The Department of Home affairs (DHA) presented the annual performance plan to the Select Committee on Social Services in what was a compressed and time-constrained meeting. The main highlight of the presentation was that all the targets in the DHA’s annual performance plan for 2016/2017 were fully funded. The Department did, however, insist that more resources were needed.
The Department had established five key priorities:
- to complete the modernisation programme;
- establish an efficient Border Management Agency (BMA);
- upgrade key ports of entry;
- establish a comprehensive review of immigration policy; and
- improve client experience through leadership.
The Department still faced critical challenges and had strategic responses to these. The challenges included effective and efficient management of asylum seekers and the refugees’ environment, including the relocation of refugee centres closer to borderlines, and the management of economic migrants. Home Affairs needed an overhaul of the border management environment and provision of an acceptable port infrastructure.
The main discussion areas were on the status and possible capabilities of the digitisation process, the number of illegal foreign nationals in the country, the departmental responses to issues of human trafficking and borderlines, the implications of the budget cuts with regard to the compensation of employees, the budgeting for goods and services and the meeting of set targets.
The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs said that there was no way of calculating empirically how many illegal foreign nationals were in the country, as no system was capable of doing so. However, during the first weekend of registrations there had been no serious challenges and the DHA had recorded an increase in smartcard identity document (ID) collections, as 20 000 people had collected their IDs during that weekend. She said that issues of human trafficking were linked to the insecurity of South Africa’s borderlines, an issue which was not a small task to handle.
Briefing by Department of Home Affairs
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director General: Department Home Affairs (DHA), said that in aligning with the government’s planning system, the Department was guided by the government’s long-term strategic vision embodied in the national development plan (NDP). The work of Home Affairs was based on how it could contribute to the NDP. Planning for DHA was also guided by the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) process, which was centred on the 14 outcomes and associated targets and actions drawn from the NDP.
He said the Minister had established five key priorities:
· to complete the modernisation programme;
· establish an efficient Border Management Agency (BMA);
· upgrade key ports of entry;
· establish a comprehensive review of immigration policy; and
· improve client experience through leadership.
The DHA’s end vision statement highlighted several key points. It wanted to create a new sustainable model which would ensure a secure national identity system that would be at the heart of security, service delivery and state efficiency; the DHA wanted the identity and status of all persons in South Africa, which would enable access to efficient and affordable services, creation of interfaces with all departments and authorised private institutions, that would lead to the minimization of crimes such as identity theft, insurance fraud and the illegal sale of housing. DHA services would be easily accessible through a range of secure channels, including the Internet’s mobile solutions and partnerships with other departments and commercial sectors. He said that on 7 April, the Department would cooperate with banks to provide a new systems channel.
He said that Home Affairs had created a “people to people contact relationship” and that staff members needed to understand and realise this.
It had developed a vision for Home Affairs which they believed would transform all the elements of the organisation - people, processes and organisation and funding model. A new sustainable model of Home Affairs must ensure that:
- The DHA would manage a secure national identity system that would be at the heart of security, service delivery and an efficient state.
- The identity and status of all persons in South Africa would enable access to efficient and affordable services.
- There would be interfaces with all departments and authorised private institutions. Many forms of crime would be minimised, such as identity theft, qualifications and insurance fraud and the illegal sale of housing.
- DHA services would be easily accessible through a range of secured channels, including via the internet, mobile solutions and partnerships with other departments and commercial sectors.
- Immigration was used strategically and securely to achieve national and regional goals; and the documentation of legitimate visitors was facilitated rapidly.
- Patriotic, professional and humane officials could adequately protect the security and integrity of its people, systems, services and infrastructure.
- The status of asylum seekers was securely, humanely and efficiently determined, and refugees were assisted in a coordinated way by the state and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
- A model was found that ensured the sustainable funding of Home Affairs with a net gain to the fiscus through enabling secure e-government and e-commerce across the state and the economy. This would assist in attracting domestic and international investment.
- Home Affairs was repositioned as a modern, secure and professional department.
