with DPW processes and the development of standards.  An interim plan was being rolled out and approval requested to appoint a service provider.

Strategic Objective (2.4):  To contribute towards realising a positive skills migration trend of around 50 000 migrants annually

Summary of Performance:
Permitting reporting systems were developed and tested to differentiate between critical and other skills. A basic system was put in place in terms of added fields on a database, but full implementation was taking longer than expected.
A strategy was developed and approved by the DHA to facilitate the attraction and retention of foreign migrants with critical skills. The larger national strategy was not the responsibility of the DHA, but several departments. The role of the DHA was to facilitate, via the permitting system, and improvements had been made, such as the Corporate Accounts Unit, dealing with families as a unit.

Outcome 3: A service that is efficient, accessible and corruption free

Strategic Objective (3.1): To transform the culture of the organisation in support of securing identity, citizenship and international migration

Summary of Performance:  Strategy to reposition the DHA as a learning organisation. The draft strategy document was being finalised and would then be submitted to management for consideration.
Two Leader Forums were conducted, as planned, and would continue to be a key element in leadership development.
Coaching clinics for 250 supervisors were conducted at senior, middle and junior management levels.

Strategic Objective (3.2)To ensure ethical conduct and a zero tolerance approach to corruption

Summary of Performance:  Reports compiled on security evaluations performed on four processes. Security evaluations performed on processes to identify gaps and risks at Missions, Ports of Entry, Supply Chain Management and Deportations.
DHA database, which provides integrated reports on counter-corruption cases, accessible to two justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster departments to strengthen counter corruption:  Negotiations with role players took a lot of time. The database was designed and a tender is in process.
A draft concept paper was under consideration on the role of DHA in the fighting of corruption and strengthening the security of identity and immigration systems.  Initial research had been conducted.

Strategic Objective (3.3):  To obtain a clean audit report

Summary of Performance:  An unqualified audit report for 2012/13 financial year was not received.  .
100% of valid invoices settled within 30 days of certification and approval. There was a substantial improvement, mainly due to decentralisation of procurement and payment to provinces and the roll out of LOGIS. Additional steps were being taken to tighten and improve procedures.

A Trading Entity was not established and operational for all civic and immigration services.  The governance and financial management framework was identified and established to provide guidance over management of the trading account. However, due to the complexities of operating the account, it was agreed with National Treasury that implementation should be deferred.

Strategic Objective (3.4)To ensure secure, effective, efficient and accessible service delivery to clients

Summary of Performance:  Feasibility study commenced on a model for acquiring permanent accommodation for the DHA and refurbishment of all state-owned buildings. A priority was building a permanent head office. The initial site identified was deemed unsuitable, and DPW has re-started the process of finding a site.

538 (60%) of the 895 funded posts were filled by 31 March in a 6-month turn-around-time. The target was 100%. Steps are being taken to deal with process and capacity challenges in filling posts.

The refurbishment of 15 offices.  19 offices were refurbished during the review period. 10 of these offices were carried over from the 2011/12 financial year.

Access strategy developed to bring DHA services closer to the people. Norms were developed, but the approval process has not yet been completed.

92.16% of IDs were issued within 54 working days.  Total issues for the year was 958 364.The target was 95%. 

98% of IDs were issued within 47 working days. Total issued for the year 2012/13 was 896 613. The target was 95%.

94% of machine-readable passports issued within 24 working days (manual process). The target was 95%.

93% of applications for machine readable passports issued within 13 working days (live capture process).  The target was 97%.

Electronic queue management system. Five systems were implemented that were rolled over from 2011/ 12.

Reporting on performance: Audit 2012-13
Summary of issues:
Inadequate reviews of validity of evidence of performance;
Evidence and source information in some cases not supporting statements of performance;
Lack of standard operating procedures for the accurate recording of actual achievements

The formulation of some of the targets was improved in October so that they could be measured more effectively.

Financial Information:
Audited Financial Results - Per Programme

1. Saving on Programme 1 was due to delays in spending on the Who-Am-I-Online (WAIO)/Modernisation budget.

2. Overspending on the budget resulting from unauthorised expenditure, due to implementation of the trading account being postponed. The overspending was due to printing costs for forms and face value documentation, courier costs and cash in transit service costs.

3. The decision to postpone the trading account until a suitable self-financing vehicle was obtained; this was done in consultation with National Treasury. In the meantime, Treasury would continue allocating the Department funds for the three expenditure items as listed above.

