The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) briefed the Committee on its Annual Performance Plan (APP), focusing primarily on its contribution to the 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and linkages between the MTSF, ministerial priorities and the 2017/18 APP targets. The briefing also focused on the DHA End State Vision, overview of organisational performance for 2015/16 and 2016/17 versus 2017/18 targets; summary of 2017/18 APP targets per branch and the 2017-2020 budget overview.
DHA had a total of 36 targets planned for the 2015/16 financial year. A total of 29 targets were achieved representing 81% achievement rate whereas a total of 7 targets (representing 19% rate) were not achieved. However, significant improvement in organisational performance had been realised over the last three financial years. The main reason of improvement in organisational performance was threefold: a good record was made (i) in respect of governance, planning, implementation and monitoring practices, (ii) in respect of internal controls around management practices, and (iii) in respect of analysis of past and current developmental and branch performance to inform institutional planning.
The DHA provided the Committee with a structure of budget overview in terms of 2016 to 2019 medium term expenditure allocations. The budget for 2016/17 financial year was R7.2 billion, for 2017/18 financial year was R5.9 billion, for 2018/19 financial year was 6.7 billion, and for 2019/20 was 6.4 billion. On the other hand, it noted that it faced with critical challenges that had negative impact on its performance. They included effective and efficient management of the asylum seeker and refugee environment; 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 the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for timeous service delivery; non-integration of IT system across DHA; lack of efficient records management in support of key services to client; lack of capacity in critical support areas such as legal services, risk management, information, counter corruption, and security services and financial management; fight against unlawful activities; and training of staff members for leadership and management capabilities. The strategic measures were taken in order to respond to these challenges.
Members were overall impressed by the performance of the DHA. They sought clarity on why the DHA was not improving on its employment rate, the funding model and on the on the causes of late birth registration. Members enquired extensively on the delays hindering the process around the Border Management Agency (BMA), why no budget was allocated to the BMA, whether the Bill had been approved by the Ministers of Home Affairs and Finance.
The Committee also talked to the plans the Department had around awareness of the importance of registration of births, illegal immigrants, the blocking of identity documents (IDs) and the role the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) played in the challenge relating to timeous child birth registrations.
The Chairperson introduced the DHA delegates of DHA delegates to the Committee. He noted apologies from Ms B Dambuza (ANC), Ms N Mnisi (ANC), Dr C Mulder (EFF+) and Ms O Hlope (EFF) for their absence. He also reminded the Committee that there was a discussion on the trip to Germany that needed to be finalised.
Briefing by DHA on its 2017/18 APP
Mr Mkhuseli Apleni, Director-General, DHA, took the Committee through the presentation, focusing primarily on its contribution to the 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and linkages between the MTSF, ministerial priorities and the 2017/18 APP targets. The briefing also focused on the DHA End State Vision, overview of organisational performance for 2015/16 and 2016/17 versus 2017/18 targets; summary of 2017/18 APP targets per branch and the 2017-2020 budget overview.
DHA had a total of 36 planned targets for the 2015/16 financial year. A total of 29 targets were achieved representing an 81% achievement rate whereas a total of 7 targets (19%) were not achieved. However, significant improvement in organisational performance had been realised over the last 3 financial years. The main reason for the improvement in organisational performance was threefold: improved governance, planning, implementation and monitoring practices; improved internal controls around management practices, and detailed analysis of past and current developmental and branch performance to inform institutional planning.
Mr Apleni provided a budget overview from 2016 to 2019 medium term expenditure allocations. The budget for 2016/17 was R7.2 billion, R5.9 billion for and projected to be R6.7 billion for 2018/19 and R6.4 billion for 2019/20.
DHA faced critical challenges such as the effective and efficient management of the asylum seeker and refugee environment; overhaul of the border management environment and provision of acceptable port infrastructure; historical under-funding and resourcing; dependency on the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for timeous service delivery; non-integration of IT system across DHA; lack of efficient records management in support of key services to client; lack of capacity in critical support areas such as legal services risk management, information, counter corruption, and security services and financial management; fight against unlawful activities; and training of staff members for leadership and management capabilities. The APP outlines the strategic measures that were taken in order to respond to these challenges (see attached presentation).