The DHA would be repositioned as a modern, secure and professional department. Cabinet had approved the inclusion of Home Affairs within the security department and Home Affairs was in the process of creating a business case which would enable such legislation.
He admitted that the Department still faced critical challenges and had strategic responses to these. The challenges included effective and efficient management of asylum seekers and the refugees’ environment, including the relocation of refugee centres closer to borderlines, and the management of economic migrants. Home Affairs needed an overhaul of the border management environment and provision of an acceptable port infrastructure. In this regard, a transaction advisor had been appointed pertaining to the six ports and how to deal with the infrastructure problems.
The under-funding of Home Affairs was still a standard issue. Other challenges were the dependency on the Department of Public Works for timeous service delivery, the non-integration of IT systems across the DHA and the lack of efficient records management in support of key civic and immigration services to clients. He noted that the paper process made it hard for Home Affairs to deliver its services, but the digitisation of documents was under way now that the DHA had received funding from Treasury to start the process.
He said that the DHA still faced a lack of capacity in critical areas, such as the inspectorate, legal services, risk management, information services, counter corruption and security services and financial management.
He strongly asserted that Home Affairs was dedicated to fight against unlawful activities and that was why it had started the process of arresting guilty staff members, to push back corruption. The improvement of governance and administration practices remained of concern to the DHA.
With regard to DHA professionalism, he said the DHA was dedicated to ensuring staff were properly trained, professional and caring, with the required leadership and management capabilities. There was a programme which required managers to spend at least five days a year in the front office to better understand the service processes. These programmes had to be implemented to ensure better implementation of DHA policy.
Referring to the organisational structure, he said that Home Affairs would constantly look at the organisational structure and operating model not in support of the mandate. Departmental budget cuts had forced Home Affairs to align to different strategies, and the DHA had to change the way it worked internally. The total number of targets had been reduced from 36 in 2015/2016 to 32 in 2016/2017 as a result of the budget cuts which had reduced funding.
The DHA had appointed a company which would deal with the issue of infrastructure. A feasibility study with regard to the big commercial ports had been undertaken and approved by National Treasury. Home Affairs and the Minister would communicate with people and key stakeholders with regard to the publication campaigns.
With regard to the annual target on refugee and asylum seekers, he said that a feasibility study, including a financial model for building an asylum processing centre had been completed and submitted to the Minister for approval.
With regard to immigration, the Department was working hard to ensure that incremental expansions were implemented in the 2018/2019 period, and it would develop an integrated border management strategy. A key development for Home Affairs was the white paper on international migration which had been submitted to Cabinet for approval.
Mr Apleni said that in 2016/2017, the budget was at R7.167 billion, but would drop to R7.060 billion in 2017/2018 and rise slightly to R7.174 billion in 2018/2019. This would impact on DHA's budget allocations. The compensation of employees was R3.217 billion, and expenditure on goods and services was R2.213 billion.
Pertaining to the compensation of employees, he said that the money that the Department had was to pay existing staff. The DHA had 9 566 staff members budgeted for in terms of their salaries. The only possible manoeuvring was the shift from a call centre to the creation of an in-house system call centre which could be launched to facilitate 136 more positions. The Department conducted a year-end process of recruitment and had to make sure that those salaries were accommodated.
With regard to DHA cooperation, he said that on 7 April a cooperative launch with banks would result in 60 Home Affairs staff members working within 12 banking outlets. Home Affairs would have 9 902 jobs, with no room for manoeuvring, and that the DHA would look at the training and moving around of staff.
Pertaining to the Goods and Services budget, he said the DHA was working on the earmarked funds. For the Who-Am-I-Online (WAIO) programme, R437 million had been allocated, with R70 million for border posts, R10 000 for the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS), and R379 million for property.
Regarding the way forward, he said that Home Affairs would produce a business case for repositioning the DHA as a modern, secure and professional department. The following principles would guide the development of the business case: the DHA must have specific enabling legislation so that it could develop security systems and work effectively to enable development of security; the DHA would require a sustainable operational and organisational model that could provide efficient secure services; and the funding model must increase overall public and private revenues while effecting savings that would offset the cost of a modernised DHA.
