The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs virtually met with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on the DHA’s third and fourth quarters for the 2022/2023 financial year. The DHA had identified key outcomes for the 2020 to 2025 period to contribute positively to a capable and developmental state such as the secure management of international migration. The DHA had planned to prioritise securing and efficiently managing citizenship and civil registration to fulfil constitutional and international obligations. It had planned to implement an efficient asylum seeker and refugee system in compliance with domestic and international obligations. It had also planned to provide a secure population register to empower citizens and enable inclusivity, economic development, and national security.
The Committee also received a briefing from the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on the audit performance of the Home Affairs portfolio. The AGSA noted that if key targets were not achieved, including the DHA modernisation project, and establishing the Border Management Agency (BMA). As part of the value-add projects done by AGSA, the 2023/24 Draft annual performance plan (APP) for DHA and BMA was reviewed. Findings identified from the review performed were discussed with management and considered in the final APPs. The final APPs were also reviewed to verify whether the issues were resolved. The AGSA also reported that Government Printing Works (GPW) audit outcome for 2021-22 is outstanding as the audit is underway. The status of IT controls continues to require intervention as the matters raised during 2020-21 have not been appropriately addressed.
In DHA’s third and fourth quarters for the 2022/2023 financial year, the Committee noted the performance improvements and achieved targets such as the issuance of smart ID cards. Where targets were not achieved, members recommended clear timeframes for mitigation actions. Members especially noted the lack of effective generators and backup power supply to counter load-shedding in DHA offices. They called for urgent interventions through an audit, action plan, and status report by the Ministry and Department in this regard. Members requested an update on recruiting quality assurance directors to finalise the backlog of permanent residence, critical skills, work, and business visas. They also asked for clarification of consequence management for unmet targets and poor performance by offices and staff. They expressed concerns about the delays in the modernisation of ABIS and that set deadlines are complied with to avoid losses. Members recommended that there must be an easy and accessible online booking system in place for not only the issuance of IDs but also for the collection of IDs.
Regarding the AGSA’s audit performance of the Home Affairs portfolio, Members commended the AGSA’s role in supporting oversight monitoring of governance and financial compliance. Concerns were noted for the repeated occurrence of issues and recommendations which were raised in previous audits and previous Committee meetings. Issues such as the need to improve vulnerability assessments, operating systems, and annual performance plans are repeated. Members called for AGSA to address the lack of internal departmental capabilities to resolve the issues and to provide recommendations to fill the gaps. It was recommended that timeframes should be allocated to the remedial actions proposed in the current audit. It was further recommended that there should be a high-level intervention of the Directors-General to ensure effective follow-up on recommendations and improvements in the next reporting period. Members called for urgent cooperation between the DHA and AGSA to address loss-of-data challenges.
Presentation by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on the third and fourth quarters for the 2022/2023 financial year
Mr L Makhode, Director-General, presented on DHA’s third and fourth quarters for the 2022/2023 financial year.
The DHA has identified the following outcomes for the period from 2020 to 2025:
• The secure management of international migration which resulted in South Africa’s interests being served and the fulfilment of international commitments.
• Secure and efficient management of citizenship and civil registration, fulfilling constitutional and international obligations.
• An efficient asylum seeker and refugee system which complied with domestic and international obligations.
• A secure population register which empowered citizens and enabled inclusivity, economic development, and national security.
• The DHA was positioned to contribute positively to a capable and developmental state.
There were 36 targets planned for the third quarter. Of these 36 targets, 26 (72%) were achieved and 10 (28%) targets were not achieved. There were 33 targets planned for the fourth quarter. Of these 33 targets, 28 (85%) were achieved and 5 (15%) targets were not achieved.
There was an increase of 13% in terms of overall achievement of departmental performance for Q4 compared to Q3 of the 2022-23 financial year. This was attributed to improved integrated planning and weekly meetings for tracking targets at risk of not being achieved.
• There was a loss of production hours due to loadshedding and system downtime. The instability of the network and downtimes continued to be a burden to the department. SITA data centres had a negative impact on the DHA services.
