Roll-out of one-stop border post, refugee processing facility, liquidation of Lindela Repatriation Facility and enhanced movement control systems; with Minister and Deputy Minister
19 May 2020
Chairperson: Adv B Bongo (ANC)
Video: Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs,19 May 2020
The Committee received presentations from the Department of Home Affairs, including one on the One-Stop Border Post (OSBP), the processing centres near the borders, the Enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS) and on the status of home affairs offices and registration of births and deaths under level four of the national lockdown, including plans for level three.
The Department said that it was in the process of implementing the OSBP project which would see only one process being conducted when people enter the country, as opposed to the current system where people were processed twice – first by the country which they were exiting and then by the country which they were entering. The concessionary period for the start of operation for these ports of entry would be from the year 2024. Regarding the processing centres near the borders, the Department took a policy decision that refugee processing centres be established at or near the ports of entry. The first of these processing centres had been established and was operating in Musina.
The Department explained the EMCS was a technology that would assist it to proactively manage immigration by knowing who was in the country and why they were in the country, because this was critical for national security and stability. The process of managing movement started at the country of origin and it was outside the borders that their officials in various missions verified documents, did background checks on visa applicants and assessed risk and supply country stakeholders with information.
The Department also presented on the status of offices, registration of births and deaths under level four, including plans for level three of the lockdown. The DHA’s offices in all the nine provinces had been supplied with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and were disinfected and sanitised. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the DHA had registered about 50 000 deaths, 28 000 temporary identity certificates, 26 000 re-issued birth certificates and 33 000 issuances of uncollected identity documents. The increase in the number of re-issued birth certificates was due to the fact that people wanted to register for the grants that were being given during the pandemic. There were currently only six offices that were closed. In the Western Cape there, one office was closed due to COVID-19 infections.
Concerning Smart Card Identity Documents (IDs), Members asked how the Department planned on strengthening its strategy with respect to the collection of these IDs. There had to be clear guidelines on the registration of marriages, given that many people would apply for this process.
The Members commended the Department for catching up the backlog of the birth registrations. Since mothers were coming into the offices with new-born babies, could they be prioritised in the queues as they could be very long and strenuous for mothers? The queues outside home affairs were apparently very long and people were not adhering to social distancing practices; something should be done about that.
Members enquired about the home affairs offices that were closed due to COVID-19 infections. Where clients are directed to new offices, is it not possible to have mobile clinics for them so that they do not move around? They asked when the Department was planning on opening on offices. Only the Cape Town Office had a set opening date; when will the other offices be opened?
The Members asked about the EMCS, specifically the biometric capturing data ports. What are the timeframes for the rollout of the operations at remaining borders? They asked if this system would be able to track the location of migrants. The presentation talks about an alert system that picked up over-stayers; how many people have overstayed their visas in the past 12 months?
The Budget Vote Report was considered but not adopted as the Chairperson gave Members a final opportunity to review it and submit their comments. The adoption would happen in the next meeting.
The Chairperson spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic and commended the work of the Department of Home Affairs and the Minister for their efforts during this time. COVID-19 was not only affecting the economy of South Africa but also the economy of the neighbouring countries, such as Eswatini, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Lesotho. The Department would need to be more vigilant post-pandemic and that was why the government planned to pass a boarder control law – One Stop Boarder Post (OSBP). The allegations at the government printing works were being dealt with and an investigation was under way.
Mr J McGluwa (DA) noted that the Chairperson indicated there would be a report available by the following week and asked if there was, in fact, an investigation. Is the investigation internal or is it from the Minister? Has it been given a timeframe? Are there standard timeframe limits on disciplinary hearings?
The Chairperson said that the situation, as he had explained last week, was that the Public Service Commission (PSC) was doing an investigation around these allegations and the Committee had engaged legal services for assistance in speaking to the whistle-blower and to engage with the issues surrounding the situation. The legal services were currently processing that report and that it would reach the Committee once it was completed. Until then, he requested that this not be discussed.