The Chairperson asked why DHA was not improving on employment rate and why the vacancy rate was being maintained at 10% or below. He remarked that in order to improve on its performance, DHA staff members should work as if there was no tea times and no holidays.
Mr A Figlan (DA) welcomed the presentation and sought clarity on allocations of budget, particularly which on which area the most money was allocated to and on the causes of late birth registration. He asked why the Eastern Cape had more targets than other provinces, more information on the model of sustainable funding and how managers were trained and who trained them. He wanted to know about the delays concerning the Border Management Agency (BMA) Bill process, whether it was realistic to expect an apology for failure to establish an operative BMA and why no budget for the BMA was mentioned in the presentation.
Ms T Kenye (ANC) sought clarity on whether the BMA Bill was approved by the Ministers of Home Affairs and Finance and what causing the delay of the BMA Bill. He wanted to know whether there would be a distinction between DHA and the South African Revenue Services (SARS) staff members when and if the BMA Bill came into force and how the immigration branch could be effectively funded for better function,
Mr D Kekana (ANC) asked how many legal consultant companies were hired by the DHA and why. He sought clarity on the causes of wasteful expenditure and what had been done to address the issues. He asked why DHA was targeting registering 70% of all births within 30 days instead of 100%.
Ms D Raphuti (ANC) welcomed the presentation and echoed the question asked by Mr Kekana with regard to child births registration. What could be challenges for registering children? Did the late registration of chil births had something to do with foreign nationals and refugees? She finally sought clarity on how the DHA was planning to address the issue of vacancies.
Mr D Gumede (ANC) welcomed the presentation and asked the challenge of human resource capacity that DHA was facing and the negative impact on its performance would be addressed. In the previous financial year, DHA had many acting managers at provincial level and he asked how many provincial managers were still acting. He wanted to know whether the DHA was on track in registering births of children.
The Chairperson stated that three days ago he wrote a letter to National Treasury in order to inform them about the decision taken by the Committee to approve the BMA Bill regardless of outstanding issue to be resolved between DHA and the Department of Finance. The Committee was anticipating a briefing by National Treasury and it should liaise with the Committee in order to incorporate the brief in the Committee’s programme. He further remarked that the issue between DHA and the Department of International Relations and Co-operations (DIRCO) should be finalised and should not be brought to the table in the future. He sought clarity on the question of blocking IDs resulting in some citizens being classified as non-citizens and thus deported. For those whose IDs were blocked, there were some who came to South Africa a long time ago and who acquired IDs through legal mechanisms while others who acquired IDs through illegal mechanisms. The latter group could go back to their countries such as Swaziland when, at the same time, they are claiming they were South African citizens. If these people were going home, their return was a message enough to state that they were not South Africans.
Mr Apleni replied that the employment rate was a concern to DHA and the Department was finding ways to resolve it. In the previous financial year there were no new employees recruited, but DHA would be filling some managerial vacancies in 2017/18.
He referred to the funding model and said fiscals were complex as the budget increased by R1 billion in the next financial year. It was worth noting that the DHA was collecting revenue to the amount of approximately R1 billion. In practice, DHA collected the revenue and deposited it in the National Revenue Fund. The new model approach was to collect the revenue and then deposit such revenue in the DHA account. The issue of funding would be resolved because DHA would be collecting even more revenue. In terms of the inspectorate, DHA was insisting on visible policing, for example, at OR Tambo and at ports of entry. DHA had 750 inspectorate officers in entire country. The new funding model would help the Department to address the problem of inspectorate. DHA was facing difficulty in connecting its database. Banks were in a better position to verify identity documents because they were paying for verification and it could be possible if DHA operated in the same ways banks were operating in terms of verifying authenticity of documents.
Mr Apleni responded that the training was not about training new recruits. There had been a programme of training management staff members and a target had always been set.
