Electoral Laws Second A/B: rejection; Implementation of Committee Recommendations in BRRR; Impact of SONA on sector; with Minister and Deputy Minister

Home Affairs

22 February 2022
Chairperson: Mr M Chabane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


ATC211126: Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs 2021/22 Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report Dated 23 November 2021

President Cyril Ramaphosa: 2022 State of the Nation Address (SONA)

The Committee met on a virtual platform to receive a briefing from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on the 2021/22 Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). The Department presented its responses to the recommendations the Committee had given on the issues outstanding from the 2020 and previous BRRRs; the 2021 recommendations for the Department; and the issues outstanding from the 2020 and previous BRRRs, and the 2021 recommendations for the Government Printing Works (GPW).

Members asked about the GPW’s website crash; the number of offices the Department had managed to convert to smart or modernised offices; the feasibility of having more Home Affairs offices in malls; when the GPW would introduce the GPW Security Printing Bill; whether the civic services and immigration posts budget would cover the 10 000 interns mentioned by the President in the State of the Nation Address; and the appointment system being piloted in bigger offices to reduce the continual challenge of long queues.

The GPW said that disciplinary action had been taken against the officials involved in the matter of lost or missing curriculum vitaes (CVs), and was asked if it was going to criminally charge them. Members asked if there was any programme that intended to empower the youth -- for example, the internship programme. Was the citizenship by naturalisation service open? How was the Department dealing with contingent liabilities cases? Why did not all DHA officials know that fathers could now register the birth of babies? When would the Cape Town refugee reception centre be reopened? The raised concern over the problems occurring at the Beitbridge border post.

The Committee appreciated the progress made in implementing some of the highlighted areas in the BRRR. This included the development and implementation of an audit action plan to enable the Department to achieve a clean audit, the reopening of refugee reception offices, assessing the feasibility of having Home Affairs offices at some malls to enhance access, modernising all its offices, and finding solutions to the Department’s irregular expenditure.
Members emphasised the need for the GPW to deal urgently with its information communication technology (ICT) lapses and finalise the filling of positions within this department. They welcomed the progress on the Security Printing Bill and appreciated the extension of consultations, which would serve to enhance the Bill. The Committee was waiting for its turn to interact with the Bill. It called on the DHA to develop an implementation plan that would enable the Department to urgently implement the programme of action as directed by the President during the State of the Nation Address (SONA). The Committee should be furnished with this implementation plan within a reasonable time to enable it to monitor and oversee its implementation.

There was a briefing by the Committee Content Advisor on the impact of the SONA on the work of the Committee and the programmes of the DHA. Members asked whether the e-visa was going to be operational by March, wanted details of the structure and estimated implementation timeframe of the remote working visa.

Following extensive consideration, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs resolved that it would not proceed with the Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill [B34 – 2020], a Private Member's Bill. It had taken due regard of the feasibility of the Bill to provide a remedy required by the Constitutional Court, but among the reasons it considered the Bill unsuitable was that it proposed broad, wide-ranging and substantive changes. It could therefore not be passed and implemented by the constitutionally-set provincial and national elections in 2024. Despite this, the Committee highlighted that some of the matters raised by the Bill could very well find expression in the executive Bill before the Committee. It had decided to undertake countrywide public hearings on the Electoral Amendment Bill and had called on all stakeholders to ensure that the Committee heard their views.

The Portfolio Committee report on the Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill [B 34 – 2020] was adopted by the Committee. The Committee also approved the motion of desirability on the Bill.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the Portfolio Committee (PC) would receive a presentation on the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) and an analysis on the State of the Nation Address (SONA), particularly on the issues related to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). It would also deal with a report on a Private Member’s Bill that had been discussed by the Committee.

DHA on Committee's BRRR Recommendations

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, said the report would be in two parts. Mr Tommy Makhode, Director General, would present the section on the DHA, and Ms Alinah Fosi, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Government Printing Works (GPW), would present the section on the GPW.

Mr Makhode and Ms Fosi took the Committee through the document. The document covered the Department’s issues outstanding from the 2020 and previous BRRRs; the 2021 recommendations for the Department; the Government Printing Works’ issues outstanding from the 2020 and previous BRRRs; and the 2021 recommendations for the Government Printing Works. It also detailed the Department’s response to the Committee’s BRRR.

(Please refer to the attached document for the details.)

There was a recommendation that the Department plan properly to ensure that if 100% of the budget was spent, it meant 100% of the targets were also met. The Department’s response was that it was not possible to plan budgets to ensure that when 100% of the budget was spent, 100% of the targets were met. There was no direct correlation between the percentage of the targets achieved and the budget spent, as the Department did not report on partially achieved targets. Mr Makhode said that in addition to the payment of salaries, because of the nature of the Department’s work, which was more labour-intensive, it spent about R3.46 billion on the compensation of employees (COE), which translated to about 39%. That meant that even though the Department wanted to strive for that balance, the challenge remained that it was a labour-intensive, and therefore the spending on the COE would be higher.

Independent Electoral Commission

Mr Eddy Mathunsi, the Committee Secretary, said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) was not ready to present. It had indicated the previous week that the local government elections (LGE) report was not yet ready. He suggested that it was better for it to present both the LGE report and the BRRR.

The Chairperson said that in future, the advice must tally with the process because the LGE report could not be included in that day’s meeting.


Mr K Pillay (ANC) said that it had come to Members’ attention that the Government Printing Works' (GPW’s) website system had crashed. He was glad to hear that while that may have happened, the GPW had still been able to access the e-gazette -- in particular, being able to email it -- and so that had not created any disadvantage to end-users. It was important for the CEO to indicate what some of the mitigating factors were, in particular around risk management. Recently there had been quite a number of cyberattacks on different systems in other departments and websites. He was not saying that what happened at the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) was a cyber attack, but perhaps the CEO could tell the Committee what the plan was to prevent that from happening in the future.

The DG had reported on the DHA’s smart offices and the modernisation of offices. He asked if the DHA was able to give the PC targets, in numbers and figures, to update it on the number of offices the Department had managed to convert to smart or modernised offices. He also asked about the number of offices that the Department intended to convert in the short-term, medium-term and long-term. He had previously suggested partnerships between municipalities, other government departments and Thusong centres. The PC had also mentioned the feasibility of malls. There was a pilot project, and there were some offices that had been established within malls. The Department could perhaps expand on that, and look at the possibility of taking that forward. Another thing was looking at “park homes” as a feasibility -- he was saying “feasibility,” because it may not work in all areas.

Would the DHA form part of the stakeholders that had been consulted to benefit from the broadband infrastructure upgrades that had been promised for municipalities in the SONA?

When did the GPW plan to introduce the GPW Security Printing Bill?

Ms A Khanyile (DA) said that when the DHA made its presentation, it indicated in recommendation 6.1.2 that it was going to advertise some posts that would cover both civic services and immigration, and that those posts would be finalised by the end of March. Would those posts accommodate the 10 000 interns that were mentioned by the President during the SONA? It was mentioned by the Minister as well that the DHA was going to hire 10 000 interns that were going to digitise the documentation.

The PC was aware that the appointment system had been piloted at 24 offices. The DG had indicated that it had been piloted at bigger offices. She wanted to find out the result – was the appointment system giving the desired results? Was there any improvement in managing the long queues? The presentation had indicated that there were designated queues for various services. A lot of Home Affairs offices had those queues – if one came in for collection, one had one’s own queue -- but were those interventions yielding any results?

The GPW CEO mentioned that disciplinary action had been taken against the officials with regard to the matter of lost or missing curriculum vitaes (CVs). Was the Department going to criminally charge those individuals? With the website crash, some Members had written a letter to the Minister of Home Affairs on that, because it was getting a lot of complaints from members of the community about not being able to access the website. The PC appreciated the explanation by the CEO. In future, should the GPW encounter such challenges, it needed to make sure that it brought those matters to Members’ attention, to enable them to respond to members of the community who were making enquiries.

She asked if the Minister was still going to respond in writing to her letter.

Ms A Molekwa (ANC) acknowledged the fact that the DHA had highlighted that there was the challenge of budget cuts for the Department by the National Treasury. She also appreciated that there were steps being taken to engage with Treasury on that matter. The Committee hoped that the Treasury would respond positively, so that there would not be any programme that was being negatively affected.

She had not seen anything in the presentation on youth development. She wanted to check if there was any programme that intended to empower the youth -- for example, the internship programme. If so, how far was the Department in that regard?

She acknowledged that there was progress at the GPW on dealing with the animosity that had occurred between the management and organised labour. The PC hoped that in the future it would be able to receive a progress report on that matter. She also hoped that the PC would receive a progress report on outstanding matters -- for example, the disciplinary matters from the GPW and the DHA.

