In a virtual meeting, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) presented its reports for quarters two and three of the 2020/21 financial year. Before the presentation, the Minister introduced the newly appointed head of the Department's counter-corruption unit, Ms Conny Moitse.
Members heard that the period covered in the presentation fell within various levels of the Covid-19 lockdown and also coincided with severe budget cuts.
They were told that the DHA had a number of key targets across its three programmes, namely: administration, civic affairs and immigration affairs. During the two quarters, a number of key targets were not achieved due to the effects of the Covid 19 restrictions. The key targets that they were able to achieve during this period included: integration of the e-Visa phase 1 with the payment gateway and Central List Orchestration: the submission of a Concept Paper for a White paper on Citizenship and Civil Registration to the Director General for approval; and conducting 107 law enforcement operations and inspections . Members also learnt of the corrective measures taken by the Department with regards to the targets that were not achieved.
In the second quarter, the Department’s expenditure was 4.9 percent below that which had been projected. At the end of September, the current budget was R9 029 629 000, which was then cut by R562 million in the third quarter and by a further R301 million in the last quarter.
There was overall concern among Members about the targets that were not achieved, but also an acknowledgement of the impact of Covid-19 during the two quarters. A member asked if there was a plan to tackle the programme targets that were not achieved. Concerns were also raised regarding the backlogs in the Department. They were urged to remain focussed and have a strategic plan for dealing with the backlogs. Members asked if the public would be consulted on an access model study being conducted for the DHA. There were questions about the achievement of inspection targets, with concerns that it seemed like a ‘tick box’ exercise, as the results did not reflect what was happening on the ground.
There were a number of questions raised in relation to the budget and the expenditure. These included the amount in fines paid by airlines; how much was spent on legal fees in the two quarters; and what the reason was for under-expenditure relating to IT or software. Members were also concerned about the expenditure on households, which was said to be a continuing problem. A question was raised on whether the Department would be acquiring more mobile units.
Members welcomed the appointment of Ms Moitse with sentiments that she was a good fit for the role given that she was a former head of the organised crime unit in the SAPS.
The Committee considered a report on the President’s determination on salaries for Commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The determination was that salaries should be frozen. The Committee Members adopted the report, with two abstentions.
Due to the Committee Chairperson, Adv B Bongo, being on leave, the Committee Members elected Mr M Chabane (ANC) as the acting Chairperson.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their commitment to conducting oversight of the Government Printing Works (GPW). Once the report had been completed, it would be tabled for the Committee and they would be able to go forward. He also thanked the Minister, the Deputy Minister’s team and the Director-General for being with the Committee for the oversight and interacting with the executives of the Departments of Public Works and Labour.
The Minister for Home Affairs, Mr Aaron Motsoaledi, introduced the newly appointed Deputy Director- General for the Department's anti-corruption unit, Adv Conny Moitse. Adv Moitse was the head of the organised crime unit in the South African Police Service (SAPS). In 2007, after obtaining an LLB degree, she joined the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). While at Home Affairs she obtained her LLM and MBA degrees. He stated that by appointing a head of the unit, they were starting to build up the Department’s anti-corruption unit.
He said that the presentation included the reports for the second and third quarters, which fell within various stages of the Covid-19 lockdown. As a result of the lockdown, performance would have varied. This was also a time when the Department was experiencing severe budget cuts and they had to shift money around to try and balance things.
DHA performance Quarter 2 & 3 2020/21 FY
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Deputy Director-General: Institutional Planning and Support, DHA, presented the performance reports for quarters two and three of the financial year 2020/21.
The Department of Home Affairs has identified the following outcomes for the 2020 to 2025 period:
-Secure management of international migration resulting in South Africa’s interests being served and fulfilling international commitments
-Secure and efficient management of citizenship and civil registration to fulfil constitutional and international obligations
-Efficient asylum seeker and refugee system in compliance with domestic and international obligations
-Secure population register to empower citizens, enable inclusivity, economic development and national security
-DHA positioned to contribute positively to a capable and developmental state
Members were taken through the quarterly performance of each of the departmental programmes, highlighting targets achieved and targets not achieved - see presentation attached for further details
Reasons for targets not achieved
-The COVID-19 lockdown remained a challenge during the quarter under review as some of the services were not rendered. The DHA resumed the provision of some services towards the end of the 2nd quarter
-Services that were completely unavailable during the 2nd Quarter include the following: Issuing of business, general work and critical skills visas
-Services that became available towards the end of the 2nd Quarter include the following: Applications for identity cards and document and Applications for all types of passports
-Access to health facilities continued to be a challenge and this negatively impacted on birth registration as well as hospital connectivity targets.
