Committee Report on Home Affairs Budget

Home Affairs

12 April 2016
Chairperson: Mr B Mashile (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Home Affairs Budget
[All Committee Reports available under Tabled Committee Reports once published on the ATC]


The Committee met to consider and adopt its report on the Budget Vote of the Department, but this was deferred and instead it was noted that this would be discussed on 19 April, prior to the debate on 22 April.

The Chairperson noted that the Immigration Amendment Bill was approved by the Committee before the Easter recess, and wondered if a debate was necessary in the House. Most Members did not think so, but the EFF requested a declaration.

The Committee then turned its attention to a number of minutes of meetings between 18 August 2015 and 5 April 2015. For each of these, the Committee Content Adviser outlined the main agenda and the decisions taken in the meetings. The Chairperson noted that some comments that were merely comments or noting of points should be removed so that the minutes should essentially reflect the decisions taken in summary, with a little more expansion on that in the main body of the minutes. Members also noted corrections to wording and grammar and spelling.

The Committee Chairperson noted that all government departments have been instructed to cut budgets, and so the various departments would have to work only so far as their resources allowed. The DHA simply did not have money, but there were certain implications arising out of its assignation to the Security Cluster, and it was suggested that it must continue to engage with National Treasury to ensure that sufficient resources were allocated for it to fulfil its role.

The Independent Electoral Commission was urged to ensure that it complied with the Constitutional Court ruling of 25 November, and it should be quite clear what had to happen to ensure that the voters roll was satisfactory and that election results would not be disqualified. Consensus should be sought in the forum of all parties hosted by the Commission prior to elections, to ensure that the elections were well run and credible. It must be understood that in view of the high relocation trends, the rolls would not be entirely accurate.

 

Meeting report

Chairperson's opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had 20 sets of minutes to process, some dating back to 2015. He took the apologies and commented that Members should tender their apologies not through their colleagues, but directly to the Committee Secretary or Chairperson.

He introduced a new representative to the meeting, Ms P Dobongwana (EFF), whom he thought was standing in for Ms H Hlophe (EFF).

The Chairperson noted that the Immigration Amendment Bill was approved by the Committee before the Easter recess, but he asked Members if they thought any debate was necessary in the House; all that needed to be done was to change one sentence from the Bill into a paragraph.

Mr D Gumede (ANC) agreed, but said that in light of his past experience he thought there would probably be requests for declarations.

Mr A Figlan (DA) supported the Chairperson’s proposal to not debate the Immigration Bill.

Ms Dobongwana requested a declaration.

Committee business: Adoption of minutes
The Chairperson asked Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Content Adviser, to take Members briefly through the minutes, highlighting what had been discussed and raising any Committee decisions and points that still needed to be resolved.

Mr Salmon then proceeded to take Members through the minutes, as follows:

Minutes 05 April 2016
This concerned a briefing by the Government Printing Works (GPW) and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) on their Annual Performance Plan (APP) and their budgets. The main decisions were:
- The Committee expressed satisfaction with the work of the GPW but was concerned about succession planning, since the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had reported that his contract ends in December 2016.
- The Committee asked that GPW must ensure that all staff members prevent breaches of security and corruption in the printing of the smart ID cards and Passports.
- The IEC should continue to ensure that the upcoming elections are free and fair
- The IEC is to report to the Committee as soon as possible of the implications on the Constitutional Court judgment, once the ruling has been made.

The minutes were adopted, subject to correction of typographical errors indicated.

Minutes of 15 March 2016
This was held to discuss the Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and its budget.  The Committee decisions of the meeting were as follows:
- The Committee expressed concern on the minimal increase in the budget of the DHA as it will impact on service delivery.

The Chairperson interrupted to note that expressing concern is not a decision, and suggested that this note be removed from the minutes.

Mr Salmon continued to outline the main points:
- The Committee would like to see DHA  consider filling all funded posts especially of provincial managers who were in acting positions for long periods
- The Committee remained concerned about the prolonged process of correcting the details of identity documents and the issue of identity theft

Ms T Kenye (ANC) suggested that instead of saying that the Committee “remained concerned about the issue of ID theft” this should be expressed in the present tense; it was a current concern.

The Chairperson agreed and suggested re-wording : “the Department should speed up the correction of ID details as well as attend urgently to the issue of identity theft”

The Chairperson suggested that instead of noting that the DHA “expresses concern” about on the attack on foreign nationals, the minutes should read that it “condemns the attack” on foreign nationals. He made reference to the incident in Katlehong, Gauteng where a shop owner who was a foreign national shot someone who tried to steal from his shop, which had then led to the looting of the shop and attacking of the owners by local community members. He stated that the incident was a contest of criminal activity from both sides and could not be termed an entirely xenophobic attack. That should be noted, so Members should bear in mind the criminality on both sides.

Mr Gumede thought it might be difficult for the Committee to make a blanket statement that the Committee advised people not to take the law into their own hands. He pointed out that some of the past instances of xenophobic attacks were initiated by the foreign nationals who had shot perpetrators, instead of reporting the perpetrators to the police. That led to riots, and he agreed that it would not be useful to label these as xenophobic attacks only. 