He added that DHA would continue with the modernisation programme by finalising the WAIO scope, the automation of the front and back offices, and developing e-systems for immigration. It would be expanding the model for service delivery channels through projects such as e-Channel and the mobile live capture solution.
The DHA would need to work smarter with available resources and do more with less. Initiatives such as video conferencing and electronic document systems would be considered to ensure savings. The Department had continued its efforts to push back fraud and corruption related activities through projects such as BVISA MASINA (“Throw out the rot”).
The main point of the strategic plan was to highlight that all targets in the DHA’s APP for 2016 were fully funded, but that more resources were needed.
Ms L Zwane (ANC, KZN) referred to the budget decrease, and asked where the impact would be felt the most and how the Voice Over Internet Service (VOIS) protocol would operate.
Mr M Khawula (IFP, KZN) asked about foreign nationals and the digitisation process. He asked how many foreign nationals were in the country, and whether the digital system would inform Home Affairs how many foreign nationals were legal, illegal and their current status. Was the DHA moving towards acquiring such a capability?
Mr C Hattingh (DA, North West) stated that the Border Management Agency (BMA) and government departments were in a complex situation, and he had noted media reports of the militarisation of the revenue section of the BMA. With regard to the establishment of an operational Agency in less than one year, he asked whether this was achievable given the complexity of the matter, and whether the DHA was on track with all the regulations, acts and legislation.
Ms T Sibhukwana (DA, Western Cape) asked for clarity on the slide of “goods and services” pertaining the earmarked funds and the visa process. In relation to the past registration process, what were the present challenges pertaining to IDs and smartcards and what measures had the DHA put in place to combat these challenges? She asked for an update on the arrests that had been made with regard to human trafficking and if there were any collaborative ways to combat this.
The Chairperson said she had a number of questions she would forward to the DHA, to which she expected answers by the end of the week. She said an inadequate amount of time had been given for the DHA to brief the Committee, and more time would be needed to ensure that Members remained informed. In relation to the previous year’s targets, she said that the omitted information in the presentation concerning what the DHA had achieved and not achieved put the Members of the Committee at a disadvantaged, as this made them unable to advise the Department.
In relation to the Lindela Repatriation Centre which the Committee had visited last year, she would have liked to see reference to it in the report. In relation to the issue of social cohesion, she said that the Committee could not overemphasise the importance of it, especially at this time of year and that the DHA needed to say something in relation to how this could be achieved.
Regarding the issue of border lines, she agreed that it was not the direct responsibility of DHA but that in people's minds, the Department had failed. Because people had been killed and car hijackings were reported, she suggested that the DHA think of how best to handle the issue, as it was very important and serious. She also asked if the allocated budget was enough for the elections.
Ms Fatima Chohan, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, replied with regard to the proceedings of the first registration week, when registration offices had been opened on Saturday and Sunday for many services, such as people registering for the first time. She said there had been an increase in smartcard ID collections, as 20 000 people had collected their IDs during that weekend. The DHA had not encountered any serious challenges during the first weekend of registration.
Regarding the issue of foreign nationals, she said there was no way of calculating empirically how many illegal foreign nationals were in the country. There was no system that could tell someone the number of illegal foreign nationals in a country. In the absence of such a capacity one could estimate, however. The Department had estimated the number at 300 000, based on those illegal immigrants who had come forward and taken advantage of the special moratorium for all of those Zimbabwean nationals who had found themselves in South Africa Illegally.
She added that another mechanism which could be used was that of the asylum seekers. People who came into the country illegally often needed to legalise their stay for different reasons. During the past three years, 70 000 people had come through the asylum seekers’ process.
With regards to the borderlines, she said that security of the borderlines was not a small task. Human trafficking was linked to the insecurity of South Africa’s borderlines. Home Affairs was collaborating with the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) with regard to the matter, to establish a single hub of operations.
The Chairperson said that due to time constraints the meeting had to conclude and asked the Department to send answers to remaining questions via email by the end of the week.
The meeting was adjourned.
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