Awaited document: Committee Content Advisor - State of the Nation Address relating to work of Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs
The Minister of Home Affairs provided an update on the issue of refugees sheltering in a Cape Town church, and said an unsavoury situation had arisen at the church in Greenmarket Square, and in Pretoria. The judgment given in Cape Town was because the City of Cape Town had sought an interdict against the refugees based on the city’s by-laws, and this was also the Department’s position -- it was about breaking the laws of the land. Responding to allegations of it being a case of xenophobia, he said the vulnerability of the refugees did not give them the right to do things on their own. The resettlement of the refugees to a third country would not happen, because these third countries had their own rules. The refugees wanted to be accepted as a group, yet countries accepted only individuals on a case by case basis. He pointed out that the refugees included militia from the countries they had left, and two leaders had been arrested -- one for eight counts of assault with grievous bodily harm, and the other for theft.
The Department took the Committee through the amendments to the Border Management Authority Bill [B9C-2016] as proposed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in its deliberations. The changes introduced by the NCOP were related mainly to the consensus reached between the Ministers of Finance and Home Affairs, which removed the South African Revenue Service (SARS) from the application of the Act and how to handle the customs-related issues at port of entries. The Committee adopted the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the Border Management Authority Bill (BMA). The DA accepted the changes proposed by the NCOP, but reserved their rights on the final bill. The EFF abstained.
The Department briefed the Committee on its Quarter 2 & 3 reports. It said the Department had achieved 59% of its overall targets for Quarter 2, and 69% of its targets for Quarter 3. The budget was R8.3b, and R4.7b had been spent by the end of Quarter 2. At the end of Quarter 3, expenditure stood at R6.8b, or 82% of the budget, due mainly to self-financing which needed to be monitored carefully to prevent overspending.
The challenges facing the Department were inadequate capacity in critical areas such as information technology (IT), dependency on external stakeholders such as SARS and the State Information Technology Agency for IT projects and service providers to develop business cases for the national targeting centre; the instability of IT systems; and unlawful fraudulent activities. The priorities moving forward would be resource re-prioritisation, completing the modernisation programme, finalising the draft DHA bill, and continuing the fight against fraud and corruption.
Members asked what had informed the decision to start the e-visa roll out with Kenya, India, Nigeria and China. On corruption targets that had been met, they wanted to know how many cases had resulted in dismissals or prosecution. How many refugee and asylum seeker cases had been finalised? How many temporary asylum-seeking permits had been issued, and how many had not been finalised in a period longer than five years? Had penalties been collected from the airlines which had brought undocumented migrants to the country and owed the Department millions? Had a Chief Information Officer (CIO) been appointed to fulfil the audit requirement that a CIO be appointed? Members asked for an update on the backlog at the refugees’ appeals board. Would more money be budgeted for deportations? What progress had been made on visa facilitation services (VFS), as the contract expired this year.
Members wanted to know the status of efforts by the Minister to engage with government on channelling profits from the Government Printing Works to the Department. They said there was under-spending on the ‘Who am I online’ programme, and there were suggestions of corruption related to it -- would the project be finalised and completed this year? How far had the Department come to appoint a Director General? Why was such a large amount budgeted for private leases?
The Content Advisor gave a briefing on SONA and its impact on the Department, and said that for the economy to grow, investment was required and the Department had to improve access to visas and permits to allow for movement, especially intra- African movement, as African trade agreements would be signed. The Border Management Authority should improve efficiency, and the increased security in the bill might impact on tourism and trade. Biometric control systems needed to be fast tracked, and a full rollout needed to be done to facilitate movement through e-visas and e-gate.
Update on refugees sheltering in a Cape Town church
The Chairperson asked the Minister to provide an update on the issue of refugees sheltering in a Cape Town church before moving on to deal with the agenda item of the Border Management Authority Bill.
Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, said an unsavoury situation had arisen at the church in Greenmarket Square and in Pretoria. The judgment given in Cape Town was because the City of Cape Town had sought an interdict against the refugees based on city by-laws. This was also the Department’s position. It did not look at them as refugees or non- refugees -- it was about breaking the laws of the land. Three municipalities had ignored this and the Department had even approached the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) on the matter.
On the issue of it being a case of xenophobia, he said the vulnerability of the refugees did not give them the right to do things on their own.
Regarding the resettlement of the refugees to a third country, he said this would not happen, because these third countries had their own rules. The refugees wanted to be accepted as a group, yet countries accepted individuals only on a case by case basis. The issue should not be misused. The refugees included militia from the counties they had left, and two leaders had been arrested -- one for eight counts of assault with grievous bodily harm, and the other for theft.