Mr A Roos (DA), in a lighthearted tone, said that “imitation was the sincerest form of flattery,” and the DA had seen the ANC “copying” DA policy at the SONA. It was hard to understand how the refugee reception centres remained closed. His understanding from the previous week was that the staff were back at the DHA. The centres being closed created a massive problem since refugees did not stop coming in because of a pandemic. There was a situation where they seemed to be able to do something online, but it was not accessible to everybody. One then created a massive backlog. Why did these centres all remain closed when, at the very least, they should be partially opened? The only thing that one could think of was that the real reason to keep the centres closed was to give the DHA a chance to catch up with the backlog. It was really urgent that those centres started to open up in some form or another.

If all the staff were back, why was the citizenship by naturalisation service not open? He noted that citizenship services were open, and there were persons who had applied for citizenship by naturalisation. Those applications had been approved in principle, but people needed to “wait until kingdom come” for South Africa to go to lockdown level zero before they could be rubber-stamped. He asked what the reason behind it was. There should not be “tens of thousands of people who were going to flood the Home Affairs offices."

The DHA had indicated that it would include the audit action plan progress in the quarterly reports. He asked why those were not included in last week’s quarterly report that the Committee had received. The Committee had received three quarterly reports, and he had not seen the audit action plan progress in any of them, so could the Committee get feedback on the highlights, successes and progress against the audit action plan?

On contingent liabilities, it was good to see that the bigger claims had been dealt with. However, most of the smaller claims that really added up were based on simple things, such as officials that failed to deliver on time and communicate with the client, which forced clients to take the DHA to court to get something that they should be able to get through a natural process. Which specific workflows had been identified by looking at those claims, and what processes had been optimised at the DHA to stop those repeated claims? It created great business for litigators – it was “like shooting fish in a barrel”, because clearly the Department was wrong, and the clients went to court and got the judgments against the Department with costs.

Item 6.2.14 talked about how all cases reported to the branch that warranted further criminal investigation were referred to the South African Police Service (SAPS). Exactly how many had been referred in the current financial year? As much as the Department responded to reported cases, he thought that there was a need to understand what mechanisms it had in place to proactively tackle corruption. If the Department was going to wait for someone to report, there could be a situation where people got intimidated, and the Committee had seen that people withdrew what they stated out of fear for their safety.

Mr Roos thanked the DG for his well-wishes on the birth of his daughter. He had tried to register her birth at a health facility. He had done the same a few years ago, since he had an older son. The last time he went, the staff had managed to do the registration quickly -- there was also a printer there, and he got the birth certificate immediately. It was “quite incredible.” The previous day (Monday), there was no printer in the office, and the staff member did not seem to know that the father could register the child. She was “a nice lady,” and she was very upset when she later found out that Mr Roos, as a married father, could do that. Training was a concern. Ms Khanyile had mentioned the queries that she and Mr Roos dealt with as DA Members of Parliament (MPs), and they had often found that officials did not get the directive that was issued, or they did not see the regulation. That person said that she had “chased away” many fathers, and she “felt terrible” about that. He encouraged the DG to look into that because he thought that she was a very professional person at the office, and she felt terrible when it was confirmed that fathers could register a birth.

He thought that the PC did not really take seriously the lack of governance at GPW. There had been mention of the Security Printing Bill, and of consolidating all security printing at the GPW. He was not going to give a list of things that had happened, such as the annual reports and exam papers leaking. The PC had asked the Minister to hold the Acting CEO to account – what had happened about that? One could not say that some officials got a rap over the knuckles, or that they got a letter. How was the Acting CEO held to account, as the Committee had requested? What capacitation programme was in place? There was a clear problem. It was alarming. Even if it had been a disc that had failed, there should have been a backup. Any organisation would have that basic thing in place. This was not the first time that the system had been down. Was the website hosted by a service provider? What was the approximate annual value of that contract? Was there some sort of service-level agreement (SLA), where the service provider needed to keep the site up and running, and what were the details of that SLA?

Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) echoed the sentiment that the Department should include progress on the audit action plan in the quarterly reports going forward. The Committee did not have that in the last report, so hopefully that would be forwarded to the Committee soon. The GPW could do the same because the CEO had spoken about the fact that the GPW now had a post-audit action plan and matrix in place, and that it would be presenting that plan at the PC’s next meeting. However, going forward, it would be helpful if the PC could get the audit action plan reports on a quarterly basis so that it could play its oversight role in that regard. It needed to get a consequence management report. It had heard that that report was a work in progress, but it needed to see a report without further delay on the GPW’s consequence management and the disciplinary action it had taken against individuals so far. From the presentation, it did not seem like much was happening with people who had made serious transgressions. There was mention of the Hawks investigating – had it indicated any timeframes on when it would be finalising its investigation? She welcomed the focus on filling the critical information technology (IT) vacancies but wanted the CEO to give the PC some timeframes as to when they would be filled.

She was concerned about the refugee centres, as she did not understand how the centres, particularly the one in Cape Town, should take such a long time to be reopened. The centres would be reopened in October, which was very far off, and she did not understand what would happen in the interim with people who were in Cape Town and needing to make an application. It worried her because it seemed like the Department was using that time to catch up on the backlog.

The report addressed the situation at Beitbridge. Although the Department said that the investigation of the DPWI was an ongoing issue and that a lot of work was being done with the Border Management Authority (BMA), the fact remained that Beitbridge was a very big concern. The previous night everyone had watched a breaking news story of some people who had attacked the police force, and unfortunately 20 of the people were Zimbabwean. The Department was conducting an investigation, and it was saying that it was moving in terms of establishing the BMA, but SA did not have a border control authority yet, as the BMA was not fully operational. In the interim, what was the Department doing to ensure that Beitbridge was “less of a disaster?” If one engaged with Zimbabweans who were crossing the border, such people would tell one that they passed through daily without passports. It was simply a case of paying a certain amount of money. One did not really need a passport. As Ms van der Merwe had said before, it was preferable for one not to have a passport, because then one had to pay a certain amount of money.

She wondered if the designated queues were being rolled out at all the DHA's offices. She had recently visited the Bellville and Barrack Street offices, and there were no designated queues.

On the online appointment system, it would be helpful going forward if the Committee could get a report that indicated, for example, that if you did a passport renewal at the Bellville office it would take four, five or six hours, but now with the online appointment system, it took 30 minutes. The Committee could then see those successes, and it would be really helpful.

Ms L Tito (EFF) asked what had been done with the business case analysis showing that the Independent Electoral Commission should buy new headquarters, rather than rent them. What were the details of the budget requested from the Treasury by the IEC for the retention of critical, permanent staff?

The Chairperson said that the IEC had not presented at the meeting, and asked the Committee Secretary to note Ms Tito’s question. The PC would raise it when the IEC presented at the PC’s next session.

Ms T Legwase (ANC) asked if the allocation for the 10 000 interns mentioned by the President in the SONA was included in the additional R266 million that had been allocated by the Treasury for the cost of employment. The DG had said that the audit action plan would be included in the quarterly report -- why was it not included in the quarterly report that the PC had received the previous week?

She asked the DHA what was being done by the staff who were appointed at the refugee centres until the official openings?

Referring to the GPW, she had heard Ms Molekwa mention a disciplinary action report. The PC had been sitting down with the GPW many times, and it would like to know if it had a disciplinary action report or a report on any consequence management that it had undertaken in the past financial year. The Public Servants Association (PSA) was contesting the benchmarking of salaries. The GPW had received a notice of picketing. Had the GPW sat down and tried to get the real facts on why the PSA, or any trade union, would want to contest the benchmarking, as it had a possibility of increasing their salaries.

What would happen to those employees who had resigned after the investigation was done on the lost CVs? Were there going to be any steps taken against them, or would they be allowed to go since they had already resigned?

The Chairperson recalled that the Committee had conducted oversight at the GPW. The Committee appreciated the report and the areas of improvement presented. However, in the area of weak governance, including the IT and other related issues which had compelled the GPW to appoint a task team that was led by the former advisor to the former President Thabo Mbeki, perhaps it needed to give a highlight on progress with that report. Last year, it had made a commitment that the report would be presented early this year. What was the progress on that, even though it was not completed, and the implementation phase that the report indicated had not yet been completed? What was the progress on the task team led by the former DG? The Committee had made recommendations, and there were glaring issues that had been identified. There was a need to fast track a progress report on the two task teams because they were critical to the work that the Committee had made observations on.



