The Committee convened on a virtual platform to be briefed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on its Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget for the 2022/23 financial year. DHA also briefed the Committee on its intervention in the recent floods and state of disasters in the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.
DHA focused on taking forward the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase its investment in technology, improve its service delivery and operating models and ensure that the Department is prepared for uninterrupted service delivery even in future pandemics. The Department is cognisant of the increasing demands and expectations of the public to deliver quality services regularly, especially after lifting the National State of Disaster on 05 April 2022. The Department will continue to find durable solutions for long-lasting systemic challenges such as system downtime. Over the medium term, the Department will revert to the target performance levels before the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department outlined annual targets for the 2022/23 financial year to the Committee. The Department’s budget for the year is R9.41 billion and outlined the proposed expenditure for the upcoming year.
The Department reported that on 11 April 2022, floods occurred in these provinces that resulted in the loss of lives and damage to properties, infrastructure and the environment caused by heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, and landslides. The Provincial Management Centres requested that a state of disaster be declared in these provinces. As a result, the Department is expected to ensure issuing of enabling documents to the affected citizens who have either lost or have documents damaged during the disaster. The Department outlined the activities and deliverables of the project, which commenced on 19 April and will end on 31 May 2022. Regarding the situation in the Eastern Cape province, the Department reported that the disaster management assessments have begun and discovered that thirteen villages had been affected. There has been no demand for Home Affairs’ services yet for enabling documents, but the province is ready to deploy its mobile units.
The Committee welcomed the tabling of the Department performance plan for the year and budget for the 2022/23 financial year. Members emphasised the need for the Department to refocus on the challenges within immigration services and the perennial challenge of queue management at the Home Affairs offices. The Chairperson stated that, while the Committee welcomes the plans presented by the Department, there is a need to increase performance levels to pre-COVID-19 levels. There is a need to deal with the challenges of immigration, which have increasingly come to the forefront. The Committee will endeavour to focus its oversight duties to ensure that targets are met.
The Committee highlighted concerns around the increase in the number of syndicates trying to forge the documents of the Home Affairs. The Committee welcomed the various operations aimed at curbing corruption, which led to the arrest of some officials. Protecting the credibility of the National Population Register requires an anti-corruption strategy that will weed out any corrupt element within the system.
The Committee pointed out that while the country's immigration challenges are global, the Department has committed to a risk-based approach to immigration to ensure the safety of the country, especially since the Department has been redesignated into the Security Cluster. The Committee also committed to receiving quarterly updates from the Border Management Agency (BMA) on progress with the incremental rollout of the agency. The Committee remained concerned about the long queues at the offices of the Home Affairs offices and the continued downtime caused by internet connectivity challenges. Members emphasised that a concerted effort is needed to resolve this to ensure that people receive quality services. In line with this, the Committee demanded detailed analysis of the successes and failures of the pilot phase of the electronic appointment system. The Committee believed that this system has a critical role to play in resolving queue challenges.
Regarding the Department extending its working hours to include Saturdays, the Committee noted that there would be challenges with negotiating with labour unions in this regard but has called on the DHA to continue engagements with the unions to ensure a solution to this impasse is reached. Furthermore, the Department will table the Home Affairs Amendment Bill to pave the way for extended and Saturday working hours.
The Committee also applauded the Department and other government departments for their swift responses to the floods in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, which have helped those affected by the floods to replace their lost documents. Further, the Committee welcomed the announcement that the Department will offer free services to those affected by the floods to ensure that requirements of a fee do not impound the devastation. The Committee has called for collaborations among government departments to ensure that chancers do not abuse the fee concession.
The Chairperson convened the virtual meeting, welcoming the Members and the delegates from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) who were in attendance at the meeting.
The purpose of the meeting was for the Committee to be briefed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on its Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget for the 2022/23 financial year. DHA also briefed the Committee on its intervention in the recent floods and state of disasters in the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.
