The Office of the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) presented the audit outcomes of the DHA, IEC and GPW for the 2014/15 financial year. There were further presentations by the DHA, IEC and GPW of their annual reports for the 2014/15 financial year. The report of the AGSA showed that out of the DHA, IEC and GPW, only the GPW achieved a clean audit. The IEC and GPW only achieved qualified audits. However, it appeared that the DHA had several significant anomalies in the records presented for its audit with the result that such records were declared to be unreliable and inadequate. Members were unhappy with the position regarding the unreliable records of the DHA and posed a number of questions to the AGSA. Members asked what could be done to deal with the issue of unreliable records emanating from the DH, and whether the AGSA was comfortable with the fact that the DHA appeared to have failed to achieve a number of its targets.
The DHA presentation on its annual report revealed that the organisation had established certain programmes such as the Moetapele Leadership Programme to challenge the leadership of the DHA to ensure that all clients had an excellent experience in their dealings with the organisation. The Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) had also been formed to improve the processing of applications and reduction in queues at front offices, while more visa centres were established in a number of countries. The DHA was confronted with several challenges that included interrupted network and power supply, funding limitations, capacity shortage, and time delays in receiving the documentation from the missions. While the DHA had achieved some of it targets, it failed to achieve a number of other targets, namely: meeting the intended percentage of newly appointed officials trained on the DHA Induction Programme before commencement of service; failure to achieve the percentage of machine readable passports (manual process) to be issued within 24 working days for applications collected and processed within the RSA; failure to achieve the percentage of refugee travel documents to be issued within 90 calendar days; failure to achieve the percentage of permanent residence applications adjudicated within 8 months for applications collected within the RSA. The contentious issue between the DHA and Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) DIRCO concerning the matter of revenue had also been resolved. The DHA had further made certain interventions including audit debriefing meeting with all managers ASD level upwards 7 October 2015, utilising interns across units in finance, linking monthly checklist to audit findings, finalising audit action plan by end of October 2015, and quality-checking of interim financials of September 2015 by internal audit. The DHA had also resolved to take certain proactive actions in respect of networks, Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS), the E-channel system, strengthening of stakeholder forums and Green Paper on International Migration.
A Member asked why some records and information emanating from the DHA’s annual report were unreliable. A Member asked if there could possibly be breach of security in respect of the Smart ID cards being employed by the DHA. Another Member asked about the DHA’s plan to secure an exemption from the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal services for permission to engage another service provider; and a Member further asked if the DHA had found alternative ways of resolving the problem of interrupted network and power supply.
The presentation by the GPW revealed that the GPW had the achieved the vision of being the ‘Security printer of choice’, although it desired to have this enshrined in legislation through the enactment of the State Printers Bill in 2017. However, the lack of experienced and qualified senior managers, artisans and administrative personnel impacted on service delivery, resulted in the GPW being compelled to outsource certain functions. The GPW’s strategic outcome oriented goals included becoming a State-owned Company, optimising processes and facilities to increase operational effectiveness and improve customer service, and having an efficient, effective, well-trained and developed workforce. GPW’s key projects included the ongoing printing of the Smart ID card. For the first time in history, GPW’s turnover exceeded 1 billion Rands; the organisation had also achieved a clean audit. GPW had 45 targets within 38 key performance areas and had managed to achieve 40 of the targets with a success rate of 89%.
A Member asked if other African countries were in the business of patronising the services of GPW. A Member sought to know why the GPW appeared to be outsourcing a number of functions within its entity. Another member asked whether it was possible that information in respect of the smart ID cards could be hacked into.
The presentation by the IEC revealed that the organisation had three strategic oriented goals, namely: the strengthening of governance, institutional excellence, professionalism and enabling business processes at all levels of the organisation; achieving pre-eminence in the area of managing elections and referenda, including strengthening of a co-operative relationship with political parties; and the strengthening of electoral democracy. The presentation revealed that the audit outcome on the annual financial statements was an unqualified opinion. There were no findings on the usefulness of predetermined objective information; there was only one finding on the liability of predetermined objective information; the quarterly reports as per the treasury instructions were not completed; a misstatement was corrected; irregular expenditure was incurred; a member of staff was found to have had an interest in a contract which was being followed up. It was also revealed that there was an improvement in the revenue of the IEC over what was obtained in the previous year.
A Member made reference to a media report that some temporary staff of the IEC had not been paid in respect of the last election. A Member asked the IEC to explain what was being done in respect of complaints and reports in the media that there had been cases of fraudulent voters registration. A Member made reference to the Riverside Office Park case that was pending in court and asked if the IEC had an alternative plan to relocate its headquarters elsewhere if the court were to set aside its lease agreement. Another Member asked if the IEC could put in more effort to enlighten people on why they had to exercise their right to vote; and a Member asked if there were any joint programme initiated by the IEC with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to ensure that learners were enlightened about their rights to vote.
The Chairperson said it was the usual procedure during the presentation of an annual report was for the Minister to be present but it appeared that the latter was absent at the meeting. He instructed members of the delegation from the DHA to provide an explanation for the Minister’s absence. Mr Thulani Mavuso, Deputy-General of Home Affairs, explained that the Minister was away writing an examination; the Deputy-Minister, Ms Fatima Chohan, was expected to be present at the meeting to represent the Minister. The Chairperson was satisfied with the explanation.