Ms Fosi said that from a risk perspective, the GPW was worried by the number of crashes in its IT environment. Its risk assessment had pointed to a number of factors. One was the issue of old infrastructure and outdated environmentals, specifically its data centres, its servers, and its local area network (LAN). The GPW had been in existence since 1888. There had been a number of innovations along the way, but it had found that it was still dealing with that legacy. For the GPW to manage the risks, it had had to come up with a risk management plan. It also had a risk register specifically focusing on ICT. It had had a service provider for the past three years that had been helping it with the risk in the IT environment due to its technical nature so that it understood exactly what needed to be done. The GPW had made strides in addressing most of the ICT-related risks, particularly the one on cyber security, such as strengthening its firewalls, making sure that it created redundancies, and making sure that there was hardware onsite and remote backup at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The GPW had been trying to refresh its tape libraries. There were a number of initiatives it had put in place to make sure that it protected its network from attacks. It had vulnerability reports that were presented at every Executive Council (Exco) to show how much it had mitigated some of those risks. It would continue to do so going forward. With the plans to prevent such occurrences happening in future there was a business technology strategy that had been developed by the acting chief information officer (CIO), where the GPW had taken a conscious decision to begin a technology refreshment exercise. There were a number of initiatives that it had already started. Doing away with the old infrastructure was one initiative. It had focused on the corporate and public servers (the website being one of them), including the internal corporate one, all of its databases, the LAN, and an increase in storage capacity. It had consciously started a journey to make sure that it refreshed its technology. It already had service providers on board to help it re-automate the e-gazette system, and to replace the servers. It was “good to go” in that regard.

It had been a painful exercise, but when one inherited an organisation that was as old as the GPW, those were some of the painful exercises it needed to go through. One realised that as one phased out some of the technology, one needed to build capacity internally. That was why the GPW had the structure that was now approved, and it was filling the posts. It was on a drive to fill most of those posts. In ICT in particular, it had a history of service providers “running” from applications to data centres and so on, so it was filling those posts to make sure that it could grow its own team, and those people could be available anytime when it needed them. The most important part had been to migrate to the latest technology and to make sure that it had the service and maintenance agreements so that when it “hit a pothole” along the way, service providers could come and maintain its systems immediately.

Regarding the missing CVs, Ms Fosi had indicated that she would be writing to the National Commissioner. Based on that report, the GPW would be taking action against those who had erred in that regard, but it was also waiting on the outcome of the review panel report, which was going to be presented to the Minister soon. Appropriate action would be taken, even if it meant charging people criminally. Indeed, even if a person jumped ship while the investigation was underway, it did not exonerate that person from being charged criminally. The GPW would pursue such people, should the wrongdoing point towards them.

The GPW would be presenting a report on its engagements with labour, as well as on the disciplinary cases. It had a report that was presented to the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on a monthly basis that demonstrated the actions that it had taken and how long it had taken to resolve them. It had set a turnaround time in accordance with the disciplinary code and procedure, wherein it was supposed to finalise its cases by a particular time. That was being enforced. The GPW had to finalise its cases timeously to avoid protracted investigations that were never-ending.

The issue of discipline was guided by prescripts as well as the disciplinary code and procedure and the senior management staff (SMS) handbook. The GPW was following due process when it instituted discipline in order to avoid “nasty comebacks.” It avoided emotional decisions as well, and made sure it got all the facts, and once all that had been consolidated, it followed due process, just to make sure that discipline was actually enforced within the organisation.

With the Security Printing Bill, the GPW was not adopting a “take it all” approach. It was focusing on state security documents, and it was going to adopt a phased-in approach. The State Security Agency (SSA) had been helping the GPW with the classification, and it would phase in the first batch as it got its back office in order through the master plan. Once it was inside the master plan, the GPW would increase its capacity so that it was not found wanting in that area. It was quite a realistic plan that it was putting in place, to make sure that it serviced the public properly without any challenges.

The GPW had enlisted a company that had built the website and the e-gazette. Members may have seen in the media that that company had indicated it was no longer providing that service to the GPW, so it had adopted the "technology refresh" approach, where it was going to make sure that the GPW owned the website, and that as soon as it had a challenge, it could recover within the shortest possible time without waiting for the service provider to come to the GPW and continue charging it. As a self-generating-revenue entity, the GPW had to take steps to make sure that it minimised spending, and that most of the services could be performed by the officials that it appointed internally so that it could “grow its own timber.”

The GPW would present the post-audit action plan on a quarterly basis as requested, as well as a consequence management report based on the disciplinary actions that it had taken. For the Hawks investigation, Ms Fosi would be writing to the National Commissioner to fast-track the investigation. Those investigations had been carrying on for a while, and there was “a level of impatience” from the GPW’s side to finalise those cases.

On the timeframe for the filling of critical posts in the ICT environment, what had delayed the GPW was the finalisation of the structure. Now that the structure had been finalised, the critical posts had been submitted by all the general managers (GMs). From 1 April, the GPW would be embarking on a recruitment drive to fill the critical posts. It hoped to get the incumbents in ICT by April and May so that it could stabilise the ICT environment once and for all, and it could support the technology refresh exercise that it had in place.

Referring to labour, and specifically the issue of picketing, she had spoken to Ms Michelle Modise, the GM of human resources (HR), to say that the GPW needed to embark on a further process, and not accept the fact that there would be picketing, and then be comfortable with that. Ms Modise had already scheduled an engagement with the PSA as the line manager. Immediately thereafter, the PSA would be called to the Exco so the GPW could understand the actual motives. At that point in time, the GPW wanted to make it very clear that it had no jurisdiction over salary increases. It needed to understand the motives so that it could deal with the real issues. Ms Fosi said that should that effort not succeed, she had already gone to the Minister to say that the GPW would then report to the Minister to say that these were the efforts it had put in place, but it still wanted to continue with the benchmarking. The GPW would try as much as it could to sit at the table and engage with labour, so that it could avert any hostilities within the organisation.

The Chairperson asked about the two reports of the review panel task team appointed by the Minister, and the investigation process the GPW had invoked within the entity. How would the GPW reconcile the two? It appeared that the GPW was investigating the same matter but in two parallel processes. He was interested to know how the GPW would reconcile the recommendations arising from the reports. He was following up on the matters that Ms Legwase had raised on the issues that were on the table.

Ms Fosi asked that the Minister be allowed to address that issue when he took to the podium.

Refugee centres

Mr Jackson McKay, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Immigration Services, DHA, responded on the issue of the refugee centres. The Department had reported last week that the staff at its refugee centres were reporting for duty. The staff were working and assisting the Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa and the Standing Committee on Refugee Affairs to prepare files to deal with the backlogs in that particular area. The staff was also dealing with online renewals of refugee and asylum status and issued identity documents (IDs) and passports to those applicants who had applied for refugee IDs and refugee passports. The staff was at work.

Referring to the opening of the Cape Town refugee reception office, he said that office had been closed even before lockdown. It was a court order that had ordered the closure of the office because at the time it was seen as a nuisance factor by other businesses in the vicinity. The Cape Town office had had to look for other premises from which to operate. The Department needed to make sure it would not be in an area where other businesses would be affected by the high number of refugees and asylum seekers who visited those offices. The DPWI was in the process of getting such a site for the Department. The Department had identified a site in Epping and was waiting for the contractual issues to be finalised by the DPWI so that it could start establishing the Cape Town refugee office. That was why it would take until October 2022 for its establishment. The Department was reporting regularly to the designated judge (Justice Alma de Wet) dealing with the matter and was giving her monthly reports on the progress with the opening of that particular refugee reception office. It was planning to move to the reopening of the current refugee reception offices, probably in May. It was still having discussions around that particular matter, but it would be opening in the next month or two months, should that be confirmed.

The Chairperson cautioned that last week’s presentation had dealt with some of the issues that had been raised for responses. The Department’s team needed to pick up on issues that had not been sufficiently dealt with so that the Committee did not spend “another two hours on the responses.” In the last meeting, when the Department was presenting its quarterly reports, some of the issues had been sufficiently dealt with. He asked that the delegation respond to the specific issues Members had raised that day.

DHA's offices

Mr Thomas Sigama, DDG: Civic Services, DHA, responded to questions on the expansion of the Department’s modernised offices. The Department had 412 offices and had started modernising their offices since 2013. Currently, 197 offices had been modernised. However, it had experienced challenges with space, as the remaining offices had been found to be very small and not able to cater to the workflow processes. The Department had decided to explore further and look at alternative methods to house the live capture system. As Mr Pillay had indicated, the Department had started looking at the use of malls. It had started engaging with the owners of malls, and some of them had given the Department space to operate. For example, in Menlyn Mall, the DHA had already viewed the space and was going to move forward with installing the system. It had also used the banks and continued to work with them. Once the agreements were signed, the Department would make sure that they rolled out to those banks as soon as possible. The Department had also acquired ten additional “mobiles,” and it hoped to receive them by the end of the financial year, as this would also assist in expanding its footprint going forward. This was due to the fact that when one looked at the brick and mortar office infrastructure that the Department had, most of them were very small, and were not able to house the Department’s live capture system that had just been introduced.