• The prolonged contracting PPP process and delayed responses from National Treasury resulted in the BMA still awaiting approval for issuing the RFP from National Treasury.
• There was a lack of experienced legislative drafters in the Department/government, resulting in a delay in the appointment of legislative drafters.
• There were delays in the delivery of ABIS Phase 1, resulting in penalties being levied against the service provider, IDEMIA.
• Improvement in the management of projects and contracts.
• Implementation of the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee on permits and visas and the Vulindlela reports improving the management of the visa regime.
• Multi-disciplinary Committee appointed to implement the recommendations of the Lubisi Ministerial Committee.
• Improvement in the IT infrastructure to reduce downtime and increase system stability.
• Engagement with SITA and CSIR to look at increasing the system uptime.
• Alternative sources of energy to be improved and explored to ensure constant availability of services.
• Weekly meetings and reports on targets will start in June 2023.
Budget versus expenditure
Except for Gauteng, Free State, Northwest and Western Cape, spending for Provinces is below the 2% variance of linear projection. During a virement process, additional funds were allocated to provinces for relocation costs for newly appointed officials as well as procurement of vehicles.
Second adjustment budget
• The Department received R300 million on 31 March 2023 for the Represented Political Parties Fund administered by the IEC as part of the second Adjustment Budget.
• This increased the departmental baseline for 2022/23 to R11 billion.
• It is a condition of the second Adjustment that the budget should be spent by 31 May 2023.
• Given the timing of the allocation, the Department could only transfer the R300 million to the IEC / Represented Political Parties Fund (RPPF) in April 2023.
See the attached presentation for further details.
The Chairperson thanked the Department for the presentation. He noted the performance improvements and achieved targets.
Where targets were not achieved, mitigation actions would be implemented. However, timeframes for implementation should be applied and outstanding reports submitted.
Ms A Khanyile (DA) thanked the DHA for the presentation and appreciated its report. She posed a series of questions to the Department.
She requested the DHA provide an update on its efforts to provide its offices with effective generators to counter the occurrence of load-shedding. She referred to a recent oversight visit to Graff-Reinet in the Eastern Cape. She observed that the DHA office is unable to operate during load-shedding as the generator was broken for a lengthy period.
She commended the DHA for meeting its target of issuing smart ID cards. She asked for an update on the status of the collection.
She asked for an update on recruiting quality assurance directors to finalise the backlog of permanent residence, critical skills, work, and business visas.
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) commended the DHA’s performance report. She called for the speedy and long-term resolution of the challenges regarding ABIS.
Mr K Pillay (ANC) appreciated the substantial improvement in all services. He agreed that the issue of generators and backup power supply is critical. The Committee previously requested an audit of the offices’ generator and backup power supply. He asked the DHA to provide an action plan and status report.
He recommended that there must be an easy and accessible online booking system in place for not only the issuance of IDs but also for the collection of IDs.
He also requested an update on the outstanding legislative Bills, as part of the legacy report.
Ms L Tito (EFF) asked for clarification of consequence management for unmet targets and poor performance by offices and staff.
She asked for an update on the strategic planning to improve the office accommodation of the DHA head office.
She further requested DHA to advise on the reason for the substantially increased budget for law enforcement.
She also asked for an update on recruiting quality assurance directors to finalise the backlog of permanent residence, critical skills, work, and business visas.
Ms L van der Merwe (IFP) noted the positive performance and targets achieved. As previously highlighted by the Chairperson, she said that timeframes for implementing outstanding targets are essential.
On the issue of permits, she referenced the Committee’s recent oversight visit on this matter. She raised concerns about a specific case where the processing of a permanent residence application was delayed by five years.
She followed up on the case by email but only received a response one month later that the matter was under consideration. While due diligence was vital, a lack of feedback on cases flagged by the Committee was unacceptable.
There is a need for a meeting between the Lebese Report Committee and its members. She noted the progress made thus far.
