Repositioning of Department; DHA Budget: Committee Report; with Minister

Home Affairs

29 May 2020
Chairperson: Adv B Bongo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, 29 May 2020

Tabled Committee Reports

The Department of Home Affairs said there were three main reasons for the repositioning of the Department. Firstly, it was basically a security department responsible for the security of the country, which was why it had been moved from the Governance and Administration cluster into the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster. Secondly, it was an important enabler of economic development, because no one could transact economically without getting the enabling documents from the Department. Lastly, the modernisation, or the digitisation, of services was also very important. Some offices were still manually driven, and that was not good for a modern economy. The DHA had therefore needed to reposition itself in terms of the policies and laws and its model of operation.

Some scepticism was expressed about the proposal, as it was asserted that little had come from previous attempts at repositioning. However, the Minister responded that Members should not be too quick to disregard the progress that had been made by the Department, especially considering the modernisation of services such as passports and identification documents.

The Department said the new model would require officials that understood policy, law, systems and processes, as well as investigating and solving problems while securing a system under threat from criminal syndicates. Home Affairs currently had an academy which provided internal training for employees, but in future this academy would be upgraded to college status. All officials would be required to undertake training, and would have to show that they had internalised the Home Affairs culture of service and understanding of the role of the Department.

An issue which was raised by Members was how the new college would be different from the current academy, and whether any lessons had been learnt from this institution.

After the Committee had discussed the observations and recommendations in the draft Budget Vote Report, it was adopted, with the DA and EFF recording objections. Concern had earlier been expressed that the promised Report on the Government Printing Works (GPW) was not on the agenda, and the Chairperson advised that it would be discussed on 2 June


Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson noted that on the agenda it was indicated that the meeting would be three hours, but the meeting would in fact be only two hours. They were meeting during a time when Covid-19 was still continuing to impact South Africa. The government, through the Command Council, would take South Africa to Level 3 with effect from Monday 1 June. As a Committee, they continue to commend the government and the Command Council, and the Minister and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for ensuring that the mandate of the Department was executed.

He reported that the previous day, the DHA’s Deputy Minister, Mr Njabulo Nzuza, had been high-jacked. As a Committee, they condemned what had happened. He had been assured that the Deputy Minister was fine. He had heard that they had recovered his car and cell phone, and had confidence in the law enforcement agency that was looking into the matter.

The Chairperson handed over to Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to present on the repositioning of the Department.

Ms A Khanyile (DA) raised a point of order. She was concerned that the Report of the Government Printing Works (GPW) was not on the agenda. At the last meeting, the Chairperson had promised the Committee that they were going to discuss this issue at their next meeting – were they going to discuss this issue at this meeting or not? If not, why not? If yes, the Committee would appreciate it because they were ready to discuss that report.

The Chairperson said that the agenda would remain as is. He had seen Ms Khanyile’s correspondence about the GPW report discussion. The matter was still with their leaders, and the report would be brought the next meeting. The matter would be discussed on 2 June. That was why the matter was not on the agenda.

Ms Khanyile said she did not understand why the Chairperson was surprised that she was raising the matter at the meeting. Last week, he had made a commitment to the Portfolio Committee, and it was expected of the Chairperson to inform the Committee if there were any changes. All the Members of the Committee were ready to discuss the matter today. This was a very important report, and this Committee had to discuss it. If the report did not come in next week as the Chairperson indicated, then she would like to place it on record that they were going to ask their chief whip to raise this matter with the Speaker of the House or the House Chair, because this matter must come to the Portfolio Committee. 

The Chairperson acknowledged what she said, and requested that they be given a chance to finalise what they were finalising. The Committee would not be able to properly engage with the report if it was not properly prepared.

Repositioning of Department of Home Affairs

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, confirmed that the Deputy Minister was fine and in very high spirits. He had gone through an ordeal that anyone could experience in today’s world. The Department was very grateful that the Deputy Minister was unharmed.

