The Minister of Home Affairs focused on the need to reposition the Department, especially in respect of security and the contribution the Department could make to the economy of the country. The Department faced enormous constraints, especially in respect of funding, mainly because it is viewed as a department that issues documents. This had an impact on the ability to support rural communities and townships, and drew money out of townships because people had to go into town to access the Department’s services and then spent their money in the urban areas. 411 offices and 750 immigration officials are simply too few to serve the needs of the people. The partnership with banks has been working well and could increase the number of offices to 811 but the Department does not have the funds to employ staff in this number of branches. Effective border management was a critical issue.
Despite these challenges the Department had performed well, achieving 81% of targets set.
The Department of Home Affairs cited extensive reasons for the improvement but said that much of it stemmed from setting (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based targets which were required to be funded and evidence-based. The issuing of Smart ID cards is progressing well and the Department has had success in registering babies within 31 days from birth. Highlights include the Enhanced Movement Control System with biometric capabilities installed at four international airports. Lack of capacity is a major challenge but the Department has a plan in respect of self-funding which would address some of the financial constraints.
The Department received a Qualified Auditor’s Report in 2015/16 but with issues related to accruals and payables not recognised. The Department will be transferring money to the Department for International Relations and Cooperation for the payment of staff overseas and this will resolve some of the financial concerns, as will the decision not to fine foreign over stayers and collect repatriation deposits.
Committee Members all agreed that they were impressed by the work done by Department and the innovative way in which it was approaching its mandate. Questions related mostly to specific issues that Members had experienced in their official visits and contact with the people in their provinces. A Member and the Minister clashed over attitudes related to the issue of the visa imposed on visitors from New Zealand and the objection to a private company being allowed to operate its own port of entry. The Minister responded to most of the questions and agreed to provide responses to specific issues, and those requiring statistics, in writing. He indicated that the Border Management Agency was under discussion in the coming week but that Department would present the full scenario to the Committee at a later date. Cabinet had agreed that the Department would become a member of the Security Cluster and he spoke about the responsibility the Department has in respect of keeping South Africans and the economy of the region safe from terror attacks. The Department also made significant progress in charging officials who had been, or were suspected of, involvement in corruption.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba, and officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). She had attended the official opening of the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre or offices and was very impressed with the innovation of the Department.
She congratulated the Minister, it would be good if such offices were at the ports of entry so that problems could be resolved before people get deep into the country. She complimented the DHA on the innovative work and wished that other departments would do similar, especially those departments for which the Committee is responsible, in particular the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Development (DSD), but also the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation as well as the Department of Human Settlements. Most of the problems they faced could be resolved because the systems are there and it is just a question of customising them. The Technology Centres should be put to good use to control people coming in and out of the country. The system is paperless and uses technology which will eliminate corruption. Once the technology is implemented, all that will be left is to implement the Border Management Bill, which is imminent. The Committee is proud of the DHA, and Oliver Tambo would agree. The Committee wanted to know how far the Department has gone as far as implementation, about the challenges that the Minister has experienced, and whether the Committee could assist the Department in any way.
Opening remarks by the Minister
Mr Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs expressed gratitude for the Chairperson’s kind words. The Department continues to try and improve its services despite serious financial constraints. The Department has 411 offices but if the challenges that the country faces are taken into consideration, this number is inadequate, as is the human resource capacity. Three or four examples of challenges would be noted. If rural development is the priority of government, the Department should have sufficient offices in rural areas. The existence of Home Affairs is not just in relation to issuing documents but in relation to supporting economic and financial activity. One needs to know who are South Africans and who are not. Having these documents is vital for opening accounts, going to university, getting employment, even to start grade one and travel abroad. Documents are needed to facilitate the entrance of tourists, investors, people with critical skills and manage economic migrants and refugees. It is not just about people in rural areas surviving poverty by receiving social grants, but it is about developing productive economic activity. For that to happen there is a need for the Department of Home Affairs to provide services to children, to people who are 16 years and older and to identify foreigners in rural areas.