Mr McGluwa said that he did not want the Committee to discuss the matter but he just needed clarity on it. He asked if it was the Department or the Committee that was looking into the matter. Has the Department opened a case against the person whom the allegations were made or was there any attempt of disciplinary hearings?
Mr M Chabane (ANC) said that the attempt to discuss this item without the report would be unfortunate for the Committee because there was a framework that they had to resolve on in the last meeting when the Department presented its problem. After the letter was brought to the Committee, the Members agreed on the process. They were briefed that there was a process of the Public Service Commission and the Minister was doing his work. Members needed to wait for the preliminary report from the Department.
The Chairperson said that the matter was not on the agenda and he did not want the Committee to discuss it. He said it formed the basis of his remarks because it was in the media. When the complaint was received from the whistle-blower, the process of Parliament required it to be supported with sufficient evidence. When the Minister received this allegation, he referred the matter to the Public Service Commission and there was a report that would be given to the Committee in the following week. Once the report had been given to the Minister, it would be passed onto the Committee and then integrated into the work of the legal services.
Mr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, addressed everyone and said that he would allow the officials to present the reports. He said that he would give a short two-minute summary of each. The first report was on the roll out of the OSBP. South Africa currently had 72 boarders in total – 53 land border posts, 11 airports and eight seaports. Out of the total of 72, six boarders had been selected for what was called ‘a one stop boarder post’ – a system whereby when everything was concluded; when it went through South African boarders, it was no longer stopped twice. At that moment, when something went through any boarder, it got processed twice. You would get processed by the country you were leaving and then get processed by the country you were entering. This process could take many hours. The OSBP rollout would ensure that people were only processed once. Six of the land border posts were selected for this process because they were the busiest in the country. This was done to facilitate human movement and to facilitate the economy between the countries. The project was not an exclusively South African project but was between South Africa (SA) and its neighbours.
Mr Jackson McKay, Director-General, DHA, presented the OSBP. He reiterated that there were borders selected for infrastructural improvement for the building of the OSBP. In 2015, the DHA received approved from National Treasury to register this project as a public-private partnership. The designated points of entry were Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Kopfontein, Ficksburg and Oshoek. The objectives of this project were to develop modern, state of the art, cost-efficient ports of entry that were in line with global best practice; also, based on an optimal balance between infrastructure and technology interventions, enable the organs of State to efficiently carry out their mandate and facilitate regional trade. The project was registered with National Treasury (NT) as a PPP project and NT granted a TA1 authorisation for the feasibility study and the request for the qualification process was completed. Five consortia had pre-qualified in 2018 to construct these ports. NT granted approval to commence the request for proposal process. The Department entered into a service-level agreement (SLA) with the transaction advisor and was about to draft the request for the request for proposal (RFP). The draft RFP was to be submitted to Treasury in the 2020/21 financial year. Private parties that would redevelop the ports of entry would be appointed by the end of the financial year. Master Plans were prepared for the six land ports of entry and all the plans reflected the broad OSBP principles. The bilateral engagements were underway to finalize the type of OSBP model for each of the six ports of entry. The key principle in all the Master-plans was traffic segmentation, where the plans would have separate lanes for cargo, freight, general cars and for vehicles that needed to have goods declared.
Regarding the overview of engagements with neighbouring countries, as per OSBP establishment processes, bilateral engagements were held with the five affected countries during 2019/20; consultations were underway with the neighbouring countries on the bilateral agreements. SA and Zimbabwe had already started preparing an OSBP Procedure Manual which would inform the output specifications of the OSBP. In principle, an agreement was reached on the preferred OSBP models for Botswana and Zimbabwe and work had not progressed to this level with the other countries. The areas of prioritisation henceforth would be: for them to continue engagements with neighbouring countries and the issues of prioritisation with these countries would be; reaching an agreement on the OSBP model to be adopted; finalising the bilateral agreements, the procedure manual and output specifications. Hopefully by March 2022, the commercial and financial negotiations would be done. The period 2022-2024 would be the construction period for the six ports of entry; the concessionary period would be 2024-2044. The Department had established a steering committee that consisted of the DHA, SARS, SAPS, Department of Land Reform, Department of Health and the Department of Public works; the primary role of this committee was to provide continuous support towards the development of this ports; to provide support for the implementation of the OSBP implementation plan and to ensure consistent participation in the bilateral meeting between SA and its neighbouring countries. There were also Joint Technical Working Groups (JTWG) between SA and its neighbouring countries. These comprised of senior technical officials from both factored countries. The purpose of these groups was to drive the establishment of the OSBP.