The delegation from the DHA consisted of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi (Minister of Home Affairs), Mr Njabulo Nzuza (Deputy Minister), Mr Tommy Makhode (Director-General), Mr Jackson McKay (Deputy Director-General: Immigration Services), Mr Thomas Sigama (Deputy Director-General: Civic Services), Mr Thulani Mavuso (Deputy Director-General: Institutional Planning & Support), Mr Modupi Ka Mdluli (Chief of Staff), Adv. Conny Moitse (Deputy Director-General: Counter Corruption and Security), Dr Nakampe Masiapato (Commissioner of the Border Management Authority (the BMA)), Mr Gene Ravele (Project Manager: BMA), Ms Tampane Molefe-Sefanyetso (Human Resources Business Partner), and Mr Muzi Njoko (Director at the DHA).
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson noted that Members are currently on a constituency period, and he welcomed Members back. He said that the Committee would be dealing with the DHA's APP and budget for the 2022/23 financial year. Members would engage with the DHA's report on the entity's interventions in the situation in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. He stated that these two provinces are experiencing difficulty with people having lost their lives. He extended the Committee's condolences to everyone affected by the floods in those provinces.
The Committee hoped for DHA to respond swiftly to the situation and intervene where needed so that everyone who has been affected can receive the services of the DHA that they need to access. The Committee applauds the DHA's work so far, including waiving fees and appreciates this intervention from the Minister and Deputy Minister. He welcomed that the Minister and the Deputy Minister were on the ground in these provinces to assist the people when weaknesses or challenges were experienced. He appreciated the work of the Committee and other delegations in engaging with the public regarding the Electoral Amendment Bill B1-2022 and appreciated the work of the Members and support staff to ensure that the public hearings were successful in giving effect to the views of the public.
During Parliament’s recess, the term of office of Mr Glen Mashinini (Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission) ended. The Committee appreciated the work that he did and his contribution to the country's electoral system. The processes for Mr Mashinini's replacement had already started, and the report was referred to the Committee by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA). The Committee will schedule that item to be dealt with in the Committee's Programme.
The Chairperson also expressed the Committee’s appreciation for the services rendered by Mr Jackson McKay (Deputy Director-General: Immigration Services), who is retiring from his position. He thanked Mr McKay for extending his hand and knowledge to serve the people of South Africa, and he commended the work that Mr McKay has done in service of the DHA.
He also commended the DHA's Anti-Corruption Unit for taking charge of combatting the wrongdoing of corruption and fraud at the DHA, as these issues negatively affect the Department's service delivery.
The Chairperson indicated a scheduled Joint Sitting that the President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, will address and that it was necessary to ensure that the meeting adjourns on time.
Opening Remarks by the Minister of Home Affairs
Dr Motsoaledi introduced the delegation from the DHA. He highlighted the immigration issue and stated that there is a belief that the DHA is not doing anything, which has caused vigilantism in some communities. In the previous financial year, the immigration inspectors conducted 220 operations, such as participating in roadblocks and visiting particular institutions to see whether or not immigration laws have been broken. The DHA has decided to double the operations from 220 to 540 operations for the next financial year.
On the side of Civic Services, he reported that the DHA had lost some of its capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic to produce a certain number of identity documents (IDs) per year. In the previous financial year, 1.2 million IDs were produced, and the target has doubled to 2.2 million in this upcoming financial year to stabilise the amount produced to the levels before the COVID-19 pandemic. The DHA is also focused on stabilising the connectivity of the entity, especially as it pertains to hospitals. The basic premise for the identification is their birth certificate, and the proper issuing of birth certificates makes it easier for the DHA to provide citizens with IDs. This also adds security to providing people with IDs and avoiding serious complications if anyone who presents at the DHA receives an ID. For these reasons, the DHA is strengthening its services at hospitals where births take place.
Regarding the Border Management Agency (BMA), he stated that a lot of work has been done in the Inter-Ministerial Committee to ensure that the entity is operationalised and fully capacitated. Nine Ministers will sit, as a statutory body, to control the borders of the country, chaired by the Minister of the DHA. The Inter-Ministerial Committee has already met twice to give direction to the BMA, and it will meet four times a year and as and when a meeting is required.
Regarding the DHA’s overall capacitation, he stated that the Department is in the right corner regarding the numbers of its staff being at its lowest levels, especially in the DHA's Civic Services branch. The DHA did develop a plan given to National Treasury and has received R 266 million in this regard. The DHA is looking at which branches to capacitate further, including the Counter-Corruption Unit, which has a heavy workload. It has been rewarding to see that members of the public have more faith in the anti-corruption measures that the DHA has implemented, and twelve more members will increase the Counter-Corruption Unit from law enforcement agencies all around the country. The DHA will also increase the capacity of its Civic Services branch to address the long queues at the offices of the DHA. The capacitation of the Immigration Services branch is also a priority for the DHA.