Critical to economic development is the ability of a people to circulate their money among themselves first before they can send it abroad, which is why most countries prefer to export rather than import. Urban infrastructure is in town and in South Africa, the only big black townships that have offices are Soweto and Athlone. Zwelitsha, Inanda, KwaMashu, Ntuzuma, Phoenix and Verulam have no offices so people of Umlazi must go to Home Affairs offices at Isipingo or go to town. People who earn a wage will not go and apply for an ID in Durban and come back and do grocery shopping in Umlazi. They would rather make a single trip and spend their money in Durban while they are there. The money that they could spend at Umlazi leaves Umlazi. By forcing them to seek public services in the city, one discourages them from spending their resources in the township. DHA draws the money out of the communities and that means that the township economy relies on Spaza shops, hair salons, car washing and menial economic activities. If government services are found outside of the township, then people have no incentive to spend their incomes in the township. Umgeni is at the intersection of an industrial hub, a major transport hub, and five townships: Inanda, KwaMashu, Ntuzuma, Phoenix and Verulam, all without a DHA office. They depend on Umgeni for services. Do not be surprised when Umgeni seems to buckle under the pressure and the service is not to the level one wants and people stand in long queues and officials cannot service these queues. It is because DHA is not strategically located, which places an enormous burden on a few offices. We applaud the tightening of the belt but it has a social consequence, which is that we are not going to employ enough people and we will not have overtime pay capacity. If officials have to work on a Saturday between 8:30 and 1:00 pm, do not expect them to remain open until 3pm because the DG does not have the money to pay them overtime. Overtime is for limited occasions such as the festive season and the Easter season, although to keep offices open for the whole day on Saturday would be convenient for most people who work midweek and for students who go to school. That also has an impact on the ability to roll out the eHome Affairs programme so services with the bank have been piloted and the system works. Thousands of people have applied for their IDs and passports through the banks. At one stage, one bank offered to give DHA 100 branches to roll out. Now if one bank gives DHA 100 branches and there are four banks involved with the possibility of adding a fifth, it means that at the stroke of a pen, Home Affairs would have 811 service points across the country but the problem is that there are no personnel for these branches and that is where the programme is stuck. The problem of personnel is not intractable: it can be solved if all the departments involved put on their innovative heads and solved the problem. From the position of DHA, the problem could be solved, but the decision to solve the problem depends on someone else.
The four challenges are highlighted to show that the Department is performing against these massive obstacles and they are not necessarily obstacles that face DHA alone but they are more significant because, unlike other departments, DHA serves all South Africans at multiple stages in their lives, and serves all immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, because the repatriation of undocumented immigrants needs to be facilitated. The resources available to manage repatriation are limited. Repatriation in itself is not a sustainable solution. Effective border management is an effective solution. It is more sustainable to encourage anybody entering the country to enter through the ports of entry. The National Defence Force Services (NDFS) deploys only 15 out of the 22 units that should be deployed on the borderline so the 3000 personnel supposed to be available are not there as NDFS complains about lack of resources. There are areas in the country that pose a challenge, such as the Ingwavuma area and the Beit Bridge area because, with the recent drought, people could simply walk across the river bed. At least when there was water, the crocodiles would act as immigration officers. In the absence of that, it becomes a challenge.
This is not a complaint, nor is it an explanation for underperforming because the Department is actually overperforming, against the odds. The report will address the 36 targets set by the Department, the four outcomes for which DHA is responsible and the five ministerial outcomes that had been outlined to the Department and stated in the Budget Vote of 2015/16 as well as the work DHA is doing overall, with particular emphasis on civic services and immigration, because those two are ultimately the core mandate of the Department of Home Affairs. The Department continues to be faced with enormous legacy challenges which it is now in a better position to resolve on a sustainable basis.
In 2010/2011 DHA received an unqualified audit and immediately thereafter reverted back to a qualified audit and has been struggling with these legacy issues, many of which have now been resolved, and DHA is in a better position to move forward with the confidence that soon the Department will be able to report positively on the management of public finances.
DHA is also in the process of resolving some of the challenges it has been faced with regarding the national identity system, the management of public finances itself, as well as the provision of the technology network that is provided to the Department by the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA). When DHA comes back to present plans for the current financial year, the Department will indicate the measures taken to address challenges faced in the matter of personnel. There are challenges at strategic levels in the Department but attention will be paid to OR Tambo, and to Cape Town International Airport, as many tourists prefer to land at Cape Town. DHA is hoping to announce a rollout plan because negotiations with the banks are ongoing.
The Chairperson stated that it was a revelation to her as she was thinking of her province and there are big townships where people have to travel to cities to get to DHA offices. Banks were going to assist but banks are in urban areas. People voted for Members of Parliament but did not get services in their area. Everyone deals with DHA not once, not twice, but multiple times in our lives. She commented that there is no border management in her province where children come from Swaziland to buy books.
Department of Home Affairs Annual Report
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, Director General, Department Home Affairs, presented the Annual Report, indicating that the Department is succeeding in meeting its targets because it now uses the SMART principle (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based) plus all targets are funded and evidence-based.
Overview of organisational performance (2015–16):
The Department had a total of 36 targets planned for the 2015/16 financial year. 29 targets were achieved representing 81%; and seven (19%) targets were not achieved. A significant improvement in organisational performance has been realised over the last three financial years, the main reasons for the improvement in organisational performance being improved governance, planning, implementation and monitoring practices, including the cascading of the DHA strategy throughout the organisation. Improved internal controls have been developed around management practices. Improved analysis of past and current departmental and branch performance will inform institutional planning.
