The Department addressed the recent closure of the Mbombela Home Affairs office for three days due to a sheriff attaching furniture and computers worth R150 000 at the Mbombela office. The Department got the goods back and is now taking steps to fix the communication errors with the Office of the State Attorney that allowed for the incident. The DHA offered their apologies.
In its Annual Performance Plan presentation, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) stated that its five 2014-2019 ministerial priorities are to establish an effective Border Management Authority, complete the Modernization Programme, upgrade six key ports of entry, perform a comprehensive review of immigration policy, and improve client experience through the Moetapele leadership programme. The DHA outlined its 2017/18 APP targets per programme and compared them to the previous year’s targets. It noted the decrease in the budget for counter corruption and security services of R18 500 000 as well as human resource management and development of R36 000.
Members asked why there were declines in the budget for counter-corruption as this should be a priority as well as human resources; why there is a reduction in the number of Home Affairs offices; how does DHA plan to protect the borders; what have they done to modernize the ports of entry; how are they minimizing lack of professionalism when dealing with the public; and when will the business case of the Department be presented. The Committee assured the DHA that they support the Department and recognized its efforts to improve where it has challenges.
Mbombela Home Affairs office temporary closure
The Chairperson noted that the Mbombela Home Affairs office was closed from Friday 26 May up to 29 Monday, only to reopen on Tuesday 30 May. This is not acceptable. It was closed because the sheriff of the court confiscated goods from the office as a result of a lawsuit against the DHA. She invited the DHA to speak on the matter. Do they not have a legal advisor in the Department? Why did the closure happen? The closure was an embarrassment because that office serves a number of areas and people who needed critical services could not access it.
Ms L Zwane (ANC) reminded the Chairperson that since no Minister, Deputy Minister nor the Director General was present, the DG should have appointed someone to lead the Department.
Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, Deputy Director General of Civic Services, said that he was appointed earlier by the DG.
An email from the DG was read out that apologized for his absence and said that Mr Mkhize would lead the Department.
Mr Mkhize apologized for the Mbombela Home Affairs office closure and accepted that it should not have happened. A foreign national took Home Affairs to court for alleged wrongful arrest. The Department has a Chief Directorate for Legal Services who communicated with the State Attorney’s Office to deal with the matter. The Department was defending the matter and won the case but it was not aware that this person had lodged a second case. DHA was of the view that it had dealt with the matter. They were unrepresented at the second case and the person obtained a default judgement of R150 000 against DHA. Not much could be done to prevent the sheriff from coming to the office and taking goods to the required amount without the Department’s knowledge. At that stage, the DHA realised there is a problem with the communication between the Department, State Attorney, and the litigants. DHA ensured they got the goods back by Monday. This meant that on for Saturday, they could not operate. At that time, they tried to assist people who do not require live capture, so they could deal with marriage and death services. They are submitting a report with all the details. The DHA apologizes and realises the matter should have been handled differently.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would meet with the Department if they need to follow up on the matter. The sheriff took furniture and computers which are linked to systems that could be opened for fraudulent activity.
The Department replied that there were daily emails of communication going to the State Attorney’s Office, but the problem was that there is no State Attorney Office in Mbombela, so the matter was dealt with by the Pretoria State Attorney Office. The Pretoria office then appointed lawyers to work on behalf of the Department. For this reason, there was a breakdown in communication about the case. The data is not saved on the computers but rather on the server. Information cannot be tampered with through the computers.
Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Annual Performance Plan
Mr Vusumuzi Mkhize, DHA Deputy Director General: Civic Services, opened the presentation and was aided by Mr Gordon Hollamby, Deputy Director General: Finance and Supply Chain Management. Other Department members in attendance were Ms Nkidi Mohoboko, Deputy Director General: Human Resource Management and Development, Mr Yusuf Simons, Western Cape Regional Manager, and Patrick Williams, Chief of Staff.
