The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs was briefed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on its first quarter expenditure and performance, with 69% of the targets being achieved in three different programmes. Achievements included the approval of user specifications for the National Identity System, the issue of 1.6 million smart ID cards, and a refined immigration policy approved by the Minister. Targets that had not been reached included the finalisation of 117 vetting fieldwork investigations, the completed permanent residence report being signed off by the DG, 173 500 birth registrations made within 30 days, and 80% of refugee travel documents being issued within 90 days.
The DHA had overspent by 4% during the first quarter, with the percentage of the R6.6 billion budget spent standing at 29%. A major reason for this was the national elections, with the IEC placing pressure on the budget. Additional funds had been requested from the National Treasury (NT) to cope with this. Specific financial challenges facing the Department included the overspending on the Legal Services sub-programme, at 38%, and no revenue having been collected from foreign missions due to on-going discussions with DIRCO. The DHA’s priorities going forward centred on the issue of immigration, with the formation of the Border Management Agency (BMA) and public engagement on the subject key to the Department’s agenda.
The discussion focused primarily on issues surrounding staff capacity, the Department’s finances and the Lindela Repatriation Centre, amongst other refugee and immigration-related queries. Are staff members appropriately vetted to avoid future cases of corruption? What is the involvement of internal audit and the Auditor-General in regulating and assisting with finances? How can the provision of documents to refugees be speeded up? The number of court cases against the DHA for detaining them beyond the 120-day period was increasing –how is this matter being addressed? Members asked whether money was being taken from one area and put into another in order to balance the budget, with one commenting that the Department had received a qualified audit, which suggested the accuracy in reporting its performance was questionable.
Other issues raised included questions on the birth registration targets and the National Identity System. The first quarterly target for issuing smart ID cards did not appear to be in line with the annual target. What is the Department doing about connectivity problems in hospitals, where parents are expected to register their children? How can the DHA be confident about the numbers of children being born if they are not being registered? Which provinces are struggling to get people to collect their IDs? Members stressed the need for the DHA to come up with a plan to address the human rights violations in Lindela. What is the progress in the formation of the BMA? What is the current state of office accommodation?
Minutes for 4 and 9 September were adopted, as was the Committee’s report on their visit to the headquarters of the Home Office. The Committee was briefed on the plan for the third term parliamentary programme.
Mr Mkhize Vusi, Acting Director-General and Deputy Director-General for Civic Services, Department of Home Affairs (DHA), gave an overview of the DHA's progress against objectives for April-June 2014. These included the issue of 208 000 smart cards, a business case for an increase in funding submitted to the National Treasury (NT), and a vacancy rate of below 10%. Major challenges highlighted included immigration management, with refugees in particular posing a problem due to the high numbers arriving at South Africa's borders, and the difficulties in investigating their claims. The DHA are looking at moving refugee centres to the borderlines in order to process their applications on arrival. Also raised were the issues of integrating IT systems and the DHA's dependency on other departments and the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA). The organisational performance of the Department stands at 53% - double that of the previous two financial years. However, it has not yet been audited. In summary, 69% of targets set for quarter 1 were achieved.
Strategic Objectives, Targets and Current Progress
Programme 1: Administration
Targets that were achieved comprised the approval of user specifications for the National Identity System, the appointment of a service provider to enrol managers in performance improving leadership development programmes, the submission of financial statements to the Auditor-General, and the submission to the Minister of a draft business case for a sustainable model for civic and immigration services. In terms of objectives that were not achieved, only 43% of newly appointed officials were trained on the DHA Induction Programme before commencement of service because of pressures in certain areas, which meant the DHA could not wait. A review on processes conducted was not signed off by the Director General (DG), but the DHA was in touch with immigration management services to discuss key findings and curb vulnerabilities, and the completed permanent residence report had been signed off by the DG. The aim of 117 vetting fieldwork investigations, finalised and referred to the State Security Agency (SSA), was not achieved because security clearances files from two provinces were late for submission to the SSA.