On slide 22 of the presentation, she highlighted her concerns about the Bills (such as the Marriage Bill) which were not finalised and the shortcomings of the existing immigration legislation. Will the review of the immigration legislation and reforms be expedited?
On slide 21, she asked how many misconduct cases were corruption-related.
She referred to the recent recruitment of the DDG to head the IT services. She asked why a new DDG would be recruited. Has the Minister and DG reviewed internal structures to ensure IT staff are competent?
She asked for an update on the functionality of mobile units and the rollout of services to banks.
Regarding inspections, she asked what the outcomes of the investigations conducted were.
Mr A Roos (DA) commended the smart ID and passports issuance as an important metric of achievements. However, noted challenges of South Africans abroad to apply for smart IDs and passports. The Committee raised the issue several years prior and was advised that it is a technical matter in progress.
Further, South Africans residing in the country face challenges of the unavailability of appointments for smart ID applications in central offices and are obliged to visit remote offices. When would this matter be resolved?
He shared his concerns about the downtime of services during loadshedding. It negates the Minister’s call for the timely usage of DHA services such as birth registration, as services are unavailable during the lengthy loadshedding schedule.
Subsequently, clients are turned away, resulting in delays such as late birth registration. If South Africans cannot register births, they cannot participate in the economy. He asked the DHA to submit a report which quantifies the system downtime and production impact.
He requested an update on the improved turnaround time for the issuance of work permits and he also asked for an update on the refugee appeals backlog.
On visiting academics, he noted concerns about the denial of visas, as they do not belong to a professional association body. He asked for an update on the matter.
He asked why the budget expenditure for counter-corruption was low, especially as most permit backlogs are due to corruption.
Regarding the Marriages Bill, DHA missed the timeframes to comply with the court order to remedy the defects for Muslim marriage registration. Further, DHA refuses to implement the interim Bill while awaiting the finalisation of the main Bill.
It is concerning that the Minister does not have adequate legal support on key issues such as this Bill and other issues such as the UAE. What is the status of contingent liabilities?
He congratulated the Department on achieving the threat assessment targets. He asked what was done with the risk assessments and compliance reports.
Adv B Bongo (ANC) said that the DHA’s report and improvements, such as the civic component, are impressive and instil a greater sense of public confidence in the DHA’s services.
However, there was a need to improve the turnaround time of services, particularly permits, and implement contingency plans to combat load-shedding.
Mr Makhode responded that outstanding reports would be prioritised and submitted.
On the issue of Graff-Reinet, DHA does not own the building but it is under the care of Public Works. The Department conducted an audit to determine the status of the generator and backup power supply in its offices. He added that generator functioning would adversely be affected by stage 6 load-shedding.
On remedial actions, interventions are underway, and the DHA would provide a detailed update to the Committee.
Regarding consequence management, the DHA provided letters to executives where programmes underperformed. Inspections are coordinated with other departments such as the police and city metros.
On the tracking of queries, he said that this was implemented regularly and consistently such as in the instance of IMS. A focal parliamentary official was recently appointed in IMS to provide daily reports.
The previous DDG IMS was demoted to a lower grade than the director based on the assessment and decision of an external panel.
Competent IT staff are assessed according to six work streams to ensure effective performance.
A forum was established to engage with academics and universities to improve the facilitation of visas. The issue of the professional body would be finalised internally in the current week.
The refugee appeals backlog was prioritised by the DHA for improved processing of appeals.
Mr Thomas Sigma, DDG: Civic Services, DHA, said the office in Graff-Reinet belongs to the landlord. There are ongoing problems with the generator despite it being serviced regularly. Extensive loadshedding hours are a contributing factor. The DHA would consider installing solar panels.
The BAPS ID and passport online collection booking would be implemented by the end of June 2023. A team was tasked to address the USSD issue with Vodacom.
The DHA’s website management responsibility would be moved from Communications to IT.
System downtime relates to individual occurrences and not nationally. The DHA continues to monitor the issue and would partner with the private sector to ensure system availability.
Mr Gordon Hollamby, CFO, DHA added that generators and backup power supply are available and maintained at the modernised offices. However, there was a worldwide shortage of parts for maintenance. A report on the audit would be provided.
