Alteration of Sex Description & Sex Status Bill, Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill: voting; Study Tour to North-West Province

Home Affairs

20 November 2003
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Meeting report

HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
21 November 2003
ALTERATION OF SEX DESCRIPTION AND SEX STATUS BILL: VOTE
STUDY TOUR TO NORTH-WEST PROVINCE: REPORT
ELECTORAL LAWS SECOND AMENDMENT BILL: VOTE

Chairperson:
Mr H Chauke (ANC)

Relevant Documents:
Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill [B37-2003]
Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill [B73-2003]
Committee Report on Study Tour to North West Province (Appendix)

Summary
The Committee adopted the amendments to the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill. They also adopted the Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill that mainly dealt with South African voters abroad for the next election. The study tour to North West Province was also adopted by the Committee.

MINUTES

Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill
The amendments were adopted unanimously.

Study tour to North-West province
The Chairperson presented the Committee report on the study tour to North-West province. He moved that the report be adopted.

Mr K W Morwamoche (ANC) moved that the Committee adopt the report. Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) seconded the motion.

Mr Chauke said that they would try and get the report to the National Assembly before the end of the session and there would be a debate on the report early next year.

Submission Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill
Advocate K Malatji (Chief Director: Legal Services) reported that the 1st amendment dealt with the substitution of the Long Title of Act 34 of 2003. There was an amendment from the words 'handicapped people' to 'voters with disabilities' in order to make the wording more sensitive in the Preamble.

The 2nd amendment dealt with section 33 of Act 73 1998 regarding voters abroad on Election Day. They had inserted an addition into subsection (1) which allowed for voters to register within 15 days of the announcement of the election date, alerting the relevant authorities of their absence and thus allowing them to vote outside South African borders. There had to be a reason for the absence such as a holiday, a business trip, the attendance of a tertiary institution, etc.

Discussion
Mr I Pretorius (DA) asked if the amendment excluded any person who was working temporarily overseas. Were there any exclusions built into the amendment?

Adv. Malatji said that the amendment was very wide and discussed both holidays and business.

Mr C Mulder (FF) said the Freedom Front was happy with the wording. In section 100 of the main Act, drafting legislation on government staff working overseas was currently in progress. It should be along the same lines. He wanted to see how the regulations would work in practice. His Party still had some issues, but in the meantime they were satisfied.

Mr A Blaas (ACDP) said that the current amendment could give the impression that it referred to a short period overseas. Was there a time limit on 'temporary overseas'?

Mr Chauke accommodated all South Africans who had registered. The Committee had to look at the issue of people without barcoded IDs overseas. There were an estimated 1 million people without barcoded IDS, most of whom were white South Africans. A campaign had to be launched to encourage citizens to change their IDs so that their rights could be accommodated.

Mr A Z A Van Jaarsveld (NNP) said that the NNP appreciated the move to include citizens abroad. He asked about the ballot itself. Could people only vote nationally or provincially?

Mr Chauke explained that as the Bill currently stood, it referred only to national elections and not provincial ones.

Mr P M Sibande asked for more clarity on the last sentence's mention of 'his or her intention to vote'.

Adv Malatji explained that a person had to clearly state where they would be casting their vote. This was for logistical purposes.

Ms Van Wyk said was concerned that the wording did not indicate that voters had to vote at a Mission or a Consul. Did the regulations deal with practical implications? It was clear to the Committee but perhaps not to the general public.

Adv Malatji said that it was covered in the regulations. If there was no mission near the South African, that voter would be directed to the nearest country with a mission.

Mr M Mighty (ACDP) asked about the technicalities of the amendment. He said that the word 'intended' inferred a person had to alert the authorities if he/she intended to leave. What did this mean for those already outside?

Mr Chauke said that maybe the word 'or' should be used instead.

Advocate Otto Kellner (State Law Advisor) explained that the critical time was the date of the election. It referred to where a voter intended to be on the day of the election.

Mr Pretorius asked about the regulations on where the votes would be sent. He asked if they would be sent to the provinces. Mr Chauke and Mr Maltji reminded him that it was a national vote.

Mr Pretorius apologised and said that he remembered that the issue had been a suggestion, not an amendment.

Mr Chauke moved that the amendments on the Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill be adopted. It was agreed with no abstentions. He moved that the Committee adopt the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Bill. It was agreed with no abstentions.

Mr Chauke said that the 2nd amendment was good for democracy because it clearly demonstrated that parties could come to a consensus with no majority party bullying.

The meeting was adjourned.

 


Appendix
National Assembly

     

  1. Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the provincial study tour of the North-West province from 13 - 16 October 2003.
  2.  

