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HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 March 2000
BUDGET: MIGRATION; FILM & PUBLICATION BOARD
Documents Handed Out:
Film and Publication Board (FPB) - "Draft Classification Guidelines for Public Feedback"
FPB Brochure - "List of Movies Complained About, With Responses"
FPB Brochure - "Whatever Happened to Censorship?"
Officials dealing with Migration and the Film and Publication Board both complained of insufficient staff and budget to accomplish fully their mandate.
The committee questioned the Deputy Director General on the large budget amounts for consultants and a special advisor, refugee numbers and origin as well as the Umtata government printing works.
The Chairperson, Mr Mokoena (ANC), opened the meeting and noted that with the vote on the Department's budget being scheduled for May, some of the time pressure on the Committee is off. The Committee will have the rest of March and all of April to finish the budget review process, and to conduct on-site visits at various Department facilities.
He then invited the Department's Deputy Director General, Mr Lambinon to discuss issues pertaining to migration and auxiliary services matters. He commenced by noting that issuance of passports falls within the "citizen services" category he addressed at the Committee's March 8 meeting, and that the Independent Electoral Commission, as an independent body falling only nominally under the Department's ambit, should be dealt with separately.
The Deputy Director General stated that there are many pressing issues, including the "staggeringly problematic" need to deal with illegal aliens, who take advantage of the country's "vast and porous" borders. He went on to indicate that the Department is finding the problem "nearly impossible to manage", given the budgetary constraints which also affect the SAPS and SANDF's ability to assist in the task. He suggested that perhaps emphasizing sanctions against employers who hire illegals might help, as it has in other countries, but that this is only part of a solution. He identified dealing with "refugees" as a difficult matter, citing the fact that many are in fact economically rather than politically motivated to come here, and that the procedure for removing those whose claims are not bona fide is cumbersome. He again noted the other core migration functions the Department is responsible for.
Discussion on migration and budget matters
In response to the questions of Mr Chikane (ANC) about how many refugees are in the country, and where they are from, Ms Marks of the Department indicated that there are 8,000 recognized "refugees", mainly from Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi, most of whom reside in Gauteng. She went on to describe the limited services the government provides to them, and also stated that there another 17,000 applications for "refugee" status pending, but that most will be turned down as fraudulent.
Mr Walters (DP) noted that the proposed budget for immigration services appeared to have been slashed by R8M, and asked how the Department could cope with all the matters it is responsible for. Mr Lambinon acknowledged that the Department cannot discharge its many duties without more money.
Echoing the concerns of Ms Maunye (ANC) about the spending of major amounts on consultant fees when it is clear the Department cannot do its jobs, Walters also asked about the fee allocation of R1.6M over four years for the Minister's "special advisor". In reply the Deputy Director General stated that it was appropriate for the Minister to address that question, and inquiries concerning the recently requested R100,000 increase in that allocation, but noted that consultants often have special skills (for example in the Information Technology field) that eventually result in savings. It was also mentioned that this particular advisor was involved with the development of HANIS.
Mr Lekgoro (ANC) wondered whether the Department was ready to implement the Refugee Act taking effect from April 1, and also asked whether the Umtata government printing works was "a white elephant." Mr Lambinon acknowledged that it was, but noted that it and others like it were a legacy of the Pre-1994 government structures.
Film and Publication Board
The Committee heard a lengthy description of the activities of the Film and Publication Board (FPB) given by its CEO, Dr Makaula. She described the FPB as no longer a "censorship board", although it still reviews films for the purpose classifying them for the public's information. However, restrictions are still imposed in order to protect children, and she noted that the FPB's mandate is found in the new Film and Publications Act, from which classification guidelines have been derived. The FPB's work has proliferated because of new video and DVD technology, and because adult materials and video games now must also be reviewed, but despite the greater workload and need to modernize the FPB's equipment in order to do its job the budget has shrunk, and there is now a staff shortage. For example, an Internet child pornography monitoring post has still not been filled despite the pressing need for such oversight, especially since a national law enforcement workshop on the subject has now been scheduled. There is also insufficient staff to monitor what is disseminated via adult shops. Makaula indicated that staffing problems would also be alleviated if the pool of part-time examiners could be expanded, which would also lead to greater "representivity" within that group.
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