Home Affairs Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report; Committee Report on Gauteng Oversight visit; 2019/20 Quarterl 1 performance

Home Affairs

15 October 2019
Chairperson: Adv B Bongo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Available here once adopted: BRRR 2019 

The Committee met to adopt the Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and its entities. Members made additions concerning increasing the capacity of the inspectorate, harsher treatment of corrupt DHA officials, engagement with SITA, tabling of the Government Printing Works (GPW) Annual Report and steps to reduce irregular expenditure. The Committee was concerned about the cost of litigation the DHA was involved and recommended the Department provide it with a list of categories of litigation with a view of settling cases that can be settled if possible. The Committee agreed it would also recommend the DHA meet with it on the matter of the Department entering into another contract with VFS even after the previous Committee recommended the Department not do this. On the IEC, the Committee recommended the IEC should have a permanent home not a rented structure. On GPW, the Department should fill the position of CEO and CFO immediately. Other recommendations discussed briefly included printing of ballot papers for the local government elections and funding models. 

The Report was adopted was adopted with amendments.

The Committee then adopted minutes dated 20 August 2019, 3 September 2019, 10 September 2019 and 17 September 2019.

The Committee then dealt with a matter which arose during its previous meeting in the form of a disruption. It was said the Committee should partake in strategic planning for the Committee’s work over the next five years. As the Committee was a multiparty one, there would always be differences. The Committee was part of the security cluster so it must behave in a certain decorum. Even if all Members come from different political parties, they all have a job to do which is to hold the Department to account. Members came from different ideological backgrounds but served the Committee without any favour. When an incident happens, the Committee must act firmly.

Meeting report

Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report: Department of Home Affairs

Mr J Maake (ANC) said there were problems from the previous meeting that the Committee agreed to discuss out of the public. He was not sure about addressing the issue because Mr V Pambo (EFF), who raised the issue, was absent. The Member emphasised he was not impressed with what transpired.

Mr M Chabane (ANC) said it was Mr Pambo and Mr Maake that proposed the Committee look at the matter. The Committee had an option to deal with the matter or wait for Mr Pambo. He supported Mr Maake that the issue be discussed

Ms M Molekwa (ANC) said she did not want the issue to be reduced to individual levels. If the Committee was going to discuss the issue, it must discussed and the minutes must be sent to Mr Pambo

The Chairperson said the matter would be discussed as item seven on the Committee’s agenda for the day.

Mr Adam Salmon, the Committee Content Advisor, took Members through the BRRR for the Department of Home Affairs. The report spoke to the annual performance and budget for the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Government Printing Works (GPW) and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). The report also spoke to quarterly performance and expenditure reports

Mr J McGluwa (DA) suggested that it was not necessary to have the document read out as Committee Members have read it - the Committee should go through new additions.

Mr Salmon then moved on to take Members through the recommendations of the BRRR. The recommendations emerged from the observations section of the report. Some of the recommendations outstanding from the previous BRRR included:

-submitting a budget and planning proposal to National Treasury to address the continued inability of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to improve information technology challenges at DHA in particular, network downtime and reliable power supply for consideration in the Medium Term Budget Policy in 2019. In the interim, SITA was supposed to report to the Committee on its interventions

-Consequence management as required by Public Finance Management Act, in relation to staff non-compliance with supply chain management regulations involved in corruption and irregular expenditure before the tabling of 2018-19 Annual Report

-Report back on investigations in relation to the Auditor-General and provide a list of persons involved in companies while employed within DHA within seven days of adoption of the BRRR

- On the operations at the Desmond Tutu Refugee reception office: report on the Counter Corruption Directorate Investigations as well as engaging the Hawks to investigate and address syndicates operating outside and within the office by June 2019. Install a camera and microphone focusing outside the entrance of the Desmond Tutu refugee reception centre to address corrupt activities along with relevant monitoring and counter corruption capacity by June 2019

-On the report about fully reopening refugee camps in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town in compliance with the court order, the Port Elizabeth office was not yet opened while the Cape Town office was not fully opened, and the Committee has not received any update on the two camps