Office of the Auditor General of South Africa on audit outcomes of the DHA, GPW, and IEC
Mr Barry Wheeler, Corporate Executive of AGSA, gave an overview of the purpose of the AGSA at the meeting. It was the obligation of the AGSA to support and assist the Committee in assessing the level of performance of the various departments that fell under the supervision of the Committee. This performance was specifically in respect of the financial work and financial result that appeared in the annual report of the various departments that were the DHA, GPW and IEC. The AGSA was also obliged to assist the Committee in determining the extent to which the departments had complied with the laws and regulations that were applicable to them.
Annually, oversight committees set aside time to focus on assessing the performance of departments. On completion of the process, portfolio committees were required to develop department-specific reports, namely budgetary review and recommendations reports (BRRR) which expressed the committee’s view on the department’s budget for recommendation to National Treasury ahead of the following year`s budget period. The AGSA had the role of reflecting on the audit work performed to assist the Committee in its oversight role in assessing the performance of the departments taking into consideration the objective of the committee to produce a BRRR.
The AGSA had the role of assessing whether the various departments under the portfolio had achieved a clean audit. To attain a clean audit, three things had to be achieved, namely: firstly, by ascertaining that the financial records had been correctly kept by presenting proper evidence; secondly, by ascertaining that there was a high level of compliance with the laws and regulations applicable to the particular department; thirdly; that there was proper performance reporting.
Mr Naveen Mooloo, Senior Manager at AGSA, briefed the Committee.
The audit outcomes in the presentation were concerned with the GPW, IEC, and DHA. There was an improvement in the audit outcomes of the three entities, especially in respect of GPW. Concerning GPW, there were no findings on compliance with laws and regulations and the organisation achieved a clean audit. In respect of the IEC, there were findings on compliance with laws and regulations. There were also findings relating to their performance information. Home Affairs had findings on tangible and immovable assets.
On the financial statements of the three departments, the GPW had a good set of financial statements; there were not material adjustments to the financial statement as a result of a good ordered process. However, the DHA and IEC had material adjustments to their financial statements.
A number of notable findings were made in respect of the records of the DHA. Concerning the DHA’ s annual financial statement. it was found that the department did not have adequate systems of internal control in place for the recording of all transactions and events, and the DHA did not revisit and reconcile all the prior year balances. The DHA’s register of intangible assets was incomplete, as it did not include all intangible assets. Certain intangible assets recorded in the register were not supported by invoices, contracts or payment information to substantiate the ownership or the values at which these assets were recorded. Differences were noted between the annual financial statement amounts and the supporting schedules submitted for audit, and the supporting schedule included duplicate transactions; the opening balance was misstated and the schedule contained errors. Not all the required transactions were included in the balance that was disclosed in the financial statements.
Concerning the DHA’s predetermined objectives, a number of anomalies were also revealed. In respect of the DHA’s objective regarding citizen’s affairs, significant important targets were not reliable when compared to the source information or evidence provided. In respect of the objective concerning immigration affairs, the reported performance information was not valid, accurate and complete when compared to the source information or evidence provided.
Concerning the DHA’s compliance with legislation, it was found that an effective, efficient and transparent system of risk management and internal control was not maintained in respect of performance information. There was non-compliance with legislative requirements; payments were not made within 30 days (although this indicator had improved relative to the prior year). The culmination of all these facts was that the records of the DHA were unreliable and inadequate.
Mr M Hoosen (DA) observed that the report of the AGSA reflected that there had been an improvement in the performance of the DHA in respect of achieving its targets. He queried this report of the AGSA considering that the same report stated that the information presented by the DHA was not reliable. He asked for clarity in this regard.
Ms H Maxon (EFF) was concerned that the presentation of the AGSA raised issues concerning inadequate records supplied from the DHA to the AGSA for the purpose of auditing, and asked if any solution could be provided to resolve the problem of such inadequate records.
The Chairperson informed Ms Maxon that her question was premature and it could be posed directly to the DHA when it made its presentation. Ms Maxon aggressively disagreed and stated that the question was posed in direct relation to the presentation made by the AGSA; she had a right to pose whatever questions she deemed fit.
The Chairperson said there was no need for her to be aggressive and directed her to proceed with her questions.
Ms Maxon further observed that the presentation of the AGSA identified that a number of projects had not been implemented by the DHA. She asked whether the AGSA was comfortable with this state of affairs.
Mr Naveen responded to the question concerning the unreliability of the information in respect of targets met by the DHA. This information was unreliable because the information provided by the Department of Home Affairs was insufficient, which rendered such information to be conflicting with the actual facts on ground. The findings made by the AGSA showed that the details supplied by the DHA were inaccurate and as a result, everything could not be taken into account when arriving at the percentage of targets met by the department. That was the basis for stating in the AGSA presentation that the information concerning the targets met by the department was unreliable.
He further replied to the question concerning the issue of inadequate records. There was a need to have proper books of account to ensure that the required records were kept. For instance in respect of the financial information, there was a need to have processes in place to record each financial transaction. There ought to be an internal audit function by ensuring that there was someone who would ensure that the information that the accounting officer received was validated.
On the question in respect of the non-implementation of some projects, Mr Naveen responded that there was a need to have a mechanism in place for oversight responsibility in order to hold officials accountable for non-performance of their duties. This would ensure that procedures were being complied with and that whenever a process was started, such a process would be seen to the end of its completion. Furthermore, there was a need to provide penalties or sanctions for those who failed to achieve what was required in respect of their obligations or duties. It was only then that the issue could be dealt with.
The Chairperson thanked the delegation of AGSA for the presentation. He asked the delegation from the DHA to make their presentation.
Mr Hoosen interjected. Having so many presentations in a day meant that adequate and proper oversight could not be conducted considering that there would not be enough time to effectively deal with the presentations made by the departments.