-In order to observe social distance, the department and GPW operated with skeleton staff.
-IT system downtime affected the timelines for processing of enabling documents. As a result applications that were not replicating to the national servers during August 2020 caused delays in the processing of applications.
-The passport dispatch system reflected time-out errors thereby delaying the dispatching of passports to front line offices
-Restrictions on international travels impacted negatively on the roll-out of the E-visa system
-The Department had to observe the COVID-19 health and safety requirements whereby social distance necessitated for officials to work on a rotation basis.
-Front offices did not function with 100% staff compliment and staff members could not be substituted due to capacity challenges.
-Access to health facilities reduced due to COVID-19.
-Non-seating of the JCPS cluster delayed the presentation of the Official Identity Management Policy to Cabinet
-The Minister requested further consultations on the draft Marriage Policy prior to its submission to Cabinet
-Delays in the finalisation of the revised Commencement Proclamation. The proclamation was signed by the President in December 2020
Mr Gordon Hollamby, Chief Financial Officer, DHA, presented the budgets for quarters two and three.
In terms of the linear projections, the Department’s spending should have been at 50 percent at the end of September 2020. Actual spending was at 45.1 percent. The current budget as at September 2021 was R9 029 629 000, but it was cut in the third quarter by R562 million, and in the last quarter by another R301 million.
(The attached presentation provides details of the spending.)
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) began by welcoming the new head of the counter-corruption unit. She suggested that she should be invited to come before the Committee to give a presentation on the work of the unit and to share some of the plans she had for fighting corruption and fraud dealing with syndicates at the Department. With regards to targets not achieved, she said no one wanted a presentation where there were targets that had not been achieved. However, the limitations of the lockdown and the implications it had for the services of the Department must be considered. She referred to delays in the appointment of a service provider due to the involvement of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and said it was worrying how SITA had a hold on government departments and in many instances stifled their operations. What were the reasons SITA gave for not allowing the Department to look for the service provider on its own?
Regarding immigration inspections, she said that two stories were presented, with one slide showing how the Department had over-achieved with inspections and the other showing that they missed the inspections target by one, which was said to be an oversight by management. She said that she feared that the inspections seemed to be a “tick box” exercise, while the practical implication of the immigration inspections on the ground was much different from what was seen in the presentations. People said that some businesses in certain sectors were employing foreign nationals only, and the picture was not getting better. It was fine to say that they had over achieved on a target, but if it was not making an impact on the people on the ground, then it was a problem for her. She suggested that at some stage the Committee should engage with the immigration inspectorate on some of these targets to see what they were actually doing or achieving, as it did not seem to be much. They should show, in the inspections where they overachieved, what they found on the ground and how they were dealing with the issues of businesses employing undocumented or illegal migrants.
Regarding the Border Management Authority (BMA), she expressed concern that vacancies had not been filled in the two quarters, saying that the Committee should have a presentation on the filling of vacancies, which Members had been asking for.
She asked whether the Department was owed money from fines on airlines. How much was spent on legal fees in the two quarters?
Ms A Molekwa (ANC) noted that the Department did not achieve most of the programmes because of the interruptions caused by Covid 19. Was there any plan of action to tackle the programmes that were not achieved? If there was a plan, she encouraged the Department to keep updating the Committee on the progress.
Mr M Tshwaku (EFF) welcomed the head of the anti-corruption unit, with the hope that she would do a good job and would not use the position to victimise people, but to conduct investigations without fear or favour. There should not be any reports of people being harassed or victimised. Members would be watching the unit closely because they were aware of the corruption problem in the Department.
What was the reason for the under expenditure relating to the IT or software? Was it due to Covid 19? He was concerned about the under-spending in this regard as it was known that the system in the Department was always down. Money should be spent so that the systems were updated. A concern that he had raised with the Committee many times was that people went to the Department’s offices only to find that the system was down. He reiterated that they should ensure that the money was spent to prevent a crisis. Highlighting the Department’s performance indicator on efficient service delivery, he said that they needed to rethink and ensure that they did under spend on the systems. He believed that the systems could be updated, and it was not a matter of Covid-19.