-Prioritise roll-out of fully functioning mobile office to improve service delivery as many of the mobile offices were not fully functioning

There were no outstanding recommendations on the IEC

-GPW should make a submission to Parliament to introduce a legislative provision for a governing structure before the end of 2019 because it will remain a government component. GPW is proposing to change the type of entity it was to a company but it was encountering many difficulties in doing that. Hence it decided to be a government component but it has not introduced a policy or an organogram to formalise the change

The DHA should be approached to sponsor legislation needed by GPW to formalise its status as a government component before the end of the 2018/19 financial year. DHA has a draft bill but to Mr Salmon’s understanding, it was still with the Minister. GPW should report on the implication of introducing a legislative provision for ring-fencing certain government printing work before tabling such legislation in Parliament specifically relating to government departments required to print with GPW rather than having options to increase business as well as its efficiency of governance. The continued failure to support the completion of GPW facilities beyond 2018/19 year will result in the City of Tshwane and GPW accounting to Parliament for the delays. The facilities were not complemented, as the Committee saw on the oversight visit, due to delays from the City and GPW. The CEO of the GPW should have been appointed and reported to the Committee by the end of 2018 but that has noted yet happened.

Recommendations for the financial year under review

These recommendations were extracted from the Committee’s input during the Annual Report meetings

- There was a need to have a serious engagement with Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure concerning the provision of a DHA office that is suitable for the Live Capture System. The Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Communication should resolve the matter of the system downtime by SITA at the front offices and the Committee would have a meeting about this

-The Minister of Home Affairs and the Minister of Finance should have more serious discussion about cutting off funding to an already constrained DHA since it was affecting service delivery

-Foreign nationals who submitted fraudulent documentation for the application of permanent residence should be criminally charged by the DHA. This comes from an oversight report where people who were submitting fraudulent documents were resubmitting them repeatedly and there was no recourse for the Department

-Ensure all undocumented immigrants are registered with DHA and those who do not want to register are deported to their country of origin

-DHA officials that are found to be corrupt should be suspended and criminal charges laid against them

-The National Population Register should be cleaned

-Frontline staff at DHA should be better trained to understand legislation governing the DHA

- Outstanding information on the Migration Colloquium and Metropolitan Operations should be forwarded to the Committee as soon as possible

-DHA should provide the Committee with the written response on the matter of repeat offenders and consequences raised by the AG

-The categorisation and progress of litigation against the DHA should be forwarded to the Committee within 30 days

-The Department should strive toward clean audit opinion and better adhere to in-year audit plans.

-The issue of working Saturdays should be revisited and negotiated with the union should be encouraged

-On the issue of ward demarcation before the municipal election in 2021, the Committee should engage with the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) on the matter of ward demarcation before the election

-The IEC should better counter the issue of fake news during elections

-The Minister of Home Affairs should engage the Minister of Finance on the issue of three quotations concerning printing of ballots to avoid delays and administration complications.

-The IEC should conduct its IT refresh and purchase the new voter registration machine and it should be secured as soon as possible

-On the matter of GPW, the Minister of Home Affairs should ensure the Security Printers Bill is submitted to Parliament as a matter of urgency

-The Minister of Home Affairs should engage with his counterpart in Trade and Industry and International Cooperation to market the security printing capacity of GPW on the African continent.

-GPW needs to be table its Annual Report to the Committee as a matter of urgency if possible prior to 23 October

- On the recommendation about DHA on the budget vote, National Treasury should consider increasing funding to the DHA in line with the increased security mandate

- The issue of continuous network downtime challenges and long queues in some offices should feed into the debate around changing legislation requiring the use of SITA services

-There should be increased inspection to ensure compliance of businesses with immigration regulations

-The DHA should ensure all trusted travellers are registered and more ports of entry are equipped with e-gate systems

-The DHA should plan innovative ways to better curb fraudulent marriages

-DHA should ensure mobile trucks are modernised

-The DHA should ensure children of undocumented migrants are provided with documentation and accepted at school