Administrative Transformation Challenges:
Decentralisation of administration to provincial offices – teething challenges.
Implementation of new asset management system.
Manual foreign revenue management systems.
Migration from an old to a new movement control system.
Poor application of control mechanisms.
Outdated systems producing uneven quality of management information.
Internal audit needing to review performance evidence regularly.

The way forward:
Review the collection method of revenue abroad.
Conclude the development of Regulations in respect of the Immigration Act.
Continue implementation of IT modernization.
Agree on a suitable self-funding mechanism.
Develop and implement support mechanisms for the decentralised method.
Implement quality control mechanisms.
Internal audit to conduct regular reviews and verify performance evidence.
Ensure standard operating procedures are in place for performance  reporting.

Human Resources:
The total number of vacant posts reported on the HR Oversight report reflected 1 057. There were an additional 174 posts to the 1 057; these posts were newly funded for 2013/2014 financial year.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for their presentation and for ensuring that Members of the Committee received their smartcards. The process was fast and smooth.

Mr W Faber (DA, Northern Cape) applauded the Department on the new ID card system. He had recently received his, but had also got his old ID book back, which was just stamped “cancelled.”  He asked if that was supposed to happen and if people were going to receive their ID books back. Also, he was concerned that should someone possessed the smart card, were the remote rural areas equipped with the facilities to see if a person was actually a registered voter, to vote in the upcoming election.

Mr Apleni said if the Department kept the ID books there would be a problem of storage.  38 million South Africans had ID books, so keeping them would create another challenge. Also, people were sentimental with the ID books -- they had come from a dompass era to ID books, and now the smart card. Also, if the Department kept the ID books, there was a possibility of corrupt officials having access to them, while if they were with the owner, then they would be responsible for it. To make sure that a person was not using both the ID book and the smart card, the ID was defaced, as it would for a deceased person.

Mr Vusumzi Mkhize, Deputy Director General: Civic Services, said when one lost one’s smart ID card, the principles of a temporary identity certificate (as with the ID book) would apply.  This agreement was in place with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Ms B Mncube (ANC, Gauteng) appreciated the progress made in turning the Department around.  Even on Facebook, people were posting that they were receiving their IDs within days. Also, when one reported problems with the Department’s officials, they were promptly attended to, and that was to be commended.
The presentation had, however, indicated that some of the duplicate IDs had not been captured, maybe because it had been a problem to get hold of those people. Since cellphone numbers were RICA’d, it should be easy to locate them. The presentation also alluded to challenges in the devolution of HR to the provinces; there were also funded posts that the Auditor General had picked up that were not advertised. That percentage of those posts was very high; part of the devolution of HR included the advertising of posts. Did the Department not think that the implication of not advertising the posts in provinces impacted on not achieving set targets?  What was the strategy to mitigate that, going forward? In other sectors there were bargaining councils in provinces where labour and the employer would agree on advertising posts twice a year -- that would deal with the funded posts, and not having people in acting positions for two or five years. This was to ensure that devolution did not hinder the progress of the Department.

The report spoke about the high staff turnover in senior posts.  Close to 96 officials had been dismissed. Was there a strategy to close those gaps, so that when one employs replacement staff for the dismissed ones, the new staff members did not do the same thing? The presentation also mentioned that there was an official that was awarded a performance bonus, and the amount seemed rather high.  What were the measures or policies in place regarding the amount the recipient was awarded, or was it just any thumb-sucked amount?

Mr Apleni said the intention with the devolution of powers to provinces was to fast-track things. But the provinces did not have the capacity, and it was only now that there was a Deputy Director and Assistant Director to be able to discharge the HR function.  The Department had also decentralized authority as well. This meant that Provincial Managers could approve posts up to level 8, and the positions in provinces were level 6 and level 5. The problem, as pointed out by the Member, was that of advertising -- it was too costly when everyone was advertising, but advertising centrally had its benefits. However, advertising centrally also caused delays, and the Department had to look at appointing a service provider who could assist in the matter.

With the high staff turnover, it was easy for people to move out of the Department. For instance, if someone was applying to another department and they said they were from Home Affairs, the Department would more likely employ the person, based on their contribution to the changes the Department had seen. People left for other reasons, but in most cases they left because they got better offers from other departments.