Had the Department considered establishing satellite offices? Had they conducted site checks to see how many people they were serving in an area? Were they not too far from communities that they wanted to serve? He said that he saw that there was under expenditure in this regard. Was there a plan to open more offices so that the services were closer to people? In the Eastern Cape, the Butterworth office was serving probably 20 0r 30 rural areas.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) said the late submission of the presentation by the Department was an inconvenience as Members spent most of the time on the road, and when they did not get the presentations on time, they did not have time to prepare. She hoped that in future the Department would send the presentation 48 hours before the meeting.
In quarter three the Department had achieved 194 891 registrations of births which she believed to be commendable considering the circumstances that the Department was working under.
She asked how often the Bid Adjudication Committee met in 2020. How many of the eight tenders that were meant to be processed were delayed? Lastly, when were the citizenship applications services going to open? In her understanding, the services had been closed since March 2020, during the initial lockdown, and even after moving to level 1, the service had not opened.
Ms L Tito (EFF) asked if the Department can indicate where the 100 mobile offices were. Were there any plans to acquire more trucks?
Mr A Roos (DA) welcomed the appointment of Adv Moitse, saying that as the former head of the organized crime unit at SAPS, she was the perfect appointment for Home Affairs.
Referring to the budget, he said spending on households was a matter that did not seem to be resolved. The CFO had mentioned that the budget allocation needed to be fixed. He referred to a discussion in the previous year about issues around n which it was said that it was leave accrual and people that left. He asked if there were no measures that could be taken to limit the amount of leave that was accrued. Was the total risk assessed so that they knew what the risk was in a specific year when the amounts were allocated? Where did the money come from when the budget was exceeded?
Did the access model include birth registrations at health facilities? It was mentioned that the provinces would be consulted, but was the general public also going to be consulted regarding the access model? He said that the access models were developed from a Geographic Information System (GIS) where data were put in and a catchment was more or less worked out. However, it could be found that the catchments did not make sense on the ground. Would there be some sort of public input with regard to the access model?
Mr K Pillay (ANC) said that the Department must be commended because it had to adapt to a new normal due to Covid-19. A lot of what was done would be by trial and error; trying to implement new initiatives, trying to implement alternative approaches to many things so that they could still continue to provide a service.
He expressed a concern in regard to backlogs saying that if the Department could work very swiftly to ensure that there was some kind of strategic plan around how they addressed backlogs, that would take them a long way. They should not pile up more backlogs while they were still trying to clear previous ones. It was important that they were focused and had a strategic plan.
Mr Tommy Makhode, Director-General, DHA, said in regard to the inspectorate team that they would provide the Committee with the analysis that was requested. However, it will be informed by the current capacity levels that they had in the team as there were not a lot of people; it was an issue that they had raised within the government’s security cluster. As Ms van der Merwe had indicated, the entire security cluster was underfunded. There were currently about 600 officials in that section and therefore they currently relied on partnerships with other law enforcement authorities such as the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), the Tshwane Metropolitan Police and the SAPS in Pretoria. It would take a bit of time to get to the desired impact because of the numbers that they currently had. He stated that Adv Moitse had been with the Department for some time, so she was not a new hand and was familiar with the issues facing the Department. They would come back to the Committee to share the strategy that was requested by Ms Van de Merwe. The presentation was almost ready. Regarding the closure of permanent residence permit applications, he said clients could still apply for other services, such as temporary permits. The permanent residence permits were linked to the Disaster Management Regulations, and there had been a risk-based approach with regards to opening up some of the services. All those were approved by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).
Regarding the backlogs, he said that from 1 June 2021, there was a team that was working on the backlogs; with hopes that in the next month or so, they would have dealt with a lot of the issues that were raised by Mr Pillay. Linked to that, they had set up a team that was working on queries - those coming from members of the public and from Members of Parliament. This team was reporting directly to the Director-General and the Minister. Their task was to resolve all the queries within a period of 14 days while also providing feedback to the clients.
With regards to the offices, he said it depends on the economic outlook of the country. As and when the economic conditions improved, they will then look into some of the issues that were raised. However, there was work being done around their offices; he referenced work done in Taung, Mokopane and Thohoyandou in Limpopo. He said that they would also be having interactions in Matatiele on the next day, 2 June 2021, about relocating the current office to a better one that the Municipality was providing. The purchase of new trucks would also depend on the economic outlook. He then requested the Committee Secretary to share the routes of the trucks with the Members.
The DDG, Mr Mavuso, presented the communications between the Department and SITA, in which it was indicated that the Department had asked to be exempted from the procurement process and be allowed to run the tender process through its own supply chain management.