On the underspending of the security budget, he clarified that some of the cash-in-transit was not spent because the DHA plans to reduce cash handling in offices and move to card functioning.
The lengthy SITA processes explain the 95 per cent expenditure.
The contingency liabilities were slightly reduced and as of 31 March 2023, R2 billion. It was an old matter and was no longer under the control of the DHA. It must now be dealt with as a legal matter.
The Chairperson asked for a detailed action plan on the matter and the status of the legal and labour units.
Ms Tampane Molefe-Sefanyetso, Acting DDG: Human Resource Management and Development, DHA, said that the Department was under-capacitated regarding labour relations practitioners. However, 18 lawyers were appointed to assist with complex cases.
As part of capacity development, ongoing training was provided. The number of presiding officers was increased.
Most cases amounting to 75 per cent are corruption cases. There is continuous unavailability of officials who should appear before the presiding officers. The DHA drafted standard operating and business procedures to improve the procedures.
Deputy Minister N Nzuza responded to the issue of early birth registration. He emphasised that the current report presents findings of the second and third quarters.
The annual report was finalised and would provide a clearer account of targets. The birth registration targets were surpassed, substantial progress was reported, and the late birth registration figures were reduced.
On the collection of smart IDs, he stated that the Department was pleased with the improvements. It indicates the dedication of officials despite the frontline challenges of long queues. The DHA implements mitigation to ensure that the overall output is achieved.
He said that the issue of uncollected IDs was reported on in previous Committee meetings. Most uncollected IDs were first-time applicants.
The DHA would draft a plan of action to deal with the uncollected IDS such as information campaigns and dedicated counters for accessible collection.
Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, thanked the Members for their comments and questions.
He noted the social factors impacting early birth registration and that supply management is essential. However, demands exceed the supply.
He said that he visited several hospitals and DHA desks were provided in the hospitals’ labour wards to promote early birth registration.
He noted the importance of the finalisation of outstanding Bills. There were challenges to finalising what is considered “smaller” Bills. The BMA Bill was at the stage of public participation and would be easily passed. It merely requires technical guidance on the smooth entry and exit at the border.
At the DHA headquarters, the DHA would improve the accommodation of officers with the support of the Department of Public Works.
He said that the former DDGs for IMS and HR were demoted to a lower grade of directors based on the assessment and decision of an external panel. Acting DDGs were appointed in the interim. Recruitment of permanent DDGs was underway.
He said there was a shift of 29 million green barcoded IDs to smart IDs in 2013. There are approximately 1.2 million babies born annually. There are approximately one million 16-year-old children who should apply for their IDs annually. It is a moving target.
DHA only has the capacity of three million IDs per annum. Thus, mobile units are utilised to reduce the travel of clients.
System downtime was a daily challenge addressed by DHA. It is continuously discussed at executive meetings and with the Presidency. The Minister led a managerial delegation to discuss the matter at CSIR. The CSIR would diagnose the challenges at all levels of DHA and provide an action plan.
He noted the concerns regarding SITA and related issues of downtime. He raised concerns about and disagreed with the “gold standard” allocated to SITA. Thus, CSIR would be utilised to provide solutions.
On visas for visiting academics, the DHA had removed the professional body requirement. A memorandum stipulating internal measures would be submitted to the Minister for approval.
Briefing by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) on the audit performance of the Home Affairs Portfolio
Mr Fhumulani Rabonda, Deputy Business Executive, AGSA, and Mr Bongumusa Thabethe, Senior Manager, AGSA, briefed on the audit performance of the Home Affairs portfolio.
The AGSA’s strategic aspiration was to have a more direct, stronger, and consistent impact on improving the lives of ordinary South Africans by helping to improve the public sector culture through insight, influence, and enforcement.
Success in this regard rests not only on our ability to fulfil its mandate but also on the extent to which it can mobilise and bring the collective influence of the accountability ecosystem (referring to the whole network of stakeholders responsible for the public sector.