- Increase provision of services through banks to ease congestion for the application and collection of IDs and passports

-Minister of Home Affairs should ensure gender parity in senior management in DHA

-Rather than the proposed increase in funding to outsourced contractors from R40 million to R120 million, the Department should consider employing more permanent staff

- IEC conduct more outreach programmes among the youth and communities on the importance of voting in an election

-National Treasury to consider allocating more funds to the harvesting of addresses and ICT refreshments

-The IEC should increase efforts towards keeping a clean audit rather than continuing on the unqualified audit

-The IEC should ensure the issue of double voting by removing indelible ink investigated after the 2019 election is prevented prior to the upcoming local government elections

- IEC should roll out live results and ensure constant communication with political parties and the media at the results confirmation centre

-On GPW, the Minister of Home Affairs should ensure the position of CEO is filled as a matter of urgency

-The Minister of Home Affairs and GPW should engage other African governments to print security documents with GPW

-The Minister of Home Affairs should engage with the Leader of Government Business to ensure all government departments and state organs print their documents with the GPW. Consideration should however be taken not to negatively impact small to medium enterprises

Discussion

Ms Van de Merwe suggested the report made mention of the failure of the inspectorate – the inspectorate, which should be doing the work of tracking undocumented migrants, does not have capacity. The Committee should emphasise that the inspectorate, which dealt with migration, should be beefed up and be capacitated not only with more resources but more staff members otherwise the suggested recommendation of ensuring undocumented migrants are registered will be impossible. On corrupt officials being suspended and criminal charges laid against them, she said they should face harsh sentences because selling South African documents is a crime against the state.

Mr A Roos (DA) agreed and asked the why the Minister of Communication is involved. What role would the Ministry play when SITA was going to make a presentation to the Committee? The Committee was meeting with SITA to address what the Department is not doing and what SITA is failing to do. The GPW was making a profit which was going to Treasury - he suggested the GPW profits are ring-fenced and that it should stay within DHA so that the Department can make additional funding.

 On the oversight visit, the Committee was informed about permanent residence appeals where people were appealing on different scales and when the appeal is rejected for faulty or false documentation, they were still appealing using the same faulty or false documentation. He asked whether the Committee should consider legislation to stop applicants from appealing with fraudulent documentation. Continuous appeals were adding to the administrative burden. There was an Auditor General (AG) report about visa processing which recommended that some Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) staff were processing visas without all the necessary skills resulting in challenges - this should be added to the recommendation.

Mr Roos said on the specific recommendation of the AG, the Committee should add that the Minister deal with the impairment of accrued  Departmental revenue by taking effective appropriate steps to collect the penalties due because the Department is losing a lot of money by not collecting funds that are due to it. The Department should take steps to reduce irregular expenditure. The Department should deal with personnel challenges raised by the AG to address the recurring challenge of restatement of figures. The Committee should continue to push for a clean audit with the specific recommendation of the Auditor-General. Another recommendation should be crafted to address the challenge of late payments and to cut interest on late payments. The Department was spending millions because of failing to pay invoices on time and late payments to cut interest on payments. Notwithstanding the appointment of the CIO, IT governance challenges raised by the AG must be addressed. IT governance was a red flag from the AG report. Whether there was a CIO or not, someone must address the challenge.

Another matter was the challenge of litigation – the Department is disobeying court orders which led to further litigation and more costs. The Department needs to identify these trends and where it can reduce litigation in order to save legal fees and to settle matters out of the courts.

The Chairperson said the Committee wants the Department to categorise the litigation with a view of settling cases that can be settled if possible.

Mr Roos said trends need to be identified.

Mr Salmon said categorisation of litigation against DHA should be forwarded to the Committee within 30 days in order to settle long outstanding rulings and contingent liabilities and to identify and mitigate trends.

Mr Roos said trends that are causing unnecessary legal expenses.

Ms T Legwase (ANC) asked if it was correct to say the long-standing litigation should be forwarded to the Committee for settlement because it appears as if the Committee was going to settle the matters.