A. Introduction

A delegation of the Portfolio Committees on Home Affairs, under the leadership of Mr Patrick Chauke (ANC), that included Ms M M Maunye (ANC), Mr K W Morwamoche (ANC), Mr W M Skhosana (ANC), Mr P M Sibande (ANC), Mr S R Pillay (DA) and Mr J F Vermeulen (Committee Secretary), visited the North-West province from 13 - 16 October 2003,

The delegation was accompanied by Mr M S Molamu, Acting Regional Director for the North-West province and Mr J R Chavalala, Chief Director of Civic Services.

The delegation visited the North-West province to exercise oversight over the quality and accessibility of rendering civic services to people in especially rural and disadvantaged areas, as Identity Documents (ID's) and birth certificates are the key to access social security grants. The purpose of the tour was further to directly exercise oversight over the Identity Document campaign that was launched by the Department of Home Affairs in every province. The aim of the ID campaign is to provide all South African citisens with a green bar coded ID document in preparation for the next general elections. The delegation thus monitored the process of ID applications and issuing thereof and the registration of childbirths.

In each area the delegation held meetings with the department, traditional leaders, political parties, the IEC, ward councilors, and other stakeholders. Regional offices, district offices, service points and mobile units were visited to give the delegation an insight into the quality and accessibility of the rendering of civic services in the entire North-West province.

Treasury has set aside R15 million for the ID campaign nationally, of which R1.5 million was given to the North-West province in aid of the campaign. The province is very rural; people are poor and depend on social grants. Especially in the rural areas many people do not have ID's.

The findings of the delegation are as follows:

 

 

 

B. Monday 13 October 2003

1. Moretele district office

       

    1. The office serves a vast area including 112 villages. The area is very remote but the office only has 2 sedans and 2 bakkies. Social Security does assist by providing transport.
    2.  

1.2 In Lekotwane there are no computer terminals. Applications have to be sent to Temba to be captured on computer.

1.3 The office has 3302 undistributed Ids.

1.4 8 volunteers work in the office, 3 are from the Department of Health.

       

    1. At the start of the ID campaign problems were experienced with the payment of photographers, but it has now been corrected.
    2.  

1.6 The programme for the ID campaign in the area was drawn up by Home Affairs and submitted to the Council for approval. They also try to cater for special requests for services as far as possible.

1.7 There are only 2 immigration officers in the area.

1.8 Cases of corruption include priests who sell baptismal certificates to illegal immigrants who in turn apply for late registration of birth.

1.9 Another problem that was experienced in the past is that some traditional leaders charged a levy to deliver peoples Ids

1.10 There is a big backlog of those who do not have Ids in the area. In September 4 200 Id applications were received.

     

  1. Brits district office
  2.  

       

    1. Home Affairs is housed in a clean and neat building that compares favorably with the state of most other Home Affairs offices.
    2.  

      2.2 The ID campaign in the area is drawn up in conjunction with the Madibeng council and relationships with stakeholders was said to be very positive.

       

    3. After overseeing the operations in the office the delegation noted that the quality of fingerprint taking could be improved.
    4.  

 

 

3. Rustenburg regional office

3.1 The office is structurally totally dilapidated and not suitable for an office of any kind.

       

    1. The office has 3500 undistributed Ids and no proper system of distributing uncollected Ids was in place. Many very old Ids, that needed to be destroyed, were also just lying in the office.
    2.  

3.3 The general area where the public came to apply for documents was not suitable as there were no chairs for the public and the 2 computer terminals were not sufficient for the workload.

C. Tuesday 14 October 2003

     

  1. Mogwase district office
  2.  

1.1 The Mogwase office serves a vast area that includes 70 villages.

1.2 The office is short of staff, as 6 permanent posts remained unfilled. The office has employed 10 volunteers to assist with the ID campaign. The office indicated that it would shortly have 20 volunteers.

1.3 The office has only 2 vehicles that go out as mobile units.

       

    1. There are 10 tribal authorities in the area.
    2.  

1.6 The office has 4 photographers and the only problem being experienced is that they regularly run out of film.

1.7 The office has only 4 computers that are not sufficient for the workload.

1.8 Cases of corruption are that of a priest and a headman who sold fraudulent documents to foreigners.

1.9 The office had only 197 uncollected Ids. 3 290 ID applications were received during August and September. Since January the office has received 8 960 ID applications.

1.10 The delegation was told that the visibility of the IEC in the area was not very good and also that the IEC registration weekend only produced 1350 ID applications.

       

    1. The Moses Kotane district council budgeted R100 000 for the ID campaign and has also availed a combi and a van to assist with the campaign.
    2.  

 

2. Mankwe district office

       

    1. The delegation observed that that equipment most needed at the district office was computers and fans.
    2.  

2.2 The other issue that needed to be addressed according to the office management is the confusion from Head Office when sending completed documents. Head Office apparently sends documents to Mankwe when it should be send to Mankweni and vice versa.

