Department of Home Affairs 2016/17 Annual Report

NCOP Health and Social Services

14 November 2017
Chairperson: Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

Annual Reports 2016/17

The Chairperson opened the meeting by commenting on the absence of both the Minister and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, when important issues such as the Department’s annual report and the suspension of its Director General (DG) were due to be discussed by the Select Committee. In the month leading up to the meeting, the DG had been suspended from his post and later reinstated through the courts. The news of his suspension and reinstatement had reached the Committee through the media, and no communication had been received from the former Minister.

The Committee expressed its frustration at what it interpreted as disrespect from the absent politicians. After a brief discussion, the Chairperson allowed a brief recess to allow the whereabouts of both the Minister and the Deputy Minister to be ascertained. The Deputy Minister arrived shortly afterwards, explaining that there had been a clash of meetings, and offered a brief explanation regarding the DG’s suspension. It was agreed that the former Minister was the only person in a position to explain the reasons behind the suspension in more detail.

The delegation from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) restricted the presentation on its annual report to the five targets which it had not achieved. One of the major concerns was the Border Management Agency Bill, which had been delayed in Parliament for a significant amount of time. The Committee promised to see to it that the Bill was passed before the end of the current financial year. Other key issues included the registration of births within a period of 30 days, fraudulent marriages used to attain South African citizenship, and the Department’s overall inadequate budget leading to staffing shortages and thus diminished service delivery. Concern was also raised about the country’s porous borders, and the number of foreign nationals in the country who were depleting resources for South Africans.

The Committee was generally pleased with the achievements of the Department, and raised questions and concerns that had to be addressed in the next annual report.

Meeting report

Absence of Minister and Deputy Minister

The Chairperson said that given the importance of the meeting, it was concerning that apologies had been received from the Minister, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, and from the Deputy Minister, Ms Fatima Chohan. It was very important for the Committee to be briefed on the issue of the Director General of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Mr Mkuseli Apleni. The director general was one of the most important figures in any department, and was in fact an accounting officer. If any action was to be taken against such a figure, the least that could be done was to inform the Committee. The news of the Director General’s suspension and reinstatement had been made known to the Committee through the media. The Committee Members must guide the fate of the meeting, given the absence of both relevant politicians and the importance of the meeting, which was to be briefed on the Department’s annual report for the previous financial year.

Ms T Mampuru (ANC, Limpopo) was disturbed by the absence of the Minister and the lack of communication from the Deputy Minister. The Committee could not tolerate politicians who did not hold it in high regard. There were issues within the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) that required the input of the collective. During the travels of the Committee Members, shocking scenes had been encountered at the borders of Botswana and Zimbabwe. These were problems that needed to be discussed. Who would give the political direction on these issues? The politicians were failing the Committee. It may become necessary to report these politicians to the person responsible for their appointment. Because the DHA always made itself available to account to the Committee, lenience was possible. However, the absence of the politicians must be taken up with the relevant authorities. On the issue of the suspension of the Director General, it was a gross oversight not to inform the Committee. It made it impossible to respond appropriately, and undermined the Committee.

The Chairperson said that both the Minister and the Deputy Minister had not given reasons for their absence. Only a Cabinet meeting could be prioritised over a meeting with the DHA and the Committee.

Mr Apleni said he understood the Minister was still making her way from Cape Town to Johannesburg, but it was not possible for him to speak on her behalf. It may be useful to have someone check or call the Deputy Minister’s office. However, there had been an invitation from the Portfolio Committee which had clashed with the Select Committee meeting, and the plans were that the Deputy Minister would attend the former’s meeting, and the Minister would attend that of the latter.

Ms Mampuru said that the situation was becoming more difficult. On the one hand, there was a suspended and reinstated Director General who had to account on behalf of the Minister, and on the other hand the whereabouts of the politicians were unknown. The meeting may have to be ended.

The Chairperson proposed a 10-minute break to allow the DHA to check on the whereabouts of the Minister.

Mr M Khawula (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) agreed with the Chairperson, and asked Mr Apleni whether he would be in a position to brief the Committee on the issues of his suspension and the reasons behind it.

The Chairperson, on behalf of Mr Apleni, responded that the onus to provide an explanation was on the Minister and the Deputy Minister. It might have been appropriate for the Minister to write a letter directed to the Committee, excusing herself and the Deputy Minister from the meeting and appointing Mr Apleni as their representative. The meeting would be adjourned for 10 minutes until there was communication with the Minister.