Border Management Authority Bill
Mr Deon Erasmus, Legal Advisor: Department of Home Affairs, took the Committee through the amendments in the Border Management Authority Bill [B9C-2016] as proposed by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in its deliberations. The “B” Bill had been referred to the NCOP, whose amendments were contained in the ‘C’ Bill. The final draft was the ‘D’ bill, which included the amendments of the ‘C’ Bill.
On page 5, after line 6, to insert the following definition:
““customs related functions” means the functions performed exclusively by the South African Revenue Service under --
customs and excise legislation; and
any tax Act,
as defined in the Tax Administration Act, 2011 (Act No. 28 of 2011);”.
On page 5, from line 32, to omit the definition of “revenue”.
On page 5, after line 33, to insert the following definition:
““South African Revenue Service” means the South African Revenue Service established by section 2 of the South African Revenue Service Act, 1997 (Act No. 34 of 1997);”.
On page 5, in line 44, to omit “This”, and to substitute with “Except where the Act otherwise provides, this”.
On page 5, in line 45, to omit “exercised”, and to substitute with “performed”.
On page 5, in line 46, to omit “and”
On page 5, in line 48, at the end of paragraph (b), to remove “.” and to substitute with “; and”.
On page 5, after line 48, to insert the following paragraph:
“(c) the customs related functions performed by the South African Revenue Service.”.
On page 6, in line 15, after “;”, to add “and”.
On page 6, from line 16, to omit paragraph (c), and to omit “and”.
On page 6, in line 18, to substitute “(d)” with “(c)”.
On page 12, in line 18, after “Act”, to omit “, excluding revenue collected in terms of section 5(c)”.
On page 14, from line 3, to omit clause 27, and to substitute with the following clause:
(1) For the purpose of this section, “implementation protocol” means an implementation protocol concluded in accordance with section 35 of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, 2005 (Act No. 13 of 2005).
(2) Where the implementation of a policy, the exercise of a statutory power, the performance of a statutory function or the provision of a service relating to border law enforcement functions by the Authority depends on the participation of other organs of state, the Authority and those organs of state must, within a reasonable time after the commencement of the Act, co-ordinate their respective functions in such a manner as may be appropriate or required in the circumstances by entering into an implementation protocol.
(3) The organs of state referred to in subsection (2) must, within a reasonable time after the commencement of the Act, enter into implementation protocols with the Authority to collaborate on and ensure the alignment of technological, electronic, information and communication systems and procedures necessary to ensure the efficient sharing of relevant information with the Authority.
(4) The Minister may initiate the process for the conclusion of implementation protocols contemplated in subsections (2) and (3) in the Inter-Ministerial Consultative Committee.
(5)(a) The Authority must, within six months after the commencement of this section, conclude implementation protocols withꟷ
(i) the Defence Force;
(ii) the South African Police Service; and
(iii) the South African Revenue Service, for the mandatory co-ordination of their respective functions within the border law enforcement area and at ports of entry.
(b) If any of the implementation protocols contemplated in paragraph (a) are not concluded, the Minister and the Cabinet member responsible for Defence and Military Veterans, Police or Finance, as the case may be, must determine the relevant implementation protocol.
(6) The implementation of implementation protocols concluded in terms of this section must be co-ordinated by the Inter-Ministerial Consultative Committee.”.
On page 14, in line 28, to omit “27(2)”, and to substitute with “27(4), 27(5)(b)”.
On page 17, in line 26, after “ports”, to insert “, points and places”, and after “entry”, to insert “or exit”.
On page 17, in line 38, after “under”, to insert “—“, and to omit “subsection”.
On page 17, from line 39, to omit “(1)(b) or (c), after consultation with the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service or the Minister of Agriculture, as the case may be”, and to substitute with the following:
“(a) subsection (1)(b), in consultation with the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service; or
(b) subsection (1)(c), after consultation with the Minister of Agriculture,
as the case may be.”.
Ms Yolanda van Aswegen, State Law Advisor, added that the amendments included amendments to the Objects of the Bill. The D Bill included customs and tax act related functions. Clause 2 had been amended because South African Revenue Service (SARS) functions were now excluded. Clause 5 had been amended to exclude the function given to the BMA regarding the collection of revenue, as was Clause 22.
The Committee adopted the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the Border Management Authority Bill [B 9B – 2016] (National Assembly – sec 75), dated 18 February 2020.
Mr A Roos (DA) said the DA accepted the changes proposed by the NCOP, but reserved their rights on the final bill.
Ms L Tito (EFF) said the EFF abstained.