The Chairperson concurred with the comments of Mr Hoosen. He explained that the commitments of Members in other Committees meant that there would always be the issue of time constraint, which therefore demanded that many presentations had to be entertained within a short frame of time.
Department of Home Affairs Annual Report
Ms Fatima Chohan, Deputy-Minister of Home Affairs, apologised for arriving at the meeting late and apologised for the Minister’s absence due to writing examinations.
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director-General of DHA, commenced the presentation.
The DHA in 2012/13 achieved 25% in respect of its annual performance. There was an improvement in the annual performance in 2013/14 to the level of 53%. There was further improvement to the level of 70% in the 2014/15. The DHA had succeeded in registering 704 527 births within 30 days of birth against the target of 694 000. This helped with the replacement of the current late registration of birth process in December 2015. A total of 1 638 387 Smart ID cards had also been issued against the target of 1.6 million.
There was a need to deal with the issue of leadership within the DHA; hence a programme called the Moetapele (Leadership) Programme was launched. The Moetapele (Leadership) Initiative was launched at the Edenvale Office with preparations completed in 2014/ 2015. The main aim was to challenge the leadership of the DHA to ensure that all clients had an excellent experience; this entailed developing professional and operational management skills in order to address civic and immigration problems and standardise front and back office processes. To achieve success in respect of the programme, a front office toolkit was implemented in local offices to improve front office operations; including change in operation hours. The DHA’s Service Charter was approved and launched at the Top 1000 management meeting of the Department.
New immigration regulations were introduced in support of a risk based approach to immigration. 6,811 IDs were despatched to Refugee Reception Offices (RROs), which translated to a 61% performance against the target of 50%. An on-line system for the verification of asylum seeker and refugee permits was also implemented with key financial institutions. There was also an Institutional Options Analysis Report on the Border Management Agency Bill (BMA) and Cabinet approved the vision for the BMA in December 2014, which resulted in the submission of the BMA Bill to Parliament by October 2015. Improvements were carried out at 10 ports of entry (POEs) during the 2014/15 financial year against the set target of 8. A partnership with the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) was formed to improve the processing of applications and reduction in queues at front offices. Eleven (11) centres were opened nation-wide as well as 11 additional centres in India, China and Nigeria. It was to be noted that the VFS also assisted with the Zimbabwe Special Dispensation (ZSD) project. A total of 62% of business, critical skills and general work visas were finalised within the 8 weeks turnaround time. The process of a holistic review of immigration policy was initiated with the hosting of four roundtable discussions on critical aspects of migration policy. It was also the intention of the DHA to gazette a Green Paper on international migration by March 2016 to initiate a broader national discussion.
Concerning support services, live capture was rolled out to 70 additional offices (total of 140 offices); enabling the issuance of Smart ID cards and passports. A disaster recovery system for live capture was also established and implemented. Pre-modification functionality of unabridged certificates on the NPR had been successfully developed and implemented resulting in reducing the turnaround time for the issuance of unabridged birth certificates of children. A business case for a sustainable model for Home Affairs was developed and submitted to Treasury; this resulted in the allocation of additional funding of R118 million over the medium term for the appointment of additional immigration officers and start-up funding towards a new document management system that was in the range of R30 million.
A major challenge confronting the DHA was that service delivery continued to be disrupted by unreliable networks and power supply. This compromised the delivery of services, particularly to automated offices and undermined the reputation of the DHA and the goodwill of clients. Long queues at the live-capture offices was partly the result of network failures; partly because of funding limitations in terms of equipping offices to meet high demand in some areas; and partly because of the limitations of rented offices. As new systems were developed, there were inevitable problems of transition from legacy systems (NPR, HANIS), some of which would continue to operate for a period. The biggest challenge was to move as fast as possible to replace the green ID book. There was also the issue of capacity shortage at the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA) and Refugee Appeal Board (RAB) resulting in reviews and appeals for asylum claims not being finalised on time. This led to asylum seekers staying in the country for longer periods, with many using means such as marriages of convenience to regularise their stay. It also led to an increased number of judicial reviews. There was a need for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and DHA to agree on and to develop adequate accounting systems for accounting and reporting on transactions at missions. This was as a result of time delays in receiving the documentation from the missions; the supporting documentation did not always agree with the information in the accounting records, and balances dating back to April 2004 - supporting documentation were not available.
Certain priorities had been identified in dealing with the challenges. These were establishing an integrated Border Management Agency (BMA); developing an over-arching strategy and sub-strategies to defend, protect, secure and ensure well-managed borders; ensuring that registration at birth was the only entry point for SA to the new National Identity System (NIS); ensuring that the NIS was designed and operational; ensuring that systems were in place to enable the capturing of biometric data of all travellers who entered or exited SA legally; ensuring that an immigration policy was developed and approved by Cabinet; reducing the time required for importing critical skills needed for the economy; and improving feedback opportunities for citizens and other service users through the establishing of a DHA contact centre.
Mr Apleni said that as a result of time constraints, he would not deal with the targets that had already been achieved by the DHA as these were already contained in the annual report and there was therefore no need to repeat them; he would prefer to deal with those targets that had not been achieved.
One of the targets that were not achieved was in respect of the development of the NIS according to specifications. This could not be achieved as a result of the fact that the contract between the DHA and the prospective service provider had not been signed and as a result the project could not commence.
A target not achieved was in respect of the percentage of newly appointed officials trained on the DHA Induction Programme before commencement of service. The target was to ensure that 90% of newly appointed officials were trained on DHA Induction Programme before commencement of service. However, the average attendance of the four quarters was 74% (Q1=43%, Q2=53%, Q3=100% and Q4=100%) and therefore the annual target of 90% was not achieved by 16%.