Briefing by the DHA: APP and budget for the 2022/23 Financial Year
The first item on the agenda was for the Committee to be briefed by the DHA on its Annual Performance Plan (APP) and budget for the 2022/23 financial year. Mr Tommy Makhode, Director-General, DHA, presented the briefing to the Committee.
The 2022/23 financial year covers the fourth year of the five-year Medium Term Strategic Framework (the MTSF) period from 2019 to 2024. The DHA conducted its planning for the 2022/23 financial year per the National Development Plan (NDP), and other government priorities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the DHA adopted a scenario approach to civic services targets since the 2020/21 financial year. The scenario approach was discontinued for the 2022/23 cycle, but the DHA will focus on taking forward the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase its investment in technology, improve its service delivery and operating models, and ensure that the entity is prepared for uninterrupted service delivery even in future pandemics.
Regarding the Human Resources’ Capacitation Business Case submitted to National Treasury to request funding for critical areas in the DHA: an additional amount of R266 million for compensation of employees was received for the 2022/23 financial year for the filling of 762 posts (328 for Immigration Services, 427 for Civic Services and seven for Information Services). This will assist in dealing with the severe human resource capacity constraints in the DHA. DHA is also scheduled to receive a discretionary grant of R3 million for recruitment and placement of 50 interns in the DHA and appointment of 10 000 youth to digitise records and modernise the DHA. The DHA is cognisant of the increasing demands and expectations of the public to deliver quality services regularly, especially after the lifting of the National State of Disaster on 05 April 2022. The DHA will continue to find durable solutions for long-lasting systemic challenges such as system downtime. Over the medium term, the DHA will revert to the target performance levels before the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic.
DHA outlined its APP targets for the 2022/23 financial year to the Committee. They also outlined the 2022/23 financial year budget (R9.41bn) and the proposed and expected expenditure to the Committee.
See presentation attached for details.
The Chairperson thanked the delegation from the DHA for the detailed briefing made to the Committee. He said that the Director-General would need to give more details and clarity on the budget allocation for the BMA, which will decline in the next financial year, as indicated by the DHA.
Ms T Legwase (ANC) thanked the delegation for the briefing made. She expressed the Committee’s well wishes to Mr McKay and thanked him for his services and cooperation with the Committee. She also thanked Mr Mashinini for his contributions to the work of the Electoral Commission. She requested that the Committee get a briefing on the progress made at the BMA, either every quarter or as agreed, to get an update on the entity's work. She also asked that the DHA give the Committee feedback on the work done concerning the ABIS project and the requirement that a new service provider be appointed. She raised the issue of the increase from 24 to 34 ports of entry and asked DHA to share the reasons for this increment and the implementation of increasing the rollout to multiple ports of entry. She asked whether there have been businesses found guilty of employing undocumented persons in their business. She asked for clarity on how the DHA and Department of Employment and Labour work together to solve the issues of the employment of undocumented people within our country's borders.
Mr A Roos (DA) also congratulated Mr McKay on his retirement and wished him the best for his golden years. He thanked Mr McKay for his hard work and his readiness to always put the people of South Africa above anything else.
Mr Roos stated that the DHA Minister mentioned the issues of capacity and shortage of staff. He indicated that he struggled to understand this aspect of the so-called shortage of staff since the DHA had previously, in the 2018/19 financial year (before the COVID-19 pandemic), increased its staff complement by 1 500 people, and yet the number of IDs, passports, and birth certificates that were issued had gone down. How can it be that the added staff has a decreased productivity than before? There is a need to ensure that an increase in staff will in fact, increase the productivity of the DHA's offices.
