In the presence of the Minister, the Department of Home Affairs presented its performance and expenditure for the first quarter of the 2020/21 financial year. The Department mentioned that most of the targets were not achieved during the first quarter due to the COVID-19 lockdown and that projects paused during the lockdown have been resumed. Out of 28 set targets only eight were achieved by the Department.
Members were concerned that more than half of the Department’s targets were not achieved and asked whether a strategic plan was in place to address the issue of unachieved targets.
Concerns were also raised on the delays by the Department to issue IDs to learners who are expected to write their matric exams and to citizens ahead of the local elections as well as the renewal process for passports to South African citizens who are in other countries.
On immigration, Members applauded the Department officials for working tirelessly in assisting people and questioned whether the refugee offices and relevant committees were functioning during the lockdown.
The Acting Chairperson welcomed Members back and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) representatives. He appreciated the work done by Cabinet in addressing issues during COVID-19.
On the letter that was received from the Minister on the update on the Constitutional Court Electoral Amendment, the Acting Chairperson asked Members to approve the letter from the Minister.
Members noted and accepted the letter from the Minister.
DHA Quarter One Performance Review Report 2020/21
Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, thanked the Committee for accepting the letter and listed the impact of COVID-19 on the Department of Home Affairs and the certificates and identification documents that were issued during the different levels of the lockdown. The Minister also provided details on the immigration between the borders as well as the travelling permits and passports that were issued for the different ports of entry in the country. The Minister highlighted that the first quarter performance of the Department will reflect the absence of the Department of Home Affairs services during the lockdown.
Mr Jackson McKay, Acting Director-General, DHA, outlined the vision, mission and values of the Department. The Department had 28 targets planned and 20 of the targets were not achieved by the Department.
Programme 1: Administration had a 24% achievement, Programme 2: Civic Affairs had a 33% achievement and Programme 3: Immigration Services had a 37.5% achievement. He provided a comparison of the targets achieved in the previous financial year and the current financial year. He outlined the targets that were not achieved and the reasons for the non-achievement of the targets.
Mr Gordon Hollamby, Chief Financial Officer, DHA, outlined the budget and expenditure outcomes for the firstquarter programmes and said that less than 25% of the budget was spent which was an underspending by the Department.
Mr A Roos (DA) commented on the administration system projects which were paused during the lockdown and asked what the plan was in resuming these projects. On the household spending, he said that there is a yearly pattern of the pay-outs and gratuities and asked why the pattern continues and where the income overrun will come from in the current year and. He also asked if the Department’s staff lost their leave days during the lockdown and raised concerns on the number of IDs that were issued especially for the school learners who do not have IDs and cannot write matric exams. He asked what the Department’s plan was in fast tracking the process of issuing IDs to learners.
To the CFO, he asked how the self-financing plan was going to affect the Government Printing Works (GPW) revenue and the end-of-year budget. On the issue of passports, he said that there are many South Africans who cannot return to the country because they have to renew their passports by booking an appointment and he asked why an appointment has to be booked by these South Africans. He applauded the Acting Deputy Director General: Immigration Services, Mr Modiri Matthews, for assisting people during the lockdown. On the refugee reception offices, he asked whether the offices are open during level one of the lockdown and whether the Refugees Appeals Authority (RAA) and the Standing Committee of Refugee Affairs (SCRA) are operational, if not, he asked what the Department’s plan was in resuming the activities of the reception offices. He welcomed the review of the immigration policy and hoped that it would consider immigration threats.
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) welcomed the presentation by the Department and noted that the Department has been negatively impacted by COVID-19. She asked whether the Department has plans in place to ensure that the affected projects of the Department are resumed and are operational.