A target that the DHA failed to achieve was in respect of the percentage of IDs (First issues) that were to be issued within 54 working days for applications collected and processed within the RSA (i.e. from date of receipt of application until ID was scanned at office of application). The target was to ensure that 95% of IDs (First issues) issued within 54 working days of application were collected and processed within the RSA (i.e. from date of receipt of application until ID is scanned at office of application). However, only 86, 7% of IDs (First Issues) were issued within 54 working days (RSA applications only), 410042 IDs (First Issue) were issued in 54 working days and 63036 above. The total number of IDs (First Issues) issued during the review period was 473078.
Another target that could not be met was in respect of the percentage of machine-readable passports (manual process) to be issued within 24 working days for applications collected and processed within the RSA (i.e. from date of receipt of application until passport is scanned at office of application). The target was that 95% of machine-readable passports (manual process) would be issued within 24 working days for applications collected and processed within the RSA (i.e. from date of receipt of application until passport is scanned at office of application). However, only 94.1% of machine-readable passports (MRP) (manual process) were issued within 24 working days (RSA applications only), 332 808 MRPs (manual process) were issued in 24 working days and 20962 above. The total number of MRPs (manual process) issued during the review period was 353 770.
A target that the DHA failed to achieve was in respect of the percentage of refugee travel documents to be issued within 90 calendar days (from the date of application at refugee reception offices until travel document is ready at office of application) to citizens 16 years of age and above. The target was that 80% of refugee travel documents would be issued within 90 calendar days (from the date of application at refugee reception offices until travel document is ready at office of application) to citizens 16 years of age and above. However, only 3 644 applications were received and 630 applications were dispatched reflecting a 17.2% achievement.
A crucial target that was not achieved by the DHA was the approval of the BMA draft bill by the Minister. The target was that the Minister would approve the BMA draft bill. This target could not be realised because the drafting of the BMA Bill was dependant on the institutional form of the envisaged BMA and as such, the Department could not commence with the drafting process until Cabinet endorsed the proposed vision for the BMA. However, the department conducted preparatory work on the draft Bill. Following Cabinet’s approval of a proposed vision for the BMA in December 2014, a Bill framework had been developed and an opinion on the constitutionality of the BMA had also been provided. Furthermore, the Office of Chief State Law Adviser had been approached to assist and support the BMA Bill drafting process. Engagements had commenced in this regard.
A further target that could not be realised by the DHA was in respect of the percentage of permanent residence applications adjudicated within 8 months for applications collected within the RSA (from date of receipt of application until outcome is known). The target was that 50% of permanent residence applications would be adjudicated within 8 months for applications collected within the RSA (from date of receipt of application until outcome is known). However, only 36.8% of permanent residence applications were finalised within 8 months.
Mr Apleni moved on to the issue of revenue. He reminded members that there had been a contentious issue between the DHA and DIRCO concerning the matter of revenue. He stated that these issues in respect of the revenue-process had been resolved since 1 April 2015. The resolved issues were that approval had been granted by National Treasury to transfer the function of collecting foreign revenue to DIRCO on the basis of agent-principal relationship with effect from 1 April 2015; DIRCO was to deposit foreign revenue directly into the National Revenue Fund (NRF) and to be audited by AGSA at source; DHA would neither collect foreign revenue nor account for revenue deposited by DIRCO into the NRF; DHA was to disclose agent-principal relationship; clarity had being sought from National Treasury on the interpretation of the agent-principal relationship as per the Modified Cash Standard; the memorandum of understanding with DIRCO was to be reviewed to accommodate agent-principal relationship.
Issues in respect of expenditure had also been resolved as at 1 April 2015. The current position was that in respect of the cost of living expenditure relating to DHA officials posted abroad, approval had been granted by the National Treasury for a Baseline transfer to DIRCO. This meant that DIRCO would be responsible for accounting for such expenditure. The DHA had made certain interventions. These included audit de-briefing meeting with all managers ASD level upwards 7th October 2015, utilising interns across units in finance, linking monthly checklist to audit findings, finalising audit action plan by end of October 2015, and quality-checking of interim financials of September 2015 by internal audit.
The DHA had resolved to take certain actions as a way forward as outlined below:
- In respect of networks, the DHA was engaging the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal services to request an exemption for the DHA from the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) provided network to be hosted by an alternative service provider.
- Concerning the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) upgrade, the DHA had secured funding for the AFIS upgrade through the Integrated Justice System (IJS) projects. The DHA had also appointed the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) through SITA to develop conceptual document and tender specifications for the development of multi modal biometrics system (New AFIS) in the context of a National Identity System. Furthermore, a stabilization plan for the current Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) or AFIS had also been completed for implementation by the DHA.
- As regards long queues, the E-channel system was in the testing phase and would soon be rolled out to selected bank branches for efficient service delivery and to accelerate the uptake of the Smart ID card. The E-channel system entailed the process whereby clients of the DHA would be able to make applications from the comfort of their homes through the use of personal computers and thereafter proceed to designated banks for submission of biometric data. This would reduce the worrisome queues at the Home Affairs offices.
- Promulgation of the BMA Act and the establishment of BMA by 1 April 2017.
- Finalising the Green Paper on International Migration in March 2017.
- Strengthening of stakeholder forums by establishing a National Stakeholder Forum that could set out programmes and monitor progress.
- Regarding revenue, as from 1 April 2015, DIRCO would deposit money directly into the NRF (no need for DHA to collect the vouchers). Furthermore auditing of supporting documentation would take place in the various Missions.