The purpose of the subcommittees was to advise on technical aspects relating to the establishment of the OSBP in question and to support and report to the JTWG. The four subcommittees that had been recommended for each JTWG were: policy & legislation; planning, infrastructure & joint operations; ICT and biometrics as well as cost-sharing & co-financing. The Minister had also met with his counterparts from Mozambique, Lesotho, Eswatini and Botswana. They were also in the process of setting up a meeting with Zimbabwe. The purpose of the meetings was, inter alia, to inform the neighbouring countries about the OSBP project and the BMA establishment process. He then ended the presentation by asking the Committee to note the project background, the status update of the project and the overall timeframes for the rollout of the project.
Mr McKay then did the presentation on the processing centres near the borders. He said that the DHA had taken a policy decision that refugee processing centres be established at or near the ports of entry. The first of these processing centres had been established and was operating in Musina. The premises in Musina were rented from a private landlord. The second target for a refugee centre was Lebombo. In this instance, the Department had opted to have this centre established as a government owned premises and move away from the renting approach. In February 2012, the DPW was approached to assist the DHA in acquiring a site for a refugee reception centre. The Department had previously failed to obtain one of the three original identified sites and the DPW continued to look for sites in 2013. The DPW then further indicated that four more sites had been identified and two met the criteria and were suitable for the establishment of a refugee reception centre. These sites were located six kilometres from the point of entry. In a letter dated 12 September 2014, the DPW confirmed that it would need 8-18 months for site clearance and zoning, and that it would take four-six months for planning and design and another 24 months for the tender and construction process to be completed. This meant that they would need a timeline of four years before the centre could be established and operational.
In 2016/17, the Department undertook a detailed feasibility on the selected site through a team of legal and technical experts. The technical team consisted of architects, engineers and quantity surveyors. The final feasibility study to establish the Lebombo Processing Centre on the selected site was finalised in February 2017. The development cost to build the centre came to an estimated R220 million. The Department was required to fund these development costs from its baseline and the Department did not have these funds within its baseline. The Department then looked were developing the site through a public-private partnership (PPP) and the PPP approach was regulated by the NT. He said that during 2018/19, a revised feasibility study to establish the Lebombo processing centre was undertaken in line with the NT’s PPP prescripts and submitted to NT for approval. The key outcomes of the study were as follows: the development cost to build the centre was circa R220 million; the costs would be funded through the PPP model. The estimated unitary payment requited from the Department for the PPP was R40 million per annum; it would be payable by DHA for the next 25 years at an interest of five percent per annum. This project was a new project for the Department; no MTEF budget existed for the project. In July 2019, the NT approved the project on provision that there was a commitment by the Accounting Officer confirming affordability of R40 million unitary payment for the next 25 years and the project could therefore not proceed due the unaffordability of the unitary payment per annum. They were in the process of reviewing this project to see how they can continue with it.
Mr McKay then moved on to the presentation on the Enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS). He said that the centrality of the DHA to the functioning of the State and society in general was not fully appreciated. As states and societies had developed, transactions had also grown more complex and were regulated through a vast array of laws and systems. The management of immigration must be risk-based and intelligence-led integrated across international borders and domestic environments. A risk-based methodology is underpinned by seamless interface of technology, reporting systems and proactive management of immigration systems. The EMCS was such a technology that assisted the Department to proactively manage immigration through knowing who was in the country and why they were in the country because this was critical for national security and stability. The process of managing movement started at the country of origin and it was outside the borders that their officials in various missions verify documents, do background checks on visa applicants and assess risk and supply country stakeholders with information. There were also airline liaison officers at key airports that were able to a wide range of activities to manage the risk that anyone might pose to the country when entering. The next level was at the port of entry where the officials used the Advanced Passenger Processing (APP) system as well as the passenger name records and the movement control system. This system was developed in 1990 as a system that recorded entries, stay and departures into and from the Republic. In 2010, the EMCS was developed in conjunction with SARS and replaced the legacy movement control system.