During the two quarters, mitigation plans were put in place in order to ramp up for the targets that were not met. He stated that they took a decision in 2013 that they were not going to report on partially achieved targets. It should be made clear that if certain targets had not been achieved, it did not indicate that no work was done; work had been done, but had not been completed. Hence it had been reported as not achieved.
Regarding the underspending in IT, he said that the underspending did not relate to, for example, system development or paying for maintenance. In some of the instances, it is when they had not received invoices from some of their service providers for software, particularly licences.
In terms of the access study, he said that they used a geographic access model study and also the DHA access model. For example, in the Eastern Cape they used a lot of mobile units. He emphasised that there were certain offices that were not used effectively. For example, an office in Zwelitsha was not used as people went to King Williams’ Town. At the next meeting, they would probably have to share the statistics around the performance of certain offices. They had modernised an office in Middledrift that was not being used effectively.
He apologised for the late submission of the presentation to the Committee.
Regarding the mobile units, he said that there had been a plan this year to provide 48 additional trucks. However, the Department had decided to resolve the issue of connectivity in rural areas. They had now installed a VSAT satellite in one of the trucks. They want trucks to have redundancy. That is, they must have two ways of connecting, with the LTE router and the VSAT satellite. The VSAT satellite is not limited by the physical infrastructure of towers, which were not moveable. They wanted to make sure that if one connection failed, they could use the second one.
With the access model, they looked at the entire footprint of the Department. The Department did an analysis with the Minister in August 2019, where it was identified that there were 1 445 health facilities where births occurred. They then divided them into five categories. The first three categories accounted for 80 percent of births in the country. They were now focusing on those three categories to ensure that they connected those, as part of the footprint expansion. The issue of having birth registration facilities at the hospitals was mainly to ensure convenience and also to ensure that the mother did not have to go to a DHA office with a small baby after being discharged.
Regarding public consultation, he said that it was not about public policy making when it came to the access model. It was about looking at the efficient utilisation and deployment of resources by the Department. If they were to go to the members of the public, everyone would want a DHA office on their street. They were dealing with constrained resources. He referred to difficulties in forming partnerships with banks. The DHA had an office in Durban that was ready to partner with one of the banks, but they did not have the staff to send there. Until they had signed the partnership agreement and moved out of the pilot phase, they still had to provide the personnel. Once they had signed the agreement, the bank would provide the personnel. He said that they were thus faced with a “chicken and egg” situation.
Mr Hollamby said that airlines did pay fines during the past financial year but it was very low when compared to the previous years. The amount in penalties that they collected in 2021 was R768 000 in comparison to more than R24 million, in the previous financial year.
He said that he did not readily have the legal costs for quarters two and three, but he would provide them to the Committee.
At the end of September, they had already spent close to 93 percent of the budget for buildings and other fixed structures. This was a problem, because in the last quarter they had to borrow money from other people to make sure they paid their Department of Public Works commitments. They did not have excess funds for buildings and fixed structures.
Regarding software, he said that they usually paid for their licences in the last quarter. For this financial year, they spent the full allocation for intangibles. The Home Affairs Bid Advisory Committee (BAC) met every second week. As far as he knew, they had not missed a single meeting.
The leave liabilities were limited to the extent that you lost any leave credits that had not been used at the end of a cycle. It was capped leave that grew with pay progression. If there was accumulated capped leave in 2010 and there was a promotion or notch increment, then the leave liability grew in that context.
Regarding spending on households, it was difficult to budget for it as branches must budget for it themselves. As a result of the pressures, people preferred not to budget for the reality that some people might leave or retire or die. He said that the Department would then ask National Treasury for approval to take money allocated for other goods and services or compensation of employees, depending on where there was a saving. He said that households was strictly speaking a Cost of Employees (COE) sub-item; it was supposed to be in the same category as salaries but, for some reason, it was classified under transfer payments. For the current financial year, their expenditure on households was just over R25 million. The money would be taken from goods and services everywhere in the Department and be centralised, rather than leaving it in a branch.
Adv Moitse thanked the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the Members for welcoming her. She said that she looked forward to working with the Committee in a cordial way. The requested input on the anti-corruption branch would be ready in the third week of June, as they had been working on the presentation.
The Deputy Minister, Mr Njabulo Nzuza, thanked the Committee Members for the commitment and support that they had given the Department and their understanding of the material conditions in which the Department operated during the second and third quarters in terms of the lockdown. He said that in as much as they did not make the targets for the second and third quarter for bank registration and the issuing of smart ID cards, they were increased in the fourth quarter so that they could cover the backlog. It would be seen that they were able to catch up with the backlog, eventually meeting the target that was set for the year.
