The Committee convened on a virtual platform to be briefed by the Department of Home Affairs and the Border Management Authority on their Annual Performance Plans and budgets for the 2022/23 financial year.
The Department provided a breakdown of the budget per financial programme, the provincial budgets, and the budgets for training, litigation, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The targets of the DHA’s APP for the 2022/23 financial year were outlined to the Committee in detail. The Department’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year is approximately R9.4 billion, and the proposed and expected expenditure for the upcoming year was outlined to the Committee.
The DHA’s budget for training amounts to approximately R6.9 million, the litigation budget amounts to about R33 million, and the COVID-19 budget amounts to roughly R19.6 million.
The upcoming legislation for the 2022/23 financial year includes the Home Affairs Framework Bill, the Marriage Bill, the One-Stop Border Post Bill, and the National Identification and Registration Bill.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department 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 Department will focus on taking forward the lessons that were learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase its investment in technology, improve its service delivery and operating models, and ensure that it is prepared for uninterrupted service delivery even in future pandemics. Over the medium term, the Department will revert to the target performance levels before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Border Management Authority briefed the Committee on the timeframes, budget and progress made towards the operationalisation of the Authority. The entity outlined five targets for the 2022/23 financial year. This includes incrementally establishing the Authority by submitting pre-listing documents to National Treasury and rolling out the Authority at 46 ports of entry by incorporating frontline Immigration, Port Health, Agriculture and Access Control functions into the Authority. The entity will be rolled out in phases along the three segments of the land border law enforcement areas. The Border Management Authority will assume responsibility for facilities management at 31 land ports of entry. It will reach financial and contractual closure with bidders regarding land development of six priority land ports of entry.
Regarding strategic milestones for operationalisation of the Authority, it was reported that the entity will remain incubated within the Department as one of its branches until 31 March 2023. By the start of April 2023, the Authority will be listed as a Schedule 3A public entity while still reporting to the Minister of Home Affairs. The Authority’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year amounts to R166 million. The Authority also updated the Committee on its key achievements and the entity’s progress on current matters.
The Committee welcomed the briefings made by the Department and the Border Management Authority and appreciated the date from the Minister regarding the suspensions of staff where appropriate.
Members were concerned that there had been little progress in fighting the war on the long queues outside the Department’s front offices. The Committee urged it to address this issue with urgency, as it affects the country's most vulnerable people. While the Committee was cognisant of the decreasing budget allocations of the Department, one Member urged it to consider alternative solutions should it not receive the required money to fill the vacancies, especially since the high rate of vacancies affect the Department’s front offices and is thus exacerbating the issues of long queues and long wait times. What is the Department doing to ensure that it provides effective and efficient service delivery to the people of South Africa? The Committee applauded the work of the Department’s Anti-Corruption Unit but noted that the public wants to see consequences being implemented. Cases need to move forward so that the public can see that the reported cases actually bring results and convictions.
One Member noted that the Committee could visit an area of the Border Management Authority that will be part of the pilot to be able to engage with the staff members regarding these changes and transfers so that the Committee can understand and engage with the border staff feelings and inputs regarding the changes in staff and the transfers or reassignments of staff either to their original entities or departments or to the Authority. Clarity was also sought regarding the content of the gender-based violence awareness sessions and how the DHA will roll out its outreach programmes to other provinces. One Member applauded the Minister for his enthusiasm for his work.
It is important that the country deals in unison with its problem of illegal immigration because it has profound negative implications on how the country moves forward. There is a need for a practical and pragmatic way to deal with the long queues at the Department of Home Affairs offices. The service of the Department is a civil duty that government performs for its citizens. The quality of the Department’s services and documents are good, but the issue of long queues needs to be addressed because it impacts the entity’s service delivery and should be remedied urgently.
The Chairperson convened the virtual meeting and welcomed Members and delegations from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and the Border Management Authority (BMA). She noted the apology received from Mr Njabulo Nzuza, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs.