It was too early to assess whether the appointment system was yielding results or not. It had already extended the system to all the pilot sites. Suffice to say, in most of the areas where it had been piloting, it had seen significant results. Although the long queues continued, the Department had seen that most of the clients were interested in using the booking system. The Department was trying to make sure that it communicated, and that it implemented change management practices within its staff members to start familiarising themselves on the use of the booking system that it had just introduced.

Mr Roos had raised a question on citizenship by naturalisation. The Department had opened for naturalisation, and all categories of citizenship were open. Immediately after it received the announcement to extend to adjusted alert level one, a circular had been issued to all offices. Citizenship was a category that was included in its suite of services for its civic services branch. All clients were allowed to visit the offices to apply, and those who qualified would then be adjudicated, and a naturalisation certificate would then be awarded to those who had applied.

The Department had taken note of the issue Mr Roos indicated -- that the issue of fathers registering children needed to be communicated to its staff. The Department had done that before, but it would make sure that with its learning academy, it would go back and retrain its people. It had an annual training programme that went to all its offices and made sure that in case there were areas where offices required assistance, the learning academy was ready to assist them.

Mr Nhlanhla Mabaso, Chief Information Officer (CIO), DHA, confirmed that the Department would be a stakeholder in the broadband upgrade, so it was looking forward to consultations with those who were arranging it. The upgrade was the most critical success factor for the DHA’s information systems operations.

On the website crash that had happened at the GPW, the DHA was also checking what happened there with interest, because what happened in one government department served as a learning experience for other government departments.

Human resources

Ms Tampane Molefe-Sefanyetso, Acting DDG: Human Resources (HR), DHA, responded to Ms Khanyile's question on whether the civic services and immigration posts would be advertised simultaneously with those that would be advertised in the Department. The answer was that they would, but those posts would be following a different process altogether. That was what the Department had presented to the Minister and the Deputy Minister in the project plan that it had submitted. The timelines were the same, but there were different processes.

Ms Molekwa had asked about youth development. The DHA did have a youth development programme, but did not have dedicated funding for it in the Department. It was partnering with different sector education and training authorities (SETAs), specifically the public service SETA, as well as the safety and security SETA. In these cases, the Department would apply for a discretionary grant. The Department also continued to partner and collaborate with technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges for them to assign learners who may need exposure to whatever they might have studied. The Department did afford that kind of opportunity to learners, and the TVET colleges would continue to pay the stipend for those learners.


Mr Gordon Hollamby, DDG: Finance and Supply Chain Management, DHA, responded to questions on the funding of posts. He said the Treasury had been sympathetic to the Department’s cause and had funded the Department’s business case for capacitation, particularly in the civics, immigration and IT environments. That funding was R266 million, effective 1 April, and would allow the Department to fill about 758 posts. The 10 000 interns were not covered by the business case. Separate funding would be provided for that business case. His understanding was that that would come from the Presidency, and was not part of the DHA's allocation.

The highlights of the current audit action plan were that the Department had 184 actions, and of those, 96 had been completed, and 77 were a work in progress, to be completed by the end of March. Mr Hollamby said he was getting very good support and cooperation from his colleagues. There had been a dedicated resource allocated to the IT environment to support them with the audit action plan and reporting. Internal audit had done validation of the audit action plan. It had checked if the plan the Department had prepared as management met the specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) criteria. Internal audit had also checked if the plan was implementable and would address the root causes that had been identified. The audit action plan would be shared with the Committee. There was also an engagement with the Department’s audit committee on Thursday on the audit action plan, so perhaps he would wait until the audit committee had also given its input on the plan before he submitted it to the PC. His commitment was that the audit action plan and the report thereon would be submitted with the quarterly reports going forward.

The Department won the two cases on the contingent liabilities, and that had resulted in a significant decrease in its contingent liabilities. With regard to the “shooting fish in a barrel” cases, it reported a contingent liability when summonses were issued to the Department. Most of the people that sued the Department never took the action further than issuing it with a summons. The process to clear the contingent liability register of old cases involved the Department working closely with the Chief Litigation Officer and the Solicitor-General, as well as the offices of the various state attorneys. That process would be a longer term process. The Department would not be able to immediately clean out its contingent liability register with all the small cases where there had been no action for some time.

Border Management Authority

Maj-Gen David Chilembe, Deputy Commissioner for Operations: Border Management Authority (BMA), DHA, said that Dr Nakampe Masiapato, Commissioner, BMA, was attending another session that day.

There had been a question on how the Department was managing the Zimbabwe issue at Beitbridge. The BMA was aware of the challenges that were happening at Beitbridge. It was dealing with an issue that was two-fold. First, there was the development of the BMA itself. It was going through the process of how it was going to develop the BMA, following what the BMA Act stated in the section 97 proclamation, and also on the implementation protocols. The plan was that after the Department had dealt with the two issues, by 1 April all the government departments charged with border control would be ceded into the BMA, but on a secondment process. From 1 April, the BMA would be fully in charge of those government departments in that environment.

The second part was that the Department was still using the multi-party agreement process, where the BMA was the lead agency on making sure that all the government departments worked together in that space. An example of that was what the Department had done during the festive season, where it was able to deal with all the challenges that related to Beitbridge. It had involved its counterparts from the Zimbabwean side in dealing with the issue. It had also involved the provincial office in Limpopo in dealing with the issue of the corridor. Most of the challenges that were happening at Beitbridge were caused by processes that happened outside and on the other side of the border post. The Department involved all the role players. The Department of Defence (DOD) was working with it on dealing with the issues that were happening outside the perimeter of the port of entry. It involved the province in dealing with the issues in the corridor that caused traffic congestion, people getting mugged by criminals, etc.

The previous day, the Department had advertised the 182 border guard posts, who would be assigned by April. There were also 13 team members who would be working with the border guards, and five group commanders that would be in charge of them.

Counter-corruption strategy

Adv Conny Moitse, DDG: Counter Corruption and Security Services, said the Department’s strategy on counter-corruption was centred on four pillars – prevention, analysis, detection, and investigations and resolution.

In the prevention space, the Department conducted awareness for internal and external holders. It had security vetting, where it was vetting its personnel to determine their security competence. It conducted process reviews to detect or identify loopholes within its system and processes, with a view of preventing corruption. It had investigations of reported cases. It dealt with these cases jointly with law enforcement. The Department had joint projects that it was working on with the police. For the past financial year, the DHA had 13 cases that had been reported to the SAPS. The cases were for passport photoshops, for permits and for IDs, and the Department had joint operations where arrests were undertaken, and the cases referred to the SAPS.

Deputy Minister

Mr Njabulo Nzuza, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, responded to the question on the capacity of the DHA's staff. He recalled that sometime last year, the Department had carried out a programme which was about the professionalisation of the DHA. That was part of its training to staff to make sure that it increased their capacity and ability. The Department would continue to do that.

Referring to the backlog projects, he thought that those must be separated because the Department was running a project to deal with the backlog on refugees, which was being run with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). That was very important because it dealt with the historic backlogs to date.

The Department had long been coming to the PC to discuss dealing with the issue of its capacity because of its limited staff numbers. It had always been said that the budget cap was giving it a problem with hiring more staff. The amount of about R266 million had dealt directly with that problem, which meant that the Department would be able to hire the staff that it needed to increase its capacity. That amount was separate from the issue of the 10 000 interns.

On the Beitbridge border fence, he felt that the DHA should let the DPWI take responsibility for what it had done,because all of the procurement of the fence had been a DPWI-centred arrangement. He thought that a bit of pressure needed to be put on the DPWI to conclude that investigation. All in all, that expenditure was sitting in the DPWI’s books.

Minister's responses

Dr Motsoaledi responded to the question from Mr Pillay on whether the Department would be part of SA Connect. That broad announcement had been made by the President and had been endorsed by the Cabinet a few days before the President’s announcement. It was very important for the DHA. He had had a special discussion with the Minister of Telecommunications, and there was broad agreement that the department that would gain the most was the DHA. That connectivity would be connecting hospitals, police stations, schools, municipalities, Home Affairs offices, and all state institutions. He had asked his fellow Minister specific questions about issues such as long queues, and he had responded that part of the problem that the DHA was experiencing was that one would get into a Home Affairs office, and find people at work, but the queue would not be moving. When one went to the computer, one would find that it could manage only four people per hour because of the broadband limitations. One would wait there impatiently, but the computer would not move. The Minister had promised Dr Motsoaledi that that project would take place over two years, and the broadband would be “broad enough” to accommodate high volume departments such as Home Affairs. The reason the Department would gain more than any other was that some departments could still go ahead without problems with broadband. For example, there was no chance that teachers would not be teaching at schools, or police not arresting people and charging them, or hospitals not seeing patients, because something happened to the broadband. In Home Affairs, however, that was its core function, so it was eagerly waiting for that process.