Department of Home Affairs on Quarter 2 & 3 Reports
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Acting Deputy Director General (DDG): Institutional Planning and Support & Information Services, DHA, reported on Programmes 1, 2 and 3 of the Department.
He said the Department had achieved 59% of its targets overall for Quarter 2, and 69% of its targets for Quarter 3. Among the targets not achieved in Programme 1, Administration, was that the integrated national identity system had changed its procurement model in Quarter 2, and the target for Quarter 3 had been discontinued for security considerations. The target would be reinstated in the 2020/21 annual performance planAPP. The E-gate integration and functional testing were not completed in Quarters 2 and 3 respectively, and the DHA bill was not submitted to clusters for consideration in Quarter 3. In both quarters, the targets for the issuance of smart cards were not achieved. The rollout of the e-Permits was not achieved. It was being piloted currently in Kenya and extended to China, India and Nigeria in Quarter 4. A revised feasibility study was not submitted to Treasury because, while a transaction advisor had been appointed to do a draft feasibility study, a service level agreement had not been finalised with them.
In Programme 2, Citizen Affairs, 159 335 cases had been lost because of system instability, errors, slowness of the back office and water and power outages. In Programme 3, Immigration, various consultations with clusters had not been achieved and had been rescheduled. The annual BMA target had been discontinued because it could be undertaken only once the BMA legislation was passed.
Mr Gordon Hollamby, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DHA, said the budget was R8.3b, and R4.7b had been spent by the end of Quarter 2. He looked at the budget versus expenditure per programme, per economic classification, and per province. 12 invoices totalling R135 717 (0.47%) had been paid after 30 days had elapsed. At the end of Quarter 3, expenditure stood at R6.8b, or 82% of the budget. This was due mainly to self-financing, which needed to be monitored carefully to prevent overspending. Invoices totalling R1 076 840 (0.89%) had been paid after 30 days had elapsed, of which R906 832 was related to information services.
Mr Mavuso said the challenges facing the Department were the inadequate capacity in critical areas such as information technology (IT), dependency on external stakeholders such as SARS and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for IT projects, and service providers to develop business cases for the national targeting centre, and the instability of IT systems and unlawful, fraudulent activities. The priorities moving forward would be to resource re-prioritisation, complete the modernisation program, finalise the draft DHA bill and continue the fight against fraud and corruption.
Minister Motsoaledi commented on the appointment of a transactions advisor. He said the appointment of a transactions advisor was a Treasury requirement, as it dealt with the six ports of entry, like Beit Bridge, for example. The Department had opted to appoint one of the big South African auditing firms, but it had placed a lot of conditions and demands. However, the day before, it had signed an agreement to do the work, so the matter would not have to start from scratch again.
Mr M Chabane (ANC) wanted clarity on whether the report had been properly presented, as there was a difference between what Mr Mavuso had said and what the Minister was saying on the appointment of a transactions advisor.
Minister Motsoaledi said the report should be accepted. He was only informing the Committee on the latest news, where one impediment had been resolved.
Mr Mavuso said the Department was reporting for Quarters 2 and 3, so the report stood as it was.
Ms L Van der Merwe (IFP) said the roll out of e-gate and e-visas were very important, as she had witnessed the very long passport control queues at O R Tambo airport, which contributed to a negative sentiment towards the Department. She asked what informed the decision to start the e-visa roll out with Kenya, India, Nigeria and China. On corruption targets that had been met, she asked how many cases had resulted in dismissals or prosecution. She said the Department needed to be vocal in its media campaign about its successes, otherwise public perceptions would remain the same.
On the issue of refugees, she said the asylum-seeking system had collapsed and the Auditor General (AG) had also said as much. There had been no mention of refugees and asylum seekers in Programme 3 for Quarters 2 and 3 -- how many refugees’ and asylum seekers’ cases had been finalised? How many temporary asylum-seeking permits were issued, and how many were not finalised in a period longer than five years?
Referring to law enforcement operations, she said that there were only two to three operations per week. Was there any way that law enforcement operations and inspections could be increased? She wanted more clarity on the audit action plan that was overdue. She asked if penalties had been collected from the airlines which brought undocumented migrants to the country and owed the Department millions.