Programme 2: Citizen Affairs and Civic Services
Key achievements in the programme included the issue of 1.6 million smart ID cards to 16-year-olds and above. Although it had not proved challenging to get people to apply, there was a problem in getting them to collect the cards. The target of 95% of IDs issued within 54 working days and 95% of IDs re-issued within 47 days was also achieved, but one of the programme's main targets -- to make sure every child is registered immediately after birth or within 30 days -- was not. There were 165 484 registrations made out of an aim of 173 500, but the annual target was still on track due to the DHA's collaboration with the Department of Health. The percentage of both manually processed and live-capture processed machine readable passports issued within the time limit for applications made within the RSA were both behind their respective 95% and 97% targets.
Programme 3: Immigration Services
Key targets achieved included 50% of refugee IDs being issued within 90 days, the establishment of a project team to survey borderline communities, a refined immigration policy approved by the Minister, 62% of business critical skills and general work permits adjudicated within eight weeks for applications inside South Africa, and 77.1% of temporary residence visas finalised within eight weeks. The aim of 80% of refugee travel documents issued within 90 days was not realised because applications were not sent to the DHS in Pretoria on time and, of those that were, the delays and shut downs of the BVR building affected turnaround time. Only one of two priority ports of entry had their residential or office accommodation improved as per set standards, although pre-fabricated structures for accommodation and office space were delivered to the other in July.
Mr Gordon Hollamby, Chief Financial Officer, DHA, detailed the DHA's financial performance. Requests for funding to the NT had been made due to pressure on the budget, with spending in the first quarter standing at 29% of the R6.6 billion budget, rather than the 25% target. A major reason for this was the elections and the cost of the Independent Electoral Commission(IEC). Pressures on the budget were also contributed to by modernisation and the purchase of goods and services. A linear projection shows that the DHA are set to spend their full budget allocation, and if granted additional funds, they will also be spent. The table illustrating the sub-programme breakdown shows that legal services are particularly challenged, with spending already at 38%. This is because of a late submission of a plan from the state attorney. Finance and procurement itself is at 30%, because of a R2 million shift from financial procurement to allow for modernisation projects in the hope further funds will be received from the NT. The spending of the Citizen Affairs programme is high, due to the IEC. It is in a position to spend its full allocation, but faces budget pressures. Immigration services is under budget because the DHA has not yet paid for deployed officials to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). All provinces are spending according to plan except for Mpumalanga, which should be rectified as time goes on. No revenue has been collected from foreign missions, as the DHA is still engaging with DIRCO and revenue can not be collected unless there are supporting documents.
Priorities going forward
Mr Vusi described the DHA's priorities for the future. Effective management of immigration is the key to security and development. This includes opening a public discussion on immigration and the establishment of a border management agency. There will be continual engagement regarding immigration matters. The DHA will focus on the formation of a comprehensive and secure national identity system (NIS) that is supported by the public through early birth registration, amongst other measures. Every child needs registering to avoid invisibility, and it is the responsibility of every citizen to ensure they are all accounted for. A reliable register is needed so South Africa is aware of the number of its citizens.
The modernisation of the DHA is significant in ensuring that it operates with cutting edge technology and the correct staff. This will improve service delivery, promote good governance and ensure officials are ethical, patriotic and professional. It aims to build an environment that encourages a zero tolerance to fraud and corruption.
The Chairperson said that spending needed to be considered – if the DHA was overspending in one area and under in another, the average shows that they are on target. However, wherever there is not the correct spending, services have not been delivered and the Committee needs to be aware of this.
Mr D Gumede (ANC) said that after adopting the National Development Plan (NDP), a professional and capable public service was needed. These are people who have the correct background and training, and systems that are in line with the prescripts of law and governance in South Africa. Does the DHA have an independent internal audit to verify information that it gets? Under the strategic objectives of secure, effective and efficient service delivery to citizens and immigrants, there are 90 new people doing the work. Are they vetted and scanned? Are their backgrounds checked? If not, it can result in the employment of people who are untrustworthy and who could come to embarrass the Department later on.