The reasons for improvement in the financial year 2015/16 include:
- The Moetapele (leadership) programme launched in May 2015 challenged the staff to be client-centred and innovative with several model offices being opened to increase the efficiency.
- A partnership with four major banks (ABSA, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank) assisted in increasing the footprint of DHA.
- A Service Charter outlining service standards was developed and is currently displayed in all DHA offices.
- A Front Office Toolkit was developed and implemented in all DHA services, with targeted facilities optimised in respect of staff, equipment, connectivity and signage.
- The HR structure has been revised to streamline functions and competencies in the Department, including implementation of revised working hours.
- Improved governance and accountability for and approval of governance documents, i.e. compliance in terms of National Treasury regulations and Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) directives, approved Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in several business units.
- Live capture was rolled out to seven DHA offices and nine bank branches during the reporting period; and 31 additional offices were completed by April 2016.
- h) The Learning Academy strengthened its working relationship with the Inspectorate unit to ensure execution of the training of new Inspectorate officers.
- System enhancements and expansion of live capture functionality to banks and additional offices contributed to the increased volume of cards produced.
- Upgrades to the power supply at the Central ID Production Facility during 2014/15 created a stable environment conducive for increased production.
- Permitting and visa issuance has also benefited from investment into improved systems and business processes.
- The maturity of business standards and business processes in partnership with VFS Global, has contributed to the achievement of significantly improved turnaround times for applications that are categorised as high priority, in particular for corporate accounts, highly skilled labour, work, business and study.
- The Movement Control System has been enhanced with Biometrics functionality and rolled out to four International Airports (O R Tambo International Airport, Cape Town International Airport, King Shaka International Airport and Lanseria International Airport) to address issues related to the Immigration Regulations, 2014.
Programme One: Administration
All targets were achieved in this programme except the Automated Finger Implementation System (AFIS) but the Department is getting closer and should achieve the AFIS this year. The personnel vacancy rate has met its target but even fully staffed, the DHA is inadequately staffed for the task that it has to perform, especially in light of the strategic security function that it performs.
Programme Two: Citizen Affairs
Each province has a target to register new births within 30 calendar days. DHA will do an evaluation to find out why parents do not register babies within 30 days. These babies now receive a full birth certificate, not the abridged version. By 2019, DHA wants to register 810,000 babies per annum. There has been a significant decline in the Late Registration of Births cases: An internal analysis was conducted of the 297,973 births registered of children between 31 days and 14 years and it was determined that approximately 27% of these registrations fell into the category of 31 to 60 days, which essentially reflects that the core message of birth registration is filtering through to the citizens to some extent.
Since the launch of the Smart ID Card on 18 July 2013, the number of permanent Home Affairs offices with live capture technology has increased to 178. The Department has signed the MOU with four banks: ABSA, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank, to provide office space for DHA to process Smart ID Cards and Passport through the Live Capture system. Twelve branches also went operational and were digitised for the application and collection of Smart ID cards and passport. A total of 2 320 972 smart ID cards were issued against the target of 2.2 million. 275 699 IDs (First Issue) were issued in 54 working days. 208 422 IDs (Re-issues) were issued in 47 working days.
Programme 3: Immigration Affairs
Immigration Affairs has enjoyed a great deal of success.
- During the 2015/16 financial year, the Refugee Amendment Bill of 2015 was gazetted for public comment. Improvements have been implemented at Marabastad RRO and the launch will be done early next year
- The DHA has improved the current Enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS) with biometrics capability that was rolled out to four international airports; i.e. OR Tambo, Lanseria, Cape Town and King Shaka.
- Permitting has migrated from a manual to electronic adjudication process in so far as the key targets are concerned, namely, Temporary Residence Visas and Permanent Residence Permits.
- The Lesotho Special Dispensation Permit (LSDP) was approved by Cabinet in October 2015 and shortly thereafter the process was initiated in cooperation with the Lesotho Government now closing in December 2016
- The Zimbabwe Special Project (ZSP) has been closed with great achievement. This programme comprised 197959 accredited applications of which 85 were rejected due to non-compliance with the ZSP application criteria. The ZSP Project Team concluded within its targeted timeframe, delivering a success rate of 99.8% against its target.
On challenges and the transformation strategy, the Department continues to experience capacity constraints in the area of appeals and intends to establish a dedicated unit for appeals within the Chief Directorate Permits. Budget constraints remain a serious challenge and have the potential to seriously hamper operations and service delivery. Key cost drivers are the Advance Passenger Processing system and peak period operations. The budget for the deportation of foreign nationals was exhausted before the end of the financial year, resulting in challenges relating to transfers of deportees to the Lindela Holding Facility and deportations from Lindela to the countries of origin.