The development of the new system was necessitated by the following: reducing human error, enhancing security and non-repudiation for users. Immigration officers at South African ports of entry used the EMCS to record the particulars of all travellers, which were checked against stop and warning lists. The risk engine was utilised by the security stakeholders. For examples, the South African Police Services (SAPS) received alerts of “flagged” (wanted persons) when reporting to immigration upon entry or departure. The key features included: passenger processing; passport scanning, validation and the image sent to the Risk Engine; pre-population of both machine readable and non-machine readable passports; scalable risk engine that electronically compared the traveller’s data with a series of electronic warning lists based on the pre-defined criteria; automatic and real-time passport expiry date verification; enhanced hit management incorporating other stakeholders in the security cluster such as SARS and SAPS. The interim solution on EMCS enabled capturing of biometric data had been rolled out at one port of entry – namely the four international airports, four land ports and one maritime port. Recording the movement with the interim solution required the enrolment of 10 fingerprints and a photo for first time traveller and verification of biometrics for subsequent movements.
He said that the modernisation and repositioning the Home Affairs as a secure, efficient, modern and repositioned entity included the development and rollout of an e-permitting and Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS). The new BMCS would replace the current EMCS used for recording of traveller movement through designated ports of entry. The BMCS would also contain more security than the current EMCS which would have more secure login, audit trails, passport authentication, automated management of undesirability and available reports. The key difference between the two systems was that the BMCS would be a totally DHA-controlled system. The BMCS also formed the platform for the launch of an e-Visa that was the electronic visa that could be viewed on BMCS at the port of entry. A prototype of the BMCS was launched at the end of March 2019 at Lanseria International Airport. At that stage, it was more focused on verifying SA citizens against the HANIS database. Since then the BMCS had been rolled out to selected counters at the OR Tambo Airport during the third quarter of the FY2019/20. The test was focused on the live capturing of the e-Visa.
Live transactions commenced at the OR Tambo and Lanseria Airports. Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports would start live transactions later in the current financial year. It should be noted that this delay was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department was also investigating the utilization of infrared fingerprint scanners.
Mr McKay then presented the final presentation on the status of offices, registration of births and deaths under level four, including plans for level three of the lockdown. He indicated that the DHA’s offices in all the nine provinces had been supplied with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and were disinfected and sanitised. Since the beginning of the lockdown, the DHA had registered about 50 000 deaths, 28 000 temporary identity certificates, 26 000 re-issued birth certificates and 33 000 issuances of uncollected identity documents. The increase in the number of re-issued birth certificates was due to the fact that people wanted to register for the grants that were being given during the pandemic. There were currently seven offices that were closed. In the Easter Cape there were two offices that were closed due to COVID-19 infections. In the Free State, there were two offices that were closed – one due to cable theft and the other was going through infrastructural maintenance. Mobile offices had been deployed to render services in these areas. He then corrected himself and clarified that there were currently only six offices that were closed as the Alberton office in Gauteng had now been opened. In the Western Cape there, one office was closed due COVID-19 infections.
The Department had an estimated backlog of the registration of birth certificates and IDs of 82 000 at the beginning of level four lockdown and of these, 57% had now been registered. During the same period, about 9 000 births for newly-born babies were registered in health facilities. To date, the Department had registered a total of about 55 000 births with a period of seven working days. The Department was likely to clear the estimated backlog on birth registration within five days should the situation remain unchanged. The demand for the re-issuance of birth certificates and TICs remained high. Out of the report estimated 413 000 uncollected Smart ID Cards, only about seven percent were collected, which demonstrated slow progress. The Department would intensify its communication strategy to encourage clients to collect identity documents that were currently in front offices. During level three, the Department proposed to further introduce the following additional services: opening applications for the late registration of birth – which was an extension of birth registration; in addition, registration of marriages was also proposed as a service to be opened and this would take place per appointment. He recommended that the Committee take note of these presentations.