Mr Gumede then referred to imbizos. How does the DHA target them? The target of 80% of refugee documents issued in 90 days, has not been met. Why is this? How can this situation be improved? In relation to the IEC, this year there are a number of by-elections. Are they according to plan? If not, will the DHA ask for more money at a later date? Two municipalities have recently devolved and there could be by-elections as a result -- has the DHA planned for this and, if so, how?
Mr M Hoosen (DA) referred to the issue of birth certificates. He was under the impression there would be a fine imposed on parents who did not register their children within 30 days. How many of the birth registry systems in hospitals are actually working? A lot of them are not, due to connectivity problems. How does the DHA expect people to comply with requests if their system is not working? What is the DHA doing to fix it? Is there a mechanism in place for parents who attempt to register their children but are unable to because of system issues? The quarterly target for birth registrations was not achieved, but how does the Department know these are the number of children that have been born? If it is an estimate, they are working with figures that might not be correct. If they are not being registered, how do they know how many children are actually being born? It is a moving target, but is there any attempt to get registers from hospitals? The annual target on smart ID cards is 1.6 million, but the quarterly target is 200,000. This does not make sense. Is the target for the second quarter going to be a much higher figure? There has been an attempt to move birth certificates to a more electronic system -- could the Acting DG comment on its progress?
In terms of immigration, there was a recent article in the Sunday newspapers about human rights violations at the Lindela Repatriation Centre. The number of court cases against the DHA for holding foreigners beyond the 120-day period was 212 last year. The year before that it was around 100, and the year before that it stood at about 53. There is a clear trend that the DHA is continually breaking and violating South Africa's own Immigration Act. Have there been attempts to fix this? The cost must be a lot - millions are wasted for holding people beyond the 120-day period. Regarding finances, the AG's report makes some adverse findings. Will the Department be taking any action to address this? Does the DHA identify where the problems are, and come up with a way of fixing them?
Ms D Raphuti (ANC) commented that the National Identity System was crucial due to the large numbers of foreigners in South Africa. There should be a campaign so that people are aware that the DHA has a system in place. Those who are not South African must know that the Department is doing something about it. When the AG presented the audit of the DHA, it was in an appalling situation - the new CFO needs to get it back to a healthier state. Staff need to comply with the set targets to ensure the books are kept in the right order. Regarding the IEC, is it not going to taint the Department's progress, given that it has already spent its linear projection?
Mr A Figlan (DA) said he wanted some clarity about the issue of smart ID cards - the quarterly target of 208,000 issues does not reflect an annual target of 1.6 million. In terms of the vacancy rate remaining below 10%, what are the specific numbers and why are there still vacancies that are not filled? Every time the DHA gives a presentation, the problem of corruption arises. What is being done to prevent this? He was also concerned about the elderly being made to pay for ID cards. Does the DHA know about this? The Western Cape is improving on the issue of smart ID cards, but other provinces are still having problems. Is something being done in rural areas to address this? The other issue is about the training of officials and staff. Is it done within the Department or is it outsourced? If it is outsourced, how much does it cost?
Ms S Nkomo (IFP) discussed the Trusted Traveller Programme, where the first quarter target of contracting a service provider had not been achieved. How does the DHA hope to take this forward? Time frames need to be taken into account. She also referred to the accuracy and completeness of the annual financial statements submitted to the AG. Noting what the AG had informed the Committee the previous week, accuracy would not be seen in the outcome. A better opinion is needed, and hopefully the Acting DG will inform the Committee on the projections that will actually be seen in the AG's report. Are both internal and external audit committees involved with this? They have an important role to play.