Ms L Tito (EFF) observed that the Department had low expenditure yet there are unfilled vacancies – what is the Department’s plan to fill vacancies?. On the mobile units, she asked for the specifications of the units per province, the number of learners that were assisted and how learners were assisted in each of the provinces. On the issuing of IDs, she said the process needs to be fast tracked by the Department because local elections will take place and that the Department needs to come up with strategies to address the issue.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) welcomed the presentation by the Department and shared the sentiments of the assistance that was provided by the Acting Deputy Directors-General, Mr Matthews and Mr Thomas Sigama, during the lockdown. She acknowledged that the targets set by the Department could not be achieved because of COVID-19 but she raised concerns that learners did not receive their ID documents to register for matric exams and that with elections coming up most people do not have IDs which means they will be unable to vote and asked what the Department strategy was in addressing the issues. She also questioned the Minister on the ongoing issue of the blocked IDs and asked how the issue will be addressed because people will not be able to vote if their ID0s are blocked. She said that no feedback was provided by the Department after follow-up questions were submitted for clarity and asked for the status of the responses.
Mr D Moela (ANC) welcomed the presentation and said that it is understandable why some targets were not achieved. He asked what the way forward was in achieving the targets and suggested that a monitoring tool is used to ensure achievement of the targets. He also asked how the Department planned on avoiding disruptions with the upcoming elections in ensuring that every citizen has an ID.
On the household spending, Mr Hollamby explained that there is always an annual over-spending and that the issue is caused by the unpredictable resignation of people and he noted that the budget will be increased during the adjustments. On the effects of the self-financing plan on the GWP revenue, he said that there is an existing relationship between the sales of enabling documents such as passports and IDs by the Department and the printing of these documents by the GPW which means that if revenue is not generated by the Department, then the GPW also has no revenue. He explained that the revenue projections of the Department have been reduced to R600 million to ensure that targets are met.
On the Department plans and strategy to fast track processes, Mr McKay explained that as per government’s request, the Department’s Annual Performance Plans and Strategic Plans had to be adjusted, revised and reviewed and will be presented to the Portfolio Committee once available and will address the issue raised by Members.
On the refugee reception offices, he said that the offices remain closed under level one of the lockdown and that plans to reopen the offices will only be implemented after the lockdown period. He said that the Refugees Appeals Authority (RAA) and the Standing Committee of Refugee Affairs (SCRA) have been and still are operational during the lockdown.
On the booking of appointments to renew passports, he said that he will follow up on the process because of the COVID-19 regulations to ensure social distancing in the various countries where South Africans are stranded.
On the follow up questions that were sent to the Department, he said that the responses were submitted but a follow up will be done on the status of the responses.
On resuming the process of issuing passports, marriage and birth certificates, he said that under level two of the lockdown, there was a limit on the number of applications that could be made but under level one more applications can be made.
On the distribution of the mobile units for learners, he said that units were distributed in the Eastern Cape at Buffalo City, Raymond Mhlaba District, Amatola District, Mbhashe municipality, OR Tambo, Alfred Nzo Municipality, Mbizana municipality, Ingquza Hill Municipality, King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality and the Chris Hani Municipality. He also said that the Department is aware that community members travel long distances to go to a Home Affairs office and that challenges are being addressed through the mobile offices in the areas. Offices in the Eastern Cape were closed because of staff members who tested positive for COVID-19 but have resumed activities and certificates have been issued without any disruptions.
Minister Motsoaledi said that the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and the Deputy Minister of Basic Education launched a programme in Mpumalanga to ensure that IDs are issued to learners who would be writing matric exams. The issue was that many IDs had to be issued and that mobile units in the rural areas failed to work because of network connectivity issues. The information on the progress of the issuing of IDs will be shared with Members once the information is available.
Minister Motsoaledi thanked Members for their contributions to the work of the Department and highlighted that the issuing of IDs was done, and collections could be made from lockdown level three but only a few were collected. The Department sends a notification when the IDs are ready for collection, but the Department will ensure that every citizen who applied for an ID receives their ID in time for the upcoming elections. On the blocked IDs, the Minister explained that Home Affairs blocks IDs daily based on the information gathered on people such as fraud, but in Mpumalanga the process of blocking is ongoing and a report has been submitted by provincial officials on the finalisation of the process.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the Department of Home Affairs for the work that has been done during the lockdown and the programmes that have been initiated. Although all the targets were not achieved, the Department should be applauded for taking responsibility and accountability for this. Monitoring will be done for the targets that were not achieved because of COVID-19. Excuses of non-achievement of targets because of COVID-19 should be avoided in future by the Department and the plans of addressing issues of IDs that are issued to learners for exams are welcomed.
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