The Department of Home Affairs briefed the Committee on Annual Performance Plan and budgetary information for the 2018 to 2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
The Department highlighted the contribution of the Department of Home Affairs to the 2014 – 2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework and the National Development Plan, which in turn focused on the confrontation of the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment by achieving higher growth rates.
The brief touched on the Mandate Paper with particular reference to the 2018 Budget Priorities. These priorities included job creation; youth development; maintenance of real infrastructure spent; land reform and agricultural development; comprehensive social security, education and skills; integrated plan to fight crime; and regional integration and development.
The Department spoke about critical challenges in the implementation of the Medium Term Strategic Framework and National Development Plan. Critical challenges included effective and efficient management of migration and asylum-seekers and refugee environment; overhaul of the border management environment and provision of acceptable port infrastructure; historical underfunding and resources of the Department; dependence of public works and State Information Technology Agency for timeous service delivery; non-integration of information technology systems across the Department; lack of sufficient records management in support of key service clients; lack of capacity in critical areas (such as legal services, risk management, information services, counter corruption and security services); fight against unlawful activities; and ensuring staff were appropriately trained.
Notwithstanding critical challenges, there were notable historical improvements in organisational performance which attributed to improved governance, planning, implementation and monitoring practices; to improved internal controls around management policies; and to improved audit outcomes over the last three years.
On the budget overview and funding pressures for 2018 to 2021, government was committed to remain within an expenditure ceiling in that no additional resources were available for allocation over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. The economic climate was depressed, resulting in high unemployment. The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework allocation for 2018/19, 2019/20, and 2020/21 fiscal year was R7 915 439 000, R8 308 510 000 and R8 750 844 000 respectively. The Compensation of Employees ceiling was R3 308 079 000 for 2018/19 financial year, R3 558 970 for 2019/20 financial year and R3 825 890 000 for 2021/22 financial year. Accordingly, the performance of the Department of Home Affairs in terms of service delivery was challenged by decrease in the budget. The major concern was that the Department had historically been underfunded, resulting in difficulties to achieve its prioritised targets.
Members welcomed the presentation and applauded the work of the DHA. They raised concerns about financial constraints, the inability to operationalise the Border Management Authority, filling vacancies, insufficient migrant inspectors to detect illegal migrants, and welcomed the Department’s partnership with the City of Johannesburg, arresting officials who receive corruptions and digitisation of records captured manually.
Election of Acting Chairperson
Mr Eddie Mathonsi, Secretary of the Committee stated that as the Chairperson, Mr B Mashile (ANC), had been moved to the Committee on Water and Sanitation, Members should vote for an Acting Chairperson to chair the meeting. The process was a nomination. If two members were nominated, the secret ballot would be used to vote for an Acting Chairperson.
Ms D Raphuti (ANC) nominated Mr D Gumede (ANC), seconded by Mr M Kekana (ANC).
As there were no other nominations Mr Gumede was elected Acting Chairperson and invited him to preside.
The Acting Chairperson thanked Members for having trust and confidence in him. He welcomed, Deputy Minister Ms Fatima Chohan and her team. He invited the Deputy Minister for pronouncement of opening remarks on the behalf of the DHA.
Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister
The Deputy Minister said the Department was present to brief the Committee on the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budgetary information for the 2018 to 2021 MTEF. She conveyed an apology for Minister Mr Malusi Gigaba who could not attend the meeting due to family commitment. The Director-General would take the Committee through presentation and, after presentation; they would give answers to questions asked by members to clarify their concerns.
Briefing by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA)
Mr Mkuseli Apleni, DG, DHA, highlighted the contribution of the DHA to MTSF 2014 to 2019. He noted that a major focus was to contribute to the National Development Plan, which in turn focused on the confrontation of the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment by achieving higher growth rates. A priority of the DHA was to facilitate the acquisition of critical skills needed for economic growth and to build the South African own skills base. Ministerial priorities were fivefold: Establishment of the Border Management Authority, complete the modernisation programme, upgrade key ports of entry, comprehensive review of immigration policy and improved client experience through leadership. There was a link between MTSF 2014 to 2019 commitments, ministerial priorities and APP 2018/19 targets. He went through these targets (see attachment).