He stated that Freedom Day is on 27 April, and it will be celebrated across the country. One of the DHA’s key contributions is the inclusion of all citizens in the democracy of the country by providing them with an ID that gives them access to the rights and services available to the citizens of South Africa. It seems as if this process is somehow going backwards and that the turnaround times are increasing for producing these documents. This process cannot keep up with the demand of the people of the country, with thousands of undocumented people not being able to receive their documents effectively and timeously. He said that the Committee had not heard anything about the DHA's offices being open on Saturdays, except for the Minister of the DHA stating that there are disputes with the trade unions. The Committee has been raising this issue of Saturday working days for more than two years. This makes it difficult for people, like school learners, who cannot get to an office of the DHA on time during the week. Not getting their IDs makes it hard for school learners to apply for jobs when they leave school. What is the plan of the DHA in this regard? There are still connectivity issues at the DHA’s offices, and the offices are closed on Saturdays. What is the DHA’s plan to address this crisis that affects the youth and locks them out from opportunities?
Regarding immigration, he said that the Committee had an oversight visit about two weeks ago in Johannesburg and was told by the Head of Immigration that they have weekly operations all over the place. He commented that there is a disconnect between the activities of the DHA’s Immigration Services branch and the experience of the communities resorting to vigilantism. He asked for clarity on the DHA's risk-based approach to immigration. It does not look like a risk-based approach when all provinces have the same number of immigration operations. How does the DHA work out the differences in tensions between the different provinces? He asked how the DHA is operationally able to double the number of immigration inspections from 220 to 540. Was extra staff appointed? If not, why was the DHA not doing 540 inspections before now?
Ms L Tito (EFF) welcomed the briefing from the DHA. She expressed the Committee’s concern about the long queues at the offices of the DHA. She stated that she recently went on an oversight visit to Mpumalanga and saw the prevalence of long queues herself. Community members have been complaining that there are not enough staff at the offices of the DHA, which exacerbates the causes of the long queues. It is important that the officials of the DHA go to the ground to see what is happening and what the situation is in reality. There is a need to channel the staff to the right offices where needed. She agreed with Mr Roos that more staff would not solve the issue unless the DHA's overall productivity increases. There is also a need to ensure that hospitals actually have officials from the DHA issue birth certificates without the backlog.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) expressed her appreciation for the work done by Mr McKay and his help in resolving a lot of issues speedily for the benefit of the people of South Africa. The Committee appreciates the contributions made by Mr McKay and wishes him all the best going forward.
She welcomed the briefing from the DHA. She noted that the presentation stated that the DHA is cognisant of the increasing demands and expectations of the public to deliver quality services regularly, especially after the lifting of the National State of Disaster on 05 April 2022. She also noted that the DHA would continue to find durable solutions for long-lasting systemic challenges such as system downtime. She asked for a progress update on the DHA's work to upgrade its systems and whether the work has yielded any positive results. From the oversight visits, most of the issues related to broadband capabilities. The system downtime of the DHA has the effect of putting workers' lives at risk because members of the public attack them for something outside of the office workers' control. What is the status on the DHA’s system upgrade since the issue was discussed in July 2021?
She noted that the DHA indicated that it had conducted about 13 awareness sessions regarding gender-based violence and femicide. She asked whether these sessions had been conducted internally or with the public. She mentioned that the DHA's counter-corruption unit is a step in the right direction. She then referred to the recent arrest of an unofficial office of the DHA that was run by someone who was not from the DHA: has the DHA established whether this individual had any other branches in other provinces to investigate the matter further? There were numerous complaints of DHA offices that have become dilapidated or next to taxi ranks with a lot of noise. What is the DHA's plan in this regard? She asked for an update regarding the opening of the DHA's offices over the weekend.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) added her voice in congratulating Mr McKay on his retirement, thanking him for his contributions to the work of the DHA. She agreed there is a need for the Committee to be briefed regularly on the progress and budget of the BMA. She also asked for clarity on the nature and the scope of the DHA’s awareness sessions regarding gender-based violence and femicide.
Regarding the war on queues, Ms van der Merwe stated that the queues outside the offices of the DHA are embarrassingly long, and the issue of system downtime has the effect of exacerbating the matter. She asked for more information on the DHA’s plan and targets for the 2022/23 financial year to roll out its services to banks.