Mr Salmon, at the Chairperson's request, suggested that a better way to phrase this might be: “the Committee condemns the stealing from foreign nationals and violent retaliation by foreign nationals and locals taking the law into their own hands in Katlehong in Gauteng”.

The Chairperson proposed the inclusion of the Committee’s unanimous decision to Nominate Ms Janet Love to fill the vacancy in the IEC.

The minutes were approved, with these amendments.

Minutes 8 March 2016
This meeting took a briefing by the DHA on statistics and there was further deliberation on the Immigration Amendment Bill. The decisions were as follows:

- The Committee was concerned about the failure of the filing sequence, and the high rejection rate and lack of documentation.

The Chairperson said is a note and not a decision.

Mr Salmon continued:
- The Committee expressed concerns with the corruption at the Refugee Reception Offices and the fraudulent marriages between South African and foreign nationals. The DHA should ensure collaboration with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and the State Security Agency, to improve intelligence on the situation in refugee countries of origin.
- The Parliamentary Legal Adviser and the legal representatives of the DHA were asked to work on the wording on clause 1 of the Immigration Amendment Bill of 2015, with the new wording to be sent to the Committee prior 12 March 2016.

The minutes were adopted, subject to the removal of the one point as noted.

Minutes 1 March 2016
The Committee was dealing with the progress made on the decisions of the Inter Ministerial Committee on the Immigration Amendment Bill.

The decisions were noted as follows:
- Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is now a member of the Justice and Security Cluster.

The Chairperson argued that the above note is neither a decision nor a recommendation and there is absolutely nothing that the Committee can do about it. Therefore he thought it should not be in the minutes.

- The Committee advocated that all who want to travel should do so while adhering to all the rules of the country
- The Committee calls on the DHA to implement the remaining recommendations of the IEC.

The Chairperson did not like this last sentence as it seemed to imply that the DHA did not want to implement the recommendations. The Committee should instead  call on the DHA to fast track or speed up the recommendations.

The minutes were adopted with amendments.

Minutes of 23 February 2016
The Committee considered the DHA's 2nd and 3rd quarter expenditure reports for 2015/2016. The following comments were included:

- The Committee noted that the DHA has been classified as a security department

Mr Salmon stopped at this point and said that this was a similar observation to the one discussed in the other minutes. He wondered if they should simply be removed.

The Chairperson noted that in fact these were minutes of a meeting happening earlier than the other set of minutes.

- The Chairperson suggested that the Committee should also recommend that the outstanding North West and Mpumalanga acting provincial managers' appointments need to be prioritised, and requested the provincial managers' contact details from the DHA.

The minutes were adopted.

Minutes of 16 February 2016
The Committee discussed the Electoral Commission and its Report to the National Assembly to introduce the Immigration Bill.

The Chairperson suggested that when the Committee is writing reports on the Electoral Commission, it should call it by its full title: although it was commonly known as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) its proper name was actually The Electoral Commission of South Africa. He asked also that Mr Salmon write shorter sentence when discussing the decisions, with the explanation on those being in the main body of the minutes.

The decisions were:
- The Committee deferred discussions on the implications of the State of the Nation Address (SONA)

The minutes were adopted.

Minutes of 18 November 2015
This discussed the Deputy Minister's request for an amendment to the Immigration Act for people who overstay their permits or are illegal foreigners.

Mr Gumede noted a number of typographical errors and suggested that these must be corrected.

Ms Raphuti noted that “overstated” must be corrected to “overstayed”.

The minutes were adopted subject to these amendments.

Minutes of 29 October 2015
This meeting dealt with the Local Government Amendment Bill, introducing electronic submission of electoral candidates and all other documents for elections. The Committee:
- finalised the Local Government Municipal Electoral Amendment Bill
- There was agreement that the issue of campaigning during election-day should be debated on another date

The Chairperson asked Mr Solomon to separate out these decisions.

The minutes were adopted, subject to these amendments.

Minutes of 27 October 2015
This meeting dealt with deliberations and submissions on the Local Government Municipal Electoral Amendment Bill.

The decisions were:
- The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) should make a decision on how electronic submissions of candidates, limitations to resetting mistaken ballots and electronic funds deposits by political parties should be administered.

The Chairperson suggested the splitting of the above decision because of a possibility of the reissuing of ballot papers to voters in voting stations.

- The Chairperson had requested the IEC to inform the Committee on how it planned to capture the votes

The decisions were re-ordered.

The minutes were adopted, subject to amendments.

Minutes 13 October 2015
This was a meeting with the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA), the DHA, the Electoral Commission and ad Government Printing Works, on their 2014/15 Annual Reports.

The Chairperson noted that many of the “decisions” as listed were not really decisions but notes, although he felt some needed to be worded as decisions as follows:

- The DHA should deal with issues of networks and power supply at its offices.
- The Committee should call upon the Department to deal with issues of keeping accurate performance records
- The Committee should call upon the DHA to pay attention to the security of personal information and to perform some sort of risk analysis when working with banks, in order to ensure that personal information is secured
- The DHA should address the long outstanding issue of non-payment of accruals to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO)

The minutes were adopted, subject to these amendments.