The purpose of the meeting was for the Committee to be briefed by the DHA and the BMA on its targets, Annual Performance Plans (APPs) and budgets for 2022/23
The Chairperson said the Committee was engaging with departments and entities in its portfolio on the APPs and budgets for the 2022/23 financial year. The Committee will now deal with that of the DHA and the BMA and has also requested additional information from the DHA on the issues and areas that the Committee has been engaging with the DHA, including a breakdown of the budget allocations to provinces for the 2022/23 financial year. Other updates required from the DHA included sourcing of provincial offices, training of staff, recruitment and filling of key vacancies, impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on service delivery, provincial legislation in the works for 2022/23, DHA’s budget for litigation and court challenges by staff who are challenging dismissal or disciplinary action charges, and an overview of budgets, timeframes, and any foreseen challenges relating to implementation of the BMA.
The delegation of the DHA consisted of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi (Minister), Mr Tommy Makhode (Director-General), Mr Thomas Sigama (Deputy Director-General: Civic Services), Mr Thulani Mavuso (Deputy Director-General: Institutional Planning and Support), Mr Modupi Ka Mdluli (Chief of Staff), Adv Conny Moitse (Deputy Director-General: Counter-Corruption), Mr Muzi Njoko (Director), Mr Nhlanhla Mabaso (Deputy Director-General: ICT), and Ms Tampane Sefanyetso (Acting DDG: Human Resource Management & Development).
Dr Mike Masiapato (Commissioner of the BMA) and Mr Gene Ravele (Project Manager of the BMA) were also in attendance.
Opening remarks by the Minister:
Minister Motsoaledi remarked that this was the first meeting with the Committee since Mr Jackson McKay had left, and the candidate for his replacement is Mr Yusuf Simons, who was the previous head of the DHA in the Western Cape. There is also currently an Acting Deputy Director-General for Human Resources. The DHA recently suspended the three most senior people in Human Resources, including the Chief Director of Human Resources. There is an 18% capacity in that regard at the moment.
Regarding recruitment and filling of vacancies, he remarked that the DHA had a big problem with all of its vacancies. About five years ago, National Treasury gave all departments a ceiling for the compensation of employees that could not be breached. This meant that when people were leaving the DHA because of natural attrition, those posts could not be filled, negatively affecting the DHA. The DHA has many vacancies, especially in the front offices. Some of the biggest complaints that the DHA receives relate to the unmanageable long queues outside of its offices, but the shortage of staff in the front offices exacerbates this situation as the capacity is currently at 39%. The DHA submitted a business proposal to National Treasury to illustrate how the vacancies are negatively affecting its service delivery. While National Treasury allocated R266 million to the DHA to fill these vacancies, it only took the DHA’s capacity up to 42%, which is still insufficient. The DHA is in negotiation discussions with National Treasury for further assistance in this regard.
Vacancies also affect immigration officers on the ground who are supposed to be doing the work and checking whether immigration laws are being complied with. Some of these vacancies will be filled. Work of the Anti-Corruption Unit recently led to arrests, but this is also affected by vacancies in that unit. The DHA will use the money to recruit from law enforcement agencies to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Unit's capacity and work. Since the DHA’s operation in Krugersdorp on 24 February 2022, South Africans have opened their hearts and are giving tips to the Anti-Corruption Unit on illegal activities. The DHA appreciates the successes that the Anti-Corruption Unit can achieve when whistle-blowers and members of the public assist it. It shows that the country is tired of seeing corruption and that people want to deal with it.
Regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, he stated that the biggest impact was that the DHA could not provide certain services during the declared national state of disaster. Now that the country is out of this state of disaster, people are coming from all corners of the country to get the services they could not get during the COVID-19 pandemic, contributing to the long queues outside DHA’s offices. The budget cuts during the state of disaster also had a negative impact.