A lack of capacity exists in critical areas of key civic and immigration services to clients but DHA has put plans into place to address these challenges in this financial year. Challenges include:
- the effective and efficient management of the asylum seeker and refugee environment, including the relocation of refugee centres closer to borderlines and management of economic migrants,
- the overhaul of the border management environment and provision of acceptable port infrastructure,
- historical under-funding and resourcing of the DHA,
- dependency on the Department of Public Works and SITA for timeous service delivery,
- non-integration of IT systems across the DHA,
- lack of efficient records management,
- fight against unlawful activities,
- improvement of governance and administration practices,
- ensuring staff are appropriately trained, professional and caring with the required leadership and management capabilities.
- the organisational structure and operating model are not fully in support of the mandate, and
- people, processes and the organisation are not secure.
In the 2015/16 financial year the Department received a Qualified Auditor’s Report from the Auditor General. This resulted from foreign revenue in the Department and accruals and payables not recognised. The Department spent 100% of its allocated budget of R7 348 725. A major challenge at the Department are the Legacy issues relating to foreign revenue. This is being addresses by no longer fining over stayers and collecting repatriation deposits and unclaimed deposits will be forfeited. A second Legacy issue is the expenditure for employees posted abroad but this has been addressed since 2015/16 as a baseline amount will be transferred to DIRCO for these payments.
The way forward and areas of improvement include:
- The completion of the modernisation programme with specific emphasis on the National Finger Identity System (NFIS).
- The establishment and operationalisation of the BMA.
- Finalisation of the policy on international migration.
- Development and implementation to reposition the DHA as a highly secure and modern department.
- Continuation of the implementation of Moetapele Initiative to instil leadership.
- Optimisation of the DHA contact centre.
- Continuous improvement of governance and administration practices.
- Working towards the discontinuation of the Green ID Book.
- Continuation of the fight against fraud and corruption.
- Legacy issues will also receive attention in that DHA will work with DIRCO in clearing transactions; the closure of the Immigration Control Account and preparation of the process for the Presidential proclamation for DIRCO to collect and report on foreign mission’s transactions.
Ms D Ngwenya (EFF, Gauteng) commended the Minister and the DHA on the work that they have done so far. She noted that there would always be challenges and hoped that in time to come the Department would meet 100% of its targets. Her only concern was that it seemed the Department was not servicing the majority as it should. The problem lies with the budget and an appeal needs to be made for the budget to be reviewed. Education is important in the community. Timeframes about receipt of IDs and passports are important but there is a concern about the elderly and those who cannot read. The question arises as to what can be done to help those who cannot read to be on the same page as those who can read. Budgets are important but there are people who do not know how to access necessary documents. There are children at schools who do not have their birth certificates that are chased out of schools so there is a responsibility to ensure that all children have documents, whether that child is a South African or not because education is everyone’s right. Systems and plans must be put in place to avoid the situation where children are chased out of school because they do not have birth certificates. It raises the question of what can be done. The DHA must come up with a way and must indicate what Parliament can do to prevent these things from happening.
Ms Ngwenya’s other issue was with people who came into the country with critical skills. These people need documents to come into the country, but there are still people who are working in international businesses or corporates who have documents and work permits that have expired. She asked whether there was a way that this could be followed up, especially with international companies to make sure that those people do not work with expired work permits and documents. She wanted to understand the Learning Academy, who benefits from it, what courses or programmes are offered and whether they are employees or officials from the Home Affairs Department who attend. The Front Office Toolkit was acknowledged as a good idea but everyone knows that within all the processes that are put in place, there are those who do comply and who do not do what was said on paper. The Department was asked whether such issues had been experienced how it will deal with those who do not comply because the Toolkit is a good one if it is followed to the letter and will really improve the services in the Home Affairs Department.
Ms Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA, Western Cape) complimented the visionary presentation and was confident that it would be good to bring services closer to townships and bring money closer. The new building for refugees is quite impressive but she questioned how much the Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception building cost. She asked the Minister, in the light of the high number of men on the management staff, how gender equality is being addressed as well as how he is addressing the policy requirement to have 2% staff with disabilities. On corruption, she wanted to know how he was dealing with officials who accept money from foreigners. She noted that they were informed of the practice by the police on an oversight visit to Beit Bridge. She asked the Minister how the Committee could help with the issue. Points of entry are a concern because drugs are coming in, but also because of corruption. She requested a detailed explanation of strategies and what the winnings have been on this.