A critical mass of auditees moved towards cultures characterised by performance, accountability, transparency, and integrity. The AGSA’s new strategy is ambitious, its intention is noble, and its implementation will be challenging.
The AGSA would continue to provide the citizens and the public sector players with the products and services in a better way and with higher purpose and intensity.
GPW: The audit outcome for 2021-22 is outstanding as the audit is underway.
Update on the audit of Government Printing Works
The financial statements for the 2021/22 financial year were received and the audit is still in progress.
The data lost in February 2021 and March 2022, has not been recovered and continues to harm the financial statement of GPW as the supporting schedules relating to the comparative figures 2020-21 are unavailable.
The status of IT controls continues to require intervention as the matters raised during 2020-21 have not been appropriately addressed.
• Critical data centre controls were not functioning effectively including the regular maintenance of the UPSs that would have protected GPW’s Server infrastructure from the power surge that resulted in the data loss.
• In the current review cycle, management was not able to provide the information requested by ICT auditors timely indicating an inadequate record-keeping process or lack of implementation of the items that were being requested.
• Systems experienced periods of unavailability during 2021/22, resulting in disruption to critical business operations, and downtime impacting employee productivity and data integrity.
• GPW is not able to appropriately support the figures in the financial statements.
• GPW attempted to implement controls surrounding the transactions in the production environment during downtime, the transactions were captured in a database outside of the system. The controls were inadequate as several exceptions were identified for which an appropriate explanation could not be provided. For example, information kept outside the system was not fully uploaded when the system became live.
• Also, there are concerns around data cleansing on the system before using the resuscitated system; it comes with old data distorting genuine financial figures for 2021/22.
Recap of 2021/22 Portfolio performance –message shared during BRRR process
• Misstatements identified on the APR submitted for auditing were corrected.
• The APP was reported on in the APR, resulting in reported performance not being consistent (APR corrected).
Key targets not achieved include:
• Targets relating to the DHA modernisation project; and
• Targets relating to the establishment of the border management agency
Value add work performed on ICT environment/ projects (DHA)
Modernisation (e-Visa) and (BMCS)
It was recommended that action plans should be developed, implemented, and monitored to address the significant control deficiencies.
It was recommended that the ABIS is of national importance and the project needed to be saved and closely monitored by all assurance providers to ensure adequate project management, that the project is seen to finality and that set deadlines are complied with to avoid losses.
With the speed at which information system technology progresses, management should assess if the technology implemented in ABIS is still relevant.
Value add work performed on ICT environment/ projects (GPW)
It was recommended that the GPW implements the recommendations in the Internal Penetration Test Report as a matter of urgency.
Performance against targets
Misstatements identified on the APR submitted for auditing were corrected. The APP was reported on in the APR, resulting in reported performance not being consistent (APR corrected).
Key targets did not achieve the DHA modernisation project; and targets relating to establishing the Border Management Agency.
Review of draft APP 2023/24
As part of the value-add projects done by AGSA, the 2023/24 draft annual performance plan (APP) for DHA and BMA was reviewed. Findings identified from the review performed were discussed with management and considered in the final APPs. The final APPs were also reviewed to verify whether the issues were resolved.
The review of the 2023/24 Annual Performance Plan was done in collaboration with the internal audit. The internal audit reviewed Programmes 1 and 3. While the AGSA reviewed Programme 2: Citizen Affairs. The APP for BMA was reviewed for the programme: BMA operations.
Public outcry for increased accountability and transparency, saw calls from parliamentary oversight structures, civil society, organised labour, media, and the public at large for the AG to be empowered to hold accounting officers entrusted with public funds accountable for their actions.
The MI process was implemented at the following auditees: No MIs have been identified to date.
See the attached presentation for further details.
The Chairperson thanked the AGSA for the detailed report and commended the AGSA’s role in supporting oversight monitoring of governance and financial compliance.
Ms Khanyile noted that the AGSA commenced the current audit in 2022 and it would be concluded at the end of May 2023. She requested clarity on several issues about GPW. How would the loss of data in February 2021 be addressed?