The DHA had also resolved to have a meeting with Cabinet by November 2015 to present arguments that the DHA could no longer be seen as an administrative department. This was because the DHA was key to the security of the country. In light of this, the DHA would be proposing that it should be classified as a security department by virtue of an enabling law. The belief was that the classification of the DHA in the security department would enable the DHA to become better funded to handle its challenges.
Mr Hoosen observed that some problems confronting the DHA such as service delivery and lack of professionalism appeared to be at the senior management level. He referred to the earlier presentation of the AGSA in which it had been categorically stated that some records and information emanating from the DHA’s annual report were unreliable. He asked whether members could be expected to consider the annual report of the DHA if it contained inaccurate and unreliable facts and figures.
He made reference to the E-channel system proposed by the DHA. While this appeared to be a step in the right direction, would the banks involved in the programme be deriving some financial benefits?
Mr Hoosen referred to a statement in the DHA’s annual report that mentioned giving support to President Jacob Zuma’s third term of office. He wondered what connection the DHA had with any third term bid of the President and sought clarification of what this statement meant.
He raised concern about the possible breach of security in respect of the Smart ID cards being employed by the DHA. He sought to know what steps were being taken against such breach of security so that identity theft would be prevented.
Ms T Kenye (ANC) raised concern in respect of the unreliable records and facts presented by the DHA. It was a worrisome situation that warranted a remedy. She asked what mechanisms were being devised by the DHA to tackle the problem
Ms Maxon referred to the fact that adequate records were not being kept by the DHA and asked what the DHA was going to do to resolve the issue.
She drew attention to the proposed action of the DHA in respect of networks. She observed that the DHA’s plan was to secure an exemption from the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal services for permission to engage another service provider. She further observed that this planned action appeared to have been in consideration for an appreciable length of time. She asked how the DHA intended to ensure that the plan was carried out as soon as possible. She also sought to know which service provider was being considered as an alternative.
Ms Maxon sought clarification in respect of the DHA’s plan to engage banks in the collection of biometric data in respect of applications made by clients under the E-channel system. The Minister appeared to have already launched the project, however, the DHA appeared to be presenting the project in its presentation as though it was just been presented for the first time. She therefore required clarification in this regard.
Furthermore, she noted that while the engagement of the banks in the E-channel system was to reduce the queues at the Home Affairs offices, it was also a fact that long queues were a usual experience at the banks when making transaction, so how would engaging the banks effectively deal with the issue of long queues?
There had been cases where the account details and information of bank customers had been hacked into within the banking system. In view of this, she asked whether there was any guarantee that the biometric data that would be collected by the banks under the E-channel system would not fall into hands of unscrupulous people.
Reference was drawn to the fact that immigration services concerning the refugee reception centre in Port Elizabeth had been closed down. She sought to know why this was so.
Ms Maxon observed that one of the interventions made by the DHA was to utilise interns across units in finance. This did not appear to be a progressive intervention in light of the fact that such interns would not appear to be fully qualified for the job. She advised that the DHA ought to engage qualified personnel in dealing with sensitive issues such as finance.
Ms N Mnisi (ANC) referred to the issue that one of the major challenges facing the DHA was the problem of interrupted power supply as a result of the recent development of load shedding by ESKOM. She asked if the DHA had found alternative ways of resolving this problem.
She observed in respect of the issue of immigration that there appeared to be a long turnaround time in respect of clients of the DHA who had made applications for permanent residence permits. She asked why this was so.
Certain officials were definitely responsible for the fact that inadequate records were emanating from the DHA. She asked what was being done to hold such officials accountable for their incompetent actions.
Mr A Figlan (DA) sought to know whether the engagement of banks by the DHA under the E-channel system meant that offices of the DHA would be set up in the designated banks and if this was so, whether the staff that would run those offices would be DHA officials.
He also observed that there were cases of corruption in the banks and in view of this, he asked what security measures were in place to ensure that the biometric data of the clients of the DHA that would be handled by the banks under the E-channel system would not get into the wrong hands.
Ms Chohan dealt with the issue regarding the fears expressed by almost all the members in respect of the engagement of banks by the DHA. There were immense benefits to be had in engaging the banks as the DHA would be saved the expenses of establishing numerous offices. She acknowledged the concern expressed about the privacy of the clients whose biometric details would be handled in the banks. However, she clarified that the bank officials were not the personnel that would deal with the clients of the DHA in the banks. Rather, the position was that the personnel of the DHA would directly deal with such clients within the spaces allocated for such transactions in the banks. This meant that the E-channel system would run parallel with the Home Affairs systems and would not have anything to do with the bank’s systems. This would enable the DHA to deal with all the clients who possessed or did not possess the time to queue at the Home Affairs offices.
Ms Chohan clarified the confusion regarding the launch of the E-channel system by the Minister. The Minister launched the pilot programme, which was to test the performance of the programme. The DHA was therefore at the point of the actual rollout of the programme.