Deputy Minister on suspension of DG

When the Chairperson resumed the meeting, the Deputy Minister arrived.

Ms Chohan apologized to the Committee. There had been a clash between the Portfolio Committee meeting and the Select Committee meeting. The advice was that the Minister would attend the Select Committee meeting while the Deputy Minister attended the Portfolio Committee meeting. It was uncertain what had delayed the Minister, although she was said to be on a flight to Cape Town. Understandably, it was disrespectful to not appear before the Committee after the events that unfolded in the last month, and any personal knowledge of the event was generally limited.

She said the Director General had been suspended by the former Minister, Ms Hlengiwe Mkhize, and the Deputy Minister had not been informed beforehand. It had therefore come as a shock to all parties concerned. There had been nothing that could have necessitated such action. The DHA met every two weeks in the Minister and Management Meeting (MMM), where anything involving the Department was discussed. During Ms Mkhize’s tenure, the meeting often did not sit. This was part of the problem with communication within the Department. Mr Apleni had received a letter placing him on provisional suspension in her presence. It had come as a big shock, and this was how she had learnt what was happening. Despite trying to engage the former Minister on the reasons behind the suspension, the former Minister would not make herself available.

The Department was generally very supportive of Mr Apleni. There was never any suggestion of misconduct or dereliction of duty.

It was pleasing that the courts had ruled to overturn Mr Apleni’s suspension, and that Minister Dlodlo had welcomed Mr Apleni back. It was doubtful that there was ever much support for Mr Apleni’s suspension to begin with. Whatever reasons that had given rise to the suspension could be fully explained only by former Minister Mkhize. It was pleasing that Mr Apleni had returned.  Hopefully some context had been given.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister and acknowledged the reinstatement of the Mr Apleni. It was up to the Committee whether they wanted to engage the former Minister on the suspension or not. However, it would likely lead to nowhere.

Ms Mampuru accepted the explanation from the Deputy Minister, and said that the Committee had previously tried to get information out of the former Minister, but to no avail. The suspension of Mr Apleni was very concerning, given his excellent track record and extensive experience in the DHA.

Ms Samqa-Mququ thanked the Deputy Minister for attending. The worry had been having an accounting officer who was suspended coming before the Committee without an explanation. This was why the non-availability of both politicians had been so concerning. It seemed as if the Committee was being undermined by the political heads of the Department.

The Chairperson welcomed Mr Apleni and thanked the Deputy Minister. The Deputy Minister was excused to attend the Portfolio Committee meeting. Mr Apleni was invited to continue with the meeting, and was granted 30 minutes to present.

Department of Home Affairs: Annual Report

Mr Apleni, Director General: DHA, said the presentation would deal with the areas where the Department had failed to achieve. The administrative issues it was facing were listed in the report, and were slated to be achieved by the year 2019.

The annual performance against targets had improved from 70% in 2014/15, to 84% in 2016/17. The important issues were the 16% that had not been achieved. The reasons for the improvements were not included in the presentation.

The main reason the DHA had improved was that governance, planning, implementation and monitoring had improved. Planning was focused on critical priorities which ensured maximum impact. A clear planning, monitoring and evaluation guideline had been developed. One of the major issues was funding, and it had been established as a rule that when programmes were funded, then they must be delivered. Consequence management and intensified monitoring of progress were also key factors in improving the DHA’s organisational performance.

In 2010/11, the DHA had managed to get an unqualified audit for the first time, but systematic issues were still there, particularly with the management of revenue. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) collected revenue and deposited it into the Revenue Fund. The DHA retained the responsibility for the revenue. The Portfolio Committee on International Relations was currently working on a Foreign Service Bill, where DIRCO would collect the revenue, deposit it in the Revenue Fund and record it in their books, as opposed to the DHA’s books. The DHA did not derive any benefits from collecting its own revenue, as it must still request a budget from the Treasury.

Monthly checklists had been introduced for each Head of Department. Evidently, more detail must be added to these lists in order to ensure a clean audit in the future, as opposed to an unqualified audit.