He said the presentation would be about the repositioning of the Department of Home Affairs. The reposition marked an important event in the life of the Department. Throughout the period of democracy, Home Affairs had been regarded as an administrative department, just issuing documents, like the Department of Public Service and Administration, and maybe Monitoring and Evaluation. However, it was soon realised that there were very important issues.

Firstly, it was basically a security department responsible for the security of the country, the same as the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster. That was why the Department had been moved from the Governance and Administration cluster into the JCSP cluster. Secondly, the Department was an important enabler of economic development, because of some of the permits that enabled business -- no one could transact economically without getting the enabling documents from the Department. In that regard, the Department of Home Affairs played an important role in economic development. Lastly, the modernisation, or the digitisation, of services was also very important. Some offices were still manually driven, and that was not good for a modern economy. These were the three reasons the DHA had needed to reposition itself in terms of the policies and laws and its model of operation.

Mr Jackson Mckay, Director-General: DHA, said the purpose of the presentation was to provide an update to the Committee on the progress made in repositioning the Department as a secure and modern entity. Currently, it was unable to deliver on its constitutional mandate. He then in detail outlined the six reasons why the DHA was unable to deliver their mandate.

(See presentation slides 4 and 5).

The key elements of the repositioning programme were clearly set out.

(See slide 6)

Outlining the progress of the repositioning, he said that in March 2017, Cabinet had approved the business case for repositioning the DHA as modern, secure department located within the security system of the state. The business case stated that the first implementation step would be the drafting of a White Paper on Home Affairs. After various steps and approvals, the White Paper had been approved by Cabinet in December 2019 as a policy framework for repositioning the DHA as a modern and secure department located within the security system of the State.

Mr McKay described the integrated process by which the DHA intended to modernise and what it sought to do. It aimed to create an integrated digital platform to manage identity and immigration. On the one hand, there was the immigration management system, which consisted of a biometric movement control system through which they would clear people coming into South Africa. On the other, there was the identity system on which they registered deaths, births and marriages. The modernisation sought to integrate these two into what was called the National Identification System. Some of the modernisation ideas included mobile units and online services like the e-visa systems, as well as third party providers. All of this would be done on the new National Identity System, which would ensure data quality and integration.

As the DHA was now part of the security cluster, there was a need to enhance its capability to mitigate risks and deal with threats and respond to national security initiatives. The most critical was the protection of citizen and non-citizen movement data, as well as identity and status data.

The new model would require officials that understood policy, law, systems and processes, as well as investigating and solving problems while securing a system under threat from criminal syndicates. Home Affairs currently had an academy which provided internal training to employees, but in future this academy would be upgraded to college status. All officials would be required to undertake training, and would have to show that they had internalised the Home Affairs culture of service and understanding of the role of the Department.

The implementation plan was broken down into a three-year horizon, a five-year horizon and a ten-year horizon for implementation phases of the repositioning.

Mr McKay requested that Committee to take note of the status update on the repositioning and the overall timeframes for the implementation of the programme These had been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Mr A Roos (DA) said it was important to note that the DHA was not regarded as a Department which delivered strategic and essential services. To him, that was a sign of a government that was out of touch with the man on the street. During the lockdown, one saw people who were unable to get access to social grants because they were unable to apply for an identity document. There had not been much of an effort to get mobile units out there to solve this problem. South Africans working overseas had been stuck in South Africa, and had had to drag the DHA to court. South Africans who lived overseas had been unable to get an emergency passport. Those who had their passports expiring were becoming unemployed and undesirable. Zimbabweans overstaying their temporary permits due Corona-19 were being declared undesirable.