Mr Maake said the most important thing was categorisation so that the Department can settle matters - this was missing on the recommendations.

The Chairperson agreed this must be added.

Mr Salmon amended the recommendation to indicate the categorisation of progress of litigation against the DHA should be forwarded to the Committee within 30 days including how long outstanding rulings can be settled and contingent liabilities and identified trends that can be mitigated.

Mr Maake said the issue of categorisation is still missing. The aim of categorisation is that there should be a category that can be settled. Within categories, there should be a category that can be settled without going to court. He asked if it was possible to deal with the matter as a standalone item in the report.

The Chairperson agreed. There are issues that are petty and the AG found that the Department seems to be taking anything it cannot resolve to court. The Department must categorise issues that can be settled from complicated issues that need litigation. The Committee must have a clear picture of what kind of litigation the Department was dealing with. Was it people taking the Department to court or contractors with disputes? He gave an example where summons for R2 million was issued and R400 000 was spent but the matter was settled for R100 000. This puts the Department into a serious problem because it is losing money. If it had settled earlier for R100 000, the Department would not have spent R400 000 in legal fees.

Mr Roos said the categorisation process should be forwarded to the Committee within 30 days in order to reduce contingent liability, highlighting cases that can go to court and identify mitigation trends that are causing wasteful legal expenses.

Mr Maake said that was better

Mr Salmon said in summary, the Committee was saying it wants to address the contingent liability and mitigate trends identified where there are wasteful legal expenses including those which could be settled without going to court.

Mr Roos said the Action Plan must be reported to the Committee on a quarterly basis. On DHA, during the Fifth Parliament, the Committee recommended that DHA should get out of the contract with VFS and enter into an arrangement for Public-Private Partnership (PPP) but the DHA went on to renew the VFS contract. The Committee should decide whether it supports the Fifth Parliament recommendation or if it viewed the matter differently. If the Committee wants the contract to continue, the process of engaging the PPP tender should be updated.

The Chairperson said the Committee would discuss the VFS matter. Mr Roos should first finish the recommendation and Members should be given an opportunity to deliberate on the matter.

Mr Roos said the Committee should recommend the Department to expedite the PPP process.

The Chairperson did not think this recommendation should be included. Mr Roos should first finish his recommendation and Members will thereafter discuss that matter.

Mr Roos said for the IEC, the Committee should recommend the IEC should have a permanent home not a rented structure. On GPW, the Department should fill the position of CEO and CFO immediately.

The Chairperson asked for more hands-on recommendations and said Members should give input on aspects where they agree and where they disagree. Documents should be revisited and cleaned up of grammatical errors and numbering. In future, the Committee must be given a document that is closer to finalisation. The document must appear as if it is final. On the matter of communication, SITA reports to the Minister of Communication and it was important for the relevant Ministry to deal with that. The Committee will invite SITA – according to the Committee’s programme, this will take place on 15 November. Challenges with SITA should be raised directly with it when the Committee meets with it. The fifth Parliament has dealt with the VFS contract matter but the contract was renewed for two years. The Committee should not dwell much on that matter because the DHA has to make a representation to the Committee. Members will get to know what the Department intends to do since the two year period is about to end and why it went against the directive of the previous Committee. Members were asked to comment on the recommendations.