The issue of the R266 million to capacitate the Department, and the 10 000 unemployed young people who were going to digitise the Department’s records, were two different programmes. The programmes were being dealt with differently by the Treasury and the Presidency. The reason that the 10 000 had been announced by the President was that that programme was part of the Presidential Youth Employment Programme, and that was where the funding would come from. It was not going to be a small amount of money, so there was no way that the Treasury would cover that with the R266 million -- it was a project that needed “billions.” The R266 million was separate – it was part of what had been given to the Department as its budget, but specifically to increase its capacity. The Department would concentrate on its capacity in the areas of civics and immigration.

Referring to the website crash, the Minister recalled that Ms Khanyile had issued a statement about that issue on 17 February. She had then written a letter to him the previous day (Monday). He had done work up until 23h00 the previous night when he found her letter. The letter would be responded to in writing.

Dr Motsoaledi responded to the question about the refugee reception centres, and why they remained closed. It seemed as if there was a suspicion that the Department had closed the refugee reception centres because it had a backlog, but it had not done so for that reason. Everybody knew what had happened around the whole world with COVID-19. A number of countries had closed their borders, but there was a belief that somehow SA must be isolated from opening everything, including the refugee reception centres. Zimbabwe had not officially opened its borders since it closed the borders down during its lockdown. Zimbabwe had not communicated to SA in any official way that their borders were open. He was surprised why SA was being put under pressure about that issue of refugee reception centres, when all other countries were doing exactly what they were doing as measures against COVID-19. Other countries had measures that were much more stringent than those in SA. The Department had not closed anything because it was dealing with a backlog.

It launched a programme with the UNHCR last year in February, where it had been given R143 million to capacitate the work of dealing with the backlog. The Department had done so by increasing the number of lawyers in the Refugee Appeal Authority of SA (RAASA) from five, by 36 people. With some of the lawyers helping the RAASA, at least one of them had worked for the UNHCR in Geneva and understood the processes. About a month ago, he had had a whole-day meeting with the UNHCR Deputy Commissioner responsible for protection. They had discussed the issue, and agreed that they would extend it to people who were not appealing, but were applying for the first time. There would be training, capacitating people, and more funding from the UNHCR. That was how the Department was dealing with the backlog. It was not dealing with it by closing the refugee reception centres. With the one in Cape Town, it had been outlined how the legal system was involved -- it was in the hands of judges already. The Department was not the one which had closed the reception centre. It had been closed in the court long before COVID-19. The process of reopening it was still ongoing in court.

Referring to the DHA's contingent liability. the Minister recalled that the Chairperson and Mr Roos had accompanied the then Chairperson of the PC, Adv B Bongo (ANC), to the Department to look into the Legal Unit as part of the contingent liability issue. It had been found that some of the contingent liability had been there for many year because when people litigated against the DHA, many seemed to be “taking chances.'. Such people knew that the State Attorney’s Office, where people lodged some of those documents, would not move them from the office, and one would find oneself being judged in court, even in absentia. The Department of Justice (DoJ) had tried to resolve that by opening a new office of the Solicitor-General. The Minister was not yet convinced that that office was serving its purpose, because the Department still had cases where it was not served with papers, did not know that they had been served, and it did not know the DHA was in contempt of court, since the documents were in the State Attorney’s office. Those litigators knew that very well -- they “deliberately avoided” the DHA, and went to the State Attorney’s office, or anywhere in the country, and lodged their papers, knowing very well that no one would notice.

Somebody who took a chance was a man who was suing the Department for R400 million for delaying his documents when he came back to SA. The man was a doctor who had gone to work in Canada. He said that when he came back, the Department had delayed issuing him necessary documents, and he lost had lost R400 million in income. Some of those in the Department had been in private practice, and knew that this was “madness.” When one responded in writing to the court, such people just pulled back and kept quiet.

The weakness in the Legal Unit was that it did not chase those cases. For example, with the two cases that the DG had reported on, the Department had moved the cases “very hard” and had said to let the cases sit, whether it lost or won. However, the cases must not remain on the Department’s books forever, where there was a stalemate and they remained a contingent liability as if the Department owed anybody anything. That was why there was New Dawn Technologies and Valor IT, which were suing the Department for R630 million. Even the Constitutional Court had said that those entities had no case against the Department. That case had remained on the books for the past eight years. The Department was looking at that because it did not want any case to remain on its books for that long.

Minister Motsoaledi said that it was not often that the Department’s front office staff were praised, and he was glad that Mr Roos had encountered a professional person. She had not known about the issue of fathers, as it was a “new thing.” The mainstay for giving birth certificates was the mother. That was how Home Affairs had been working over the decades. It wanted to know people’s mothers, “and not the fathers.” The reasons were “obvious” –it was “difficult” to prove who somebody’s father was, rather than proving who their mother was. The mainstay for Home Affairs officials was the mothers, but that had changed. There had been a court case about that, and fathers had the right to register their children without mothers being present. With many officials, it would take some time, but as Mr Sigama had said, the Department would train people. It would take people some time to get used to the idea that the father could also have that right. He was not trying to defend that, but it was something people had been conditioned to over decades. It was a long-standing practice, but it would soon change.

On the Acting CEO being called to account, he said that issue arose every time the Department came to the PC. The CEO was not "acting" -- she was now the CEO. He recalled that the Committee had complained that the Department should have charged the CEO, instead of appointing her. He wanted to assure the Committee that the report he would refer to when answering the Chairperson’s question would deal with that matter. He was not inclined to charge anybody when he had not been given the facts on what the person was guilty of. However, he did charge people and suspend them. Members could come to the Department, and it would give them a list of all the senior people who had been charged. He was not scared of charging people and suspending people, but he did not just do that “willy-nilly” because some people felt like he had to do it.

On the PSA, he said the Committee had been there twice and had seen how the workers acted, even in front of the Members, and made as if somebody was not doing their work there. The Minister had met with the PSA many times, even after the Chairperson was there. The PSA had come with “wild allegations.” The Department had responded to the PSA in writing. At the last meeting, the PSA had called its national executive member, who came there to lead the delegation. The Minister had given the PSA answers in front of that member. Every time the Department gave an answer, the PSA “came with something else.” Which worker in the world did not know that the Minister of Home Affairs and the CEO of the GPW did not determine salaries? These salaries were determined centrally in negotiating chambers. The problem of workers demanding that their salaries be increased came from how this had been promised by one of the former Acting CEOs, and she had promised them something for which she had no authority at all. He wondered if there had been a meeting where senior people were put under pressure, and the former Acting CEO had succumbed to it and promised workers that their salaries would be increased. Workers had been informed in many meetings that it was not possible and that the person who promised them had not had the legal authority to promise such a thing. Workers kept on demanding, however. The Minister called that “complete unreasonableness.”

Ms Legwase had asked about people who resigned. The Minister recalled that he had set up a tribunal, and had reported this to the PC. There was a tribunal that was chaired by Adv Mojankunyane Gumbi, who was the former advisor to President Thabo Mbeki, who later on could no longer chair the tribunal because she had been called on to be on the committee that dealt with the July unrest. She had handed over the chairing to Mr Malavi, a former magistrate. He wanted to assure Members that that report would be out in 12 days’ time. The reason that the report was not yet out was that it was very complex, especially the IT part, which was the most important part of that tribunal. The Committee was “complaining continuously” about ICT in the GPW. There had been questions of whether there were accidents in ICT, or if they were problems of negligence. Did it involve commission or omission done deliberately by particular individuals? The Minister said he would ask Mr Malavi to come to the Committee and present the report.

Minister Motsoaledi said that when people resigned, many were interviewed, including the past Acting CEOs. The tribunal had gained a wealth of information from them. He could confirm that one of the main people who were there, specifically the person in charge of ICT in the GPW, had handed in his resignation and was gone two days after he had been interviewed. The Department did not know what the tribunal would say in 12 days’ time when it gave the report about people who resigned and left. It looked like that person was not the only one, but he believed that the law did provide for that.