Of the 14 Outcomes, she would like to know how the fourth one about inclusive economic growth and the problem with unemployment of youth has been addressed. She wanted to know how far there has been an effort to align with this outcome. In light of the shortage of personnel, she wanted to know, per province, how many have been employed, including youth, race and other statistics, to see how the Department is meeting the needs. The birth certificate has affected the economy of the country as was confirmed in the NCOP recently. Nothing has been said about what has been done to improve the economy. On past convictions that were on television where officials were arrested on corruption, she required very detailed numbers and other information from the DG. This could be provided immediately or sent to the Committee. The Lindela Centre has a clinic which deals with patents with HIV / TB and other diseases. The Committee had pleaded with the Department to deal with the matter of space issue. She asked what had been done since the last oversight visit. She suggested that a timeframe could be worked out for the issuing of Smart Cards, as she was so impressed that she received her Smart Card in four days. The spontaneous quick responses and the convenience of the Smart ID is wonderful. A time could be set by which everyone in the country should have Smart Cards. She complimented the Department on how much had been achieved, particularly as she recently received her passport in only 3 days.
Mr C Hattingh (DA, North West) said the constraints highlighted in the report, especially in comparison to the SAPS, were quite impressive. He had not realised that that was the situation. With that in mind, he would like to get an understanding of two things. Firstly, visa applications that must be handled with the limited resources in the Department and this was brought into the spotlight on 13 December when it was announced that New Zealand citizens and passport holders needed a visa to visit South Africa from January, in retaliation to the New Zealand visa requirement for South Africans visiting New Zealand. He enquired whether the impact of this decision was properly researched and whether it is in line with arrangements with other countries where some countries require South Africans to have visas while citizens from those countries do not require visas. If he compared the two situations: if a South African wanted to visit New Zealand, he or she could apply online for a visa. There was no need to travel to Cape Town, or Johannesburg or any other place to get a visa. South Africa’s kneejerk (in his opinion) reaction to that decision on New Zealand now requires every South African or every New Zealander who wishes to visit South Africa to travel to the South African High Commissioner in Wellington. The distance from Auckland, the economic hub of New Zealand, to Wellington is about 700 km so it is a 1,400 km there and back trip to visit South Africa and that is really not in line with the policy stated by even the Minister that South Africa wants to enhance economic relations with those countries. If it was on a same basis reciprocal approach, if South Africa had an online system, it would have been totally justified but surely not in the circumstances where South Africa is lagging behind in the technology. This had been in place for just over a month and he wanted to know all the implications for people coming to visit South Africa and also about the impact on the economic relations between the two countries.
Also in line with the restrictions on Human Resources in the Department, Mr Hattingh wanted to know and get an understanding of why, where a company wanting to establish a port of entry and was prepared to pay officials from the Department, appoint them and carry their full salary without any cost to the Department, would such an obligation meet with the disapproval and even with resistance from the Department. He elaborated on his question, explaining that the company to which he was referring was the Fire Blades application and the situation since the relationship between the Guptas and the owners of the Fire Blades soured.
Ms L Zwane (ANC) (KwaZulu-Natal) acknowledged the importance of rendering of services, and the wonderful work that DHA is doing. The work of the Department is not just about identity but it is important for economic development. It was clear that the Department could do a lot if it had enough money. Offices can be established in the townships and traditional areas as there is a lot of space there. However, there are challenges and everyone is needed to assist with challenges such as connectivity and so on. It is not an issue of DHA only. All the departments must come to the party. The documents that the Department issues are vital for economic transformation. In general, the problem is money and the Department is losing a lot of money because of the issue of the border. Border issues can only be resolved with legislation.
Ms Zwane believed there was an alignment between the SMART targets and the budget but where there is a 100% achievement of target but only 98% of budget has been used, clarity must be given. In areas where the DHA has not achieved, the Committee is encouraging the Department by all means to address these issues because the Committee would love to see a day when the department has a clean audit. The Department was advised to do as the Auditor General suggests. With the support of the Committee there is no doubt that the Department can achieve. The Minister was congratulated and thanked you for what is being done.
Mrs T Mampuru (ANC, Limpopo) congratulated the DHA for the good work that it is doing to transform the lives of South African people. The challenge here is budget. DHA is doing what it can with the budget but still it cannot manage. The issue of border management, with the little that there is, that programme will never be sustainable. It will always be a problem. It is an issue which requires everyone to interrelate, to come together to see what can be done. The issue of migration affected us not only in terms of movement of people or space. A reference was made to a woman from the Congo whose problem was that her brother was in South Africa but the family did not have the money to take the body back to the Congo so they had to do ceremonies in South Africa and bury the brother in South Africa. One can see that even South African cemeteries are affected because of this thing. There is a need to come together and do what is relevant. One could talk about overtime, infrastructure, technicians, specialists but it was always a question of money.