In terms of the vacancy rate, this has decreased. Could the Committee get the figures again? The presentation looks at the matter of ethical conduct, and shows that the target of one review was not achieved. Why was this? Additionally, what sanctions are imposed on the two provinces who did not submit their security clearance files? The 95% target of Machine Readable Passports was again not achieved, and the Committee needs to understand why. On the subject of refugees, there are 1 349 applications that have been received. However, how many refugees are in the country? This number is very small -- why is the DHA unable to come up with the real figures? People sleep at the DHA's offices, but there are only so many applicants according to these figures.
Ms Nkomo agreed with the Chairperson regarding spending. Where is money being taken from and where does it go? The Committee needs to know, because it affects service delivery. Lastly, when is the public discussion on immigration going to happen? The time frames are important.
Ms N Mnisi (ANC) similarly questioned the 208 000 of first quarter target for smart cards. Are there any problems around this? What is the nature of the 5% first IDs issued that are not completed within 54 days? Was there the means to remedy that situation? The Acting DG mentioned there are lots of uncollected IDs in the Department. In which provinces is this a problem? Since Committee members have constituencies all around the provinces, perhaps they could assist by making announcements at meetings. Maybe the DHA should consider campaigns, so that people are encouraged to collect their IDs.
Regarding the budget of the provinces, Ms Mnisi was particularly worried about Mpumalanga's overspending. What is the reason for this? The presentation states that the revenue collections do not include the revenue from foreign missions. This is a cause for concern since it is on-going. There were similar problems in 2012-2013. What are the challenges around this? Are there processes in place to improve the situation?
Mr B Nesi (ANC) asked how the Committee could verify the information presented to them. Is it an accurate example of what is going on? The DHA's presentation does not correspond with the AG's presentation which was given the previous week. The Committee are told there are syndicates outside the Department, working with staff inside. If the DHA is still continuing with service providers, how can corruption be fought? They are the people who manipulate the systems inside the DHA in order to advance corruption. How can the DHA ensure that it is dealing with the corruption? In terms of the 90 people being trained, the target was not achieved. However, other targets, like the smart IDs, have been met in spite of this. How are such achievements made with a workforce which is not sufficiently trained?
Ms T Kenye (ANC) raised the issue of the DHA's lack of capacity in critical areas. There is nothing that addresses these critical skills in the presentation. What measures are in place to ensure this is rectified? The DHA talks about improvement to its administration as a major challenge, especially financial management. If this is the case, why does the presentation also discuss accuracies? The Department says it is performing well now that reports are being sent to the AG, but this is contradictory. Accuracy and performance do not correspond with the qualified audits the DHA receives.
The Chairperson clarified that Members were discussing the DHA's history with the AG - they had not yet looked at the latest audit. He would like to hear a talk about the internal strategy around the audit outcome. For the past financial year and moving forward, what is the DHA doing about it? How credible is the data in the annual financial statements? Normally this is dependent on source documents, but what is the state of the DHA's record keeping?
Mr Vusi responded to the questions about submission of financial statements and accuracy. For the DHA, compliance is critical as well as accuracy. Data must be submitted as accurately as possible without misrepresentation. The DHA believes the information they submitted is accurate, which does not mean they are clean in terms of the audit, as the AG's presentation has indicated. The DHA is able to submit the information and present to the AG what is at their disposal, according to the Department's performance. The annual report has not been tabled, but when it is the DHA will be able to respond to other issues. The Department has an internal audit in place, as well as an audit committee who receive presentations on the quarterly reports to verify the information provided on the DHA's performance. In the past, the Department had faced challenges with capacity in this respect, but it was in the process of strengthening the unit to be as thorough as possible. There is also a monitoring and evaluation unit that checks that everything submitted is supported by evidence. The internal audit team will see whether the systems are meeting their objectives.
The DHA's vetting for employees has been quite aggressive. The issues surrounding capacity led to the request for a dedicated team to assist the DHA with the vetting. Everyone who starts work requires a security clearance and police checks as a minimum. In their contracts, it is clearly indicated that they are subject to vetting and if it is negative, it will be dealt with accordingly. If it is positive and they do not lack integrity, they will remain in the job. The DHA are working hard with state security to do this, but it is an on-going challenge.