She asked for an indication of how the DHA's counter-corruption unit will be beefed up and asked whether the Committee would be receiving a presentation on the work of the counter-corruption unit. Regarding immigration, she stated that this matter has dominated the media space and that there is a wide consensus among South Africans that the country is facing an immigration crisis. How will the DHA fix the situation besides the implementation of the BMA? The reality is that the tensions between communities are rising because the DHA is failing to implement its own immigration laws. She thanked the Minister and the Director-General of the DHA for being present on the ground and visiting places like Beitbridge, although the issue of immigration is not just at the borders. She welcomed the doubling of immigration inspections from 220 to 540 operations and stated that there is a need to ascertain the effectiveness of the operations themselves. How many illegal migrants were identified, apprehended and deported during the last financial year? How much is the DHA spending on deportation?
Regarding the operations conducted in conjunction with other governmental departments, she asked for details on how many businesses were identified for employing undocumented or illegal migrants. What action does the DHA take regarding these businesses? It is important that the operations are yielding the results needed to fix our broken immigration system instead of just increasing the number of operations. The problem of syndicates forging IDs and passports also needs to be addressed. Will the DHA consider launching a review of all passports? She noted that the budget of the DHA shows that there will be a slight decrease in the spending on Immigration Services. She asked whether the DHA has planned for the costs of deportation should the increase in operations reveal many illegal migrants. She asked for more details on the DHA's overall plan to address the immigration crises in the country. What is the DHA doing to ensure that the immigration inspectors properly do their work? How does the DHA support the work of the immigration inspectors? As much as the Committee wants to applaud the DHA for increasing the number of immigration operations to 540, there is a need first to evaluate the effectiveness of the current operations in combatting illegal immigration in the country.
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) welcomed the briefing from the DHA and acknowledged the progress made. She proposed that the DHA should consider having branches closer to municipal offices.
Mr K Pillay (ANC) stated that it is important to applaud the DHA for the progress made, but it is equally as important to address the shortcomings to improve service delivery to the people of South Africa. He was concerned that the Committee could not draw comparisons to previous financial years in terms of the DHA's Annual Report since the report on the 2021/22 financial year will only be received in September 2022, which is the mid-term of the current financial year. It is important for the Committee to review the budget for the current financial year in the first quarter and draw comparisons to the previous financial years to make suggestions for improvements. The last two years had a lot of challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is important that the DHA and the Committee start to pick up the pieces and move toward serious improvements. It is disappointing that the e-booking appointment system is not being rolled out in this financial year since it would have assisted in the modernisation of offices.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their contributions and invited the delegation from the DHA to present the entity’s responses to the questions presented by the Members.
Responses by Home Affairs
Mr Makhode, DG, responded that the DHA was allocated R120 million for the BMA. DHA asked National Treasury to reprioritise the funding to commence with the capacitation. The DHA has placed adverts for the border guards, and National Treasury will want to monitor the spending of the allocated funds before further funds can be allocated to the BMA. The DHA will be able to brief the Committee quarterly, which the Minister will determine. He confirmed that the Inter-Ministerial Committee has already had two meetings regarding the operationalisation of the BMA. Previous disruptions in the global supply chain processes prevented the DHA from securing the equipment needed. The work is ongoing; the Minister of the DHA and the Minister of Employment and Labour plan to look at matters of immigration.
Regarding Mr Roos’ question on the capacity of the DHA, Mr Makhode responded that other factors like retirement or natural attrition also impact the capacity of the DHA. There are numbers of people leaving the employ of the DHA, who are then replaced by new appointments, but this means that there was not a dramatic increase in staff to the extent outlined. The staff complement of the DHA is not static, and these factors necessitated the re-capacitation. He noted that the DHA is awaiting an invite from the Committee to come and brief Members on the capacitation of the DHA and the Business Case presented to National Treasury, as this will allow the DHA to share the dynamic details of its staff complement with the Committee.
Regarding the undocumented learners referred to, he asked that the DHA be provided with more information to follow up on the matter and reach out to the schools where learners are unable to apply for their IDs.
On the issue of the DHA's offices being closed on Saturdays, he said the DHA has a programme linked to the school calendar to work on extended hours to cater to learners who cannot reach the offices of the DHA during the hours they are supposed to be at school. The DHA is considerate that the engagements with the Department of Employment and Labour are still ongoing in this regard.
Concerning the immigration crisis, he emphasised the need to learn from the rest of the African continent to find solutions to curb illegal immigration. DHA officials regularly visit offices all around the country to be on the ground so that the top management of the DHA is aware of the issues and challenges that communities face when visiting an office of the DHA. This is a way to ensure management is aware of the capacity of every office of the DHA in the country.