Mr McGluwa says that the Committee was well aware of the problems that the DHA had with the refugee clinic in Cape Town. He was aware that this office was supposed to move in 2019 in December and that there were problems with the contract. He said he would like the Department to indicate what the real situation was and if it had been solved.
Concerning Smart Card IDs, he asked how the Department planned on strengthening its strategy with respect to the collection of these IDs. There had to be clear guidelines on the registration of marriages, given that many people would apply for this process.
He pointed out that the slide regarding the closure of offices was incomplete. He asked what the oversight process of the Department was, as the Committee has its own oversight processes.
Ms L Tito (EFF) asked if the applicants applying for late registration of births, who had to make an appointment, would have to go to the home affairs offices to make an appointment and then go back on the appointment date. She would also like clarification on the land ownership of the border offices, as the Department said it wanted to move away from the renting system.
Mr D Moela (ANC) acknowledged and appreciated the presentation. He said that in the last presentation he wanted to check on the offices that were closed due to COVID-19 infections. Where clients are directed to new offices, is it not possible to have mobile clinics for them so that they do not move around? He asked when the Department was planning on opening on offices. Only the Cape Town Office had a set opening date; when will the other offices be opened?
He asked if there would be training available for those officials who would be involved in the OSBP project since it was a new project that had never been done before. If so, when will it be done? He asked how the pedestrians that were crossing the Oshoek Border would be handled.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) asks what processed was followed should an alert or a decline of clearance occur at the eGate. Is there is a response team on standby?
Pertaining to the rolling out of the service at OR Tambo and Lanseria, she asked if there had been any teething issues and challenges with the live transactions. If there were any, how has the Department dealt with this? She asked when the meeting with the Zimbabwean ministerial counterpart would take place with respect to the OSBP project, as that meeting was still outstanding.
She further asked how many mobile offices were sent in place of the home affairs offices and at which offices were they stationed. She suggested that the Department should have an infographic to communicate with the community to create awareness. She also asked what the Department was doing about the court order involving the community in Nelspruit. The court order obtained states that the Department needed to unblock the IDs of the community members. This judgement was passed down in June 2019 but the community members still did not have their IDs. These people could not even apply for the social relief grants that were being given during the pandemic.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) expressed that she thought that the Department was doing quite well with catching up the backlog of the birth registrations. Since mothers were coming into the offices with new-born babies, could they be prioritised in the queues as they could be very long and strenuous for mothers? The queues outside home affairs were apparently very long and people were not adhering to social distancing practices; something should be done about that.
She asked if the Department would be working with the SABC in communicating with the public pertaining to the collection of Smart Card IDs that were still outstanding. She said that the Department could also utilise SMS services to inform the public of the additional services that would be available under level three. Given that the bilateral agreements had not been finalised, has the Department considered multilateral agreements at an SADC level to expedite the rollout of the plans across the region? If not, what is the timeframe to conclude the bilateral agreements?
She asked about the EMCS, specifically the biometric capturing data ports. What are the timeframes for the rollout of the operations at remaining borders? She asked if this system would be able to track the location of migrants. The presentation talks about an alert system that picked up over-stayers; how many people have overstayed their visas in the past 12 months? She also asked what the plans were going forward to beef up the Department’s inspectorate, as 700 people was not enough.
Mr R Dyantyi (ANC) appreciated the progress in level four and that there was a lot of improvement within the last seven days. He asked the Minister to share with the Committee what the maintenance plan was, for the OSBP facilities. Is there a proper plan for the Smart Card under level three and level two?
Mr G Hendricks (Al Jama-ah) said that he had visited most of the borders and reckoned that the OSBP project must be supported. He asked if the Department was ready for level three as he did not get that impression.