Imbizos are targeted at one per province. In areas where the DHA believes services need to be taken to the people, there can be more. Services can be rendered through mobile units to ensure that people at least have access to these. Imbizos help to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to engage with the Minister. The DHA is working to achieve the target regarding refugee travel documents. The process has been reviewed, so when refugees apply they can use a similar document to that used by South African citizens, once their biometrics are on the system. It has been an area of difficulty for the DHA, but once the pilot is done and the system is ready, refugees can do online verification from wherever they are and the DHA can issue their travel documents on time.
As for the IEC, the high expenditure is because of the national elections. There is a normalisation of the budget after this. For by-elections, they have contingency plans to deal with them, based on their budget allocation.
There is a scientific basis to the birth registration target. The DHA went to great lengths to engage closely with the SSA, as can be seen in the mid-term expenditure. It looked at the birth rate in the country for the past ten years and then the births that were registered in total, including those both inside and outside of 30 days. Based on that, the DHA formed their target, as the figures are based on scientific evidence provided by SSA. Since the launch of the national birth register campaign, the DHA has improved registration from a very low base. In 2010, there were 500 000 births registered within 30 days, but last year this rose to 642 000. There is a change needed in terms of culture - it is a citizen's responsibility to register a child, and they need to recognise they have an obligation. The government has done a lot to create incentives through social grants and the education system, such as making sure schools demand birth certificates. By working with the Department of Health (DoH) and its Minister, prospective mothers are having their details captured. Every effort is being made to ensure that by the time penalties come, it will not be an issue for citizens who comply with legislation. Where there is a problem with the network, a different system will be used. It is not the best solution, but it is better than having nothing at those hospitals. In terms of capacity, there is a birth optimization project so that these hospitals will be treated as offices, and birth registrations will be moved to them. The DHA are working closely with the DoH to realise these targets, but the overriding message is that it is the parents' responsibility to register the birth within 30 days.
For the smart ID cards, there is an incremental approach on how the DHA increases targets per quarter. The DHA started with a base of 70 offices, and in the first quarter the Department would be hitting capacity and dealing with any lessons learned to make sure these offices are optimally used. From the second quarter numbers will increase, so there will be more offices connected with the live capture functionality. The more offices connected, the higher the target.
On the unabridged birth certificates, the DHA is improving on the turn around. The Department have noted some challenges with this, but the turn around times are within six to eight weeks. One of the reasons the DHA is modernising is to be paperless. Before 4 March 2013, both an abridged and unabridged certificate were provided, meaning citizens had to return twice to collect them. On that date, a new system was introduced to provide parents with an abridged version for free and an unabridged one only on request at an extra cost. The prior system left a lot of paperwork, but the DHA want to avoid creating a new population register as the National Population Register (NPR) must still be protected, despite its inadequacies. It is only when the DHA cannot find an individual's record that they are asked to come back and resubmit a DHA24 form. It is something that must be done with great caution, because some people might change their identity so it differs from the original record. This is where the challenge lies with the unabridged records. Attempts are being made to digitalise all records so that they are electronically readable.
In the case of the Lindela Repatriation Centre, the DHA has put a lot of effort into dealing with its problems. The human rights case has been ongoing for two years, although the judgement was made only recently. The Minister had indicated it needed to be monitored on a daily, if not a weekly basis. Efforts are made to engage with the missions people claim to belong to, but sometimes detainees will give false information about their home countries. Foreign missions will say that the individual is not a citizen of their country and the detainees will change their story. So there are several challenges in the issue of deporting these people - it is not wilfully that the Department detains people beyond the period necessary, but if they are released, there is no telling where they will go. The DHA is working hard to monitor it.