He reminded the Committee that the BMA was still a branch incubated in the DHA, and a lot of hard work is going into ensuring that the BMA will be a stand-alone entity by April 2023. The Commissioner and Deputy Commissioners of the BMA have been appointed. They are working hard to ensure that the BMA is fully operationalised and implemented by the timeframes outlined in the briefing. Nine Ministers will be part of the inter-ministerial committee in charge of the BMA. While the President usually appoints inter-ministerial committees, the Border Management Authority Act 2 of 2020 outlines the appointment of this inter-ministerial Committee to include the Minister of Home Affairs as the Chairperson, and for the rest of the Committee to include the Minister of Agriculture, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Police, the Minister of State Security, the Minister of Trade and Industry, and the Minister of Transport. There is also a statutory board that must meet four times a year and has already met for the first time.
Briefing by the DHA on its 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 APP and budget for 2022/23. Mr Tommy Makhode, the Director-General, presented the briefing.
Summary of the briefing:
The DHA provided the Committee with a briefing on its APP and budget for 2022/23 including a breakdown of the budget per financial programme, provincial budgets, and budgets for training, litigation, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2022/23 financial year covers the fourth year of the five-year Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) period from 2019 to 2024. The DHA conducted its planning for the 2022/23 financial year according to 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 that were learned during the COVID-19 pandemic to increase its investment in technology, improve its service delivery and operating models, and ensure the Department is prepared for uninterrupted service delivery even in future pandemics.
On 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 2022/23 for the filling of 762 posts (328 for Immigration Services, 427 for Civic Services and seven for information services). This would assist in dealing with the severe human resource capacity constraints in the DHA. The 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 regularly deliver quality services, especially after lifting the National State of Disaster on 5 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 back to the target performance levels before the commencement of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The targets of the DHA’s APP for the 2022/23 financial year were outlined to the Committee in detail.
The DHA’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year is approximately R9.4 billion, and the proposed and expected expenditure for the upcoming year was outlined to the Committee. The provincial budget allocations were outlined: R280 million for the Eastern Cape, R158 million for the Free State, R481 million for Gauteng, R290 million for KwaZulu-Natal, R263 million for Limpopo, R181 million for Mpumalanga, R176 million for North-West, R133 million for the Northern Cape, and R221 million for the Western Cape. The DHA’s budget for training amounts to approximately R6.9 million, the litigation budget amounts to R33 million, and the COVID-19 budget amounts to R19.6 million.
The upcoming legislation for the 2022/23 financial year includes the Home Affairs Framework Bill that seeks to give effect to the White Paper on the Repositioning of the DHA in the Security Cluster. It seeks to provide for competence of the DHA to provide for the establishment, functions, organisation, and management of the entity and provide for the appointment and conditions of service of employees. The Marriage Bill will seek to effect the White Paper on Marriages in South Africa. The White Paper responds to many court judgments that have found some elements of the current marriage legislation to be unconstitutional. It has aligned all marriages to be concluded per the principles of equality, non-discrimination and human dignity in the Constitution. The approved White Paper will allow South Africans and residents of all sexual orientations, religious and cultural persuasions to conclude legal unions in line with constitutional principles. The White Paper outlines some of the excluded unions, such as child marriages. The third piece of upcoming legislation is the One-Stop Border Post Bill which seeks to effect the approved Policy on One-Stop Border Posts. The policy seeks to harmonise the movement of people and goods between South Africa’s land ports of entry and its neighbouring countries. It effects the One-Stop Border Framework that Cabinet adopted in 2018. Lastly, the National Identification and Registration Bill will seek to effect the approved Official Identity Management Policy. This policy will replace the current Identification Act 68 of 1997. The adopted policy proposes a single digital National Population Register for all people who live or have lived in the country. It also provides a biometric National Identity System (NIS) that will enable a single view of a person. The NIS will also be able to interface with other government and private sector identity systems.
Briefing by the BMA on its APP and budget for the 2022/23 financial year
The second item on the agenda was for the Committee to be briefed by the BMA on its APP and budget for 2022/23. Dr Mike Masiapato (Commissioner of the BMA), and Mr Gene Ravele, the Project Manager of the BMA, presented the briefing to the Committee.