Concerning the closure of the immigration office in Port Elizabeth, various things were considered in respect of closing the office. The first was the policy to move the refugee reception centres close to the borders. Most of the asylum seekers came from the Northern land border and it was not sensible to have refugee reception centres in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, which did not essentially have a border with any other country. Considering that the asylum seekers did not necessarily have to be documented when they came to the Home Affairs offices, what earlier transpired was the phenomenon of people coming from across the land borders and traversing the country without documents. They would then make their way to the reception centres in either Cape Town or Port Elizabeth at the risk of being actually deported if the police at any point intercepted them because they didn’t have any documents to verify that they were actually asylum seekers. The second issue was the level of fraud and corruption that was being perpetrated in Port Elizabeth, which was startling in its proportion. There were significant indicators to suggest that people, particularly from the South-East Asia district were being granted asylum even when they did not qualify to be granted such asylum; this was clearly a syndicated crime. There was therefore a need to put a stop to it quickly. The closure of the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth offices did not mean that those people who were asylum seekers and whose applications had been taken prior the closure of the offices were not being assisted in those very areas. Therefore, such people would remain in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and would still be serviced. New refugees or asylum seekers would not be able to secure services in both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth; they would have to proceed to Durban, Mossina (Musina?) or Marabastad.
Concerning the issue of why it appeared that there was a long turnaround time in respect of those who applied for permanent resident permits, it was not possible to treat permanent residence permits in the same way that tourist permits were treated. The problem of the permanent residence permits was that the screening of the applications for such permits had to be at a higher level than the application for other permits such as a tourist permit. This was because the grant of a permanent residence permit would qualify the holder of such a permit for citizenship of South Africa at a later stage. It was therefore imperative that those who would be granted such permits should be subjected to extensive screening for security reasons. Furthermore, some applicants for permanent residence permits failed to submit all the required and necessary documents, which often delayed the grant of such permits.
Ms Chohan clarified the issue concerning the statement in the DHA’s annual report that mentioned giving support to President Jacob Zuma’s third term of office. She explained that this was simply a typographical error and it was actually meant to read second term.
Mr Apleni replied to the question in respect what could be done to tackle the problem of inadequate records emanating from the DHA. The issue of unreliable records was mainly in respect of the account of the DHA with DIRCO. Such problems would not surface again as the records in respect of the revenue and expenditure of the DHA would now be handled by DIRCO.
Mr Apleni dealt with the question in relation to which a specific service provider was being considered by the DHA to provide it with the required network in view of the exemption being sought from the Minister of Telecommunications. Due process had to be followed in appointing such a service provider and such procurement process had to be stringent in order to ensure that the right service provider was selected.
On the issue of possible identity theft in respect of Smart cards. it was highly difficult for such theft to arise considering that stringent and painstaking procedures had been adopted to prevent such possibility.
Concerning the question raised in respect of what the DHA was doing to tackle the problem of quality service delivery in light of the interrupted power supply by ESKOM, there was not much that the DHA could do in dealing with the problem of interrupted power supply in the Home Affairs offices. Only a number of offices had generators to deal with the problem; it was impossible to procure generators for all the Home Affairs offices in light of the inadequate financial resources of the DHA. This was why the idea of engaging the banks under the E-channel system was feasible considering that banks were adequately equipped financially to ensure that their various branches had generators.
The Chairperson noted that appreciable progress had been made by the DHA in respect of its objectives and encouraged it to continue to make more progress.
Annual Report of GPW
Prof Anthony Mbewu, Chief Executive Officer of GPW, briefed the Committee on the annual report of GPW’s financial year of 2014/15.
In respect of the legislative mandate of GPW, the Ministers of Finance, Home Affairs and Public Service and Administration approved the business case and GPW was established as a Government Component on 9 October 2009 (Government Gazette 32616). As a government Component, the GPW was tasked with delivering security-printing services to government.
Concerning GPW’s situational analysis, transformation into a Government Component was completed after the process started in 2009. Revenue had doubled since then and had exceeded one billion. There had been six unqualified audits and for the first time ever a clean audit by the AGSA for the 2014/15 financial year. GPW had the achieved vision of being the ‘Security printer of choice’, although this still had to be enshrined in legislation. It was hoped that the transformation journey would be completed through the promulgation of the State Printers Bill in 2017. It was believed that GPW had consolidated its position as a government owned entity running on sound business principles. GPW remained profitable by having profits ploughed back into purchase of new equipment and renovation of the Visagie Street premises. GPW fully supported the objectives set out in the National Development Plan and specifically Chapter 13 on building a capable and developmental State. The financial liability of GPW was dependent on its ability to generate revenue from services rendered. Although GPW could report on increased outputs, service delivery was still negatively affected by human and material resource constraints. The lack of experienced and qualified senior managers, artisans and administrative personnel impacted on service delivery, resulting in GPW being compelled to outsource certain functions.
The GPW had strategic outcome oriented goals. The first goal was to further develop the government component to become a State-owned Company. The second goal was to optimise processes and facilities to increase operational effectiveness and improve customer service. The third goal was to have an efficient, effective, well-trained and developed workforce; and a special remuneration dispensation for the government Component.
GPW’s key projects included the ongoing printing of the Smart ID card, with 1,660,280 produced in 2014/15. In terms of business transformation, ICT was increasingly been used for both internal and external services and products. GPW was past mid-way point in the R600 million asset recapitalisation programme. It commenced with the design and development for Pavilion 3 – examination printing section as well as a dispatch centre for passports and smart ID cards, and continued the migration of GPW employees to the new GPW establishment. There was also a pro-active effort placed on human resources development, 2 327 training days, mainly focusing on employee health, safety and personal finance, with a special focus on diversity.
Mr Rassie Barnard, Chief Financial Officer, presented the financial statements. For the first time in history, GPW’s turnover exceeded 1 billion Rands. GPW had also witnessed appreciable growth in respect of its trade receivables, property plant & equipment, lease improvements, and trade payables.
Prof Mbewu outlined the demographic transformation of GPW in respect of its human resources. GPW had undergone great transformation in its business processes, technology, products and services over the past 20 years, and had also undergone dramatic demographic transformation in its workforce of 538 from an organisation that before 1994 was 100% white and predominantly male.