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Chief Operations Officer, DOH, said the number of vacancies in the Department stood at around 499 positions, which is about 6%. In the process, some of the posts were unfunded, because the DHA had to re-prioritise the compensation of employees’ budget. This reduced the number of positions to 269, because the DHA had to look at the pressures on the budget and avoid over-expenditure.
The public discussion on immigration will look at the new immigration policy of South Africa. The process has started and the Minister will make an announcement about it. Regarding uncollected IDs, there is a list that can be provided of numbers per province. There is a campaign that encourages people to come forward and collect their IDs, but because of the quick turn around of the smart cards, some people think it is a scam when they get an SMS saying they need to collect them. It is also difficult for elderly people, owing to a lack of transport. The cards need to be activated, but unfortunately the mobile technology has not been finalised, necessitating the citizen's return to the office. Once the mobile technology is up and running, citizens will be able to activate their card from anywhere.
The DHA do offer in-house training, having set up the leading academy with trainers employed by the Department. However, there are not sufficient numbers and they cover different areas. Sometimes private institutions will be used. Some of the higher education institutions are building capacity in public sector management, so the programmes they offer can not be ignored. It is true that the audit committee plays a significant role in providing oversight, but it must be acknowledged that the Department have a fully functioning internal audit unit. There was a problem of leadership that led to the Chief Audit Executive being released from the position. The vacancy was recently advertised and interviews held on 8 September, but currently there is a contractor appointed to take care of the position and as a result the DHA has seen a lot of improvement. The internal audit unit carries out various functions, including performance, director and IT audits on a regular basis. Before the DHA submits the quarterly performance report, they have a responsibility to verify the evidence that accompanies it.
Mr Hollamby said the IEC is an independent entity, and makes its own provisions for elections. In response to the question on turn around strategy for audit matters, the DHA had received the final management letter from the AG in the previous week. They are working on an audit action plan which must take into consideration the findings of the AG. There needs to be some serious reflection and introspection as a Department to turn the situation around. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication, but Mr Hollamby has faith in the team and commitment from management that it is possible. Once the plan is ready, it will be presented to the Committee for feedback on whether it is feasible, practical and implementable. It includes the intention to submit interim financials so that the AG can get them earlier, rather than later. R200 million was borrowed from Finance and Procurement to make provisions for modernisation. The DHA hopes to get the money from the NT and once it is obtained, the books will be balanced again. The overspending in Mpumalanga was because, during the Easter holidays, there was a 6% budget cut across the board by the NT that put pressure on the DHA.
Ms Josephine Meyer, Chief Director, Finance, DOH, explained the issue with DIRCO. The cash basis of accounting means the DHA can record the revenue only once. Because the AG is still not happy with the process in terms of how revenue from the missions is accounted for, the Department told DIRCO not to pay them until it has outlined a more detailed approach that speaks to what the AG is expecting, rather than getting the payment and repeating the weaknesses found by the AG. When the DHA received the management letter, they met with DIRCO and outlined a process with them which can be finalised by the end of the month and communicated to various missions, ensuring the AG's expectations are addressed.
The Chairperson asked how many years were needed to do this. Was it correct that the end of this month it would be ready?
Ms Meyer stated that the Department received an unqualified audit in the financial year 2010-11. In 2012-13 and 2013-14, the AG raised issues about the weaknesses in the DHA's relationship with DIRCO. Processes have been put in place to manage the relationship. The DHA feels that what the AG is expecting is something within their control. A meeting needs to be held between the DHA, the AG and DIRCO to say this is what is expected of the Department, and this is what the Department can do. In terms of turn around, she cannot say how long it will take because of the dependency on DIRCO and its missions.
The Chairperson told Mr Vusi that if the Department sits together, it should be able to sort out the issue with DIRCO once and for all.