The performance bonus awarded to the individual was R25 747.35.   There had been a formatting error that made it look like it was R25 million.

Mr Mkhize said with the duplicate ID documents, the Department had approached both MTN and Vodacom, but they claimed that FICA prohibited the disclosure of the information of their clients.  However, they agreed to work with FICA to find grounds of flexibility. On the collection of the smart ID card, it was agreed that on collection the individual’s green ID book would be stamped as “cancelled” or punched.  The goal was that it should be defaced, so it could not be reused.

Mr M de Villiers (DA, Western Cape) asked for clarity on the targets achieved and not achieved. Under outcome 1, four targets were not achieved and six were partially achieved out of 16. Under outcome 2, seven out of ten targets were not achieved -- that was 70%. This was a problem.  As stated in the Presidency Management Performance Assessment, the Department of Home Affairs was under performing. Could the Department explain why, having read the problems the Department had in delivering on services, it had set and planned to achieve the targets which, at the end of the financial year, had not been possible? It was as though the Department did not foresee the challenges it faced.  

The delay in the agreement between the Department of Home Affairs and SARS was also a problem, as that agreement was very important to the Department. What were the problems that could not be solved to conclude the agreement? Without the agreement the Department could not carry on with certain work.  

Mr De Villiers asked how far the Department was with the unresolved policy issues related to court cases, as mentioned in the presentation. In the previous year, there was a lot spoken about the ports of entry and from the Department there was a very clear report on how they would approach the matter to let the ports of entry operate better. However, the presentation now stated that the Department of Public Works had a problem -- they did not have the skills or commitment to come to the table so that the DHA could deliver. The report from DHA was not painting a very good picture -- when someone was blaming another person, they were actually saying they did not have the skills to address the problem and that was why they were pointing fingers at someone else. Did the DHA have thorough discussions with the Department of Public Works on how they would solve the problem and what they could do, or could DHA give them an idea on how they could move forward in order to meet targets?  Ports of entry were very important.  South Africa was way beyond 1994, and the country had to address people coming into the country’s borders and ports of entry, so that there could be a more normal situation within the borders. For every person coming into South Africa, there had to be documentation on them.

Regarding critical skills, the report also stated that there was a problem. In the report, it first said that 60% of the vacancies were filled, then at the back of the report it was stated that 43.5% of the posts were filled. Could the Department explain why there was a difference? If the Department was having a problem appointing posts for “critical skills” employees, it could be understood why there would be problems in the Department.

In relation to over spending, there could not be a situation where the Department was going through the financial year and at the third term they find there were a lot of forms and other documentation that was not available. Could that not have been foreseen at the beginning of the financial year. With the plans for a central office, it was usually nice to have a central office, but all of the provincial offices had already been furnished, refurbished and so forth.  By obtaining the central office, would there be a point where the provincial offices would be downscaled?  Previously that had happened. Lastly, could the Department explain the status of the largest litigation case?

Mr Apleni said they also acknowledged that things had not been achieved. However, with the Auditor General’s report - if something was 94.3% (as with the issuing of passports) and your target was 95%, the Auditor General would note it as a target that was not achieved. The other difficult one was that, if you had a target of five and you achieved three this year and the two you achieved in the in the following financial year, the two did not count, even though they had been achieved. The Department realised there was an issue of setting targets properly and understanding the system better.  Not achieving targets had little to do with the budget, as there was money for the entire Departments’ plans.

The Department budgeted for posts, but then people would resign. This partly explained the 60% versus 43.5%, as the number of vacancies in the Department would increase because of resignations and dismissals.

Mr Apleni said regarding the agreement with SARS, the problem was not attributed to SARS. When the talks with SARS started, the Department was still settling outstanding issues.  However, in the upcoming financial year, things would be able to move forward.  The only challenge was with offices.  For control purposes, the DHA did not have the authority to pay landlords, and what may happen was that DHA would pay money to the Department of Public Works and they would not pay the landlord, which meant that DHA did not pay the landlord and they closed the office. The DHA did not have a mandate to find their own office space and sign contracts with landlords.

Regarding border posts, there was a decision from the Cabinet taken in 2009 to establish a Border Management Agency (BMA) for the purpose of command and control. DHA was given that task in 2012.  The Minister had announced the appointment of a project manager for BMA.