The regulations had not been clear on asylum seekers and refugee documentation. There was the risk of their bank accounts being frozen, and that had happened -- their bank accounts had been frozen and they were unable to receive money coming from overseas. With the foreign work force programme, there were doctors who had studied and qualified in South Africa, gone through the local certification exams, but were just sitting there because the DHA would not take a look at their visas. They did not want to look at how they could release these doctors and enable them to help with the Covid-19 pandemic. He recommended that the DHA should consider changing their motto of ‘We Care’ as part of their repositioning into the security cluster.

He said it was difficult to get excited about the repositioning. Members had been told that the back office process was largely outdated and fragmented, and how the Department would turn it around, and how it would train people to provide a better service. There had been a turnaround strategy in 2008/09, but just the initial costs of this strategy had been R899 million. When the results of that strategy was presented to this Committee in 2009, they had said that unstable, insecure and often outdated structure and systems were a big problem, and they would provide a secure backbone for commerce and for government systems such as drivers’ licences and health cards. Now, 12 years later, the Committee was hearing the same thing. Even before that, the 2003/04 turnaround strategy stated that training would be a key component of that plan. What would be the difference between the training that would happen now and the training that happened then? It did not appear that that training had been particularly successful if one looks at how many people in the Department were not sufficiently trained at this time.

Then there was also the information technology (IT) project, where we were supposed to get an electronic document management and work system. The previous year, when the Member enquired about this system, he was told it did not really exist and documents were being lost, and it took days to find out where they were in the process. As a result, the DHA had court cases against it because they could not process applications in time. These elements needed to be urgently addressed -- these problems were coming from 2003/2004.

It was positive that the Minister was admitting that the Department was failing. However, it was about more than just IT systems and training -- it was more about an organisational culture. They claimed to be dealing with external fraudsters in becoming a security department, but they needed to deal with the culture of corruption inside the organisation. He had not seen anything in the last year that had really convinced him that the new administration was doing this. As long as these people remained, they would do everything in their power to prevent systems of transparency, like process management systems where one could find out where something was, who had worked on it and who had changed the record.

When it came to immigration, resourcing was a long-standing issue, but instead of coordinating the agencies at the border, they had spent billions on the Border Management Authority (BMA) while internal immigration services remained unstaffed. What would the Department do that would be different from the other times? This Committee had been promised the same things. Most of the large backend systems had been in development for many years, and had been plagued by delays and irregularities. To what extent had a multi-layered approach been considered? Should the DHA instead roll out smaller systems or sub-systems, and then build these into one big system, because it seems that the Department was incapable of landing these big systems and implementing them? In the current fiscal environment of low growth and given the past challenges, how realistic was it that the ten-year timeline for the full repositioning and modernisation would be achieved? What mechanisms would the Department put into place to get skills and expertise into South Africa, to help them recover from the devastating impact of the lockdown?

Mr D Moela (ANC) said that under the leadership of Minister Motsoaledi, the Department was doing a very good job. The Minister was trying his best, and the Committee needed to give him its full support. The repositioning document would help the Department to turn around the situation, especially in making sure that its officials got the necessary skills that they require. Systems were in place to be able to respond to the challenges that were faced by the people on the ground.

He thought the establishment of the learning academy as a college was a positive response which would respond to all the issues that the Department was currently facing. He appreciated the work that had been done and the proposal that had been presented. It must be supported so that at the end of the day, everybody must have the necessary skills.

Ms Khanyile expressed her sympathy regarding the incident with the Deputy Minister, and said whoever was responsible must be brought to justice. She wanted to know what plans were in place when employees failed, or continued not meeting the required skills and education levels -- was there a timeframe set for employees to obtain these? What level of qualifications would the college provide? Would it just be short courses for IT? How would the new IT system deal with the existing backlogs? Previously, the Department had frustrated members of the public with systems that were constantly offline, but the presentation had mentioned that they now aimed to have a stable network. Was the new system unlikely to have the same problems? What had been done to avoid these problems in the future? Would it be able to address the issue of long queues? While the Department would train officials on IT, could they ensure that they trained the officials on customer service or customer care? There were a number of issues where members of the public were not being treated fairly when they went to the offices, and some of these cases had been escalated to the Deputy Director General’s office.