3. Madikwe district office

3.1 The office has 13 permanent staff members, 2 service points and 2 mobile units 7 Volunteers are funded by Home affairs and 3 volunteers are funded by other departments.

3.2 The office has to cater for 37 villages and 15 farms.

3.3 The office has only 3 computers, 1 of which does not function properly and there is only 1 printer that works.

3.4 The Council assists with the planning of the ID campaign.

3.5 As a permanent staff member should always accompany volunteers, the delegation was upset to hear that volunteers were sent out alone in mobile units without the supervision of a permanent staff member.

5. Koster (meeting with councilors)

5.1 The area is complex in terms of Home Affairs work as 80 - 90 % of the area comprises farms. It is difficult to reach people on the farms as vehicles are not always available and not all farmers are co-operative.

5.2 There are estimated to be 9000 unregistered voters in the area. The problem is compounded by the fact that there is no permanent Home affairs office in Koster. The municipal area is served by Home Affairs from Madikwe and Rustenburg.

5.3 A system to distribute Ids in the area should also be devised.

5.4 Many foreigners are said to be working in the area and the late registration of births is a cause for concern.

D. Wednesday 15 October 2003

 

1. Mmabatho regional office

1.1 There are 7 Home affairs offices in the Mmabatho sub-region, 73 volunteers, 8 mobile units and 2 640 unclaimed Ids in the sub-region. Since the start of the Id campaign have received 5 610 ID applications.

1.2 The main problems are lack of transport and lack of staff.

       

    1. Stakeholder meetings on the Id campaign are held monthly as the need arises and stakeholders assist as follows in the ID campaign:
    2.  

       

    • Education provides schools as service points to distribute Ids.
    •  

       

    • Health provides volunteers.
    •  

       

    • Local Government assists with transport.
    •  

       

    • The IEC also assist with transport and door-to-door campaign.
    •  

       

    • Traditional offices are used as service points.
    •  

       

    • Social Services work hand in hand with Home affairs and they also provide transport.
    •  

       

    • Labour goes and inspects farms.
    •  

       

    • GCIS helps with communication.
    •  

       

    1. The delegation was told that photographers at the Molopo office have not yet been paid for August and September and that photographers regularly run out of film. Mr Chavalala phoned finance section at Head Office who said that payments were done twice per week and that they were not aware of any problems as all invoices that have been received are attended to.
    2.  

1.4 The delegation was once again told that certain Chiefs charge people a fee when delivering their Ids.

2. Molopo district office

2.1 The quality of fingerprints taken was below standard as the office had no fingerprint roller.

       

    1. Another cause for concern was that applications that were a month old were still lying in the office.
    2.  

2.3 There were 900 unclaimed Ids in the office.

3.Lichtenburg district office

3.1 Home affairs serve 2 municipalities that include 42 areas.

3.2 The lack of transport makes it difficult to reach all the areas as well as the lack of proper service points. 1 municipality assisted by providing 1 kombi.

       

    1. Many foreigners, mainly from Lesotho, attempt to apply for Ids.
    2.  

3.4 Partnerships with other departments are in place and multi-purpose mobile teams go out to serve the community.

3.5 The payment of photographers was a problem at the start of the campaign but that problem has been ironed out.

4.6 6 volunteers are deployed in the area.

4.7 The delegation was told that relationships with stakeholders were good and that the only real problem was a lack of transport.

4.8 There are only 2 immigration officers that serve the 2 municipal areas. More immigration officers are needed.

E. Thursday 16 October 2003

1. Klerksdorp regional office

No stakeholders were present at 09:00 and the delegation decided to first visit mobile units and then return to the regional office for a meeting later in the day.

2. Jouberton mobile unit

2.1 The delegation arrived just after 09:00 to find that the mobile team was not present at Jouberton. The people from the community were waiting in a long queue and some were there from as early as 06:00 in the morning. The delegation was very disturbed to hear that the late coming of the mobile unit was said to be a regular occurrence. The mobile unit arrived at 10:30 and no reasonable explanation was given why the team was late. The problem is compounded by the fact that the community rightly feels that they are treated without respect and dignity. They have to wait for hours in the sun for the Home Affairs officials to arrive and then some of them are turned away by the close of business at 16:00. It was further alleged that some officials ask for bribes to help people.

2.3 One young lady was crying as the Home affairs officials lost her original documents as they had to take documents to the office to make photocopies as no photocopier was available at the mobile service points.

3 Alabama mobile unit

3.1 The mobile service point at Alabama was very well run and well equipped, but services here were much less needed than at Jouberton where there were long queues of people.