Mr Vusi agreed with the Chairperson before addressing the issue of corruption. The Department has no choice but to deal with it and confront it before it becomes an even bigger problem. There are a number of interventions and collaborations with government institutions to monitor this particular incidence, but it is difficult because the way in which corruption takes place keeps on shifting. The emphasis is on ensuring all of the DHA's offices have functional cameras that are checked and monitored, so the Department has strengthened its relationship with various security agencies to fight the problem. The efforts made internally in terms of processing applications have included the introduction of a biometric lock on the system. It means that the people who affected transactions can be identified. Public education is also critical in the fight against corruption, as people who collaborate with syndicates get involved internally, so the Committee's support is needed in forming a comprehensive strategy to deal with the problem.
To clarify the issue of the elderly having to pay for smart ID cards, the first issue is free but if a card is lost, they are required to pay for the re-issue. The approach has been that people who apply for smart ID cards will come based on their month of birth to avoid dealing with high numbers the Department can not manage. If the office volumes are low or if the office already has smart ID card ability, the DHA must try to eliminate the issue of books again, as those people must come back. In those offices the DHA try to issue a card instead of the book. This is to avoid the problem of a book and a card being in the same office. In terms of ethical conduct and the reason why the target was not achieved, the problem is one of responsibility and consequence. The DHA will go back to ensure the provinces are sanctioned accordingly.
The Chairperson said for the AG to assist, the Department needed to commit itself to producing accurate interim figures. The historic audit outcomes associated with the DHA would suggest that a single audit at the end of the financial year was not enough.
Mr Hollamby responded that in informal discussions with the DG, they had agreed there was a need for an interim audit. The DHA were working towards presenting figures for December. By the end of the secondnd quarter, internal audit would be auditing the Department's interim figures in order to get into the discipline of producing complete and accurate information for financial reporting purposes. In the December figures, the DHA wants to have the asset verifications done so the figures can be given to the AG to audit as an interim. If the AG finds issues, such as the asset register being understated, there is time to go back and correct the inconsistencies before the end of the financial year.
Mr Mavuso added that the problem of staff capacity in critical areas was being addressed by the DHA. They did a skills audit in various sections of the Department because, as it was in the process of being modernised, there were certain functions becoming irrelevant and staff having to do different jobs. The issue of skill is something taken very seriously but certain categories of staff cannot be replaced, so there is training in place to improve their capacity. For those in internal audit, investment management and finances, there is continuous professional training, and the DHA encourages this as part of their performance agreement.
In the area of fighting corruption, the DHA is doing a lot, but those who do it keep changing their tactics. There are a lot of syndicates that could impact their staff. Regarding the Lindela Repatriation Centre, the problem is that some people lie about their citizenship and who they are. They claim they do not have documents and plead asylum status. Some cross into Somalia from Kenya, so their refugee passports do not show they went to Somalia. For those lying about their origin, they often stay longer than the required period at Lindela and know there are bodies inside the country who will take up their cases if they plead that they are being ill-treated. They do this so they are not deported to their country of origin, knowing the RSA's constitution will protect them. It makes South Africa look bad in the eyes of the public and the lawmakers, but the reality is that people misrepresent the situation and the DHA are unable to facilitate their deportation because of this.
The Chairperson said the DHA had not answered the questions regarding training targets which were not being achieved, and the disjuncture with performance. The Department says it needs to train staff to do their work, but the overall performance would suggest this is not a major issue. Is there an explanation for this?
Mr Vusi said the issue was about retraining people in work that they were not doing previously. The DHA had introduced a home affairs qualification, understanding one can not go to any university and be sufficiently trained in this area. There are also new recruits who need to have inductions into the Department so they have a professional understanding of its work. A training programme has been developed called Directors and District Managers Operations, which intends to build understanding of both immigration and civic matters, rather than focusing on just one or the other. In this way, staff can be used on a rotational basis when needed.