The Chairperson had talked about parallel processes. When he went to the GPW, the then Acting CEO had informed him that the GPW was handing the stolen CV issue over to the Hawks. The Committee had said that the GPW must also do an internal investigation. The report from the Hawks was also evaluated for them. The GPW had carried out the Committee’s instructions by going on to investigate and charge people. If there was any criminality, the Hawks would still take up issues, regardless of what the sanction was on the disciplinary committee process. The Hawks had to do that process because the Committee had instructed it to do so. The report from the committee chaired by Mr Lubisi was still outstanding, as Mr Lubisi was unfortunately dealing with very serious health issues. The Minister promised the GPW report in 12 days’ time.

Chairperson's comments

The Chairperson said that the Committee took note of the improvements that the Department had presented, including the GPW. With the issues that were outstanding, including the report that the Minister had reflected on regarding the GPW, he asked the Department to pay attention to that report and specifically itemise the GPW. The CEO would come back to the Committee with the team that would be presenting on the report that had identified some of the issues that existed. He asked the GPW to pay attention to the recommendations that the Committee had decided must be implemented.

The Committee appreciated the good work that had been carried out, where it could observe some of the improvements through the decisions that had been taken. He asked the Minister to carry the message of the Committee on fathers registering a birth to the frontline workers. He was sure that all workers were working hard to serve people. Last year, there had been appreciation of DDG Sigama and the team for the responses that had been given by the community. The Committee knew that when there were issues raised by MPs, and not only by the PC on Home Affairs, Mr Sigama’s team and the Department responded to the issues that were being raised, such as complaints from society, and it wanted to express its appreciation for that.

Member's point of order

Mr Roos had a point of order. The issue of holding the then Acting CEO to account was a Committee decision. He asked what had happened.

The Chairperson interjected to say that he was sure that Mr Roos was aware he was disrupting him.

Mr Roos replied that it was a point of order.

The Chairperson said that he was making a summary of the issues that had followed the discussion, including the matter Mr Roos had raised. He had not concluded his remarks.

Mr Roos replied that the point of order was that the Chairperson should have held the Minister to account on that issue. It was a Committee resolution, and it had not been responded to.

The Chairperson said that he would not allow the meeting to degenerate. A Member could not raise a point of order when he had not concluded his remarks. Mr Roos could have raised a point of order when the Minister was responding. He suggested that it was the Minister who had been out of order in Mr Roos’s assessment of the matter. When Members wanted to raise a matter with the Chairperson on the platform, they needed to request to be allowed to raise a follow-up question and clarify the matter, since he was not out of order because he was not responding on behalf of the Department. It was the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the DG who would respond on behalf of the Department. Members would be given an opportunity to raise follow-ups on the matter. The Chairperson was not out of order because he was not responding on the matters of the DHA. The Committee would follow up on those issues, including the report. The Chairperson had deliberately raised the matter of the task team of Adv Gumbi and Director-General Lubisi. He had asked how the Department reconciled the investigation process of the GPW. The Committee had taken a decision and appreciated the Department’s appointing the task team on the issues arising from the GPW. When the report had been presented by the task team, the Committee would reflect and affirm the consequence management that must be taken by whoever was involved, including those who were in the executive of the GPW. The Committee could not pre-empt the report at that level. It would make sure that at all times, the Committee’s recommendations and decisions were implemented. That was a collective view of the Committee. That was how the Committee would deal with that matter. The Chairperson would give the benefit of the doubt on the matter raised by Mr Roos, who needed to understand from that point on how functions of the meeting were run, and the raising of points of order, follow-ups, or clarity-seeking questions. He invited Mr Roos to follow up on the matter he had been raising.

Mr Roos apologised. He had the impression that the Chairperson was stepping off the item at that point. The point was that it was a Committee resolution, and it needed to be taken seriously by the Executive, because it was a resolution, and it needed to be answered properly. Resolutions could not be “batted away” and turned into a personal thing. The Committee needed a proper answer to the matter of the CEO, because it was a Committee resolution that the CEO be held to account. The question was, “in what way had that been done?”

Minister's response

The Minister said that in his understanding of calling a person to account, it was about the issues that took place in the GPW. The CEO had given an account of every step that she had taken, but the biggest step would come with the tribunal that the government had set up. When Members said the Department must hold people to account, one did not just jump and say, “I am taking you to account for this and that.” One dove deep and found out what had happened. In 12 days’ time, that report would come. If it found the CEO guilty of anything, the report would say so, and the Minister would take action on that particular issue. If the tribunal found any other person guilty of anything, it would say so. If the tribunal said a matter should be referred for criminal investigation, that would happen. The Chairperson was right -- the Minister was not out of order on any issue.

The Chairperson said that one of the principles one should always understand was that contributions of Members to the issues raised by either the Department or the stakeholders involved, and the Committee's summary of decisions for implementation, were collective. In the manner the Department raised issues to the Committee, Members must take counsel to appreciate the process and implementation phases. With the issues that were directed to the Department by Mr Roos, the Chairperson wanted to avoid the matter becoming personal in the exchanges between the Minister and Mr Roos. The tribunal would hold to account all the executives of the GPW, including the CEO. The Committee would await that report. The Department would report to the Committee, and it would take the recommendation to that effect. The Committee would not leave anything that would not be implemented. It would marshal as a collective to make sure that the Committee’s oversight work was collective, and that it resonated within that framework. With some of the issues, once a report came, the Committee had to refer it to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to do work in terms of the legislation that the Committee was presiding over.

Impact of State of the Nation Address (SONA)

Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Content Advisor, presented a document on the impact of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on the work of the Committee and the programmes of the Department of Home Affairs.

1. Attracting skilled immigrants for a thriving economy

The first mention of the DHA in the SONA had been in terms of needing to improve in attracting skills to grow the economy in a competitive international market. The President had referred to progress in streamlining and modernising the visa application process to make it easier to travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work. As already noted by the Committee, the eVisa system had now been launched in 14 countries, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria. It would be critical in monitoring the plans of the DHA as to how this programme succeeds and could be expanded. The past decade had seen gradual increases in global concern around the security risks of migration, often at the expense of the potential benefits. This could be seen in South Africa with the Border Management Authority Act, which although aiming to streamline border-related services, had also been criticised as being more concerned with security than economic or humanitarian concerns.

The revised Critical Skills List had been published for the first time since 2014, following detailed technical work and extensive consultations with business and labour. The updated list was said to reflect skills that were in shortage today, to ensure that the immigration policy matched the demands of the economy. Some of the most notable jobs which had been added to the list included:

• Director (Enterprise /Organisation) Chief Executive Office, Managing Director- NQF 9;
• Corporate General Manager (medium enterprises or larger) NQF 8;
• Programme or Project Manager (NQF 9);
• Quality Systems/ Quality Control Manager/ Quality Assurance Auditor NQF 9;
• Data Scientist, Master’s Degree (NQF 9).

Now that the scarce skills had been published, it would be critical that technical guidelines on the qualification and implementation of the list were published. Once published, potential candidates would know with certainty if they squarely qualified for an occupation on the list or not.

As the Committee knew, the President had mentioned a comprehensive review of the work visa system, led by a former Director-General of Home Affairs, Mr Mavuso Msimang. This review was exploring the possibility of new visa categories that could enable economic growth, such as a start-up visa and a remote working visa. The Committee must be briefed on the outcome of this review as soon as it was available, in order to plan for the possible legislative amendments. This tied in with the plans set by the DHA for a revision of the entire refugee and immigration Acts.

In addition, the President mentioned establishing a team to remove the red tape of too many regulations. This had particularly been the case in the country with unduly complicated, costly and difficult immigration regulations. This prevented companies from growing and creating jobs.

2. Stimulating employment, including DHA interns digitising paper records

The second direct mention of the DHA in the President’s speech was in relation to the extension of the Presidential employment stimulus programmes, which were launched in October 2020. Job creation was a continued theme relating to the DHA in the President’s speeches in the last few years.
The total number of direct beneficiaries of these programmes would soon rise to over one million South Africans, making it the largest youth employment programme ever undertaken in the country. The employment stimulus would also allow the DHA to recruit 10 000 unemployed young people for the digitisation of paper records, enhancing their skills and contributing to the modernisation of citizen services.
The digitisation of millions of old records was a long outstanding target for the DHA, as this had caused significant risks to the security and efficiency of services such as the registration of deaths, births and marriages. This in turn also delayed the provision of all relative and marriage-related visas/permits.
The Committee would in due course invite the DHA to present on the progress made on this project, including the possibility of internships to provide a gateway for the DHA to reduce delays related to its significant staff and cost of employment budget shortages once the digitisation project was over. The Committee could support continued budget allocations to absorb some of these interns into the DHA in the longer term, to expand the service delivery of the Department.