4. Klerksdorp regional office

4.1 At the meeting at the regional office the delegation received an unsatisfactory briefing about the work of Home Affairs in the area. The delegation is of the opinion that this was mainly due to the lack of leadership at the office. The regional representative and the office head was said to be on leave at the time of our visit. When the delegation asked the person who was left in charge of the office how he planned to address the unacceptable behavior of the person in charge of the mobile team that allegedly frequently arrived late at Jouberton, he said that he could not do anything as he and the alleged perpetrator had the same rank. This situation is totally unacceptable and the regional director must insure that accountability by all officials is upheld at all times. The delegation did not engage the staff who were left in charge of the office, as they did not have any decision making authority.

4.2 The campaign was not well co-ordinated in the area due to a lack of leadership and accountability. The delegation was informed of more incidents where mobile teams arrived late at service points.

       

    1. The question that was raised from the floor is that the department only issued about 600 Ids at Makwase per week and that this was not nearly enough to reach the estimated 80 000 people who where not registered to vote in the area. Makwase is served only once a week by 1 mobile unit, this is clearly insufficient for such a vast area.
    2.  

4.4 The office has 3 mobile units and 23 volunteers. Stakeholders who attended the meeting said that the main problems of the department was that they had too few staff, volunteers and transport to really be effective in the ID campaign

5 Potchefstroom district office

5.1 The office has 10 permanent staff members, 9 are clerks and 1 is an immigration officer. The office manager said that 21 permanent staff member's e actually needed. The office has 6 volunteers, 30 from Home affairs and 3 from Health. 5 Photographers are attached to the office and no problems is being experienced by them regarding payment for services rendered.

5.2 Major problems were said to be lack of permanent staff, transport and volunteers. Ventersdorp, Fochville and Potchefstroom needed more service point. The office manager further said that Home Afafirs has not managed to reach all the villages and farms around Ventersdorp. Both Ventersdorp and Potchefstroom are vast areas and to reach all the people in the area more volunteers and transport is needed. Only 1 vehicle was allocated to the entire Potchefstroom area.

5.3 The ID campaign stakeholder's forum was said to meet 3 times per month to plan activities for the campaign.

5.4 As Fochville is near mines many foreigners try to apply for Ids. The delegation once again heard of pastors who well baptismal certificates.

F. General observations and recommendations

     

  1. Similar to other provinces that were visited, the state of some buildings in which the department is accommodated in the province is in a very atrocious condition. The run-down and dilapidated state of the buildings is a contributing factor to low morale amongst officials. The building in which Home Affairs is housed in Rustenburg is one of the most dilapidated seen by the Committee. The Committee has recommended in previous reports that an audit of the condition of buildings in which Home Affairs is housed should be done in all provinces and that the department should forward the findings to the Department of Public works and also request suitable accommodation. We trust that the Rustenburg office will be included as part of the audit.
  2.  

     

     

  3. Equipment is lacking at many offices and this seriously hampers service delivery and the effectiveness of the ID campaign. Lack of staff and vehicles is a general problem. An example is that of the Mogwase office that has to serve 70 villages with 2 mobile units. Another extreme example is that of the Klerksdorp, Potchefstroom and Ventersdorp areas that are vast and in dire need of more transport and volunteers to make the campaign more effective and to reach the rural people in need of civic services. The Koster area definitively needs a permanent office with at least 1 mobile unit permanently attached to the office. The Committee recommends that the Regional Director in the province provide Home Affairs Head Office with a needs analysis of transport and volunteers, and that a copy be forwarded to the Committee. Head Office could then allocate some of the cars that has recently been released by Government Garage to the areas where they are most needed.
  4.  

     

     

  5. The delegation was shocked to hear reports from various sources that some traditional authorities charged levies to deliver Ids to people. The department should report all such cases to the house of traditional leaders in the province.
  6.  

     

     

  7. The delegation was further shocked to hear of so many instances where priests sell baptismal certificates to foreigners who then apply for late registration of birth. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Home Affairs seldom report such cases to the police. The Committee recommends that all such cases should be reported to the police. Head office should communicate to all provinces that all such allegations should always be reported to the police and to Home Affairs head office.
  8.  

     

     

  9. Management is lacking at the Madikwe office and at the Klerksdorp office. The fiasco that met the delegation at the Jouberton office confirmed that Head Office has to intervene by providing management support and closer guidance to the office. The Committee requests that it be provided with a written report of what measures were taken to correct the problems at the Klerksdorp office.
  10.  

     

  11. The relationship between Home Affairs, stakeholders and the Council in the Moses Kotane Municipal ward is a prime example of co-operative governance. The regional director should encourage Home Affairs offices in the province to work closer with councils and stakeholders on the ID campaign.
  12. The general impression of Home Affairs work and the ID campaign in the province is favourable, except for the areas that have been highlighted in the report.
  13. Many people in the province are still in need of bar coded Ids and the Committee urges the department to provide especially volunteers and transport to the areas that has been identified. Without this the ID campaign will fail to reach its goals in the province.

 

 


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