Summary of the briefing:
The BMA briefed the Committee on the timeframes, budget and progress made towards the operationalisation of the BMA. The entity outlined five targets for the 2022/23 financial year. These included incrementally establishing the BMA by submitting pre-listing documents to National Treasury and rolling out the BMA at 46 ports of entry by incorporating frontline Immigration, Port Health, Agriculture and Access Control functions into the BMA. The entity will be rolled out in phases along the three segments of the land border law enforcement areas. The BMA will assume responsibility for facilities management at 31 land ports of entry and will reach financial and contractual closure with bidders regarding land development of six priority land ports of entry.
Regarding strategic milestones for operationalisation of the BMA, it was reported that the entity will remain incubated within the DHA as one of its branches until 31 March 2023. During April and May 2022, the Section 97 Proclamations will be finalised, and the functions will be transferred to the BMA and staff will get seconded to the BMA. Key positions will be filled, and the BMA is still engaging with National Treasury on indicative budgets over and above budgets being transferred. In June 2022, the BMA will make budget submissions to National Treasury, and the Minister of Finance will reflect on the funding of the BMA in October 2022. By the start of April 2023, the BMA will be listed as a Schedule 3A public entity while still reporting to the Minister of the DHA. The BMA’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year amounts to R166 million. The BMA also updated the Committee on its key achievements and the entity’s progress on current matters.
Remarks by the Minister
Minister Motsoaledi said the BMA would bring together some governmental departments working at the borders. It means that the people working there will be transferred in section 97 of the Border Management Authority Act. While there are police officers at the borders, these officers are members of the South African Police Service (SAPS). However, these police officers will choose if they want to be transferred to the BMA, and if they agree, the proclamations will be signed. The Constitution allows the President to transfer functions under a piece of legislation to be administered by another minister. The President can also transfer staff from one Department to another. In this case, the staff would be transferred to the BMA. Because there are police officers at the border, these officers can choose to go to the BMA and will then be transferred to work under the Commissioner of the BMA and no longer under the Commissioner of Police. However, if they choose not to come over to the BMA, these police officers will be removed at the border and given back to the SAPS to be reassigned.
He stated that health officials at the borders would also be transferred via a Section 97 proclamation to fall under the BMA. While their responsibilities will remain the same, these health officials will work under the BMA at the borders. There will not be any transfers for other governmental departments or entities, but the entity would use implementation protocols for working together.
Mr I Sileku (DA, Western Cape) thanked the delegations from the DHA and the BMA for the briefings made to the Committee. He appreciated the update from the Minister of the DHA regarding the suspensions of staff where appropriate. He noted a trend where people got suspended, but their cases were not dealt with. He asked for clarity on how long the three suspended senior officials from Human Resources will be suspended before their cases are heard and finalised. How much are these suspensions costing the DHA?
He did not see reference to the war on queues. He did not want to politicise the issue but noted that it affects the country's most vulnerable people. How will this particular problem be mitigated in the DHA? He stated that the DHA’s briefings did not inspire hope that it would defeat the war on long queues, especially given the decreasing budget allocations of the DHA.
He asked the DHA for clarity on the alternative solutions it has planned should it not receive the required money to fill the vacancies, especially since the high rate of vacancies affects the DHA’s front offices and is thus exacerbating the issues of long queues and long wait times. How will the DHA mitigate this problem of being understaffed? Since the country is out of the national state of disaster, it is almost certain that the queues outside the DHA’s offices will only get longer, causing more frustration. He applauded the work of the DHA’s Anti-Corruption Unit but noted that the public wants to see consequences being implemented, such as convictions. Cases need to move forward so that the public can see that the reported cases actually bring results and convictions.
On issuing IDs, he noted that the annual target before the COVID-19 pandemic was 3 000 IDs and asked whether the DHA would return to this target since the country is out of the national state of disaster.
He asked for details on the successes that have been achieved in law enforcement operations.
He asked for clarity on whether there are any foreseen challenges regarding issuing permanent residence applications. Are there any foreseen impediments to the IT department of the DHA achieving its annual targets in the 2022/23 financial year?