3. Continuing work in standing against corruption

Standing against corruption had also been a continued key theme in the President’s speech that related to all government departments, including the DHA. There was significant work done in the 5th Parliament by this Committee in investigating state capture in the Department related to undue interference in the provision of immigration documents, citizenship and recruitment. This work would hopefully reflect in the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that was due at the end of February and would be monitored in relation to the DHA.
The anti-corruption unit within the DHA would also be requested to provide continued updates on its work, including consequences for those found guilty of fraud, corruption and negligence. This would hopefully contribute to the SONA intention of rebuilding the state and restoring trust and pride in public institutions. Additionally, as mentioned, the modernisation and digitisation projects were gaining momentum and would also go a long way to preventing future abuse of the services provided by the DHA.

4. Massive roll-out of infrastructure, including broadband

The continued boost to the rollout of infrastructure would hopefully not only enable the private sector to grow, but also contribute towards the DHA's ambition to own rather than rent its offices, as well as help to upgrade and maintain them. The rapid deployment of broadband infrastructure across all municipalities by establishing a standard model for the granting of municipal permissions must be of particular prioritisation for the DHA offices to overcome the hurdles in the systems, allowing document provision as well as expanding the footprint of modern offices able to roll out smart IDs and passports.
The DHA also had a role to play in improving the efficiency of seaports, to bring them up to speed relative to the ports in other parts of the world and on the African continent. The limited DHA capacity and infrastructure at port formed part of the constraints to economic activity in the country. The DHA must motivate for the budget to increase its capacity and integration of its passenger clearance at ports for both commercial clients and tourists.
Significantly improved cruise ship and port security infrastructure was already in place in Cape Town harbour. The DHA must liaise with renewed Transnet programmes to partner on improving operational efficiencies at the ports through procuring additional equipment and implementing new systems to reduce congestion, in particular at the Durban and Ngqura container terminals.
The gradual implementation of the Border Management Authority at all land, sea and airports must also tie in with these efforts to bolster trade, tourism and infrastructure. The Committee was also due to conduct an oversight visit of the sea and airports to monitor progress with these initiatives.

5. Presidential State-Owned Enterprise Council and GPW

Although the Government Printing Works was not formally a state-owned enterprise (SOE) in terms of Treasury regulations, it was nonetheless a profit-making entity fully owned by the Government, and would thus hopefully benefit from the centralised shareholder model proposed by the President for key commercial state-owned companies. The separation of the state’s ownership functions from its policy-making and regulatory functions could also perhaps help address the ongoing management, infrastructure and financial/auditing challenges at the GPW by minimising the scope for political interference, introducing greater professionalism and managing state assets in a way that protects shareholder value.
In the ongoing investigations of issues at the GPW, consideration and communication should be initiated on the work that had begun with the establishment of a state-owned holding company to house strategic SOEs, and to exercise coordinated shareholder oversight. The Committee/Minister could potentially motivate that in order to ensure that the GPW was effectively fulfilling its responsibilities. It formed part of the Presidential SOE Council that was preparing recommendations on the SOEs to be retained, consolidated or disposed of.

6. Strengthening democracy and reaffirming commitment to the constitution

Lastly, the President's reaffirmation to strengthen democracy and commitment to a Constitution that protects everyone would be fostered by the work the DHA and the Committee were doing in amending the electoral legislation in line with the Constitutional Court ruling. The oversight of the Electoral Commission as well as the DHA's provision of enabling documents towards this goal would also be continued by the Committee in its regular activities.


The Chairperson commented that Mr Salmon needed to change a line in the report: The report said “former DG of Home Affairs, Mr Mavuso” -- his title needed to be changed, otherwise Mr Salmon would be “compelled to put many Acting DGs in the report.” The change was needed so that the Committee would not get confused when the SONA 2022 analysis was being documented. The SONA analysis was for noting and for assisting Members on the issues raised by the SONA. Out of the BRRR discussions, some of the issues had been highlighted and clarified. Members could use the analysis to follow up on the Committee's work, and use it in the debate notes.

Mr Roos said he was “glad that the Minister quoted the Bible” in his SONA response. The verse he had for the Minister was Matthew 3:8, which said: “Produce fruit that is fitting of your repentance,” which meant doing something to show that one had really given up one’s sins. He thought that the big thing in the SONA was the issue of the e-visa – it was the fourth time that President Ramaphosa had mentioned the e-visa. Was that e-visa going to be operational by March, as had been indicated late last year? Was the central adjudication hub established? Was it ready to go? Did that impact the contract of VFS Global for the management of visa and permit applications? His understanding was that clients would be able to apply directly on the e-visa system. How would this affect that contract? The remote working visas were interesting. What were the thoughts at that stage on the structure of those visas, and what was the estimated implementation timeframe for them?

Ms Molekwa wanted to encourage the Department to draw up an action plan for the implementation of the issues raised in the SONA.

Ms Khanyile said she was covered by her colleagues’ questions.

Ms Tito said she was also covered by her colleagues’ questions. Members would make notes and give their speeches during the response on the BRRR.

Ms Lagwase was covered by her colleagues’ questions.

Mr Pillay said that the Members appreciated the analysis of the SONA. He felt it was important for Members to reflect, and perhaps at some point they could engage and give some recommendations. He wanted to reiterate the importance of respecting the Chairperson and following meeting procedure.

Ms van der Merwe said that the report was for noting, and thanked the Committee’s researchers and team for putting it together. She thought that the remote working visa was exciting because other countries were implementing it. When the Committee addressed issues of immigration, she wanted it to look more closely at the critical skills list. She would want to know, for example, how the Department determined those skills gaps, and if the skills were matched specifically to gaps in the economy? She knew that the list contained, for example, jobs such as political commentators, yet SA had many political skills in the country. She thought that it was something that the Committee needed to discuss further at a later stage.

Deputy Minister Nzuza said the report was clear. All that the Department had to do was to take the items from the SONA and work them into a programme for implementation this year.

Minister's comments

Minister Motsoaledi explained the e-visas. He recalled that the e-visa system had been tried for the first time in the form of a pilot in Kenya. From there, the Department had expanded to the three biggest populations in the world -- China, India and Nigeria. From there, it had gone to 14 different countries which required visas. Usually, when he listened to people talking about the e-visa, they tended to forget that the e-visa could only go to countries that required visas. For example, the whole of Western Europe did not need a visa to come to SA. The whole of North America did not need a visa to come to SA. Additionally, the whole of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region did not need a visa to come to SA. The e-visa would not apply to those groups of people. The e-visa was not changing anything, because people came and went. For instance, in the SADC, every human being within a SADC country had 90 days to visit South Africa per annum as part of that free visa. When one was talking about an e-visa, one was talking about countries that had to apply when they came to SA. The Department had completed the process for the big countries, but it had been significantly disturbed by COVID-19. When piloting an e-visa, one had to have people travelling to a particular country. Many countries had closed their borders when the pilot had started, and that was what had delayed it. There were many other countries, especially the ones that were important as tourist partners, who did not need visas to visit SA.

On the remote working visa, one of the announcements by the President was that he had appointed someone in the Office of the President to review the visa system. The Department was waiting for the President in this regard, including the issue of working at home. He had discovered how ill-understood that issue was, not by the Committee, but generally. The previous day, he had had a 45-minute interview with Radio 702, where it was clear that the person interviewing him had their own impression of what the e-visa system was. There were questions on whether it was being introduced to block jobs for foreign nationals, or if it would favour foreign nationals by giving them jobs that South Africans could easily do.

The issue of critical skills visas was not something that the Department had “thumb-sucked” now that the economy had problems, or now that there were discussions about migration. The critical skills list was in terms of section 94 of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002. As a general practice, those critical skills needed to be reviewed every four years. The review process was not just adding occupations and skills. It was quite involved. The last time the Department revised the critical skills list had been in 2014. It took a very long time because in terms of the law, it appeared in the Immigration Act, and it was the Minister of Home Affairs who must publicise the list. However, the list was not really done by the DHA. It did not have the skills and the capacity to do that. The Department approached the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and this time around, through the Labour Market Intelligence Research Programme, and DNA Economics, the DHET had been engaged on the issue of critical skills. Departments such as the Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC), the DPWI, Basic Education (DBE), Small Business Development (DSBD), Employment and Labour (DEL), Tourism (DOT) and Health (DoH) all had inputs into the list. The DHA had asked the departments what was needed in their area of work. It had received 363 public comments. From there, an extensive National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) process had ensued, consulting big business. When one said one was consulting NEDLAC, one was basically consulting business, specifically big business. One was consulting the labour union movements together, the state and communities. The list had spent a very long time at NEDLAC.