Mr Roos asked if health facilities were included in the accessibility study. Had a Chief Information Officer (CIO) been appointed to fulfil the audit requirement that a CIO be appointed? He asked what happened to repeat offenders who had submitted wrong or incomplete audit information year on year to the AG. Had there been targeted initiatives for undocumented migrant traders in the metro areas? He asked for an update on the backlog of the refugees’ appeals board. Would more money be budgeted for deportations? Were the deportation transport tenders in place for internal transport and for transport out of the country? What progress had been made on visa facilitation services, as the contract expired this year? Income from fines was low -- were the fines for the conveyors of people being brought in, included in the income from fines figure? What was the audit item in supply chain management (SCM) that had not been addressed? He asked if there was a spare BMA budget, and if the budget had been deferred to the next year. He congratulated the Department on its processing of passports, and asked what prospects there were of offices being open on a Saturday.
Mr J McGluwa (DA) said there were problems regarding access control at the country’s borders. Refugees were being forced to leave their countries. What was the Department’s role as far as this was concerned? The office dealing with refugees in Cape Town was supposed to have moved some time ago, but was still operational. There were rumours that a tender had been issued for offices to someone who did not own the building. The numerous indicators that the Department had not achieved needed to be addressed as soon as possible. He wanted to know who had been disciplined for not paying invoices within the stipulated 30-day time period. He raised the issue of the 207 000 applications that had been lost by the Department because of systems going offline. What was the status of backup systems? What was the status of efforts by the Minister to engage with government on channelling profits from the Government Printer to the Department? He said there was under-spending on the ‘Who am I online’ programme, and there were allegations of corruption related to it. Would the project be finalised and completed this year?
Ms Tito asked whether there had been many applications that the Department had lost. In which provinces had this occurred, and had it been because of load shedding? How far the Department had come to appointing a Director General (DG)? She wanted an explanation for the large amount budgeted for private leases. Treasury had said there were serious budget constraints in compensation of employees (CoE). Would the Department take from the goods and services budget to pay for CoE, and how would this affect the provision of services?
Mr Chabane said SITA was a serious issue, whose shortcomings affected the Department. He queried what key areas the Department had to work on arising from the audit outcome in terms of the management account of the Quarter 2 and 3 reports.
Minister Motsoaledi responded on the e-visa rollout, and said that South Africa had been negotiating with Kenya for a long time, and that India, Nigeria and China were countries where South Africa had not been able to achieve visa-free entry, so this was the next best thing. He said the population of these countries constituted 30 percent of the world population.
He agreed on the commission dealing with corruption, and communicating this to the public, and therefore the Department had a DDG tasked with dealing with corruption.
He rejected the assertion that the system to process immigrants and refugees had collapsed. He said there were problems, and the act would be amended. The change of legislation on the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA) would allow for the hiring of more people.
He emphasised that there was no relation between the church refugees and the immigration/refugee system collapsing. The judge in the Cape Town case had awarded costs to the Department, which had been a respondent in the case. The United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) had tried its best to explain the situation to the refugees, and religious ministers had even been sent to the refugees to explain, but they had been assaulted. His Namibian counterpart had said the refugees would not be allowed entry into Namibia. 66 refugees had escaped and crossed the border, and the Namibian Minister had written to South Africa that the refugees would be returned to South Africa. A Canadian Deputy Minister of Immigration had said the refugees would not be able to come to Canada, as it did not operate the way the refugees wanted.
He said the Department would attempt to increase inspection operations, but its efforts would be focussed on the implementation of the BMA bill, and refugees would be dealt with at the border.
On the refugee appeal board and the application backlog, the AG had said it would take years to clear the backlog at the current pace. The Minister said that the SCRA legislation would change so that there was no longer a requirement that a full bench needed to sit, as this had hamstrung the Justice Department. Previously only one member had to be a lawyer, but now all five members had to be lawyers. At any time, the committee could be altered to help expedite cases. He said there was a need for a four- year programme to clear the backlog using the new legislation, and that programme was there.
On the possibility of an additional budget for deportation, he said the biggest problem was that deported people came back.
Regarding the Cape Town refugee offices, he said this information had been given publicly, and the court ruling that that office be relocated to another place and that this had to be done by the Department of Public Works (DPW), had put the Department into a predicament. The Department was starting from scratch to get new offices. Tender corruption should be answered by the DPW, but the Department of Home Affairs was suffering.
He said the Government Printing Works was working well and had returned profits to the Treasury. He was in discussions with the Namibian Government to provide printing services to them.
The process to appoint a DG had started, and a shortlist had been drawn up.
Mr Mavuso said the increased access to the Department would include access at hospitals, which would increase from 44 hospitals to 77. There would also be increased mobile truck offices which would increase impact, at especially schools. He was in discussion with civic branch associations on Department offices being open on a Saturday, but these would be for special projects and not a permanent feature.
Minister Motsoaledi said he had met with the Minister and Deputy Minister of Basic Education to run a programme at schools so that students did not need to go to DHA offices for identification documents, as it would be done at schools.