On the issue of the 10 000 unemployed youths, he asked for details on the progress and challenges of the recruitment process. What is the DHA doing to ensure that it revives the staff morale to increase the DHA’s productivity?
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) asked for clarity on the staff’s feelings and inputs regarding the changes in staff and the transfers or reassignments of staff either to their original entities or departments or to the BMA. Are there any staff members who want to opt for a compensation package instead of being transferred? How are the staff members taking these changes? The Committee could visit one of these areas of the BMA that will be part of the pilot to engage with the staff members regarding these changes.
On the issue of queues, he noted that it is still a problem, especially when bribes are involved in being helped on a specific day. What is progress of the DHA in getting rid of long queues at its front offices to avoid these situations?
Ms M Bartlett (ANC, Northern Cape) referred to the revised service delivery model and asked that the Committee be given more details on this model and its implementation.
On media engagements and outreach programmes, she asked for clarity on how provinces will be prioritised and asked for details on the mechanisms to reach rural areas.
She asked for more background and context relating to the DHA’s plans to address gender-based violence and femicide and its implementation. What content will the gender-based violence awareness sessions cover? How will these outreach programmes be rolled out in all the other provinces?
She asked for more information on the factors that informed the allocations of the provincial budgets. There were still many vacant posts that needed to be filled, and she asked for details on the challenges of filling these posts.
Ms N Nkosi (ANC, Mpumalanga) welcomed the briefings made to the Committee.
She asked for clarity on the main cases involved in fraud and corruption and sought clarity on the measures to address and prevent such situations involving fraud and corruption.
On the DHA’s Civic Services, she asked for details on the DHA's measures to address the long queues outside of the DHA’s front offices. This is an issue that really frustrates the public and it is an issue that must be addressed urgently. What is the DHA doing to ensure that it provides effective and efficient service delivery to the people of South Africa?
She asked for information on the progress made by the DHA to address its connectivity challenges. What are the current challenges of the BMA to meet the targets and achievements set out in the rollout plan?
On the biometric movement control systems, she noted that in the 2021/22 financial year, the DHA planned to roll out these systems in 24 ports of entry, and this target has now been increased in the 2022/23 financial year. She asked for a progress update in this regard and clarity on the challenges and lessons learned in implementing these systems.
Ms C Visser (DA, North West) asked for details on how many of the northern borders are still closed. She received complaints that the economy had suffered in those towns where the borders were closed. She noted that South Africans trying to get to the country from Zambia had an unbelievably bad experience with the South African embassy, even before the COVID-19 period started. South Africans who are abroad are waiting up to three years before getting the passport or the relevant documents they need to travel. How will the DHA address this issue?
Mr K Motsamai (EFF, Gauteng) noted that he reported a corruption case to the Minister of the DHA last year regarding someone who bought an ID from Egypt. The Minister instructed his team to investigate the issue, but there has never been any feedback.
He said he also reported a company from Dubai that retrenched more than 200 South Africans, and these people do not have valid working permits in South Africa. How will the DHA address this? What will be done about the Indians and Chinese in South Africa without valid documents? Are the DHA only arresting the soft targets from Mozambique or Zimbabwe?
Mr T Dodovu (ANC, North West) appreciated the presentations from the DHA and the BMA and welcomed the enlightened nature of the briefings.
He stated that the Minister of the DHA is “oozing” confidence and has a lot of energy, and he commended the enthusiasm of Dr Motsoaledi in doing his work. He said that he wished other Ministers also had this enthusiasm for their work, as it would solve many problems faced in other departments.
On the BMA, he noted that the institutional arrangements and structures were quite dynamic and complex. This is good to help finalise the issue of dealing with our borders and illegal immigration in South Africa. The country should deal in unison with its problem of illegal immigration because it has profound negative implications on how the country moves forward.
There is a need for a practical and pragmatic way to deal with long queues at DHA offices. The service of the DHA is a civic duty that the government performs for its citizens. The quality of the DHA’s services and documents are good, but the issue of long queues needs to be addressed because it impacts the entity’s service delivery and should be addressed urgently.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had concerns about the long queues outside the DHA offices, which is one area that the Committee has highlighted for further engagement.