When the Department was finished with it, it sent the list to the Presidential Project Office. It was only then that the Department gazetted the list. The 101 occupations that were on the list were the result of that process. After the list was released, there were lots of people complaining, especially in the health sector, where doctors were saying that the Department was undermining them because they were not on the critical skills list. The critical skills list had nothing to do with the importance of one’s profession. Judges were extremely important in the country, but they would never appear on the critical skills list. During the process of putting up the list, the legal profession was up in arms and had wished that the Department had put law there as a critical skill. It was not that law was not important -- it was not a critical skill because SA had enough lawyers in the country. A critical skill was about a skill that was needed for the economy but was in short supply in the country. It was not about the status of a particular profession; it was about whether SA had enough. That was why the Department had to include the market research intelligence to look into those issues.

The Department was still receiving inputs from people who were saying it did not add something, or that the qualification was too high. Did it not mean that people who had skills – very highly needed skills – would come only through the critical skills list? There were other avenues. For instance, for the past decade, very highly rated medical and nursing specialists did not come into South Africa through the critical skills list. Such people came through a general work visa, which was in terms of section 19 of the Immigration Act. Some came through business visas, and some came through corporate visas (section 29 of the Act). There were many other ways for skilled people to come to South Africa. There was a reason why the Department had done that -- certain skills were so important that the Department dealt with them separately via some of those sections. It had been working like that over the years, and the Department did not see any reason why it should change things.

The Minister thought that the Department might need to come and brief the Committee further on the topic of skills. Ms Van der Merwe had mentioned political commentators, and he was trying to check what number it was on the list of 101 occupations. He asked if she could specify the number because when people wrote to the Department, they put a number, and it was very easy to find it. He had the list in front of him, but he could not easily check the political commentator occupation that had been mentioned.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would note the analysis, and would track the issues the President had raised. From time to time, the Committee would follow up on the implementation of those issues.

Consideration and adoption of the motion of desirability and report on the Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill [B 34 – 2020]

The previous week, the Committee had dealt with the issue of the Private Member’s Bill of Mr Mosiuoa Lekota (COPE). The Members had resolved to appreciate Mr Lekota’s initiative in the process. The Committee had decided to focus on the Executive Bill that had been tabled in Parliament and referred to it. The Committee had also adopted the roadmap for public hearings. It had sufficiently dealt with the matter in its last meeting, and the sponsor of the Bill had also confirmed through the Committee Secretary that he had no comment on the issues.

Mr Salmon would take the Committee through the report and the draft motion of desirability.

Portfolio Committee report on Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill [B 34 – 2020]

A report had been drafted, indicating a history of the submission of that Bill in the first few paragraphs. (Please refer to the attached document for details)

This was to indicate that the Bill arose in part out of the Constitutional Court ruling. Mr Lekota had introduced the Bill sometime after that in an attempt to address the New Nation Movement case and gives effect to section 19(3)(b) of the Constitution by, inter alia, making provision for adult citizens to stand for public office as independent candidates and to contest national and provincial elections as independent candidates. The Private Member’s Bill further proposed that elections happen in 52 constituencies using an “open list” proportional representation system.

On 9 February 2021, the Committee had met with the sponsor of the Private Member’s Bill, Mr Lekota, in order to receive a briefing on the Bill. The briefing comprised a detailed explanation of what the Bill entailed and how it sought to make provision for independent candidates in the electoral system for the National Assembly and the provincial legislatures.

Subsequently, the Committee had engaged in a number of activities, including conducting a workshop on electoral reform. In order to address the New Nation Movement case, the Minister of Home Affairs had appointed and established a Ministerial Advisory Committee MAC to identify the extent of the constitutional provisions affected by the New Nation Movement case; to develop policy options on the electoral system that addressed the defects of the Electoral Act as identified by the New Nation Movement case; to consult with relevant stakeholders, and to recommend possible policy options.

On completion of its work, the MAC had recommended two possible policy options to the Minister, namely:

Option 1: the slightly modified multi-member constituency (MMC). which accommodates independent candidates but requires relatively minimal changes to the legislation;

Option 2: the mixed-member model incorporating single member constituencies. This option entails combining the first-past-the-post and proportional representation, making it a mixed-member proportional (MMP) system and involves electing MPs from 200 single-member constituencies and the remainder from a single multi-member constituency.

After considering these options, the Minister had introduced the Electoral Amendment Bill [B1- 2022] (“the Executive Bill”) into Parliament on 10 January 2022, which Bill had also been referred to the Committee for consideration and report. It was now engaging on the Executive Bill, and the submissions had been received. The closing date had been the previous day (21 February).

On 8 February, the Minister, together with his advisers, had presented a detailed briefing on what the Executive Bill entailed. At this meeting, the Minister had also provided his comments and input on the Private Member’s Bill. In his input, the Minister had presented the similarities and also the differences between the Private Member’s Bill and the Executive Bill. He had particularly highlighted that the Executive Bill targeted the constitutional problem raised in the New Nation Movement case. It did so in a precise and minimalist way, making only such changes that were necessary to the Electoral Act to accommodate independent candidates in the electoral system. The Private Member’s Bill was more about general electoral reform, proposing constituencies and an “open list” proportional representation system. Furthermore, it was also explained that the Private Member’s Bill would create additional administrative tasks for the Independent Electoral Commission by splitting the country into 52 constituencies and also being required to register independent candidates, as well as for independent candidates by requiring them to register with the Commission first – tasks which were not required in terms of the Executive Bill. The differences in the manner in which seats would be filled and allocated as contained in the two Bills had also been presented. The Minister had indicated that the Private Member’s Bill might not be possible to pass and implement in time for the 2024 elections, given the vast amount of work that would have to be done.

On 15 February, the Committee had deliberated and considered the Private Member’s Bill in light of the briefings it had previously received, as well as the input made by the Minister at its meeting of 8 February. At the 15 February meeting, the Committee was informed that Mr Lekota agreed with the comments made by the Minister on the Private Member’s Bill, and therefore had no further comments or input to make.

The Committee hence decided that it would not proceed with the Private Members Bill as introduced by Mr Lekota, in part because of the far broader and wide-ranging substantive changes it introduced and the fact that these would not likely be passed and implemented in time for the 2024 elections.

The Committee wished to thank Mr Lekota for proposing and introducing the Private Members’ Bill. Although it would not proceed with the Bill, some of the issues it raised could quite well find expression in the Executive Bill following the consideration of public submissions, the public participation process and hearings, and the Committee deliberations.

Mr Pillay moved to adopt the PC report on the Bill, and to approve the report.

Ms Legwase seconded the motion.

There were no objections.

The report was approved by the Portfolio Committee, informed by the deliberations of the previous week.

Motion of Desirability on the Electoral Laws Second Amendment Bill [B 34 – 2020]

Mr Salmon presented the document, which summarised the contents of Mr Lekota’s Bill.

(Please refer to the attached document for the details).

It contained the additional matters that Mr Lekota was proposing to introduce, in addition to the inclusion of independent candidates, amongst which was providing for an electoral technology committee, that the list of candidates submitted by registered parties to contest an election must be accompanied by a personal manifesto, and introducing an open list voting system.

These substantive far-reaching changes and additional administrative tasks might not likely be passed and implemented in time for the 2024 national and provincial elections.

Mr Pillay moved to adopt the motion of desirability. Ms Molekwa seconded the motion.

There were no objections.

The Chairperson said that now that the Committee had approved the report and the motion of desirability, it had an approved programme of action for public hearings. It now had to approach the Constitutional Court for an extension. The Committee agreed that it must invite, extend and call for members of the public, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and interested parties to form part of the public hearings. At the last meeting, Ms van der Merwe had suggested that the Committee needed to extend the public hearings so that it got guidance from the people and all stakeholders. The Committee would interface with that process, and make sure that it got sufficient inputs on the proposed options raised by the Executive, and on other options that members of the public would contribute. That would give the Committee an opportunity to gain more clarity on this process.

Mr Mathonsi, the Committee Secretary, made an announcement on the Committee’s legislative programme. The previous day, Monday 21 February, had been the closing date to receive submissions on the Bill. Next week, on 1 and 2 March, the Committee was planning national public hearings, which would be on Zoom. The Committee had received a substantial number of submission and that was beside the provincial public hearings.

The Chairperson requested the Secretary to update Members on the process the Committee was going to interact with so that before that time, they were all aware of the process. It would be important to indicate public submissions it had received at the next meeting, so that it was working closely with that process, including the meeting that the Secretary had referred to, and the public hearings. It was going to be intense work. He requested that Members appreciate the parliamentary legal team and the research team of the PC for the work that they were continuously doing.

The meeting was adjourned.


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