Clarity was requested as to how long it would take to get late registration of death because there is a problem in the rural areas where babies die and some bury their dead in the grounds of the kraals and there is no death certificate and, where the mother was receiving a grant from SASSA, the mother will continue to get a grant even though the child is no longer there. At the end of the day, these things need to be corrected. To change one’s identity is another issue. There are people sitting with problems of identity, for example when the ID comes, it has a different name, although the date of birth and picture are correct. A person in Parliament is sitting with this kind of a challenge. This concern was submitted in 2014. Assistance was requested. Nevertheless, the work of DHA was appreciated and the Department was advised to keep on doing what is right. It was hoped that one day the Committee would be able to assist DHA to get a better piece of the budget so that the Department could execute as was expected.
Ms Ngwenya added that when her parents' death certificates were issued by Home Affairs, it was indicated that they were never married, despite 40 years of marriage, which made it difficult to claim their things and processes had to be followed to get what was rightfully theirs. It ended well but this seems to be happening to each and every family member who was married then. It is something that needs to be rectified within the DHA.
The Chairperson suggested that the specific cases be given to DHA to follow up and send responses in writing. Other questions involve statistics and these too can be sent to the Committee in writing as the Minister may not have those figures with him. The DHA was asked to remember that when the Committee asked questions, it was not policing but trying to strengthen the Department as the Committee does its oversight. The Minister was asked to put a summary, in not even 2 pages, as the Chairperson noted that DHA was not represented in Mpumalanga when she was attending a meeting of the security cluster. The document could show what DHA is doing today and what DHA is supposed to be, so that when the Committee engages, it will have a summary of what is being discussed today. The summary must include the issue of the offices mentioned at the beginning of the presentation. The second matter is the issue of records which is very important, especially for those who took IDs in apartheid era as in one way or the other there will be something wrong. One example was the Chairperson's own ID which is incorrect by one month as a seven was substituted by a one but they cannot access her records. The automation of the records is very important. The driver who was to take the Chairperson to the opening ceremony in Marabastad asked her what she would be doing in Marabastad as it is dirty and full of crime committed by foreign nationals. He was scared to go there although he was from Pretoria. He was re-assured by the Chairperson that the President would not be taken to an unsafe place. When they got to the offices, he got lost because the office was so changed. People from the public can see the difference. The driver was appreciative that it was so clean and crime-free. That is the impact that DHA has made with that office. All offices have cameras and in between the offices there are open windows so one can see what the next person is doing and at the end of the offices is a manager. Staff were motivated and appreciated the cameras because they felt safer than they would in a closed office. Team building, communication and making staff feel part of the DHA is very encouraging. The DDG knows everything that must be done by an officer at the desk. It is most unusual to find a DDG who knows how things work in an office. DHA is doing a very good job there.
The presentation showed why DHA is where it is at this time. Good planning will change an entire organisation. The SMART indicators make the difference between DHA and other departments which do not plan according to SMART indicators and there is no way of measuring them but the DG has to improve on monitoring and verification because from the Auditor-General's report he is talking about clear linkages between the targets and verifiable evidence. The last issue is the continuous improvement from 53% to 81%, which is an enormous improvement by the DHA and which is really appreciated. It confirms that getting a clean audit does not mean that a Department is performing. It is saying that finances are being managed correctly but the Department may not be managing in terms of the performance so if the Department could correct finances it would be fine.
The Committee raises issues that have been seen, especially on the Oversight or Taking Parliament to the People by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). A response may be given but these issues are being raised so that DHA can follow up. The case of George, Eden District, Western Cape is probably similar to an issue raised by the Minister earlier. The township has a multi-purpose centre but DHA is not agreeing to use the offices made available to them. A follow up was requested. In Alfred Nzo and rural areas, which is a priority in the country. DHA could have been prioritised there. A sizable number of children there do not have IDs. Teachers explained that maybe parents themselves don’t have IDs because of illegal activities but at the end of the day, that is affecting learners in Alfred Nzo. The DHA was requested to ask its provincial office to follow it up. It was hoped that Beit Bridge would be supported by (EPLMA) together with Lebombo where Lebombo was visited during a provincial visit and Beit Bridge during an oversight visit. A comment was made on the Border Management Agency (BMA). The Minister has not yet presented on the BMA but the Committee's expectation is that all departments involved in the border control should "surrender" to the unit being created as that unit should do all the activities. This is urgent because having different departments is not working. It is important to have the BMA finalised and start operating as it will solve a number of problems. At Beit Bridge, together with Lebombo, they said the police are not rotated and have been there for donkeys’ years and therefore corruption may be possible. An improvement at Desmond Tutu is that interpreters are not even in the building but outside. When you talk to them, you do not know them so that everything said by an interpreter and a foreign national can be heard via the speaker but there cannot be a relationship with them. This entity will solve a number of issues.