Responding on the BMA Bill, Mr Apleni said that the BMA Bill presented a “pain” to the DHA, but DHA could not abandon it regardless. It was because of the delays that the Department was targeting to implement the BMA Bill in 2020, but will be pushing for the Bill to be assented to in 2018. The BMA Bill was needed by the nation and should be established as soon as possible. He thanked the Committee for supporting the BMA Bill.
Mr Apleni referred to DIRCO and said the problem persisted because people abroad applied manually, where applications of those within South African boundaries were automated. The DHA could not manage things which were beyond its control.
On the question of births registration, the DHA was focussing on registering 100% births but there were problems. Some mothers were not registering their babies because they had either no prepared name to give to them or their customs hindered them from naming a child immediately after birth. Non-compliance with the birth registration requirement was encouraged by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) by giving child grants to mothers – whether they registered children or not. This made it difficult for the DHA to encourage parents to register births within 30 years since they did not see reasons why this was so important. DHA was trying to find ways in which a child could be registered with no name by linking him or her to parents and for the names to be captured at later stage. On the note of documenting South African population, the DHA was focussing on ensuring that all people had a smart card.
Vacancies were being advertised and there were some interviews taking places. This was possible given that certain managerial posts were funded as a part of enhancing the DHA human capacity.
On blocking IDs, Mr Apleni said that the use of a fingerprint was the only mechanism that could determine that an individual was South African or not. The fingerprint could link a person to the population register. If it did not, it meant that a person was a foreign national.
DHA was being repositioned. The repositioning was necessary because clients were changing every day. It would help the DHA to have an efficient system with efficient and capable offices. It would turn the DHA into a responsible and secured department and, in doing so ensure that its mandate was achieved. Repositioning was largely dependent on the increase of funding. A White Paper was being drafted which will assist in repositioning the Department. Funding ought to be approved by Parliament and DHA was failing in certain areas because no weight was given to its work or no value was attached to it. If other departments were listening to the DHA, challenges could be minimal. The issue of immigration was one of the challenges. It was a global challenge and countries around the world were challenged by immigration as currently seen in France and the United States.
A study was being conducted to determine registered and non-registered children and the rationale behind non-registration. DHA had moved to creating awareness on birth registration. It was doing its best in this respect to ensure that people understand the importance of registration of babies. The question of imposing a penalty fee for late registration was proposed and considered but was not adopted because a penalty fee might be a justification of abandoning registration of a child. There was a question the Department could introduce certain incentives for parent to register their babies timeously. On the blocking IDs, he noted that those whose IDs were blocked, their names were published in addition to being called to come forward to justify their citizenship. The challenges were that many people were not coming forward because the law made it clear that in instances where an individual had acquired a South African document through fraudulent means, he or she would be arrested, punished and deported.
Ms Raphuti remarked that she was not aware that non-registered children were receiving social grants. The Department of Social Development should be engaged on this matter. She sought clarity on foreign nationals’ children born in South African hospitals.
Ms Kenye commented that awareness on registration of births should target pregnant mothers at anti-natal clinic level. A programme should be introduced to ensure that they understood the need to register their babies upon birth. DHA should bear in mind that some mothers were illiterate and did not understand the reason why a baby should be registered at birth.
Mr Apleni replied dealing with illegal immigrants was problematic. The dispute on closure of the Refugee Reception Offices (RRO) was before the Constitutional Court. Added to this, arrest and deportation was becoming more difficult. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) had been arguing that arrested asylum-seekers ought to be dealt as if he or she is a criminal to whom the principles of criminal justice applied. Illegal asylum-seekers could not simply be arrested and deported. They ought to be offered opportunity to exhaust internal remedies. In light of these legal difficulties, it appeared that DHA made a mistake by allowing asylum-seekers to enter into the country without screening their claims for asylum. Other countries were placing them in centres or camps in order to screen the validity of their claims. If claims were baseless, they could be separated from those legitimately seeking asylum and thus deported. The DHA intended to introduce such approach under the White Paper on International Migration.
The Chairperson thanked members of the Committee and the DHA delegation for their time and commitment and the meeting was adjourned.