Mr Apleni noted the Mandate Paper with a particular reference to the 2018 Budget Priorities. These priorities included job creation; youth development; maintenance of real infrastructure spent; land reform and agricultural development; comprehensive social security, education and skills; integrated plan to fight crime; and regional integration and development.
Critical challenges included effective and efficient management of migration and asylum-seekers and refugee environment; overhaul of the border management environment and provision of acceptable port infrastructure; historical underfunding and resources of the DHA; dependence of public works and SITA for timeous service delivery; non-integration of IT systems across the DHA; lack of sufficient records management in support of key services client; lack of capacity in critical areas (such as legal services, risk management, information services, counter corruption and security services); fight against unlawful activities; and ensuring staff were appropriately trained.
There was historical improvement in organisational performance which could be attributed to improved governance, planning, implementation and monitoring practices and improved internal controls around management policies. There was improvement in audit outcomes over the last three years.
Mr Apleni spoke about the profile of the DHA. He noted that 360 Operational Civic Services service points served as a baseline from before 2009/10 financial year. The opening of additional Civic Services service points was being monitored since the 2009/10 financial year.
Mr Apleni provided the budget overview and funding pressures for 2018 to 2021. In this regard, he stated that the government was committed to remain within an expenditure ceiling in that no additional resources were available for allocation over the MTEF. The economic climate was depressed, resulting in high unemployment. The MTEF allocation for 2018/19, 2019/20, and 2020/21 was R7 915 439 000, R8 308 510 000 and R8 750 844 000 respectively. He further noted that the COE ceiling was R3 308 079 000 for 2018/19 financial year, R3 558 970 for 2019/20 financial year and R3 825 890 000 for 2021/22 financial year.
The 2018/19 financial year is the last year of the 2014 to 2019 MTSF cycle – it is therefore imperative for the DHA to meet its MTSF commitments. Specific focus and attention will be placed on the identified strategic challenges and implementation of strategic responses to mitigate these challenges. Continuous improvement is needed in organisational and financial performance and rendering service delivery of the highest quality.
In conclusion, the Deputy Minister further remarked that the DHA was challenged by a decrease in the budget. Historically, the DHA had been underfunded. However, among priorities was to focus on improving infrastructure and ensuring that offices were optimally digitised. For better performance, the effective network and digitisation of documents were important.
The Acting Chairperson said the DHA should also focus on ensuring the BMA was implemented and operational and to see how it could be improvement. He welcomed the partnership with Johannesburg municipality with regard to managing migrants. The issue of services provided by the SITA should be relooked at and the question of queues should be addressed.
Mr M Kekana (ANC) welcomed presentation and congratulated the DHA for arresting its officials in Johannesburg who were corrupt. He remarked that he would like to see the BMA operational.
He applauded that Mr Mashaba, Mayor of Johannesburg, had agreed to work with the DHA on the question of dealing with migrants. It was very frustrating to see that, in Johannesburg, houses were occupied by illegal migrants. The DHA should protect its citizens, in particular, its artists. For example, piracy was committed mostly by non-citizens. As Director General (DG) of Home Affairs, Mr Apleni should work together with other concerned DGs to deal with ills caused by foreigners. He would appreciate it if corruption was eradicated.
He expressed his concern over vacancies in the DHA, stressing that they should be filled because enemies of the ANC were corruption and unemployment. The DHA should have zero rate vacancies. There should not be vacancies when graduates were roaming the streets with qualifications. Youth should be employed simply because they would be there for a long time. The youth were the future of the country. He noted that there would be financial implications with respect to cases.
He would like to have a brief on outcome of Firebrand. Last time, when the Electoral Commission (IEC) was here they talked about condonations and would like to be reminded about the Public Protector recommendation.
Mr M Hoosen (DA) was encouraged to hear that the DHA would like to look into the issue of the queues and networks in order to address the frustration of the people accessing its offices. The DG mentioned digitising its records and asked how long it would take.
He expressed his concern over a number of immigration inspectors whose mandate was to detect illegal migrants. This was a critical sector that should be well funded, but which was not well funded. The number of inspectors should be increased.
He wanted to know which types of vehicles the DHA intended to buy. He also asked which programme was set aside and whether there was any funding set aside. Was there an agreement for VIP operations to continue?