Ms M Modise (ANC) asked if the Department had any plans to open the registration of new IDs, particularly for grade 11 and 12 learners. If so, will the Department be able to provide mobile units to the schools?
Ms T Legwase (ANC) said that the Department had been doing its best, especially during level four. As the country was to approach level three, the Department must try and deal with the backlog.
Mr Chabane appreciated presentation number four, concerning the offices. He said that since the Committee had met with the Department last week, there were major challenges with about 55 offices regarding PPEs and the precautionary measures. He thanked the Department for its speedy response and the action taken. Where there were challenges of offices that were still not open, the Department must engage with the stakeholders. The Committee may have to open a discussion with the Portfolio Committee on Labour in order to help resolve its problems.
He also thanked the Department for the speedy lifting of the new-born registration. On the OSBP, he appreciated the plans that were in place to strengthen the African Continental Free Trade, to execute the mandate that had been aligned with the African Union protocols. He said that the Department needed to move speedily with the refugee offices at the borders. Does the Department have any plans to modernise and reposition itself for the advanced EMCS plans?
Mr A Roos (DA) asked if the marriages by appointment under level three applied nationwide or only in level three districts and if the Department would be the issuing marriage certificates for those who got married before the lockdown.
He asked if the Minister would issue a directive stating that anyone, who had a Visa from a receiving country and had been approved at the relevant embassy, travelled at their own expense and waived the right to a repatriation flight, should be allowed to leave the country. If so, when and if not, what are the reasons? He said that on 28 April 2020 he raised concern about the validity of Home Affairs documentation that expired during lockdown, asking whether the renewal service had been closed. The Minister had since indicated that all Home Affairs documents were essentially valid till July 2020. He says they spoke specifically about asylum seeker permits and refugee permits. He asked that the Minister confirm and clarify this because people’s bank accounts were currently being frozen as these documents had expired; payments into South Africa from abroad were being stopped and permanent residences overseas stood to lose their status if they could not get back into SA within 12 months. He recounted that he had also raised the issue of locally-qualified and certified doctors who were stuck on the Foreign Workforce Management Programme and could be deployed but were stuck without the documentation. He asked if the Minister could assist with the Visa changes for those in SA who had applied but not yet had these changes processed.
He was shocked to hear that when the mobile units arrived, they could not receive payments; this severely limited the service that these mobile units could provide. He asked if this was being addressed and if not, when it would be addressed.
He commended the Department for working on the backlog with only a third of its staff present. He asked why the passport renewals from overseas could not be processed as this did not affect the local front offices. Why are the applications for unabridged birth certificates not being allowed at the front offices?
He asked the Department to look into modifying its webpage so that people could just login onto the website to see what offices were closed before spending money to go to a home affairs office only to find it closed. He said that private partners would finance the development of OSBP and that they would collect levies as payment, and he would like to know who would pay those levies. Is it a levy on imports and exports or is it an e-Tolls levy? He asked if there was an estimated cost structure for what would be charged, that had been done as part of a feasibility study. What regulatory measures will be in place to regulate these fees and who will police them? He asked what percentage of the revenue would remain in SA.
In terms of the refugee processing centres, what has been done to acquire a permanent centre? What will happen with the existing refugee offices? Finally, he asked if any consideration was given to the EMCS being tested at the Bietbridge border as this is the busiest border.
Mr Motsoaledi explained that the question concerning the offices in Cape Town had been a subject of court cases; it was a simple problem between the Department of Public Works and the host from which the office had been hired. The DHA had identified the new office and the hosts suddenly made new demands which were not in line with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The DHA now needed to look for new premises. The number of closed offices was not fixed and changed all the time. Around 04 May, when the country moved to level four lockdown, there were about 55 offices that were closed and this was due to the unions being sensitive to what they regarded as safety whereby if they found even one small thing missing, they would down the tools. The DHA supplied all those things immediately so the closures did not take more than four days. There were some that were closed for the Department of Labour. The DHA had spoken to the necessary stakeholders and those offices were opened. The offices that were still closed were mostly those that were related to COVID-19 cases. The opening of these offices depended on how soon they could sanitise the offices and trace people who had visited that office. He said the DHA officials would respond to all the other technical issues.