The Minister responded that DHA agreed with the principle of integration of services. The request for a two-pager on what DHA ought to do must be deferred until after a meeting on Thursday when a presentation is being made to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster on the business case for the repositioning of DHA .The Department has always been incorrectly viewed as a department offering low value services and that is reflected in the resources of DHA. If the job is to open at 8:30 and just start issuing IDs, birth certificates and death certificates, the Department will be funded accordingly. If the job is not viewed in relation to the economy, national security, the building of a national state and service delivery, the resources will negate those aspects. DHA does not have a two-pager but a full business case which DHA would love to present to the Committee so that the Committee would understand. Cabinet has already agreed that DHA must be relocated in the Security Cluster. One of the things being considered is the possibility of DHA being allowed to charge for services in order to self-resource. One of the difficulties in the government system is that there is some rigidity that makes innovation difficult but DHA lives outside of the box, e.g. the Smartcard and using a bank to provide DHA services are innovations that can be done, and in a secure manner. The Minister has heard that the people trust DHA even more than the banks. This is a good perspective although DHA does not want to exploit the situation with their partners.
On people with critical skills whose documents have expired, it is found that this is a group that is least risky for DHA because people who have critical skills mostly comply and where their documents have expired, it is largely because there are delays in renewing their documents. That is why technologies are being introduced to speed up applications, both for those who are outside the country and those who are in the country. This will free up people to be able to assist with the process. The Department is going to be conducting inspections at certain companies, but with limited resources. As the DG was saying, DHA has 750 immigration officers in South Africa, broken down into just two provinces, it gives one 76 in Gauteng, the heartland of the immigration challenge and 48 in the Western Cape. In the George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay area which is a tourist centre, there are five immigration officers. On a daily basis, each one has an important function and it is difficult to see one who can do inspection. DHA has 750 immigration officers nationally. The Police has over 800 police officers at OR Tambo alone. London has 3000 immigration officers in the city. DHA has been given money to increase the number of immigration officers in 2017/18 by just 17.
Security issues are vital in a world where just in December last year there was a terrorist attack in Germany. Nobody in any country can think that their country is immune from security challenges. South Africa has a fantasy that the world loves the country and so there are no risks and nothing will happen. If a bomb exploded at the Waterfront or in Sandton, the impact on tourism in the entire region of Southern Africa would be enormous. South Africa has a responsibility to secure not only herself but to secure the rest of the region and to communicate a positive message about the region because if anything happened here it would have an enormous impact on the entire region, never mind the continent of Africa. The Ebola outbreak in East Africa caused people not to come to South Africa even though the country had nothing to do with it. That is why DHA must not relent in terms of security alertness and managing the immigration programmes on a risk basis.
The Minister turned to the two issues raised by the Mr Hattingh. He did not know whether he was speaking for South Africans or whether he was speaking for someone else.
Mr Hattingh interjected that he was speaking for South Africans. The Minister confirmed that he had listened well and Mr Hattingh was not.
Mr Hattingh objected to the line of insults the Minister was levelling at him. The Minister was accusing him of some underhandedness which was totally ridiculous.
The Chairperson suggested that he permit the Minister to complete his reply but Mr Hattingh stated that it was not about the reply but about the accusation of the Minister that he was operating in an underhanded manner, and, as a Member of the Committee, he had been asking a totally honest question.
The Chairperson asked Members to behave like Members of Parliament and to ask questions honestly on behalf of the people that are represented, as that maintenance of this position had prevented issues of disagreement. Even the Ministers who belong to the ANC would be subjected to questions by the Committee on behalf of the people that they represent. She asked Mr Hattingh to allow the Minister to proceed and requested the Minister to avoid words that would provoke Members so that the Member would feel that he is not representing his people.
The Minister continued saying that he had hoped the Member would have been called to order when he asked his questions because he equally felt offended by his remarks that DHA responded in a kneejerk reaction to the New Zealand decision and when he concluded his remarks by referring to intervention by the Guptas, or something to that extent. He found it funny that Mr Hattingh was offended as he had only queried on whose behalf Mr Hattingh was speaking. If the Member felt he was touching a raw nerve, then he could not answer for that.