Mr M Chabane (ANC) said the Committee was ready to interact on the matter that had been raised earlier on regarding the Government Printing Works. It must not appear that some Members were not keen to interface with that report. The Committee would confidently rise to the occasion when they received it. He appreciated the repositioning report, which signalled an improvement and what seemed a change in the leadership and administration. It was important not to generalise issues that were affecting the Department, and they as Members may need to identify specific issues that were confronting the DHA. It had always been put in the wrong space. Even this document outlined that they were working to reposition the work of the Department so that it was able to respond to the issues that have been raised by members of society. Suggesting everything was wrong with the Department was not correct. The Committee needed to accept where progress had been made. This document sought to bring the DHA closer to the issues that the Committee had been raising. Where the Department was lacking, the Committee must be able to confront it objectively with the intention of assisting it to move forward.

He felt that there were three issues to be raised. The 24-hour service issue was a very delicate matter, especially regarding the unions and budgetary concerns. What were the plans within context of the repositioning the Department to create an environment where essential services were located within the 24-hour service? The Committee needed to get a sense, within this document, of what the plans for the future were. Was the DHA in engagement with stakeholders to reconsider certain essential services, in order to make them 24-hour services? Regarding the improvement of the existing academy, what had been the impact of the academy in terms of reskilling the employees, because the Department had indicated that 60% employees were lacking adequate qualifications in order to execute some of the DHA’s specialities? What were the challenges with the existing academy, and what impact had these had on creating a new college?

DHA’s response

Minister Motsoaledi said it was difficult to respond to Mr Roos, as he did not sound like a Member of Parliament who wanted to engage in building a country. He had told the Committee that he was not excited about the changes that Home Affairs want to bring about, but was excited that the Department was accepting failure. The Department was not accepting failure by bringing about changes, but was keeping up with technology. Technology was changing and evolving all the time. Mr Roos could not pretend that there were no tangible changes. To start with, the identity documents (IDs) were completely different from 1994. Secondly, the green bar-coded ID had been changed since 2014, and people were receiving smart cards which were more sophisticated and more secure. There was a more secure passport. When the United Kingdom demanded that South Africans needed a visa because their passport was not secure, the Department had made the passport more secure. The Department had brought in the issue of an e-visa to solve some of the issues that people overseas were experiencing. In the past, it had not been easy to find out who issued a fraudulent document. Officials in the Department had been using a password to get into the systems, and it was easy to steal a password and misuse it. The Department had then introduced the Biometric Access Control Movement, whereby officials no longer used a password, but now used a fingerprint to issue or access a document. The Department could now trace who issued the document, and that had reduced the level of fraud from what it was before. Any Member who tried to dismiss all of that was not being honest. The Minister wanted everyone to work together to build a nation, and not just to complain. 

The Department was doing a lot about corruption. Earlier this year, the Department had announced publicly the officials who had been fired and reported to the police. They had been found to be defrauding the Department. A few weeks ago, the Department had dismissed one of their officials who was working in their mission in Namibia. This official was selling visas to Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals to come to South Africa via the sold visas. The Department had been able to catch that official and had reported the matter to the police in order to have the official criminally charged.

The Department kept on modernising. When the Department came to the Committee and stated that they wanted to modernise more, it was not the time to ridicule and become sceptical. The government kept on promoting security to keep in touch with the rest of the world.

With regard to whether the new system would deal with the long queues, it absolutely would if the Department kept on modernising and expanding the programme. There were still offices using the legacy model, where they were still using manual systems to apply for ID’s, and then they needed to be put into packs and couriered to Tshwane, but there were other offices where it happened in real time. One could sit a faraway office and as one applied, the information would arrive in Tshwane and be sent directly to the Government Printing Works, which would print the ID. That was why the Department was able to issue ID’s within five to 13 days. That was the Department’s standard, and it was the same with the passport. Some years back, it used to take six months to apply for an ID or a passport. Now it was a matter of days. That was because of development and repositioning. The Department needed this opportunity to reposition so that the country could improve.