Minutes 8 September 2015
The Committee took briefings from the Department of Home Affairs Provincial Managers from Mpumalanga, North West, Kwa Zulu Natal and the Western Cape.

The decisions of the Committee are as follows:
- The Committee noted that the provincial managers of the North West, Kwa Zulu Natal and Mpumalanga were working in an acting capacity and recommended that permanent provincial managers should urgently be appointed
- The Committee noted that the DHA should find a solution for the fact that health facilities were inaccesible during weekends and public holidays, when DHA officials were not available
- The Committee noted the high numbers of Late Registration of Births (LRBs) and duplicate cases. It did recognise that the DHA plans to put in stringent measures in the year 2016 with regards to late registration cases and recommended that it should continue to conduct regular outreach programmes
- The Committee recommended that the total number of votes cast per voting point should be made available immediately after voting, and before counting starts
- The Chairperson raised the issue that  the IEC is a Chapter 9 institution, and questioned whether the Committee should or had the right to take a decision on an operational matter. This was covered by the regulations of the IEC and the Committee might be “stepping into the wrong territory”. He thought that all the Committee could do was to call upon the IEC to ensure the elections are free and fair.

The Chairperson recommended that this last decision be removed. The decisions of the Committee cannot override the regulations of the IEC.

Members adopted the minutes, subject to these amendments.

Minutes 1 September 2015
This meeting looked at DHA service delivery improvement in Gauteng, Limpopo, Free State and Eastern Cape; There was a petition for a 12-month suspension of certain immigration provisions to conduct a regulatory impact assessment.

The decisions were as follows:
- The DHA should address the issue of corruption with regard to the smart ID cards at the Harrison Suite office in Tauten.

Mr Salmon then suggested that the recommendation that the DHA should find a solution for the registration of births on weekends and public holidays be removed. This had been mentioned again and was specifically adopted in the minutes of 8 September 2016.

- The DHA should find innovative ways for senior citizens to collect their smart ID cards, specifically in Limpopo
- The provincial DHA should address the continuing high numbers of late registrations of births and duplicate cases, and make plans to put in more stringent measures.

The minutes were adopted, subject to the amendments.

Minutes 19 August 2015
The Chairperson quipped that this could be dubbed the meeting of the failed attempt to fill the IEC vacancy.

The decisions are as follows:
- The Members would not necessarily debate, in the House, the report on the filling of the IEC vacancy
- The oversight report on the visit to the Northern Cape would not be debated in the House
- Parties could make declarations.

The Chairperson suggested that the note be removed. There was a recommendation given by the Committee that the Chief Justice should consider re-initiating the process of advertising and hosting interviews to identify more suitable candidates meeting equity requirements.

The minutes were adopted, with these amendments.

Minutes 18 August 2015
This Committee meeting dealt with the 4th Quarter Performance and Expenditure Report of 2014/2015, and the consideration of the Northern Cape Oversight Visit report.

The decisions of the meetings are as follows:
- DHA and National Treasury should resolve the matter of revenue collection overseas
- Members of the Committee should communicate their queries through the Parliamentary Liaison Officers

The Chairperson expressed that this could be more clearly expressed to make it clear exactly what the Committee expected to be done.

The minutes were adopted, subject to corrections.

Draft Budget Report discussion and outstanding matters
The Chairperson moved that the Draft Report should be discussed at some other stage as it needs to first go through the Chair of Chairs. He hoped to deal with it at the meeting of 19 April 2016, in preparation for the budget debate on 22 April. He asked if there were any issues that the Members felt should be discussed and included in the minutes of today’s meeting. He expressed his view that since all government departments have been instructed to cut budgets, the various departments would have to work only so far as their resources allowed. The DHA simply did not have money and had been asked to cut spending. The DHA therefore must continue to engage with National Treasury so that the implied responsibility of the DHA being assigned under the security cluster was fully understood and enough resources were made available to it to fulfil its role in this regard.

The Chairperson said that the IEC had a responsibility to ensure that it complied with the Constitutional Court ruling of 25 November. The Committee encouraged and urged the IEC to get clarity on the Constitutional Court ruling in order to have an understanding of what exactly it is that should happen in relation to the voters' roll, to avoid the possibility of election results being disqualified. The Committee should request that the forum of parties hosted by the IEC should debate the issue of the voters' roll and reach some sort of consensus before elections are held. The Committee should reiterate that political parties and civil society must work hard to assist the IEC to be able to stage and manage credible elections for the country, as this was clearly in the interests of all South Africans.

The Chairperson said that it must be understood that South African citizens do tend to relocate often; a person might registers in Bellville, and then relocate to Johannesburg for employment reasons, without having the opportunity to return to vote in the Western Cape. It is not possible to have an accurate and full representation of the residential situation of the voters on the voters' roll. It is not the responsibility of the IEC to allocate addresses to citizens, but the responsibility of local municipalities.

The meeting was adjourned. 

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