The Minister said that the issues regarding the inspections by the immigration officers had to do with a gap in the legislative arsenal. He had not been aware of it until the President appointed an inter-ministerial committee on immigration which was chaired by himself and the Minister of Employment and Labour. When he went to the first meeting, he was very eager to hear about the issue of quotas because the Minister of Finance, Mr Tito Mboweni , had already mentioned, in one of the budget speeches, that in some sectors he would like to see quotas where 60 percent of employees were South African nationals and 40 percent were foreign nationals. He was eager for that to be implemented, only to find that there was no act of Parliament that actually provided for that. The quota of 60:40 applied only when a foreign company established a factory in South Africa. The foreign company was required to only bring 40 percent of its people from outside the country, and 60 percent must be South African nationals. For factories that were already based in the country and owned by South Africans, there was no law to prevent them from hiring 100 percent foreign nationals. It was more glaring in the trucking industry. During one of the inspections, he said, he was eager to find employers in the trucking industry, who could be caught and punished for deliberately ignoring South Africans. He stated that he had nothing against foreign nationals but it was known that the employers were hiring them for exploitation purposes. So he was eager for the inspections only to find that the results yielded very little, because the employers knew that they will only be punished if they hired an undocumented migrant. If they hired a documented migrant, the law would not stop them; even if they hired 100 percent foreign nationals.
So as a result, they sat down with the Minister of Employment and Labour to discuss a Bill to be sent to Parliament about quotas in various sectors. He highlighted that this question was brought up a lot in the hospitality industry. If inspectors examined the hospitality industry, they would definitely find foreign nationals, though they would be documented. The hiring of illegal migrants usually occurred in agriculture, on farms which were difficult to access.
The Minister said things were no longer as they had been reported in quarters two and three. They were reporting on these quarters as it was procedure, but it did not mean that if they failed to achieve something in June last year, it had not been corrected. Many of the things that were not achieved had been corrected. At lockdown level 5, they were not issuing birth certificates but as the country went to the lower lockdown levels, they launched programmes to catch up. All the children that were born during level 5 lockdown had now been registered. There was therefore no backlog on birth registrations.
Regarding citizenship and permanent residence, he said that he wanted the Members to understand the Department’s situation. The world was facing a pandemic, with every country looking inwards on how to save its own citizens. How far did they open up the system to say that everybody must come to the country, when the country was facing a pandemic which was unpredictable? Therefore, many countries were inward-looking on how to fight the virus inside the country, and how to serve their nationals before opening up to everyone. These were the conditions to be taken seriously when they made these decisions.
He said that he agreed with Ms Tito regarding the issue of trucks. He liked working with trucks because it was easy, unlike offices. Sometimes, there was an agreement on offices, only to find that they were not used. With a truck, when it was seen that it was underused, it can be moved somewhere else where it was needed. He supported getting more trucks, but as mentioned before, it would depend on the economy.
Regarding the access model, he said it is a scientific study rather than a public participation programme. It was given to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). They wanted to know where the flow of people was. There were times at which he would ordinarily say that all offices should go to the townships and rural areas. However, officials would inform him that people went to town to do other things and went to the Home Affairs office there. Many people from the rural areas went to town for other services along with Home Affairs services. They had to study the behaviour of people, the patterns of economic development and movement and so on. They will also include what they knew about social interactions as politicians.
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the draft notice determining the remuneration of Commissioners of the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) for 2020/21
The Committee Secretary presented for adoption a report on the remuneration of the Commissioners of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC).
The report stated the Committee concurred with the President’s determination that a retrospective salary freeze or zero percent increase be implemented for the Chairperson and other full-time Commissioners given their salary level for the 2020/21 financial year. For a part-time Commissioner, a similar freeze would apply to the daily or hourly rate which they received for 2020/21 over and above the salary freeze applicable to Judges. The Committee recommended that the National Assembly approve the draft notice determining the remuneration of the IEC.
The Committee adopted the report with two abstentions from Mr Tshwaku and Ms Tito.
Announcements and closing remarks
The Committee Secretary announced that this was the last meeting for the term and the next meeting, for the third quarter, would be scheduled for 16 August 2021. The Chairperson requested the Committee Secretary track the progress on various issues raised in the Committee. He said that Members would be required to come back to be briefed by the IEC on the preparations for the local government elections.
He thanked the Committee Members and adjourned the meeting.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.