A total of five programmes were not achieved -- two in Administration, one in Citizen Affairs, and two in Immigration Affairs. This amounted to 16% of the DHA’s overall targets. The report would deal with these five programmes that were not achieved, and the reasons for this.

Programme 1: Administration

A new biometric scanning system was to be developed and piloted at one port of entry. Currently, fingerprints were taken at the ports of entry, but the system that was in place captured the fingerprints, which then were placed on a database. The one to be developed would link the system to the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) and the National Population Register (NPR). The challenge in achieving this target was that the DHA required the help of those with the relevant skills from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), but they were unfortunately preoccupied.

The second target that was not achieved was the late tabling of the annual report in the previous financial year. This had therefore been recorded as a failure on the part of the DHA to achieve its targets.

Programme 2: Citizen Affairs

The registration of births within thirty days was one of the crucial problems facing the Department. In 2011, the DHA had managed to register about 556 76 births against a total of about 1 209 040 births (39%). This year, it had registered 75% births within 30 days, but the target had been to register 100% of the births. The annual target for Eastern Cape had been 90 759, and the province had managed to register 86 206 births, a rate of 95%. The driving factors behind this had been the registration of births in hospitals, and the need for staff to be scheduled to work on seven days of the week.

Programme 3: Immigration Affairs

The Border Management Agency Bill (BMA), which was tasked with handling the influx of foreign nationals into South Africa, would be a key factor in the achievement of the DHA’s targets in the future. The BMA had been in Parliament for over a year.

The final target that was not achieved was that of the 15 ports of entry that were to undergo improvements in either residential or office accommodation, or both. Of these 15, only 12 ports were updated to meet the new standards.

Problems within the Provinces

The DHA had only 750 official inspectorates throughout the country. The management of undocumented foreign nationals was poor, because the Department did not have the capacity to deal with the issues.

Many employers hired undocumented foreign nationals. In the year, 1 004 employers who had contravened the Immigration Act were detected in the country. Though there were certainly more employers guilty of such conduct, the Department lacked the capacity to bring them to justice.

There were 24 065 people who were arrested for being in the country illegally. These people were deported at the cost of the state, which was why the BMA would resolve many of the problems the DHA was facing.

Fraudulent marriages had become a common phenomenon. In these cases, South African nationals marry foreign nationals in exchange for money. In return, the foreign national attains a relative’s permit which, after a period of five years, was used to apply for South African citizenship. Upon attaining citizenship, the foreign nationals often divorce their South African spouses and invite their real spouses and children, who in turn receive relatives’ permits, which would later be used to apply for citizenship.

Each department had a salary ceiling that it could not break through. The DHA had reached its ceiling, and was sitting on 9 800 employees who were tasked with serving the entire country of over 50 million people. This was comparable to the Department of Correctional Services, which had about 22 000 staff and only 140 000 prisoners. Resources were therefore a big problem for the DHA, and Treasury had recently cut R100 million from the DHA’s budget during the adjusted estimates of national expenditure.

Despite operating on a shift system, the DHA’s offices were not open on Saturdays, so people who could not get time off during the week could not access vital services.

Mr Gordon Hollamby, Deputy Director General: Finance and Supply Chain Management (SCM), said that the Department was working towards a clean audit in the future. It had consistently shown that it was able to spend its budget. Of the R8 billion received, the Department had not spent R12.3 million. This had been rolled over, and without it the Department would have under-spent by R281 000. The R12.3 million had been used for video conferencing and voice-over information technology (IT) to save on transport costs. The full allocation on compensation was also being spent. The budget for the provinces had already been allocated, and the planning had been done accordingly.

The revenue target had been R962 million, and over R1 billion had been collected. 87.15% of invoices had been paid within 30 days, and the rest were simply late payments. Consequence management against those who deliberately delayed payments was being taken.

Irregular expenditure that had been confirmed was related to a security tender awarded in 2013. Misstatements and wrongly quoted figures from the previous financial year had also been corrected.


Mr C Hattingh (DA, North West) expressed concern about the never-ending nature of the investigations without any news on progress. For example, there had been no report on one investigation from 2011 by the Public Protector. The status of these investigations was necessary.