Mr Motsoaledi said that he had not held a meeting with Zimbabwe because on the day that they were supposed to have the meeting, there was a reshuffling of the cabinet in Zimbabwe and there was a new Minister who said that he needed time to acclimatise himself with what was going on. The lockdown had since disrupted their plan to meet and that was why that meeting had not happened. He had met the Ministers of all the other countries involved. Although he had not met with his counterpart in Zimbabwe, work was still going on. The issues being faced by the people of Nelspruit were not only happening to the people of Nelspruit, but to most of the people in the northern parts of Mpumalanga. It was a legacy problem from IDs given in 1994. This was a grave matter such that it was not for the DHA to deal with alone. Most of the people had been in the country for so long that they qualified to be citizens.
In the previous meeting they had, there was no requirement from the Department that women must bring their babies to collect IDs and birth certificates but many of them were bringing their babies because no one could take care of them. The DHA would try its best by having different queues for different services at the offices; giving preference to mothers with babies would result in babies being used as a means to get preferential treatment and this was not a good idea. The DHA, in its preparation for the reopening under level four, it spent about eight hours preparing and one of the preparations was to instruct officials to put tape on the floor to demarcate social distancing as it was an important issue. Even on benches there were indications for where people could and could not sit. Most of the offices in the Western Cape had done that and submitted pictures to the Department.
He said that the Department would communicate with people and send them SMSs for them to come and collect their IDs. He did not know why people were not coming to collect their IDs. He thought that the introduction of the social relief grant would incentivise people to come collect their IDs but only seven percent of IDs were collected and he was also puzzled by that.
He responded that the matter of the OSBP and the PPP would be done through a concessionaire. For the payment of levies there would be an inter-ministerial meeting with the other countries. Those who had applied for passports overseas needed to go the various missions overseas once those were opened. He said that the Beitbridge border was very complex and the President, as the Chairperson of the AU, had gone to report on it, as it served the whole of Africa.
Mr Njabulo Nzuza, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, said that the DHA had been consistently reporting that it did have 100 mobile units and distributed them to provinces. The location of the mobiles changed within the provinces as and when required. He confirmed that the Department had already dispatched service providers for the installation of point of sale facilities in those mobile units and he anticipated that by 05 June they should be installed. The Department did publish an infographic that it distributed through social media; it was also working with local radio stations and the Department of Education around the issue of grade 12 learners.
The reason for promoting early-bird registration was because if mothers were going to come after a period of 30 days, there was a longer process that must be undergone in order to register that child to combat issues of fraud, corruption and to protect the national population register. That was why they promoted that children be registered within 30 days of birth. He would appreciate the Committee working with them with respect to spreading that message.
Mr McKay said that the DHA would take the advice to collaborate with the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health at a community level to have a look at the issue that they were dealing with there. The DHA would submit written responses to questions that had not been answered during this session.
Mr Roos said that he had raised a very critical issue. There were thousands of citizens, whose lives were overseas but they could not leave the country. He did not understand how they are not getting a response on that.
The Minister responded that this matter was presented by the National Command Council as it was an important matter. But the DHA was very much aware of the situation. The DHA would submit an answer within the next day or two.
The Chairperson said that the Department should answer any unanswered questions via written format and asked the Committee secretary to follow up on that. He then said that the EOH matter should be investigated and that the Committee should get a report so as to be able to discuss properly. The Committee would need more information with regards to the PPP matter at the OSBP. Other than that it was a good presentation. He then relieved the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Department from the meeting. The rest of the Members would remain for the rest of the meeting.
Consideration and adoption of minutes
The Chairperson then moved to item number eight which dealt with the adoption and consideration of the report. This was a report of what the Committee had dealt with over time. He had requested the Committee secretary to look into the issues before the meeting so that they could deal with them.