In terms of performance, GPW had 45 targets within 38 key performance areas and had managed to achieve 40 of the targets with a success rate of 89%. He refrained from going into details in respect of the key performance areas; however, he drew particular attention to a few of the performance areas. Concerning the equipment replacement ratio, 12 new equipment items had been procured according to the Recapitalisation Plan. Furthermore, 6 new equipment had been procured according to the revised recapitalisation plan. This was vital in the sense that GPW would become one of the most advanced security printing facilities in the world. Concerning identity documents produced according to quality and delivery specifications, the target was that
97% of identity cards and documents produced would conform to the client’s specifications. This target had not only been realised but had also been exceeded.
Concerning the quantity of passports spoiled during booklet personalisation, the target was that GPW would maintain or reduce spoilage percentage; this target had also been met. In respect of the quantity of examination scripts printed, the target was to produce 100% of the required number of examinations scripts within the client’s specified time frames and this target had been met.
Ms Maxon referred to the statement in the presentation that GPW lacked experienced and qualified senior managers, artisans and administrative personnel. She asked how this challenge would affect GPW’s vision to be a state-owned company.
She further asked if there were African countries that were in the business of patronising the services of GPW.
Mr Hoosen observed that the GPW appeared to be outsourcing a number of functions within the entity which would involve a higher expenditure. He asked why this was so.
Ms Kenye also asked why the GPW was involved in outsourcing certain duties within the entity if its goal was to be a state-owned company.
The chairperson asked whether the necessity by the GPW to outsource some functions within its organisation did not conflict with its mandate as a security printing entity.
He asked whether it was possible that information in respect of the smart ID cards could be hacked into when such cards were transferred from the DHA to the GPW for production.
Prof Mbewu addressed the question concerning the need for the GPW to outsource some functions within its entity. One of the main objectives of wanting to become a state-owned company was because that had been the intention of government for the last 15 years. When the GPW became a government component in 2009, the primary reason for that was that the national treasury felt that GPW’s affairs were in a state that would not allow for the transition into a state-owned company immediately. However, the Minister felt that in 2015, it was now possible to complete the transition into a state-owned company, which would be made possible by the enactment of the State Printers Bill into law. The designation of the GPW as a state-owned company would assist in dealing with the issue of outsourcing functions within the entity in the sense that GPW would be able to set market-related salaries which would ensure that the skilled and professional staff within the entity would not be poached by other private organisations. It was also believed that the recruitment of skilled staff would be improved.
Concerning the question of whether the services of GPW had been patronised by other African countries, some measure of success had been recorded in this respect. For example, GPW had for a while produced the Mozambique driver’s license. It was also currently involved in producing the African Union passport. Persistent effort was also being maintained to ensure that GPW was able to break into the African market on an appreciable level. For instance, GPW had been invited to exhibit itself at the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics Conference that had been held in Ce d'Ivoire in the previous year.
Mr Barnard offered further explanation in respect of the question relating to whether outsourcing some functions within the GPW did not conflict with its mandate as a security printing entity. There were three types of businesses within the GPW; these were the security section, para-security section, and the general printing section. The outsourcing done by GPW was simply in respect of general printing. The GPW did not outsource sensitive and high security products such as the Smart ID cards and passport. Even where outsourcing was done, such outsourcing would continue to remain under the supervision of GPW personnel.
Mr Barnard further dealt with the question relating to the possibility of the information in respect of the Smart ID cards being hacked by unscrupulous elements. It was extremely difficult for anyone to hack into the data concerning the ID cards as a result of the security measures in place to prevent such an event. There were various processes to be completed in the production of an ID card and where any of such processes appeared to be compromised, the ID card would not be valid thereby rendering it impossible to activate or operate.
The Chairperson thanked GPW for their presentation.
Annual Report of Independent Electoral Commission
Mr Terry Tselane, Deputy Chairperson of IEC, stated that the report being presented was related to the period in 2014 when the IEC ran the national and provincial elections.
Mr Mosotho Moepya, Chief Electoral Officer of IEC, briefed the Committee.
The IEC had three strategic oriented goals. The first goal was concerned with strengthening governance, institutional excellence, professionalism and enabling business processes at all levels of the organisation. Of the 14performance indicators in this programme relevant for the financial year, the targets for four were exceeded and eight were achieved. Two targets were not achieved. This meant that 86% of the performance targets were achieved or exceeded.
The second goal was concerned with achieving pre-eminence in the area of managing elections and referenda, including the strengthening of a co-operative relationship with political parties. Of the 13 performance indicators in this programme relevant for the financial year, five targets were exceeded and another five were achieved. Three targets were not achieved. This meant that 77% of the performance targets were either achieved or exceeded.
The third goal was concerned with strengthening electoral democracy. Of the nine performance indicators in this programme, six targets were exceeded and three were not achieved. This meant that 66.7% of the targets were exceeded. The summary was that a total of 28 of the 36 targets (78%) for performance indicators were either achieved or exceeded during the financial year.
Ms Fiona Rowley, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC, gave a brief overview of the financial outcome for the financial year. The basis for the preparation of the financial statements remained unchanged from the prior year. The audit outcome on the annual financial statements was an unqualified opinion. There was no emphasis of matter paragraphs on the annual financial statements. There also no additional matter paragraphs on the annual financial statements.