She noted concerns about the repeated occurrence of issues and recommendations which were raised in previous audits. She asked why timeframes were not allocated to the remedial actions.
Ms Molekwa noted the challenges of the entities reported on. She asked for the intervention of the Directors-General to ensure effective follow-up on recommendations and improvements in the next reporting period.
Mr Pillay referred to the recommendation about SCOPA discussed in the first part of the meeting. He reiterated the need for a timeframe for implementation.
Ms Legwase agreed with the Chairperson’s recommendation for the effective work of the AGSA. The AGSA’s report is a tool to measure the Committee and Department’s performance progress.
She thanked the AGSA for the report and supported the Department in its efforts to implement the report’s recommendations.
Mr Roos agreed that the audit report does not present new information but rather repeats the issues and recommendations of previous reports and previous Committee meetings.
Issues such as the need to improve vulnerability assessments, operating systems, and annual performance plans were repeated. GPW continues to be a contentious and unresolved matter. He said that it is either a matter of not being willing or not being able.
He asked the AGSA to advise whether there are certain capabilities in DHA and in GPW required. Do the departments have the internal capabilities to resolve the issues and if not, what capabilities are required? Could AGSA provide a recommendation to fill the gaps?
Adv Bongo emphasised the importance of the Department’s implementation of the remedial actions in the AGSA’s report.
The Chairperson referred to the ministerial review panel. He called for cooperation between the DHA and AGSA to address the loss of data challenges. He emphasised the oversight of the Committee in monitoring cooperation.
He noted the importance of good governance and stakeholder engagement. He highlighted the role of the Committee to maintain stability in this regard. However, the only matter which requires further consideration is the challenges of loss of data. He asked the AGSA and DHA to update him on his progress.
Mr Rabonda responded that the issue of data capability depended on strengthening IT structures and internal accountability.
The AGSA would prioritise improvements of systems and seek guidance on accountability from the National Treasury.
The AGSA continued to track the progress of the ministerial review panel as part of the audit. Observations would be included in the final report.
Ms Precious Masiya, Manager: Information System Audit, AGSA responded that the AGSA would prioritise the follow-up with the National Treasury.
Mr Thabethe added on the follow-up with the National Treasury, that the AGSA would clarify the technical issues. A meeting is scheduled for the week of 22 May 2023 to discuss the request for an exemption.
IT and capacity matters would also be discussed. Procurement of external capacities would be expected.
Mr Rabonda responded that he would be unable to advise on the capabilities of DHA and GPW, as the matter was not yet assessed.
Mr Ian van der Merwe, Chief Financial Officer, Government Printing Works, responded that all the matters highlighted were correct. One of the major issues was restating the numbers retrospectively.
The alternative procedures would be risky. Three exemption requests were submitted to Treasury. It would assist the GPW in adding comparative numbers going forward.
On the restoration of data, some data was successfully restored. The exemption is essential.
Minister Motsoaledi appreciated the issues raised by the AGSA. DHA would investigate the issues.
The origin of most of the current challenges was the GPW. He flagged the matter with the President and subsequently, a panel was established.
DHA was prioritising the panel’s recommendation, including the appointment of external expertise. Corruption occurred due to the lack of expertise. The DHA aims to finally close the matter.
The AGSA report is essential and is a permanent government record. He asked that the AGSA reconsiders the issue of the “border”. The report provides incorrectly that it is a boarder rather than a state border.
Mr Rabonda responded that the error would be corrected.
The Chairperson thanked the DHA, AGSA and GPW participants for their attendance and engagement.
The Committee considered the draft minutes of the meetings of 7 February, 10 February, 21 February, 28 February, 7 March, 14 March, 2 May, 5 May, and 9 May 2023. The minutes were unanimously approved and adopted to reflect the discussions.
The minutes of 18 April 2023 required clarification by the DHA on the issue of the Gupta’s retention of citizenship. It would be shared with DHA for clarification and referred for adoption at the next meeting.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their attendance.
The meeting was adjourned.
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