Restructuring in Department; Implementation of Immigration Act; Refugee Affairs and Operation of Legal Services Directorate: dis

Home Affairs

26 August 2002
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

27 August 2002

Chairperson: Mr Scott

Documents handed out:
Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs: Discussion (Appendix 1)
Organisational Structure for 2002/3, 2003/4 (e-mail for doc)
Statistics Refugee Appeal Board (Appendix 2)

The Committee was largely concerned that most of the executive posts were not filled on a permanent basis and that it was urgent to stabilise the management of the department by filling the posts. The Committee was willing to help the department to reach its strategic goals.

The Chairperson emphasised the need for the committee to co-operate with the Department of Home Affairs and become part of their management team. He assured the department representatives that the meeting was not to examine them but to help them.

Mr Lambinon, Acting Director General, outlined the structure of the department on executive level. He emphasised that the structure was simply a change in the organogram and not a change in the objectives and priorities of the department. He mentioned that the restructuring was compelled by changes such as the new Immigration Act, and the devolution of civic services.

On the implementation of the Immigration Act, he said that some regulations and resources needed to be in place first before the Act could be implemented. On the subject of refugees, he outlined the employment structure and statistics on refugee applications. He finalised his presentation by outlining the function of the Legal Services Directorate.

Mr Pretorious (NNP) could not understand how the department could move ahead with restructuring without appointing a Director General on a permanent basis. He also commented that the were too many vacancies filled on an acting capacity. Mr Lambinon said that he could not comment on the question because he was not involved in the process but the Minister.

Mr Skhosana (ANC) asked why the department was suddenly concerned with co-operation after six years of uncooperative management. Mr Lambinon attributed the problem to the constantly changing staff and low retention rates over the past years.

The Chairperson asked why the organogram was being changed. Mr Lambinon explained that 150 posts were created and filled without the Ministers approval and that now the Minister wanted to go back to the original plan for the department.

Mr Grobler (DP) commented that it was imperative to have a permanent Director General. He agreed with Mr Pretorious that there were too many posts filled on an acting duration. Why were there so many pending refugees application in Braamfontein (JHB) and Cape Town. Mr Lambinon explained that often people flocked to particular offices and he warned against economic migrants whom he said were impostors and hence increased numbers of applicants.

Ms van Wyk (UDM) agreed that there were too many acting posts at the executive level of the department and asked the committee to appeal to the Minister. What was the extent of consultation towards rearranging the organogram? Mr Lambinon said that the organogram's modification was based on the working knowledge of senior members of the department.

Mr Mfundisi (UCDP)also could not understand how 150 posts could be filled when there was no permanent Director General. He also wanted to know why there was no mentioning of accessibility of services to rural areas. Mr Lambinon stated that he could not comment on appointments but the Minister could. On access of services he said that the aim of the department's team building effort was to achieve goals such as service delivery in rural areas.

One member enquired who created and approved the 150 posts. The response was that it was the previous Director General.

Mr Grobler (DP) suggested that the department should let the committee know where and how it could assist them. He urged the committee to acknowledge the shortcoming and problems in the department but to move ahead in a co-operative spirit. How long would it be to see some progress once a Director General was appointed.

Ms van Wyk (UDM) asked if the change in the organogram had any impact on the department's strategic plan. Mr Lambinon explained that the goals had not changed, but rather the means to achieve them, hence the change in the organogram.

Mr Mfundisi (UCDP)suggested that the Minister and his deputy should be invited to discuss issues.

Mr Pretorious (NNP) enquired about the status of the Marriage Act as affected by the Immigration Act. Mr Lambinon assured the committee that Adv. Malatji was in the process of finalising the amendments to the Marriage Act.

Mr Sikakane (ANC) was confused by the fact that the Immigration Act was not effected and that the Aliens Control Act was still in place. Mr Lambinon said that the Aliens Control Act would be ineffective once there were regulations in place to effect the Immigration Act.

Mr Pretorious (NNP) enquired into a situation whereby in an eighteen counter port only six people filled counters for passenger clearance. Mr Lambinon explained that the number of clearance agents depended on the number of arriving ships and passengers.

Ms Maunye (ANC) commented that the Home Affairs head offices were inefficient and slow. Why was the SABC container project was terminated. Mr Lambinon explained that it was because the Tender Board procedures were not being followed. He mentioned that the project was not terminated but that there was an investigation into possible options.

The Chairperson asked when the regulations were coming into force. Mr Mfundisi later asked a similar question. The response was that it would be at the end on November or December 2002 and that January 2003 would be the latest.

Prince Zulu (IFP) commented that it seemed difficult to trust agents in random checking and wanted to know how reliable they were. Was it true that South Africa had no legislation to govern the United Nations Convention on Refugees. Mr Lambino said that was not true and he did not elaborate further.

Ms Van Wyk (UDM) was concerned about the relationship between the SAPS and the department. She gave an example of an illegal immigrant who was arrested thrice and found guilty on two charges yet he still lived in South Africa an apparently on bail.

One member enquired when the Customary Marriage Act would be amended so that people in rural areas could access magistrates courts. Mr Lambinon had no information on the question.

Mr Sikakane (ANC) commended the Johannesburg regional office for their efficiency against the inefficient head office. Earlier on Mr Pretorious (NNP) urged members to commend the department on some of its good work against the financial and human resource constraints it was facing.

Meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1
Discussion 27 August 2002

Introductory remarks
It is with appreciation that we have been called in for a discussion with the PFC. From my side I would wish to share with the PFC in every respect as called upon. I would like to establish open lines of communication making use of the guidance that comes from the Legislative level. As public servants we are the Executive branch of government carrying out the wishes of the Legislature and although this seems so elementary a statement we know what a mess develops when this cornerstone of democracy becomes unbalanced. We need to value the professionalism of a public service that knows its place and carries out the wishes of government. And this can only succeed if we as PS respect the lines of communication and the authority vested in our piers i.e. our Ministers and Portfolio Committees.

I believe that with the assistance of especially my two colleagues
Act DDG Adv Malatji, and
Act DDG Mr Du Plessis,
we have already committed ourselves to this and I believe we have the total support of our top management. To commence with we had to return to these values and to commit ourselves to service delivery.

In my interaction with my colleagues it became quite clear that there are many things which need attention. The list is very long, but what was most encouraging of all is that we agreed on a need to allow us the opportunity to put the Department together. Indeed we have had an unhappy trail over the past even six years. And the commitment was endorsed that the focus should be
on rebuilding a team, respecting each other, acknowledging lines of communication and bringing back the importance of focusing as a whole on one common cause for which the Department stands, and

secondly, that a total concentration should be on improving at our service delivery points.

We are not wishing to derogate the importance of visions and plans and strategies, but it all disappears into thin air if we cannot deliver to our people at our regional, district and other offices. As long as and as far as is in my power this will be the focus point. We have been ridiculed in the media for long enough and with reason. We even have to work at the arrogance that too often is evident from our officials in attending to the needs of the very people who pay our salaries. Again we need to return to the values of understanding that we are here at the behest of the public, paid by them with a right to efficient and courteous services. I regret to say that I am tired of receiving telephone calls both in Pretoria and Cape Town from members of the public, some pleading and some furious asking whether such and such offices can not please be asked to at least answer their phones.

As to the fourfold purpose of the meeting my two DDG's drew the attention particularly to the instruction received from the Chairperson that the PFC would like to meet and to discuss. I was then instructed to give an overview and introduction to the subjects which could form the foundation for such a discussion after which time they will engage in particular. Some thoughts therefore to commence with as follows:

Restructuring of the Department
The term is open to a very wide interpretation and is commonly used to address issues such as
privatisation of what is not deemed to be core government responsibility,
affirmative action,
gender equality,
meeting new Departmental responsibilities, and
reshaping the organogram, etc, etc.

It is believed that the latter was really where the focus should be and to this end an organogram as approved by Minister is attached to this paper.

The word Minister has a special bearing in this regard as no organogram changes or changes to the establishment of a Department may take place without the approval of a Minister. The Department finds itself presently in the unfortunate situation where organogram changes had been effected without Minister's approval and where more than 150 posts had been created also without Minister's approval, many of which had indeed been filled. In actual fact as a result of all this the Department can hardly indicate today what it's approved establishment is.

It is against this background that Minister instructed to re-look the organogram and to do a total new establishment determination for the Department.

At the outset it needs to be emphasised that the nature of the animal remains unchanged. We are still at civic services and migration and when Minister then says look at the organogram such an exercise focuses on best practice. Furthermore an organization structure must be a living organism and management of a Department has to take place with this document continuously in sight.

Apart from what has been said the question remains, what other reasons exist to relook the organogram

A totally new Immigration Act
Amendments to existing legislation
Devolution of Civic Services

Against this backdrop Minister instructed to see the basic organogram of his Department as being "by and large reflective of the current structure", which should be improved within the context of the dynamic change processes underway.

At the bottom line, the organization which should intelligently be looked into continuously and consulted on with the Minister had not taken place and must be placed on track again. The same applies for the establishment which needs ongoing attention together with the organogram, especially bearing in mind that the last establishment determination was done in 1996, whilst attention should be given to this annually.

Implementation of the Immigration Act.
Before implementation of the new Act we need to have the following in place
info documents,
training, both locally and abroad, and
procedure manuals.

This in itself is even a more formidable task than what was the case with the Act. Teams of staff are attending to this and the coming weekend will indeed be used for a further workshop on formulation.

Against the unfortunate background of the lack of participation by the Department during formulation of the Act it is most encouraging that staff are at present acclaiming an enthusiasm for the new dispensation, waiting for its implementation.

Refugee Affairs.
It comes from a difficult transition over the past few years and lines of communication are also being practiced for delivery purpose.

It requires dedicated attention as time allows.

A document is attached hereto giving the organogram, the establishment and reflecting on staff numbers.

Operation of Legal Services Directorate.
The service functions as a Chief Directorate rendering a legal service to the whole Department. In this regard the formal lines of communication is also strictly being adhered to.

Appendix 2
Refugee Appeal Board: 26/08/2002

Old asylum applications:
Finalised - 12 302
Pending - 4 079

New asylum applications:
Finalised - 1 081
Pending - 507

Finalised - 13 383
Pending - 4 586

Pretoria Refugee Reception Office
Applications Finalised: 1 494
Applications Pending: 271

Port Elizabeth Refugee Reception Office
Applications Finalised: 637
Applications Pending: 657

Cape Town Refugee Reception Office
Applications Finalised: 8 812
Applications Pending: 14 586

Durban Refugee Reception Office
Applications Finalised: 1 188
Applications Pending: 2 499

Braamfontein Refugee Reception Office
Applications Finalised: 487
Applications Pending: 16 215


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