Mr Hollamby said the item on slide 51 was an overdue item, and not one that had not yet started. It was related to the appointment of a service provider to conduct an audit on the SITA procurement process. Files needed to be obtained from SITA before it could go ahead. The AG had demanded a report from an independent auditor. A service provider had been appointed and the matter would be completed in April.
He said it was a challenge to collect fines from airlines, as there was not an automatic system in place. Airlines also used their right of appeal and requests for waivers.
On tenderers providing incorrect information, he said the Department needed to ensure that the collection and verification of information was more robust.
The AG had commented on the material adjustments related to fines and penalties and its treatment, and had said the Department needed to show what impairment actions it had taken -- for example, that letters of demand had been issued.
The Department did not have a transportation contract in place, as it was a transversal contract. The Department bought trucks and buses to transport people to Lindela and to the ports of entry.
He agreed that the collection of fine from airlines was low.
The IT environment was weak, and would not be resolved until a CIO was in place.
There was no intention to defer the BMA budget. The plan was to use the full budget, and it had received permission from Treasury to use the money for other expenditure. The reason for the slow spending was the slow progress of the BMA bill.
On disciplinary action being taken if invoices were not paid within 30 days, he said that where there was a case, the DDG was asked to take action and he, Mr Hollamby, could provide a report of all actions taken. He said 12 invoices had not been paid within 30 days.
Referring to private leases, he said the overspending on property was because of self- financing, as the Department had not received funding from the Treasury. The ratio of property was 40% state-owned property and 60% private leases, and the aim of the DHA was to decrease the percentage of private leases.
He said the Department was moving funds from goods and services to CoE, which Treasury had approved. There was a need to use the CoE budget effectively, otherwise the Department would run into problems.
Ms Nkidi Mohoboko, DDG: Human Resource Management & Development, DHA, responded on the number of corruption cases and how many were finalised. She said that not all fraud and corruption cases would be misconduct cases, and the fact that cases were finalised did not automatically mean dismissal. 35 cases had been finalised. The Department would provide a written report on the cases. In Quarters 1 to 3 there had been 21, 10, and four cases that had been finalised respectively. There were other cases still in process.
Regarding the filling of the CIO post, she said the DG position and different DDG positions had been advertised, and the recruitment processes had started.
Mr Richard Stoltz, DDG: Immigration, said there had been 7 511 new applications from asylum seekers in Quarter 3. This reflected a progressive increase on previous years. There were 186 210 section 22 extension applications in circulation. 98% of first-time applications were dealt with in real time. In 2018 there had been 18 374 applications, and 18 104 had been finalised.
The inspectorate had a quarterly target of 50 operations. In the previous quarter, 61 operations had been conducted in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and the Western Cape.
On Visa Facilitation Services (VFS), he said there had been progress, and a request for information (RFI) had been published in November 2019. There had been several responses and the bid evaluation should be completed by the end of March. The Department had engaged with Treasury on how to conduct a business partnership. Treasury had agreed on the registration of an interest in a private-public partnership.
Mr McGluwa said that his questions on the ‘who am I online’ and the problems of the backup service had not been addressed.
Mr M Lekota (COPE) asked about the UN protocols when people sought refugee status, because the refugees passed through many countries to get to South Africa. How did they manage to pass through these countries, and what were the other countries doing to pass people on to South Africa?
Mr Mavuso said the corruption allegations stemmed from cases of 2009/10. An amount of money had been prepaid to a service provider, and the Department was using the services from Gijima without payment in lieu of the prepaid funds. He said modernisation could not be done on outstanding projects as had been envisaged, but it should be completed within the next year or two.
Minister Motsoaledi said the UN protocol operated on the first safe country principle, but it was not working, because people wanted to come to South Africa.
Impact of State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Department
Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Content Advisor, said that for the economy to grow, investment was required and the Department had to improve access to visas and permits to allow for movement, especially that involving intra- African movement, as African trade agreements would be signed. The BMA should improve efficiency, and the increased security in the bill might impact on tourism and trade. Biometric control systems needed to be fast tracked and a full rollout needed to be done to facilitate movement through e-visas and e-gate.
He said the modernisation programme had had delays and needed to be monitored. The upgrading of the Durban port would impact on the Department. The intermittent energy supply situation would impact on service delivery. The document then moved on to a comparison of the SONA with the previous year’s SONA, and its impact in relation to the major trends affecting the Department.
Mr McGluwa said the Committee’s work was to exercise oversight, not to police of the Department.
The meeting was adjourned.
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