On system downtime, he replied that the DHA is upgrading its network with the purchases of switches, routers, and other equipment through collaboration with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA). Recently, loadshedding has also presented challenges, with some of the DHA’s generators not kicking in. Even some sites receiving its services from the SITA were offline because of the severe levels of load shedding.
On the issues of the physical buildings of the DHA, he responded that the processes of moving to new buildings are underway to move the DHA to its new headquarters. The DHA is working to increase the capacity of its Immigration Services branch, especially to source office managers for offices where there were no office managers. The Department is in the process of filling those vacancies.
Regarding the e-booking appointment system, he stated that the DHA had piloted 24 offices, received good feedback, and will brief the Committee on the rollout plans for the future.
Dr Nakampe Masiapato, Commissioner of the BMA, agreed that the DHA would brief the Committee regularly regarding the progress made to operationalise the BMA fully. The BMA is currently finalising the appointment of border guards and the interviews are underway. The budget for the BMA decreased in the 2022/23 financial year because of the transfer of people and staff from other governmental departments, who will eventually have their salaries also transferred to the BMA. After the transfers are complete, National Treasury will decide to establish the financial requirements of the BMA, going forward.
Mr Thomas Sigama, Deputy Director-General: Civic Services, responded to the question on weekend work and overtime payments by stating that the DHA’s staff does get paid for overtime. The DHA ensures that there is an additional capacity if needed. The DHA's collaboration with 28 banks is now fully operational and connected to provide the required services. The DHA is working closely with its service providers to ensure that the services will be rolled out to additional banks when the agreements are approved. The DHA also has youth volunteers working at these offices, and the entity supports them by providing the required equipment and resources.
Mr Thulani Mavuso, Deputy Director-General: Institutional Planning and Support, DHA, stated that the DHA runs a hybrid model in 24 different offices between booked and walk-in clients. The DHA monitors the effectiveness of this system, and there is a need to deal with no-show clients. Overall, there has been good feedback on the hybrid system used at some of DHA's offices.
Mr Vukani Nxasana, the Head of Properties and Facilities at the DHA, added that the appropriate feasibility plans had been put through to move some of the DHA's offices. The DHA has also applied to the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to allocate the land needed to build the DHA's new headquarters through a public-private partnership. Approval from National Treasury was received on 31 March 2022, and DHA is now proceeding to the next stages of the project.
Mr Jackson McKay thanked the Committee for the well wishes and support extended to him by the Members in attendance. He thanked the Committee for the support and advice given to the DHA during his service.
He explained that the DHA's risk-based approach to managing immigration was driven by regulatory compliance instead of more proactive management of risks based on intelligence. This requires an integration of competencies across immigration and other stakeholder departments to extend the reach of the immigration value chain and enhance the security and integrity of the state. This was the key methodology for managing immigration risks to build a complete history of everyone who has visited the country and link it to effective screening of visitors before leaving their country of origin. This also provides for testing the persons' travel documents and their credibility. The DHA then also runs background checks on them on international lists available to the country. This risk-based methodology is underpinned by a seamless interface of technology, reporting systems and initiative-taking management of immigration by the DHA. However, these requirements have not yet been implemented, especially regarding the need for integrated technology and systems. The DHA is closing the gaps in this process to achieve a more effective immigration system. He stated that the DHA would share a document with the Committee that outlines the details of its approach.
Mr Makhode added that the DHA would ramp up its work on the modernisation efforts of the DHA's offices and has already registered 15 offices with the Infrastructure Office in the Presidency.
Deputy Minister Nzuza added that the DHA’s Digitisation Programme is not just about scanning documents to get digital versions, but it is about rearranging and capturing records into the system to protect the credibility of the National Population Register. Children cannot be taken out of school because they are undocumented, but there is no blanket approach to say that everyone in a South African school can get citizenship. So, the DHA is looking at ways to regulate this issue more effectively. The DHA is refocusing its school programmes to target Grade 11 and 12 learners, providing them with accessible services to receive their IDs. The DHA is also encouraging people to register the births of their children within 30 days to receive birth certificates.