On the increase in the number of law enforcement operations and inspections to ensure compliance with immigration, she noted that the target increased by more than 100% from 240 to 540 operations. This is commendable and will go a long way in locating and tracing undocumented foreign nationals within the country. However, she expressed concern about whether the DHA has the necessary capacity to address this target and asked what challenges are foreseen by the DHA.
On the business processes to be evaluated to identify vulnerabilities for corruption and security breaches, she asked for the DHA to provide the Committee with information on the findings from the one business process evaluated.
On the percentage of reported cases being finalised within 90 days, she asked why the finalisation rate was so low and asked for clarity on the challenges the DHA is encountering. How will the DHA ensure an improved performance?
On the DHA’s percentage of misconduct cases completed within 90 days, she noted that it is a new performance indicator. However, she asked for details on targets in this regard and clarity on why they were set at 60% or lower.
On the BMA, she referred to the border post infrastructure, the redevelopment of the six ports of entry projects and staff housing. She asked for clarification on which six ports of entry had been identified.
Responses from the DHA and the BMA
Mr Makhode, DHA DG, responded to the recent suspensions of three officials from Human Resources. He stated that the DHA was dealing with this issue regarding the appropriate provisions (including the Public Service Management Regulations) and stated that in certain instances where the employer moves too fast, it is often found to be transgressing some of those provisions. The specific cases referred to have had some delays, but these were not caused by the employer but by the employees who did not want a specific presiding officer. However, these matters were resolved and the State Attorney has appointed a new chairperson regarding some of those cases. Regarding costs to the DHA, he stated that the staff members had been suspended with pay.
On the issues around the long queues, he stated that the DHA had made interventions to redesign its workflow processes to allow offices to operate earlier to address the long queues. The DHA sees incremental improvements from the interventions implemented. The DHA has also introduced the appointment system, which has been rolled out to 24 other offices of the DHA.
On the 10 000 unemployed youths, he stated ongoing work with National Treasury regarding that matter. The DHA is currently finalising a revised business case which will soon be submitted to National Treasury with the indicated figures before the procurement stage.
The DHA has a strong stakeholder management forum in all the provinces, which comprises all levels of government and NGOs that the DHA reaches out to the media. The DHA also uses community-based media to reach out to various communities and its mobile units. The DHA will also be procuring more mobile units to reach rural areas. There were some procurement challenges in the supply chain management and disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the DHA not being able to procure anything from outside the country’s borders. However, the DHA placed all the orders for its systems to be rolled out.
On the questions on immigration, he stated that there had been an introduction between the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and some of the DHA’s team members, especially concerning the border patrol. Regarding the closed borders, he stated that the DHA did reopen the Alexander Bay border. For these processes, the Minister has to write to his counterparts in other countries to reopen the borders, including Namibia. The DHA responded to the issues of communities complaining about the impact of the closed borders on their economic activities. The DHA notes the issue of moving with speed to digitise its systems to allow that people are helped quickly, effectively, and efficiently to address the long queues outside of its offices.
Mr Thulani Mavuso, DDG: Institutional Planning and Support, stated that the DHA is implementing the service delivery model in the current financial year as approved by the Minister of the DHA. There are a number of areas that the DHA can work on to improve customer satisfaction and relationships and address the key resources needed by the DHA to respond to the issues that need to be addressed regarding the service delivery model. He asked for an opportunity to present the service delivery model to the Committee.
On the issue of the long queues outside the DHA’s offices, he stated that the appointment system would be rolled out in phases starting with large offices at the end of June 2022. It will be rolled out to medium and smaller officers. The idea is to enable clients to book a slot and come to the DHA’s office at a specific time to be served without long queues or unnecessary waiting times. The DHA is now grappling with the lessons learned from the pilot phase of the appointment system. The uptake and embracing of this new appointment system have not been as fast as expected. This week, the appointment system has been used to make 3 460 bookings, which has been lower than the DHA’s expectation, but this will be increased as the phased rollouts move along. However, the feedback on the appointment system has been good and people who have made appointments are helped, plus the office manager of the DHA’s office gets a list of clients who are scheduled for a specific day. Collections were taken out of the appointment system, for now, to focus on applications, and office managers are overseeing the collections themselves. The good feedback on the appointment system will positively affect the experiences of those coming to the DHA’s offices and reduce the length of queues at the front offices.