Ms Nkidi Mohoboko, DDG: Human Resource Management and Development, DHA, said the learning academy was one of her responsibilities. The DHA was in a bid to move the learning academy from its current status to a college. In doing so, they had already started writing a business case that talked about the intended plan and the timeframes. The intention was to do exactly what the Members had talked about -- to professionalise the staff members internally that were in the Department, as well as the stakeholders who were always assisting with its mandate, such as marriage officers and funeral undertakers.

In response to the question as to how the college would make sure that the courses that it provided were impactful and qualitative, the college would be registered and accredited the relevant Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA). It was also in partnership with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) to make sure that the courses were subjected to quality investigation and assessment, and to ensure they delivered the learning objectives that they were supposed to.

When they took their learners through an assessment, they used both formative assessment and qualitative assessment to make sure that after they had been trained, they also provide the portfolio of evidence to show that they had indeed gained the level of competence that was expected of them. All of this was done to make sure that there was impact in the training that they were providing, and that it was not all about numbers. They had developed tools and templates to measure the impact of the training programmes, because at the inception of each course there were learning objectives that were set. This meant that after a passage of time, when the learners had already resumed their work, the college would make sure that its impact was assessed using the template, and to make sure that they closed the skills gaps that had been identified. After three and six months respectively, the impact assessment questionnaires would be issued to make sure that the assessment was done, the measurement was analysed, and the report was provided.

Regarding training officers on customer orientation, they had identified training programmes that would assist in customer orientation. Even in the current dispensation, before the repositioning, they had started to train officers in customer orientation. They assisted managers at different levels. They also ensure the continued professional development of trainers. They had partnered with institutions of higher learning and the National School of Government to make sure that when needed, associate lecturers give qualitative training programmes that the academy does not already have. It was a hybrid of training programmes -- some were internally focused, while others were professionally based and had been developed by intuitions of higher learning. An example of this was how the Department dealt with operations management (Six Sigma) and many other such courses that enable managers to be at the cutting edge of development.

She said the Member had almost answered the question on 24-hour service delivery, as the Department was already in consultation with stakeholders. They had started the process of engaging with the unions. They were going to see if there was a mechanism that they could use to get the required level of the service into the essential services. They were specifically looking at the services that were run 24-hours, and had identified them.

The Chairperson said the Mr M Lekota (COPE) had a technical problem. He thanked the Ministry for the presentation and said that this was a very progressive step in terms of repositioning. If this report was anything to go by, the Department would go a long way in doing what was expected.

DHA Budget Vote

Mr Adam Salmon, Content Advisor, stated that they received one additional submission on the budget vote report from Mr Chabane, which he had already integrated. He had re-sent the edited budget report, which dealt only with the observations and recommendations, to Members. The general submission by Mr Chabane was that they provide more detail on post lockdown development on their budget. This had been integrated, and he would proceed with the document that was sent to Members that morning. He focused on the observations to which he had made changes.

During the Covid-19 lockdown at the Lindela repatriation centre, 37 foreign nationals had escaped. The Committee had conducted an oversight visit to the facility, and law enforcement agencies were investigating the incident. The other major issue was the security firm contracted by the liquidator, which had an employment dispute with its workers. The Committee had asked the DHA to investigate this matter and report back on the interventions.

The next point referred to the migrants who had camped outside and inside the church. The High Court had ruled that the City of Cape Town was not enforcing its own bylaws.

The Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill had been passed by both Houses of Parliament, and was before the President for assent. Once the President assented, the DHA would begin to implement its functions as per the plan.