Dr Motsoaledi stated that there are 300 million records (which increases every time a child is born or death occurs), and the DHA will hire 10 000 young people to digitise these records until it is done. On the issue of the DHA's working hours being extended to include Saturdays, he stated that a deadlock was reached with the trade unions; the DHA is in the process of negotiations on this matter and the issue of overtime requested by the unions. The solution to this matter will be when the Home Affairs Bill regulates the issues at play. He confirmed that the DHA is investigating the fraudulent activities of the arrested individual.
DHA Interventions over the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Floods
The second item on the agenda was for the Committee to be briefed by DHA on its intervention in the recent floods and state of disasters in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape.
The DHA updated the Committee on the DHA’s plans to assist citizens who had their identification and enabling documents destroyed due to the floods and disasters in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. It was reported that on 11 April 2022, floods occurred in these provinces, resulting in the loss of lives and damage to properties, infrastructure and the environment caused by heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, and landslides. The Provincial Management Centres requested that a state of disaster be declared in these provinces. As a result, the DHA is expected to ensure issuing enabling documents to the affected citizens who have either lost or have documents damaged during the disaster. Other government departments and organs of state have been called upon to further strengthen support to existing structures to implement contingency arrangements and ensure that measures are put in place to enable these two provinces to deal with the devastating effects of these natural disasters effectively.
The DHA’s project will ensure that enabling documents are issued to the affected citizens to access various services where required, minimise opportunities for corruption and identity theft, prevent contamination of the National Population Register due to the disaster, and enable the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to admit learners at schools, including pre-schools. The DHA outlined the activities and deliverables of the project, which started on 19 April and will end on 31 May 2022.
Regarding the situation in the Eastern Cape province, it was reported that the disaster management assessments have begun and that thirteen villages have been affected. There has been no demand for the DHA's services for enabling documents, but the province is ready to deploy mobile units.
[See presentation document for more details]
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and the Deputy Minister of the DHA for the report given to the Committee. He expressed hope that Ms van der Merwe and Mr Pillay can physically interact and engage with the DHA in these provinces, as the areas are their constituency areas.
Ms Legwase applauded the DHA for being on its toes and being available to step in and intervene when services of the DHA are needed most by the people of South Africa.
Mr Roos also thanked the DHA for intervening in the challenging times experienced by the people of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. He stated that similar situations are experienced in South Africa from time to time, like with Ivory Park. The latter’s Disaster Management Report did not have the required names of people on the report. Is there anything the DHA can do when the names of the people affected by the disasters are not on the Disaster Management Report?
Ms Khanyile welcomed the report and the interventions made by the DHA. She applauded the DHA's interventions and expressed her condolences to the people affected by the disasters.
Ms van der Merwe thanked the DHA for the assistance provided to the people who have been affected by the floods in the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces. She stated that it had been a horrific period and thanked the DHA for making available the replacement documents with a fee concession. She asked that the Committee be provided with a list of the mobile units and their routes in the area to be made available to the constituents in those areas.
Ms Molekwa appreciated the quick response and interventions from the DHA, and she welcomed and noted the report presented by the DHA in this regard.
Mr Pillay also thanked the DHA for the swift assistance provided to the people who have been affected by the floods in the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces, especially the fee waiver. This shows a government in action and genuinely cares about its people. He stated that one challenge that is faced is that the names of people who require assistance are submitted through the councillors at local municipalities, but in some municipalities, there are no councillors. There is a need to find a way around this to ensure people do not suffer because of bureaucracy.
Deputy Minister Nzuza thanked Members for their appreciation of the work of the DHA. He stated that the DHA is in touch with local mayors to solve the problem of councillors, as mentioned by Mr Pillay. He also confirmed that the Committee would be provided with a list of the mobile units and their routes in the area to be made available to the constituents in those areas. He responded to the question from Mr Roos and stated that it is paramount that the DHA has a list of the names of the people affected in its efforts to combat and prevent instances where people try to take advantage of the disasters.
The Chairperson thanked Members and the delegation in attendance at the meeting. He also appreciated the swift interventions from the DHA to render services to the people affected. He reminded Members of the Joint Sitting scheduled where the President will address Parliament.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Media Statement: Home Affairs Committee Calls For Focus On Immigration and Resolution Of Queue Challenges
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