The Department of Home Affairs five 2014-2019 ministerial priorities are to establish an effective Border Management Authority, complete the Modernization Programme, upgrade six key ports of entry, perform a comprehensive review of immigration policy, and improve client experience through the Moetapele leadership programme. The DHA outlined its 2017/18 APP targets per programme and compared them to the previous year’s targets. It noted the decrease in the budget for counter corruption and security services of R18 500 000 as well as human resource management and development of R36 000 (see document for details).
Ms L Zwane (ANC) asked about the progress in the reallocation of the DHA to a different cluster. This raises a worry because critical sub programmes have been affected. What is the reason for decreasing the allocation for employees? The Committee cannot accept that there will be a reduction of staff given the fact that there is a big shortage of staff in the Department already; particularly border management staff. There is a decline in the number of Home Affairs offices and the DHA needs to clarify why this is happening. There is also a decline in the Ministry staff, why is this? Why is there a funding decline for state services? They need to know who is in South Africa. Services will be compromised. How will the DHA face its challenges if there is a budget cut? The Committee always supports the DHA to look for addition budget allocation, but they need to go to the right channels to appeal to the powers that be to listen to their case. National Treasury does not comprehend that Home Affairs is an essential service.
Mr M Khawula (IFP) noted the Mbombela office closing but was an apology given to the people affected? DHA needs to unpack the lack of professionalism that caused this scenario. The Department spoke of how the borders will be effectively protected and managed. How is this going to be achieved considering the unofficial entry and exit points? Why in its report does DHA say they want to “reduce” corruption but why not eradicate corruption? Can the Department clarify what TA II means on slide 26?
Mr C Hattingh (DA) said that one of the pleasant experiences at Home Affairs is the ease of with a person’s information can be accessed. When there is an operator dealing with a person’s case and the operator needs someone else to override something on the computer, this detracts from professionalism in the office because it takes time and the client needs access immediately. Is this because of security? What detracts from the professionalism is that people behind the counter get into conversation with their colleagues while they wait for the computer to identify their client. Why is that? Where are the services centres mentioned in slide 11 going to be opened? Slide 21 mentions building a security system that will protect the DHA and the design is biometric and has cadre information. What does this mean?
A committee member stated that she wished the Director General was present to answer her questions. On the ministerial priorities, does the DDG have time frames for the completion of the Modernization Programme? Of the six ports of entry, what criteria were used for upgrading? Which ports were upgraded? With the recent visit to Lebombo Border Post, there had been a disturbing mention about the people who illegally crossed the border into the Kruger National Park to become a meal of the day for the lions. What can be done to protect these people? Just because they crossed the border illegally does not mean they should be a meal for the lions. The Department needs to clarify who is assigned to Programme Five Ministerial Priorities and what the programme entails.
The Chairperson has concerns about the budget cuts to programmes that are core to the department. What do these cuts mean? The Committee still needs the DHA business case to be put forth. For the Committee to engage with National Treasury, the business case needs to be completed. When will it be completed? The BMA will be finalized and in operation in 2017-2018, but there have been a lot of delays. Whatever the DHA is presenting today, the progress will need to be reported on in the future. The Department should not commit to things that it cannot perform. The Committee visited a DHA office reently, and there were problems with the office floors. How far is the progress in fixing the floors? It has been noted that in the airport there are Home Affairs desks, but no one to manage these desks. All ports of entry, air and maritime, need to have oversight.
Mr Mkhize clarified that the Department is against corruption. The DHA has a Counter Corruption Security branch, not just a directorate. On DHA’s reallocation to the security cluster, the DHA is in the security cluster and they are fully participating. An apology was submitted to the people in Mbombela for the office closure. The computer overrides may take time, but the delay in taking fingerprints to retrieve data about a person will be addressed by the IT official. The DHA is not responsible for patrolling the borders and ensuring people are not eaten by lions; they are responsible for managing the entry and exit of people who are doing so legally. People were sent to fix the office floors. He agreed that there are some counters at ports of entry and in some offices that are not managed. Finalising the business case with Treasury has been intense. The DHA was given a budget ceiling for staff above which they could not go. That led to DHA not being able to fill the management quota. There is an engagement with the Portfolio Committee and National Treasury about the budget. The business case will be submitted.