Mr Hoosen questioned the Lindela matter. Everyone understands the problem, but it is the DHA's responsibility to find a solution. Neither Mr Vusi or Mr Mavuso have offered one, but have only reiterated the problem. How can it be fixed? The fact is that foreigners are being held illegally for periods beyond 120 days and it is costing lots of money. This is money which could be invested in the Inspectorate. If this problem is fixed, it will have a much stronger long-term effect. The Acting DG had said there were 640 000 new birth registrations last year. The graph shows that there were over a million people born in that period, which means there are around 400 000 people missing from the network. Is enough being done in terms of outreach to capture these people? The final question is, why is the DHA not giving the Dalai Lama a visa?
The Chairperson commented that he hoped Mr Hoosen was not expecting an answer to his final question - is it not based on international relations? The DHA will answer as far as they can, but it is not necessary.
Ms Nkomo said her understanding was that the DHA had agreements with other countries to find out where a person came from, irrespective of where they said they were from. How far along is that process? If it was implemented and followed, it would be of assistance.
The Chairperson agreed that the Department needed a campaign to reduce the numbers of people detained at Lindela for beyond the 120 day period.
Mr Figlan asked about the Border Management Agency (BMA) - how far from office was it?
Ms Raphuti said she had visited the Home Affairs at Centurion the previous day, and apparently the lease on the building had expired and was being renewed every month. What is being done about that?
Mr Vusi wanted to clarify the issue of the 640 000 registered births. The DHA are reporting on those who are registered within 30 days or less, not the ones of 31 days or above who missed the deadline. When the annual report is tabled, there will be a sliding scale showing births registered. On the issue of Lindela, the DHA are aware it is something that needs to be addressed. The regulations about the turn around time are clear. Ms Nkomo is correct in that there is an operation that assists the DHA to release some people earlier than before, by going to missions to ask whether that person is from their country or even bringing them to Lindela to confirm a person's identity. It is a challenge, but the Department are doing their best to resolve it before it becomes a crisis. It is only exceptional circumstances where the deadline cannot be met, and it is only through monitoring the length of time an individual is there that intervention can be made before 120 days is reached. The Minister is offering oversight to the mechanisms the DHA put in place.
The Dalai Lama's visa is a question that will be posed to the relevant authority - the DHA only issue a visa when they receive the application. In terms of how far the Department was in its formation of the BMA, the reason the Director-General was not present was precisely because the DHA was undertaking the viability study and international benchmarking exercise. They are confident the BMA will be established within the set timeline, but the DG was instructed to carry out international benchmarking to see how other countries are dealing with the issue. The Minister of Home Affairs has met with the Minister of Public Works to find a way of unblocking any challenge. Problems surrounding accommodation and leases are escalated to ministerial level if they cannot be solved with the Department. The DHA recently received a list from the Department of Public Works (PBW) confirming the leases of their 208 offices had been renewed, so they will investigate the issue of the Centurion lease being month to month, because that should not be the case.
Consideration and Adoption of Minutes
The minutes for 4 September referred to Committee's decision not to continue with the referral by the Speaker to consider the resignation of the Chairperson of the IEC. Ms Kenye moved the adoption of the report, with grammatical amendments. Ms Raputhi seconded.
The minutes for 9 September referred to the Committee's workshop with the Auditor-General. Ms Mnisi moved the adoption without amendments. Mr Figlan seconded.
The report on the Committee's oversight visit to the Department of Home Affairs' office in Barrack Street, Cape Town was also considered for adoption. Ms Nkomo said that there should be a time frame on the roll out of the live-capture functionality to the DHA's offices. The Chairperson responded that the Committee would be following up the recommendations, but the live-capture functionality is difficult to set a time frame on - if the DHA did not live up to it, it could put strain on the relationship between itself and the Committee. Ms Nkomo said she still felt there needed to be a line, stating the Committee would need a status report by a certain date. The Chairperson suggested that the Committee recommend a follow up visit instead. Ms Mnisi moved the adoption, with the addition of the Chairperson's suggestion and grammatical amendments. Mr Figlan seconded.
The Committee Secretary briefed the Committee on the third term parliamentary programme.
The meeting was adjourned.