On the passports for South Africans abroad, he stated that the DHA is working on a pilot project that will be rolled out in the United Kingdom at the beginning of June 2022 to reduce the turnaround time for those who applied for passports abroad. If this pilot succeeds, it will also be used for those passports applied abroad.
Mr Thomas Sigama, DDG: Civic Services, responded to the question of the provinces’ budget allocations. He stated that the DHA uses the baseline of the provinces to determine the debt demand and the breakdown of the province’s budget throughout the year. The budget of Civic Services is used to assist provinces that run short of money as the financial year progresses and monitor these allocations monthly.
On the reduced targets of the DHA relating to the issuing of IDs, he stated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the services of the DHA were interrupted, and the DHA implemented scenario-based planning during the national state of disaster. The scenario approach was discontinued for the 2022/23 cycle, but the DHA will focus on taking forward the lessons that were 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. As the financial year progresses, the DHA will revise its targets to achieve the same level of performance as before the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea is to do away with the green IDs as these are vulnerable to fraud.
Ms Tampane Sefanyetso, Acting DDG: Human Resource Management & Development, responded to the question of the filling of vacant positions. She stated that 187 vacant posts need to be filled, and the DHA is awaiting the budget allocations from National Treasury based on the business case that was submitted. The DHA will be incrementally advertising these vacant posts until the end of May 2022. It is clear that there are capacity issues within the DHA, and the capacity of officials that must assist in facilitating the filing of those posts is a concern. However, the DHA has started to implement mechanisms to improve its internal capacity, including using the Human Resources practitioners. The DHA is also using interns and work-integrated learners from institutions of higher learning.
On the questions on gender-based violence and femicide, she stated that one of the key things the DHA needed to review was its Sexual Harassment Policy to ensure that it was comprehensive and well-articulated, and this policy has been improved. The DHA conducts gender-based violence awareness sessions with all genders in the DHA in a practical manner. The DHA has ensured that reporting mechanisms are in place for any incidents of gender-based violence within the DHA. The DHA is committed to resolving and finalising any reported incidents as swiftly as possible. The DHA is also collaborating with other external stakeholders to look at and resolve the issue of the LGBTIAQ+ community concerning gender-based violence. The DHA provides psycho-social support to any staff members who report incidents of gender-based violence. In addition, the DHA put together communication materials in several of its offices that communicate the message that if a client is faced with an incident of gender-based violence at a DHA office, they would know which steps to take.
Mr Modiri Matthews, Chief Director of the DHA’s Inspectorate, stated that the Inspectorate is the enforcement of the DHA to ensure that the people of South Africa are here on a lawful basis. The Inspectorate has been engaged in many operations and is currently supporting the BMA with its borderline operations.
On the increase in the annual target of the number of operations, he said that the goal is to ensure that all officials are deployed at least twice a month on operations and inspections. In the next few months, there will be a visible increase in the activities of the DHA’s Inspectorate, such as doing inspections or being involved in roadblocks. There is a heavy emphasis on dealing with the issue of illegal immigration, and the DHA is now actively requesting tip-offs from the members of the public, which is included in the Inspectorate’s target areas.