The Committee Content Advisor took Members through the recommendations and submissions received. He said that the submissions he received were only from Mr Roos at this stage. The first was on the conversations. Mr Roos asked that a statement on the office closure be fixed as it had previously stated that none of the offices were closed when, in actual fact, there were some offices that were closed. He made two more observations stating that the Committee had previously called for the consequence management, as per the PFMA, in relation to staff not complying with the Supply Chain Management regulations, but was yet to receive feedback on this recommendation. The Committee noted that although there had been a reduction, there was a continued high record of contingent liabilities to pending litigation. This was noted during the budget vote debate. The recommendations were as follows:
-The revised plans and budgets of the DHA, Government Printing Works (GPW) and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) given the COVID-19 pandemic, should be tabled with the Committee as soon as Treasury revised the budget to prevent further delays in service deliver;
-the DHA should submit regular updates to Parliament on the implementation of the OSBP in the six identified ports of entry at: Beitbridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Kopfontein, Ficksburg and Oshoek;
-the Department had started pilot of the e-visa regime with Kenya and India and negotiations were being held with China and Nigeria;
-the Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill was anticipated to be passed into law before the end of FY2020/21 and the DHA should provide Parliament with a detailed implementation plan;
-the funding of provisions for crucial staff should be treated by Treasury and the DHS as a matter of priority;
-the local governing elections would be held in 2021 – the Department and the Electoral Commission should provide regular updates of their readiness to conduct the elections. Funding and procurement of voter registration devices should be completed as a matter of urgency prior to local government elections.
He also said that Mr Roos had suggested that the Committee should take out the recommendations on GPW being prioritised for government printing. The reason for removing it was that this recommendation was listed before in a previous budget report and that there were also private printing associations that had an interest that the Committee should first listen to prior to recommending that the GPW and the State Printers Bill should prioritise government printing with the GPW, as it already made 30% of government printing.
The Chairperson said that the recommendation on the GPW was not something that the Committee had discussed in its meetings. The recommendation should remain and maybe the Committee should add that the GPW must do the essential work of government. When the external printing services print for government, the intellectual property of that printing should remain with the external party.
Mr Dyantyi supported the Chairperson on his directive on the matter of the GPW.
Mr Roos clarified that meant that the GPW already made 30% gross profit and his question was that in 2019 an investigation had been done into whether more government printing should be done by the GPW and that the impact on the industry should be considered. This recommendation was made in 2019 with the same around the table and he was now wondering why things were now changing. He also had a recommendation on contingent liabilities, stating that the Department should reduce them by recording all cases against it along with the reasons for winning or losing the case.
The Chairperson responded that the court decided that the Committee must go to the Department and do oversight on legal the issue that Mr Roos had brought up.
Mr Chabane said that it must be clear that the problem with the City of Cape Town was about its failure to enforce its own by-laws.
Concerning the GPW, he did not recall the Department indicating that it would ignore other processes and stakeholders. He said that it must be clear that the Border Management Authority had been passed by both houses of Parliament and they were currently waiting for the President to assent to it.
Ms van der Merwe asked that the Committee be given a final opportunity to look at the report and then send its recommendations and comments electronically.
Ms Khanyile said that COVID-19 would affect the country’s economy significantly; the Chairperson also noted this at the beginning of the meeting. If all the printing work was to be taken to GPW, there were a lot of companies that would suffer, so maybe they should look into other printing companies. She also agreed with Ms van der Merwe in that there should be a final opportunity to look at the report and submit recommendations and comments.
The Chairperson granted the request to give final submissions and they would be tabled at the next Committee meeting. He said that not all the work must be given to GPW but essential work of government should be done by the GPW.
He thanked the Members for their commitment into the work of the DHA. He said that their contribution was not taken lightly and that it was very crucial. His office would await the approval by Parliament to do the court-ordered work.
The meeting was adjourned.
Bongo, Adv BT
Chabane, Mr MS
Dyantyi, Mr QR
Khanyile, Ms AT
Legwase, Ms TI
McGluwa, Mr JJ
Moela, Mr DL
Roos, Mr AC
Tito, Ms LF
van der Merwe, Ms LL
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