New Zealand imposed a visa requirement on South Africa and New Zealand was not condemned on behalf of South Africans who are now expected to obtain a visa. Mr Hattingh had justified what New Zealand did by saying that they have an online system. It was okay for South Africans to have to pay to go to New Zealand but it was wrong for New Zealanders to have to pay to come to South Africa. In addition to which, DHA had taken a decision that visa fees for New Zealanders would be only a third of what South Africans are charged. It must be remembered that South Africans pay more than R1000 to go to London but Britons come to SA visa free. The Minister's responsibility is to fight for South Africans and he has told foreign countries that he has no responsibility for their people. The European Union is gradually imposing visa requirements. The UK said they will waiver visa requirements for diplomatic and official passport holders but this did not impress the Minister because these visas are paid for by government money. He wanted visa requirements for all South Africans to be waivered. When New Zealand and another country from the EU want to impose visa requirements, the Minister is told not to reciprocate. This cannot be right. The response to New Zealand was not a kneejerk reaction and as with all countries, New Zealand would have expected visa requirements to be imposed, regardless of whether South Africa has an online application system or not. New Zealand imposed the visa in the interest of its country but it has no right to make demands of South Africa in respect of visas. The Minister has not heard anybody say that it was a kneejerk reaction because visitors from African countries require a visa. The DHA has been directed to undertake a complete review of visa agreements. The EU Ambassador was asked for visa exemption for business requirements, if not to the entire EU. The Minister raised the issue of Eastern European countries that had no visa requirements with South Africa but once they became a member of the EU they hid behind the EU and required visas for entry to their countries. DHA had to indicate that a corresponding visa requirement would be put in place. It was pointed out to the EU that countries like Britain and Germany and others are not expected to require visas to visit South Africa although they require South Africans to have visas. The lack of visa requirement is because about 4 to 6 full flights from Britain will be affected. This shows that DHA takes a country by country decision and the impact it will have on South Africa. There is not a universal approach. Reciprocation to Britain in 2015 was only on a level of diplomatic and official passport holders. The review will be the basis for determining which countries will have visa requirements and for the negotiations that will follow.
Ports of entry are national key points and legislation requires that points of entry must be open for any user, provided that they meet the requirements. Legislation does not permit a private family to have a port of their own. The Minister did not want to comment extensively on the matter as it is in court but his affidavit has been made public. No family has the right to private entry. Someone else in Cape Town has required the same but it is not going to happen. These are secure areas and if it is agreed that the one who is the highest bidder, may set up a port of entry, a precedent will have been set for unreasonable requests. Government cannot be sold to the highest bidder. The Minister did not want to respond to an allegation made in a media statement about a conversation between two people as he was not one of those people and he was not on the aircraft. He reiterated that the issues of security are very important.
The DHA needs to brief the Committee on corruption. The Head of Beit Bridge is out on bail and has been suspended by DHA. 22 members of immigration service were arrested on the same day at the Lesotho border plus five Lesotho citizens that were involved in a scam and two officials in Lindela. In another case an officer in Scottburgh was arrested. In two years, DHA has recorded good success across the country. Crime at the ports of entry is the reason that an integrated BMA is needed at the border. Cabinet has agreed that there must be some information-gathering capability but DHA will work with other agencies. Concerns raised by the SAPS, the National Defence Force and National Treasury have been addressed and are no longer concerns.
The repositioning of DHA is so important that it impacts even on employment and changes the way that DHA looks at things. DHA has a project underway to revamp the infrastructure of six ports of entry plus an additional project to upgrade ten ports of entry. DHA will outline how many jobs will be created by these projects as well as the economic impact as the overhaul will speed up the North-South corridor which will reduce time wasted by trucks crossing the border. DHA expects to soon get National Treasury approval number two, which will put DHA in a position to start calling for tenders. There will be no more face-lifting for border points but DHA is working towards a complete overhaul of ports of entry. DHA is quite excited as people will begin to associate DHA with more than mere issuing of documents, important as it is because it is the core mandate, but also with creating jobs, bringing in skills and developing the economy.
DHA will come back with information on the shortage of personnel in the provinces and timeframes for the discontinuation of green ID documents. Passports can no longer be applied for manually. The Centurion office and 14 other offices are to be fully automated in this financial year. DHA is going to announce plans for the issuing of Smart ID cards only. DHA will be piloting mobile offices different from the Smart ID card mobile offices. These vehicles will be suitably equipped to go to rural areas and to schools so that they do not have to go to DHA offices. This will assist a great deal. The issue of the budget will be addressed by a proposal where the Department could self-fund but DHA needs to agree on a model and formula with National Treasury and Cabinet. The Minister stated that he was happy that Members understood that a clean audit, on its own, does not mean achieving goals but DHA will work on achieving both.
The Chairperson suggested that the remaining questions be responded to in writing. She responded to the Minister's expectation of a point of order by explaining that Members represented provinces. She represented Mpumalanga in the Select Committee and in the NCOP. Members are not going to be stopped from raising issues that they find in their provinces. The Committee therefore decided not to stoop to a level of points of order because each member knows what is going on in her, or his, province. But the whole matter goes to a question of patriotism. One example is that while watching Proteas playing in Western Cape against England, the Chairperson noted that England had more supporters than the Proteas. This is a serious statement, but people of the Western Cape decided to support England over their own national team.
On the corruption at Beit Bridge, she noted that on an oversight visit to Beit Bridge, DHA officials said that it was painful that only officials of DHA were arrested; this did not happen in other departments. They provided figures of those officials facing investigation. The police have been there for years and therefore crime is permanent.
The Committee will try to make a day when the Committee can get a full briefing on other issues relating to DHA.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.