Mr Apleni said when one went to the office of Home Affairs to apply for an ID, one filled in a form and then the form would be couriered to the head office so that it could be processed.  However, the supporting documentation would sometimes come up missing. With the new system, there were no forms -- the application was logged directly to the system. With the Department pushing for decentralization, DHA would be bigger in provinces, as provinces were the source of delivering services and headquarters would focus more on policy. 

The Director General (DG) said the litigation cases against the Department were old cases that were still with the courts.  They were from around 2006. The newest cases were in the area of emigration, or people complaining about permits for asylum seekers.

Ms Fatimah Chohan, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, spoke on the court case with the refugee reception centre to contextualize it.   One of the things that the Department did with the refugee reception centres was an analysis on where the Department could optimally place the resources in this regard. Most people coming to seek asylum in South Africa came from the North of the continent, hence it was ideal to move the refugee reception centre to the border in Musina, and there was none on the Limpopo/Mozambique side. One of the things the Department had looked at was the possible closure of the Port Elizabeth as well as the Cape Town refugee centre.  

Unfortunately, the refugee community and some NGOs were upset about the possible decision, and took the Department to court. The Western Cape High Court said the decision of the Department was unlawful and there was a right for people to be serviced where they lived. But as the Committee knew, there were not Home Affairs offices throughout the country, meaning even South African citizens did not have the right to be serviced where they lived and, as the DG mentioned, there was an optimum 35km radius the Department hoped to develop. The position of the Department was that this was an executive decision on how to optimally deploy resources. The matter was appealed and the court of appeal said the DG should make known that this was a possibility, and gave guidance to the Department on how the process should unfold to take the decision, having being informed by public participation.  Based on the inputs received, the DG had taken a different decision.

The Chairperson asked how many officials had been through training and development in the Learning Academy. She said everywhere she had presented the smart card, for example at a bank, people were excited about it. However, the presentation did not mention when the smartcards would be introduced to the citizens, as everyone was interested to have one.

Strategic objective 2.2, referred to the Status Determination Committees (SDC) that was not established as planned. Could the Department elaborate on the challenges for not implementing these Committees? On strategic objective 3.4, the target was 100% in the filling of the “895 funded posts which were filled by 31 March in a 6-month turn-around-time”, but the Department was experiencing capacity challenges in filling these posts. Could there be more details as to what the capacity challenges were that the Department was experiencing?  Maybe the Committee could make some suggestions.

Mr Apleni said 1 207 officials had been trained in the Learning Academy. The Department estimated a period of five to six years for the population to switch to the smart ID card, but what was important was the strategy on how they would be rolled out efficiently without inspiring the old memories of Home Affairs with long queues. The strategy, as it stood now, was to start with the 16-year-olds, then the elderly citizens and then see how DHA was handling that and performing with the numbers.

Regarding the SDCs, there were both straightforward and more complex cases of asylum seekers. There could be a system where one person could sit and deal with a simple case. Then there were cases that would require the SDC to sit as a panel to examine a case.  There needed to be a flexible system in place that would allow each case to be dealt with by an individual or the SDC, based on its complexity, in order to avoid unnecessary delays and long-winded processes.

The DG said when a level 6 post was advertised, the Department would receive more than 20 000 applications. Sifting through the applications and making sure every application was looked at was the capacity the Department lacked.

The Deputy Minister accepted the commendations from the Committee and said the positive feedback was appreciated. She said she was grateful to the Members for being part of the Department’s pilot of the smart card system which they had said was a speedy and efficient process.  So many things could have gone wrong. Now that the Department officials were well versed with the system, the process had improved and was quicker and more efficient. As the system was being rolled out, ordinary citizens had had a better experience than the Members of Parliament -- in some instances, one could receive one’s smart card within two days.  People were cautious and were hesitant to believe the messages from the Department to pick up their cards. As part of the Department’s communication plan, they would advise members of the public that it was possible to receive their cards in a matter of days.

The Chairperson thanked the Department for their time and engaging with the Committee and hoped that in the upcoming year, the Department would receive a clean audit.

Adoption of Minutes
The Chairperson went through the minutes of 4 February 2014 page by page with the Committee to check if there were any errors or point of corrections and that the minutes were indeed a true reflection of the last meeting of the Committee.

Mr De Villiers moved that the Committee adopt the minutes.

Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State) seconded.

The Committee adopted the minutes.

The meeting was adjourned.

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