Ms D Raphuti (ANC) welcomed the presentation and checked whether the DHA was ready to provide services on Saturdays and holidays. She asked why budget was not allocated if it was a prerequisite for the BMA. On issues of unemployment, poverty and inequality, these were issues that were needed to be eradicated. Immigration inspectors were very important and suggested the youth should be recruited to fill these vacancies as interns. Internship was a viable mechanism as the youth would, in the process, be trained to be responsible and patriotic. South Africans could not afford to live with people who were illegal or selling drugs and other illegal things. On the application of permanent resident permits, how long did it take to adjudicate an application? On collaboration with the Mayor of Johannesburg, she stressed that the issue of illegal migrants was a national problem and therefore it should not be limited to Johannesburg. Foreigners could be found everywhere in South Africa. She felt that there should rather be an initiative driven by the Minister or Deputy Minister and not Mayor Mashaba.
Ms N Dambuza (ANC) said that her colleagues’ questions covered hers. She commented on immigration inspection and asked how the DHA was going to manage the problem of insufficient inspectors? On the mobile units, it was reported that trucks were old and there was a need to ensure that mobile unit was operational. All offices should be improved and thus provide smart ID cards.
She asked if the DHA was intended to deal with the xenophobic violence.
Mr A Figlan (DA), referring to establishment call or contact centres, commented that people were complaining that phones were not being answered and asked whether these phones were in good conditions and operational. Commenting on the biometric system, he asked which ports of entry were using the interim biometric system. He further commented that some officials were complaining that they could not go on leave and that some offices were not good for home affairs to work in. These problems were noted down in the parliamentary oversight visits. He finally asked why there was no budget for the BMA for it to be operationalised.
The Deputy Minister welcomed comments and ideas of members. She stated that they would like to use radio to state which offices had long queues and which did not. Sometimes, clients might go to one office whilst another had no clients. She welcomed Mr Kekana’s ideas on dealing with migration in Johannesburg and noted that there was no guarantee that the BMA would address the problem of migration because other progressed countries such as the USA were also hit by immigration. Illegal migration was a huge problem because it was not only about their detection but also deportation. There was a huge amount involved in the deportation of illegal foreigners. Again, those who were jumping borders into the country should – if detected and arrested – be interrogated to find whether they were hot pursued. It ought to be ascertained that they were genuine asylum-seekers or not. Another problem was that there were migrants who were seeking permanent resident permits through marriage of convenience. Some people were being arrested, but the problem was to know whether they were in a genuine relationship or not. The MBA was an important aspect of dealing with illegal migrants.
The City of Johannesburg had been referred to because it was a host to a large number of foreigners. There should be by-laws dealing with migrations.
Mr Apleni commented that budgets that were allocated to the entities within the DHA, including the IEC. The DHA just transferred such allocations to these entities. It was not the DHA that would decide on how much they would receive.
On working on Saturdays and holidays, he responded that the DHA was still looking at the issue and needed to speak again to the labour Unions.
On the question on Firebrand, he responded that the DHA was working in according to the court ruling and stressed that there was no agreement between Firebrand and the DHA.
On digitisation, he responded that the digitisation was a long-term programme and it would take some years to complete and the completion would depend on the availability of budget. He further indicated that digitisation would be completed if the current processes were automated. Automation would lift the burden from digitisation of the work captured manually.
He further remarked that the BMA was not a stand-alone regulation as it operated under the Immigration Act, 2002, as amended. The BMA would also operate under the Mandate Paper. The BMA was expected to commence its operations in 2019 depending on availability of resources.
On the adjudication of the applications of permanent resident status, the applications were adjudicated on basis of their categorisation, that is, if they were critical skills, general business or relative visas.
On the mobile units, he responded that there was a discontinuation as from 2014. There was a problem with respect to issuing IDs. Children attaining the age of 16 were issued with the Green Bar-coded IDs, instead of the smart ID cards. The DG urged officials to stop the issuance of the Green ID and thus issue smart ID cards. This would facilitate the replacement of the Green IDs with the smart ID card.
On the question of employment, he noted that provincial managers were recruited and that only Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo had acting provincial manager and this would be resolved soon. He acknowledged that people were complaining about call centre services. There was congestion of calls because of the equipment that was installed, making calls not to go through. The DHA was looking at call centres to find how the problem could be resolved. Finally, he thanked the Committee for its time and inputs.
The Acting Chairperson said that any further follow up question should be directed to the DG and should be responded to in writing.
The meeting was adjourned.