Mr Chabane said part 8.2.4 of the report provides for criminal charges on foreign nationals by DHA. He asked if DHA has the capacity to charge foreign nationals or if the police should do it. On outstanding information about migration metropolitan being forwarded to the Committee, the report needs to properly capture the essence of the recommendation.  The IEC says the Minister should discuss with Minister of Finance on the matter of three quotations concerning the printing of ballot papers. The Committee needs to know more about the matter of the three quotations. This was an area that the GPW and the IEC may need to change the way it outsources critical work which relates to the three quotations. Ballot papers are serious secret documents of the state that are outsourced to uncleared parties. The VFS matter should not be put as a recommendation - the Committee needs to be briefed on matters coming out of the Fifth Parliament recommendation. The Committee should invite the DHA to discuss the VFS matter so that Members know the state of DHA and its position on VFS. In the last meeting, the Chairperson was clear on what the Committee needs to do and specific points that need submission from the Department on IEC or GPW. The matter of Lindela and liquidation came out and the Committee managed to deal with it in the recommendations on how the Committee needs to interact in that space. He asked if the Committee would call the liquidator to take Members into its confidence. It appears as if the DHA has no authority on information around the liquidator. The Committee managed to have a way to recommend a liquidator on the Lindela matter. He suggested an addition on Mr Roos’s contribution to that part of the meeting with Treasury and meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Publics Works and Infrastructure and Finance to look at these areas which overlap between the Committees. He observed the recommendation that both Ministers look at the funding model since cutting funding was straining DHA. He suggested the Chairperson should meet with the other Portfolio Committees to discuss the matters constraining DHA.

The Chairperson stated that VFS was expected to come and brief the Committee. He cautioned Members not to venture into the matter until they were fully briefed on the issue. He suggested the Lindela matter be put on the programme so that the Committee can get an update so that by the time it made representations, the Committee would have a clearer picture of the issues. Lindela should be put in the same programme with VFS for engagement.

Mr Maake said the matter raised by the Chairperson should come up as suggestions. On the matter raised by Mr Chabane about point 8.2.18, he asked why reference was not made to the PFMA instead of saying three quotations because it may involve many things. He requested that he be educated on the recommendation. He said it was his understanding that the recommendation was to be taken to the plenary to be adopted. He wanted to understand the weight of the recommendation that Treasury must increase the budget of DHA and the ones that stipulated timelines. Would this recommendation be pointed out to Treasury as it has failed to take action on this? DHA can be given timelines on the Committee recommendations but if there was no money, what weight will the adoption of the report have?

Mr Roos was happy with the decision on the VFS matter - the Committee must meet with it and then decide on recommendations going forward. On point 8.1.18 raised by Mr Chabaane, on the oversight visit, it was recommended the IEC consider using GPW to print the ballot papers. With the three quotations vs. GPW printing, it is a security component and there should be reliability of delivery. Ring-fencing would ensure the income that DHA brings in is allocated in the budget and is available for use. As part of this process, the Committee could make recommendations on changes to the budget for the midterm budget report. On the oversight visit, the Committee asked for a report by 20 August but this was still not submitted. On the AG management letter, the DHA agreed it would send the Committee the AG management letter urgently which had additional information over and above the AG report in terms of what managers need to do. The Committee needs to request that the letter be given to the Committee. He raised concerns that recommendations were not being implemented. If one looks at the number of recommendations from last year’s BRRR report that was not implemented, it amounted to a page and half long. The Committee recommendations were fairly ignored – there is a need to express this concern in the current report. The AG and courts also found the DHA does not adhere to recommendations. There was a newspaper article about the Minister potentially going to jail for contempt of court due non-implementation of court orders. These concerns should be expressed somewhere in the report that DHA is doing nothing about the Committee, court or AG recommendations.

The Chairperson responded that the report should attend to the matter of the PMFA without specifically saying three quotations because it is provided for in the PFMA. He wanted the Committee to progressively adopt the report with all matters to be corrected. On the matter of VFS, an observation should be included that until the Committee reports, only then would recommendations be made. On the day of the engagement, further recommendations will be made on VFS. Since there was agreement in the Committee on the Lindela matter, the recommendation could be retained in the report.

The Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report on the DHA, GPW and IEC was adopted with amendments.

Mr Salmon explained to Members that the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act required that the Committee provide input on the budget which National Treasury considers prior to the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement. The Department is required to report to the Committee recommendations but they do not necessarily have to comply because there are financial limitations however reasons must be provided to the Committee. On the matter of outstanding recommendations, there were more than 20 recommendations to the DHA alone in the last report and only seven were not yet implemented. The Department made some progress in the previous year. It should indicate the outstanding recommendation so that the Department will give some consideration when it responds to the Committee about the progress

Consideration and adoption of Committee Minutes dated 20 August 2019

Mr Chabane said before Members looked at the minutes, they need to thoroughly check the capturing of information. He was not sure of the process to ascertain that what the Committee agreed to was captured because the Committee did not want to find itself wanting.