Ms Nkidi Mohoboko, Deputy Director General: Human Resource Management and Development, said that the Moetapele programme is meant to create leaders at all levels of the Department. It ensures that everyone, including the people who work the front desks, provides a pleasurable experience to clients. Creating cadre information means that every person who works for the DHA cadres behaves in an ethical and professional way. The DHA has a code of conduct on ethics and if this clause is violated, the Department member will have a misconduct case opened against them. As a Department, they are responsible for whatever happens internally. Discipline management is emphasized and anyone found guilty of corruption will be dealt with according to the law. Moetapele ensures that all managers and leaders develop their leadership skills. The program also ensures that if someone leaves a position, another person can train someone to take that job. The HR budget has nothing to do with retrenchment; the DHA is committed to ensuring there is no job loss. The Department is merely shifting the funds. For example, they have a contract provider to help with wellness, but they are shifting the money so in that way they can provide these services in house. They are still providing the service that would otherwise be given by contractors. No one would lose their job.
Mr Hollamby said that the previous week there was a briefing from National Treasury about compensation of employees in regards to DHA. The Department has received support from the Committee as well as the Portfolio Committee on the matter. The DHA has a self-funding mechanism where they collect revenue and are allowed to use it as expenditure related to IDs and passports. They are trying to find ways to make money to make the Department work better. The DHA has not retrenched anybody and they will not close any offices in the current financial year. There are three stages to the public-private partnership (PPP) process. The first deals with Treasury approval and is a feasibility study. Step 2 deals with Treasury approval as well and the actual request for proposals. Step 3 is the contracting phase. He listed the ports that were chosen for an upgrade. They were chosen for their traffic volumes and commercial fronts. The Department will follow up on the office floors, but they should be fixed by now.
A Department official explained that when they started the modernization project, the scope for the activities to be implemented would be completed in 2019/20. However, it will not stop in 2019/20 because there are still a number of things the Department wants to implement such as creating new channels of service. The business case is the guideline for the vision of the DHA. The Department is having discussions with the public, which led to it writing a draft White Paper. The new vision of the DHA is accessibility. It wants to operate seven days a week and process citizens in a secure manner; which is all defined in the business case. The White Paper and legislation will be brought to both Houses of Parliament for processing. The DHA is more than ready to come and present what the business case contains.
The Chairperson stated that the DHA is a permanent department and the people will appreciate to have accessible services. Everyone has to use this department, so it needs to be accessible. The DHA offices need to be owned by the Department, and not rented. Unless they know what is mandated of the DHA, they will always be underfunded in Human Resources because the baseline is lower than what they are supposed to be getting as a department. The DHA is recognized for trying to improve on its challenges.
Mr Hattingh said that the question about where the new centres would be opened was not answered, as well as the term ‘cadre information’ was not clarified.
Mr Khawula said that on slide 9 the Department said ‘borders and not ‘entry points’. The Department said they are not responsible for the borders, but their presentation says otherwise.
The Chairperson said that the border needs to be separated as a responsibility for Public Works.
Ms Mohoboko restated that ‘cadre’ means a well-rounded and ethical person that is trained on anti-corruption. They are trained on how to deal with difficult clients as well. Once someone is trained, they can also train other people as a ‘train the trainer’. The cadre is an ideal face that they want to represent the Department. Everyone in the department has been trained this way. This was started two years ago.
The Chairperson said the Department needs to improve on its numbers within the cadre programme.
Mr Mkhize clarified that the centres are in Cape Town and [inaudible].
The Chairperson said the Committee agreed to the APP.
Mr Khawula said that they should not go so long without approving the minutes as that way the meeting is still fresh in the Members’ minds.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Khawula.
The meeting minutes from 14 and 21 February; 14 March; 2, 17 and 23 May 2017, and two other meetings with unmentioned dates were approved with no amendments.
The Chairperson said the committee would be meeting again on 27 June.
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.