On the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mr Chabane had asked that details of the Constitutional Court extension be provided. He was still looking for the most recent case of that, as the last case gave the extension only to the end of last year. He would add the details to the final report.

Recruitment of staff had been reported as not being perfect in terms of creating employment. Further details had been given to make this statement clearer. The IEC was working with political parties to agree on the recruitment criteria.

The potential for voters to register at DHA offices had been considered and would be reported to the Committee at another meeting, as time was needed to cover the complicated issues.

On the Government Printing Works (GPW), the second bullet point had been removed and something more specific had been added about the CEO. The allegation against the CEO was being investigated and would be reported to the Committee once finalised. The DHA had requested that the Public Service Commission (PSC) and other law enforcement agencies investigate this matter. The primary report would be presented in June, as discussed earlier in the meeting.

Entities such as the GPW would project a loss due to the impact of Covid-19, because it relied on printing for the DHA. Its mandate was to deliver security printing and related services to government departments and their entities.

The recommendation that was changed was 5.4 on the BMA bill. The DHA should provide Parliament with a detailed implementation plan and related expenditure, including functions, funding and resources.

Regarding the observations on the GPW, the Minister of Home Affairs should continue to be an ambassador for the entity to ensure that other governmental departments do essential printing with it in order to protect the intellectual property, security and cost saving. This should be subject to the DHA and the Committee engaging in consultation with the private printing sector.

The Cabinet must fast-track the Security Printers Bill that would give effect to the GPW to print essential services on behalf of government. This was against the backdrop that GPW generates funds for other programmes and government institutions. Other government departments must assist GPW to secure printing services with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, which would contribute to strengthening its revenue.

Those were the additional submissions by Mr Chabane.


Mr Moela proposed that they welcome the report, since they had discussed it previously at the last meeting. It was a comprehensive report that should be welcomed and adopted.

Mr Roos said that the DA’s objection remained the GPW being given carte blanche to do all the security printing of the government. They were being asked to do all the security printing for government. They had not seen the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) report on that in terms of the economic impact. Their recommendation was that the impact on local business must be considered, as this would be a much fairer assessment, rather than to just say they must do it. The Committee had not properly assessed that. They need to get other security role players on-board to see what they had to say and to understand the economic impact of such a move before they could say that they were satisfied that the economic impact was not going to be devastating for small businesses in different areas. He was 100% against that proposal.

Mr Chabane said the report should reflect clearly on the issues that they had discussed in the Committee so that it could be read and understood by the general public, and not just by Members of the Committee. He requested that they improve how they dealt with the report. It was difficult to get a sense of the intention of the sentence in this paragraph. They all agreed in principle that the report must be refined. The views expressed on the Government Printing Works must be allowed, and there was no harm in Members expressing their rejection of the process. Essential services must be printed at the GPW, in line with the security system of their council. The GPW, on two occasions of reporting, had articulated what they were suggesting and proposing on the Bill that they were working on, which was required for it to be an essential institution that printed government work. He was not convinced why they needed to consult private printing works. There were companies all over the country that were printing, so when it was said that the government must consult printing works, which category was being referred to? They could look into that, but remain firm that they had to elevate the work of the GPW to print essential services of government, including the ballot papers of the IEC.

Ms Tito asked whether the Committee had a report on the oversight that was done at their legal department. She also wanted clarity as to whether they were they adopting the budget report today, or were they still adding comments? If they were adopting the report today, could the Chairperson please note the objection of the EFF.

With the sound quality deteriorating so that final comments were mostly inaudible, the Chairperson said the report had been proposed and seconded for adoption, with amendments. Any further comments would merely be for record purposes.

Mr Roos said that it was important to note that there was no such thing as essential printing -- it was security printing.

The Chairperson stated that the report was adopted.

Mr Salmon said that he would give the report a final read through to ensure legibility, as per Mr Chabane’s request, and would then distribute it.

The Chairperson said he wanted to see it before it was sent out.

The meeting was adjourned.


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