Mr Khawula was concerned about the working hours of the DHA. The experience in Durban, that people arrived at the harbour and then had to be transported elsewhere to be registered, was an anomaly. The DHA seemed to be relying on the Border Management Agency (BMA) as a saviour for all of its problems, although there was no convincing evidence to suggest that it would be. How would the BMA sort out all of the Department’s problems with its current budget and staff? It would have been preferable to have the Minister present, but the information given by the Deputy Minister had been useful and was appreciated.

Ms M Moshodi (ANC, Free State)  said there were no doctors in a small rural area, Edenville, in the Free State. The closest hospital was 42km away. There was a challenge with birth registrations. In one case, birth certificates had been mixed up and required the parents to travel all the way back to the hospital to correct the situation. These administrative mistakes could not be tolerated.

Ms T Mpambo-Sibhukwana (DA, Western Cape) welcomed Mr Apleni back to the DHA. How many non-South Africans were born in South Africa, and what was the exact number per province? How many of these were obtaining South African citizenship? The people working on Saturday shifts were complaining of not being paid, but rather being compensated for their work in terms of their off days. Had there been progress in discouraging people from attaining citizenship through fraudulent marriages? An awareness campaign may be necessary to make the people aware of the legal implications of such marriages, and any resultant children. At Lindela Repatriation Centre, there were patients who required assistance, and the DA promised to rectify the situation there. What was the development? With the five non-achievable targets, the reasons for non-achievement had not been convincing. The fruitless expenditure was also a cause for concern.

Ms Mampuru said she had travelled to the borders during the provincial meeting. People from Zimbabwe just walked into South Africa. There was free access. Zimbabweans even pulled cars across the river into the country. Something must be done about this. Even statistics were hard to gather at this point, because the sheer number of foreign nationals in the country was unknown. Already, the DHA did not have adequate manpower to deal with the South African population, much less the illegal foreign nationals. Zimbabweans received anti-retro viral (ARV) treatment meant for South Africans at the government’s expense. On the issue of working hours, the shift system was the most sustainable, particularly with the Department’s budget constraints. South Africans were suffering not because they did not have enough resources, but because their resources were being taken by other people.

The Chairperson thanked the Committee members and Mr Apleni for his presentation. The issues raised by the Members were meant to be incorporated into the next annual report.

The implications of false marriages were far-reaching. The South Africans entering these marriages were paid large amounts of money. Children born during these marriages, from extra-marital affairs, were registered under the wrong surname.

The Lindela clinic issue must be dealt taken up with the Department of Health, which was a part of this Committee.

There must be a solution to the issue of weekend work and overtime. Shifts required more personnel and thus more money. Employees were always keen to work overtime to earn overtime payment.

Many issues fell under the BMA. The DHA was not responsible for border lines. Border lines were part of the Department of Public Works. The DHA would have the BMA by the end of the current financial year, likely by the end of February 2018.

Revenue collected by DIRCO was affecting the DHA aversely. The DHA had to account, and these documents were unavailable if DIRCO was responsible for them. Renovations on the ports of entry were appreciated.

Some people in Mpumalanga had reported that they were having trouble securing identity documents. These cases would be forwarded to the DHA for assistance.

Some statistical answers may be sent in writing. The meeting had to conclude soon, as Members had other commitments.

Mr Apleni said that with regard to investigations, once the matter had been handed over to the Public Protector, it was out of the Department’s hands. The Public Protector must issue a decision about what must be done. There was no timeline.

The issue of working hours must be analysed more closely. The BMA would integrate the systems and allow for better accountability and efficacy. There were 800 police officers at OR Tambo Airport, as compared to 250 at the DHA. If these Dpartments were integrated, resources could be shared more equitably.

The issue of the BMA would be looked at more closely in future presentations.

Birth registrations were a difficult problem. For example, a woman had a child before getting married, after which the child took the surname of the step-father. When the mother passed on, the step-father wanted the surname of the child changed.

There was a difference between recording and registering. Registration led to citizenship, and recording meant that the birth had happened. In Namibia, births were registered by health officials and the information was sent to the DHA immediately. There must be a joint effort between the DHA and the Department of Health. Fraudulent marriages were a moral issue.

A child was a South African citizen if one of the parents was a South African. It was difficult to ascertain situations where a man claimed to be the father of a child, whose mother was a foreign national.

The Human Rights Commission now had an office at the Lindela clinic, and the Department of Health would deal with matter.

The DHA delegation left, and the Committee considered the minutes of its previous meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.



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