The Chairperson said the Committee was going to work on the document and he would sign it. Before he signs the document, it must be sent back to Members for further corrections.

Mr Salmon said he will effect changes by the next day and hand the document to Members for consideration. There was an initial deadline of 18 October but this was extended to 25 October so Members has until then to submit inputs. This can be done via email.

Mr Chabane asked the Chairperson if he could get guidance on the GPW audit.

The Chairperson responded by saying the audit should be excluded as there was no basis of putting it in the Committee report. GPW cannot be referred to as it has not yet tabled its Annual Report.

The Committee adopted the minutes of 20 August 2019.

Consideration and adoption of Committee Minutes dated 3 September 2019

The Committee adopted the minutes of 3 September 2019.

Consideration and adoption of Committee Minutes dated 10 September 2019

The Committee adopted the minutes of 10 September 2019.

Consideration and adoption of Committee Minutes dated 17 September 2019

The Committee adopted the minutes of 17 September 2019.

Matters Arising

The Chairperson said the Committee should address the matter raised by Mr Maake at the beginning of the meeting.

Mr Maake said he was embarrassed that there was a disruption. The Committee must be civil in addressing its differences. It should not differ when dealing with security cluster issues. Their differences as South Africans are ‘small nyan’a differences when it comes to the security of the country. The disruption was uncalled for. On the day disruption happened he was actually in agreement with points raised by Mr Pambo. He did not like to see bouncers being called in a Portfolio Committee meeting.

Ms Van de Merwe said she was not present when the incident happened and she wanted to know what transpired.

Mr Maake said what happened was that in deliberation, Mr Pambo felt strongly about his point, which Mr Maake agreed with. Mr Pambo said he was going to raise his point in a manner he wanted despite the Chairperson’s guidance. The Committee spent almost 20 to 30 minutes on that matter discussing how a meeting must be conducted detracting from substantive discussions. He did not know who is out of order between the Chairperson and Mr Pambo because he was unruly.

The Chairperson said the Committee should partake in strategic planning for the Committee’s work over the next five years. It was however waiting for Parliament to adopt the five-year strategic plan. At the planning, the Committee would be able to invite experts on matters the Committee is dealing with including how to run its meetings. As the Committee was a multiparty one, there would always be differences. The Committee was part of the security cluster so it must behave in a certain decorum. However the Committee would not make much progress with this matter as Mr Pambo was absent. Parliament expected Members to cooperate with each other.

Ms Van de Merwe concurred with the Chairperson. Even if all Members come from different political parties, they all have a job to do which is to hold the Department to account.  She suggested the matter be raised again when Mr Pambo is present so that he can raise his points. There were other ways Mr Pambo can use to address any of his concerns with the Chairperson such as the office of the House Chairperson – this can be done in writing. The Chairperson has been managing the Committee very fairly.

Ms Legwase agreed that the Committee should wait for Mr Pambo.  It must set up ground rules on how the Chairperson must chair the meeting. It was best for Mr Pambo to be present when the matter is discussed.

Mr Chabane said the Committee must not treat the case as an individual matter. The Committee cannot wait for a strategic workshop but must work on the principles. Members came from different ideological backgrounds but served the Committee without any favour. When an incident happens, the Committee must act firmly. When Mr Pambo is present, he must be given an opportunity to express his concern. Calling a Member to order does not always go down well with the person being ordered. The Secretary of the Committee must note requests made to the Departments and brief the Committee.

The Chairperson said the matter of decorum and behaviour of Members was an ongoing one. He was going to check on the matter of induction. Respect is not taught at induction but at home. The Committee should avoid a situation where it resorted to call bouncers. It reflects badly on the Committee as a whole.

The last item was an invitation, which is part of the package given. Members should let the Chairperson know by Friday.

The meeting adjourned.

 

 

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