In relation to the audit outcome on other legal and regulatory requirements, there were no findings on the usefulness of predetermined objective information; there was only one finding on the liability of predetermined objective information; the quarterly reports as per the treasury instructions were not completed; a misstatement was corrected; irregular expenditure was incurred; a staff was found to have had an interest in a contract which was been followed up at the moment.
Revenue of the IEC was R1, 584,999,702, expenditure was in the sum of R1, 480,578,799.
The Chairperson drew attention to a report in the media that some temporary staff of the IEC had not been paid in respect of the last election. He sought to know the IEC’s position in respect of this report.
He observed that there had been earlier reports that the machines utilised by the IEC were becoming outdated and had reached the end of their useful lives. It was crucial to deal with the issue so that there would not be the problem of machines breaking down during the conduct of future elections.
Mr Hoosen commented on the issue of voter registration. Statistics appeared to show that there were about 36 million people who were qualified to be registered as voters within the populace; however, only about 26 million were actually registered, which meant that millions of South Africans could not vote. People had a right not to vot, however, that did not contribute to democracy. He asked if the IEC could put in more effort to enlighten people on why they had to exercise their right to vote. This was imperative as a lot of people were ignorant and oblivious about the political events in the country. It was therefore essential for IEC to take more adequate steps to educate such people.
He further asked if the IEC could explain what was being done in respect of the complaints and reports in the media that there have been cases of fraudulent voters registration. He asked if the IEC had any mechanisms in place to prevent such fraudulent practice.
Ms Maxon referred to the Riverside Office Park case that was pending in court, and asked if the IEC had an alternative plan to relocate its headquarters elsewhere if the court were to set aside its lease agreement at the end of the day.
She further asked what the IEC was doing to provide more education and enlightenment to the public in order to ensure a better and appreciable turnout of voters in elections in the country. This question was significant in view of the observation that there appeared to have been a low turnout of voters in national elections, and even more especially in respect of local government elections.
Mr Tselane responded to the question regarding the machines of the IEC that were perceived to be outdated. The present machines were adequate and sufficient for conducting the next elections. What was required was merely to service the machines and upgrade the software in order to bring them up to date.
Regarding some staff not being paid, that had indeed been an issue. The reason why some staff had not been paid was because on the day of the elections, some of the people who had been recruited to supervise and conduct the election operations at the voting station level failed to turn up which led to recruiting new people at short notice. Some of these new staff failed to submit their correct banking details. There was also the need to verify whether these people had actually worked or not. The need to ensure verification of the staff had therefore delayed the payment of some of the staff, but the matter was urgently being looked into in a bid to resolve it.
On the Riverside Office Park case, it was a matter that arose from the Public Protector’s report. The IEC had implemented and dealt with all the remedial actions as contained in that report, the only remaining issues were in respect of the disciplinary processes and the issue pertaining to the Riverside Office Park. The prayer of the IEC in the pending court case was that if the lease agreement in respect of the Riverside Office Park was set aside by the court, then the IEC should either be given an opportunity to find an alternative arrangement for new office space or to negotiate a new arrangement for the lowering of the fee for the lease so that it would be in line with the current market value considering that it had been found in the Public Protector’s report that the IEC had been paying a fee far higher than the actual market value.
On the question relating to how the IEC could ensure that more voters were registered in the country, he replied that the IEC was indeed considering various mechanisms that would ensure that more eligible voters were registered in the country, and as soon as the most effective mechanism was finalised, it would be put in motion.
Mr Bongani Finca, Commissioner of IEC, sought to make some contribution to the explanations given by Mr Tselane in respect of the issue of voter registration. The IEC was indeed looking at alternative means of ensuring that as many voters as possible could be registered in the country. However, this was not being done in respect of the forthcoming local government elections as it was too close to the elections to change the present process for voters registration. Consideration of alternative means was for voter registration in respect of future elections.
The Chairperson asked if there was any joint programme initiated by the IEC with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to ensure that learners were enlightened about their rights to vote even before they completed their matric. Such a programme would ensure that children would become conscious of the political events in the country.
Mr Tselane responded that there was a comprehensive programme undertaken by the IEC in conjunction with the DBE called the School Democracy Week whereby visits were made to schools to create awareness for students in respect of their rights to vote.
Mr Hoosen asked what steps were being taken to assure the electorate that the IEC was impartial and that its activities were transparent.
Mr Tselane replied that constant internal efforts were being made within the IEC to ensure that its personnel and staff were constantly alert to the need to be impartial and transparent in respect of all dealings involving the IEC. The IEC tried to ensure that only responsible and reliable people were appointed as members of staff of the organisation. Political parties also had a role to play in protecting the image of the IEC. The IEC had established avenues that any political party could explore in cases where such party felt aggrieved with the quality of services in respect of any election conducted by the IEC. This would ensure that the IEC would be able to take note of any complaints and take proactive steps to deal with such complaints in cases where they were found to be tenable. It was unfortunate that some senior journalists in the media appeared to have developed a habit of making false claims alleging partiality on the part of the IEC in its conduct of elections without substantiating such allegations. Such false claims were capable of misleading the public and projecting the IEC in negative light. To deal with this issue, the IEC would take steps to enlighten the media about the electoral process in order to maintain the trust in the IEC.
The Chairperson thanked the delegation from the IEC for their presentation and report.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Audit outcomes by Auditor-General
- Audit outcomes by Auditor-General presentation
- Government Printing Works on their 2014/15 Annual Report
- Government Printing Works 2014/15 Annual Report
- Electoral Commission on their 2014/15 Annual Report
- Electoral Commission 2014/15 Annual Report
- Department of Home Affairs on their 2014/15 Annual Report
- Department of Home Affairs 2014/15 Annual Report