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SOCIAL SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
27 May 2003
DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS BUDGET: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms L Jacobus (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department of Home Affairs Budget briefing presentation
Home Affairs Budget Vote 2003/4
The Committee was briefed about the Home Affairs Budget. In the discussion that followed, questions were asked about the ID registration fund dedicated to the election period and the introduction of Smart Cards. The Department was also questioned about its fraud prevention plan.
Mr Nkambule (Chief Financial Officer, Department of Home Affairs) read through the presentation document.
Ms Khondlo (ANC, Eastern Cape) wanted to know what part of the R1,8 billion budget was dedicated to the Eastern Cape.
Mr Nkhambule (Chief Financial Officer, Department of Home Affairs) replied that R63 million of the budget was dedicated to the Eastern Cape.
Ms Khondlo raised a concern over ID registration campaign of the Department, for which R5 million was budgeted to cater for the voting period. She argued that Identity Documents are not solely for voting purposes and asked why the Department did not implement such a campaign outside the voting period.
Mr Gildes (Director General, Department of Home Affairs) replied that as it had been explained to him, the Department had applied to Treasury for R19 million to go towards their ID registration campaign. Treasury said that they did not know why they should give them more money for something that the Department ought to be doing anyway. National Elections were a special requirement. However, the Department feels that these funds are necessary and is thus still engaging with Treasury.
Ms Khondlo asked whether the Department had a plan for dealing with fraud and corruption which they had budgeted for, or was this not part of their key focus area.
Mr Nkambule replied that they did have a Fraud Prevention Plan, even though it was still in its infancy stages. He revealed that it was their intention to also have a Fraud Prevention Committee. The Department has done a risk assessment research recently. Their future plans included the establishment of a Fraud Hotline.
Ms Gouws (DA, Eastern Cape) brought up the issue of buildings belonging to the Department of Home Affairs. She stated that Home Affairs buildings are not kept up to appropriate standards. She mentioned that the Department's buildings in Port Elizabeth were all dilapidated. She asked the Department to comment on this.
Mr Nkambule alerted the Committee to the fact that there was a decline in the Land and Buildings Budget of 2003/2004, but demonstrated a commitment towards the transformation of this situation by the increase of almost 200% in the 2004/2005 Budget.
Mr Tlhagale (UCDP, North West) related to the committee that he was at a Provincial meeting and they received briefings from the Department of Home Affairs and other Provincial Departments. From that meeting, it was evident that the Provincial Department of Home Affairs was struggling. It were completely dependant on other Government Departments. He asked if the Department of Home Affairs was aware of this and whether they were sure that the budget they allocated the province was sufficient.
Mr Nkambule stated that they did acknowledge that the province of the North West had problems. He commented that Department was fighting a battle to improve conditions in this province. He suggested that they also acknowledge the problems of the past. He mentioned that interviews were currently being held to appoint a new Regional Director. He said that overall, the R1, 8 billion budget will make the difference, even though they had originally requested a figure of R2, 1 billion.
Ms Jacobus (ANC) commented that with the present infrastructure, one got the impression that services were still biased towards urban areas. She presented the case that even security was lax in rural areas, giving the example of there being break-ins in a Home Affairs Office in Transkei in the past two weeks, where IDs were stolen.
Ms Jacobus then revisited the issue of the budget for the ID registration campaign. She said that she agreed that it should be an ongoing campaign and suggested that the Department of Home Affairs should look into this.
Regarding break-ins and the security of Home Affairs Departments in rural areas, Mr Nkambule stated that this was also a concern of theirs, which they were trying to address. They were trying to get the issue of security to be included in the signing of lease contracts with landlords.
Ms Jacobus then commented on the issue of vacancies in the Department. She said that the Department could not have a situation were posts were not filled in key defining areas. She asked the Department to inform the Committee how many vacancies they had.
Mr Nkambule revealed that they had 1326 vacancies at that moment in the Department. They were trying to fill them according to the process prescribed by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). The Department had left it to Cabinet and the DPSA to fill certain key positions. There were problems and there were achievements in certain instances. Interviews for the filling of these posts were continuing.
Ms Jacobus then posed a question on Smart Cards. She said that she had been on a visit to Gauteng in 2001, where the Head of the Department of Home Affairs had told them that the first Smart Card would be issued in 2003. They have yet to be issued, she argued. She asked the Department for an indication of when they would be ready.
Mr Nkambule replied that his understanding was that it still was going to take some time. It is very involved, he explained, dealing with the scanning of the whole Department database and registers. He said that a conservative estimate of when they would be ready would be 2005.
Ms Mkhondlo (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked about EDMSs. She asked the Department to inform them where those centres were so that they could visit them when they returned to their constituencies.
Mr Nkambule replied that the EDMS system is currently centralised. He said that there would be a few centres that they would set up and the members could inquire about them at their Regional Offices. He explained that they did not want to set up a lot of them because of the risk involved in dealing with such valuable information.
Ms Mkhondlo noted that the Gauteng Province had received a large portion of the budget as opposed to the other provinces. She inquired if there was any particular reason for this.
Mr Nkambule responded that the finds were mainly for the purpose of service delivery, He stated that the Department had quite a lot of clients in that province, and it should also be noted that it is where the Department is centred. Therefore, considerations should also be made on the spending for personnel.
The meeting was adjourned.
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