Mr Yusuf Simons, Acting DDG: Immigration Services, reflected on the question related to the DHA’s achievement of its target for permanent residence applications. He stated that there are 11 permanent residence categories, and the DHA’s APP speaks to three types of applications: business visas, critical skills visas, and general work visas. These three types constitute 30% of the work that is done in this regard. The DHA opened up applications for permanent residence in January 2022 and is now five months into the eight months for achieving this target. Measures have been put into place to decide on these applications, and the DHA is interviewing 16 additional adjudicators to focus on permanent and temporary residents. As approved by the Director-General of the DHA, the Permanent Residency Committee will then sit and decide on the new applications that came in since January 2022, emphasising the targets of the DHA’s APP for the 2022/23 financial year. Capacity is a critical area that needs to be strengthened, and resources from the provinces will be brought in to assist with verification of documents and quality assurance. The one area that also has to be focused on is verifying supporting documents (such as bank statements), which is a critical responsibility. There are also new protocols that have to be followed since the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013 came into effect. The DHA remains focused on achieving its permanent residency targets.
Adv Conny Moitse, DDG: Counter-Corruption, said that the DHA’s Anti-Corruption Strategy is organised around four pillars, namely prevention, detection, investigation, and resolution. The process evaluation involves a trend analysis of which services are most in demand. The DHA’s processes are reviewed regularly according to the data received and to close any loopholes encountered. The targets outlined will be increased as the DHA’s capacity is increased. She confirmed that the DHA was working closely with law enforcement agencies to deal with the issue of bribes and spots being sold in the queues of the DHA.
Dr Masiapato, the Commissioner of the BMA, responded to whether there are any staff members at the borders who would rather take a compensation package than being transferred. He said that there had been no official engagements with the staff regarding the changes and transfers in the various ports. The reason is that the DHA and BMA are still doing this work in the background and preparing for a structured engagement with staff and trade unions. This engagement is scheduled for the next quarter. There has not been any negative feedback or pushback from the staff members during informal engagements. Most staff members are excited about establishing the BMA, but further engagements on this matter are scheduled. The BMA engages with the Minister of the DHA and the Inter-Ministerial Committee when any bottlenecks need to be addressed. However, budget cuts across the departments remain a problem. The BMA escalates any serious pushbacks to the Ministers. He confirmed that 24 land ports of entry are open, with 29 ports remaining closed. All of the commercial ports in the country are open, except for one. Three ports between South Africa and Namibia are open, and the DHA is improving the capacity at the ports regarding health officials to comply with COVID-19 port requirements.
Closing remarks by the Minister
Dr Motsoaledi thanked Members for their words of encouragement to the DHA, especially since the whole government cannot run smoothly without the DHA operating efficiently. Regarding the matter of the long queues outside the offices of the DHA, he stated that many factors contribute to the long queues. The DHA is focusing on the rollout of its appointment system to ensure that clients can book their slot as this will also address the issue of bribes for spots outside the DHA’s offices.
On the issue of the DHA’s downtimes, he stated that some of these outages are outside the control of the DHA, as the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) provides these services. However, the DHA is looking into how these issues can be solved. It could be time to contract IT engineers outside of government to help the DHA deal with these issues using specialist IT engineers. The staff shortage also contributes to longer queues when the offices are only at 39% of their capacity. The other issues and steps for resolving long queues will be raised during the budget debate. The DHA will use the unemployed youth to digitise the 300 million manual records at the DHA that stretches back to 1895, as this will help to computerise the records of all people. The DHA also wants to see convictions for suspended staff members involved in wrongdoing, but this is in the hands of the courts and law enforcement agencies. In addition, there is disciplinary action ongoing within the DHA itself. It is not that the DHA is not producing results, but because it is a lengthy process through the courts. He stated that the staff members are not against the BMA and that many people applying to the advertised posts are from other departments and could be transferred. These people are already applying on their own behalf to not feel isolated from their own departments and be near the BMA as an entity. He asked Members to bear with the DHA as it is working on and finalising the internal disciplinary processes. He said that there is a wrong perception that the DHA is only deporting or arresting illegal people from the African continent and not those from other continents. The DHA will arrest anybody who engages in wrongdoing, regardless of their country of origin or skin colour.
The Chairperson thanked the delegations from the BMA and DHA for the briefings and thanked Members for their contributions. She noted that the BMA is a key area of oversight for the Committee. She stated that it is important that the people of the country receive efficient and effective service delivery from the DHA, and the Committee will continue to encourage the DHA in the work it does.
The meeting was adjourned.
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