A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 May 2001
BRIEFING BY DIRECTOR GENERAL ON DEPARTMENTAL ACTIVITIES
Chairperson: Mr. Mokoena (ANC)
Text of Presentation by Director General Masetlha (see Appendix)
As a follow-up to Minister Buthelezi's May 8 presentation to the committee, the Director General of the Home Affairs Department ("the DG") briefed the committee on the Department's current activities.
Prior to the arrival of the DG and his retinue, the Chair opened the meeting by recognizing Mr. Beukman (DA), who inquired as to the status of Finance Minister Manuel's May 22 appearance before the committee in the wake of the revised parliamentary committee meeting schedule. The Chair noted that rescheduling was unlikely, and agreed w/ Beukman's further comment that the committee program needs to be re-prioritised after the May 22 vote concerning the Department's budget. The Chair also remarked that it will be necessary to focus on the areas of concern identified in the Auditor General's recent report, adding that rather than addressing these matters at a special committee meeting they can be dealt w/ the week of May 28, after the budget vote.
The DG and his entourage then arrived, and were welcomed by the Chair, who noted that the presentation was a follow-up to the Minister's May 8 briefing.
The DG then introduced the accompanying officials, and commenced his presentation to the Committee, following the prepared text distributed to committee members.
The Chair then thanked the DG, for his appearance, and requested information on various topics, to wit:
--He noted that before the 2000 local elections the committee specially requested funds from the treasury for election preparation, and wondered whether and how these funds received and spent.
--The status of the HANIS program.
--Noting the "horrifying" stories of official corruption which the committee heard during its recent visits to various Department facilities, information was requested on the Department's anti-corruption efforts.
The Chair then solicited questions from the members, w/ answers to be provided thereafter by the DG, et al.
Mr. Grobelaar (DA) remarked that the description of ongoing budget shortfalls had nearly brought him to tears, and asked whether the Minister couldn't be more aggressive in finding funding, while adding that since the Auditor General's report cited alarming instances of deficient financial controls, e.g., concerning the IEC, perhaps that explains why further funds aren't allocated to the Department.
Mr. Beukman (DA) questioned why, under the latest version of the Immigration Bill, the proposed Immigration Service is no longer to be semi-independent, and sought disclosure of who instigated this change from earlier proposals. He also requested that the DG describe his relationship w/ the Minister, specifically whether they were in accord on proposed Departmental restructuring, as there previously had seemingly been divergences.
Mr. Sikakane (ANC) then asked the Chair whether the DG must answer questions pertaining to his personal relationship w/ the Minister, or not germane to his presentation, and continued by remarking that the mention of the "potential collapse" of the Department's existing functions due to funding problems was alarming. Accordingly, he stated his view that it is imperative for the Finance Minister to explain why there is not adequate funding, and also asked whether it is possible to reallocate existing resources from Cape Town and Wynberg to townships like Khayelitsha.
The Chair then remarked that he agreed that question concerning the DG's relationship w/ the Minister was inappropriate, but the DG elected to answer it, stating that they generally have a good working relationship, and that while there are always occasional disagreements, as in any situation, there is unity on strategic goals established by the government.
Concerning Beukman's query about the formulation of the Immigration Bill, the DG stated that it is still under Cabinet consideration, and therefore declined to answer.
As for redistribution of resources to redress the situation inherited from the past regime, the DG stated that this is fundamental and must be effected, and that the specifics of doing so are being considered. In the interim, expansion of service via use of converted Spoornet containers as offices in remote areas (as mentioned in the presentation), and via cooperation w/ local and traditional structures, is being undertaken.
Responding to Grobelaar, the DG then noted that the Minister is doing what he can to obtain funding, and went on to explain how critical maintenance of systems like the Movement Control System ("MCS"), and the Population Register, is to other government functions, e.g., policing. Consequently, part of the approach must be for the Department and the committee to jointly approach the Cabinet for more money for these and other key systems, e.g., the electronic Document Management System which is necessary to facilitate efficient access to 60M hard files which the Department has to administer.
Regarding the budget shortfalls, and noting that the Department is aware of matters noted in the Audit General's report, the DG stated that it's impossible to budget for repatriating even up 100,000 illegal aliens via the Lindela repatriation centre, let alone the millions that some have estimated are in the country. He characterized the potential cost of doing so as "staggering", but noted that at least now there are proper management structures in place at Lindela. Nonetheless, he stated that there is a "vicious circle" caused by the lack of funds, and asserted that w/o investment in at least maintaining current levels of effectiveness, in addition to making provisions for future improvement, the consequences are dire.
He continued by stating that while its funding comes with the Department's budget, the IEC is administratively independent, and therefore must be separately called to account by the committee for its problems.
Mr. Mamabolo of the Department then addressed HANIS by stating that establishment of the automated fingerprint and other systems is advancing, w/ equipment now physically on site at the Department's new facility. Commissioning of that equipment is scheduled for the last quarter of 2001, w/ distribution of multi-purpose (e.g., for identification, and access to pension payments--rather than making the card "carry" the funds itself, this being cited by the DG as an example of one of the issues that the Department has had to consider and decide on) "smart" cards to follow in due course. He added that the question of funding implementation of usage remains, and that an inter-departmental task team has made proposals to Cabinet on this issue.
Mr. DuPlessis of the Department then stated that there is "zero tolerance" in the Department for corruption and fraud, and that roughly 35-50 officials were dismissed for such misconduct last year, w/ approximately 2 other such cases currently pending. Moreover, allegations of criminal behaviour are now also routinely referred to the SAPS for action, as well as being "meticulously investigated" by the Department itself. Along these lines, Department investigations are now being handled in a de-centralized manner, w/ investigating officials of the relevant disciplinary structures now being trained by professionals from other government departments. The DG added that in the past there has been no local management or regional control of disciplinary measures, which the new procedures are now addressing.
The DG then noted his appreciation of the Chair's efforts in obtaining last year's extra funds for the IEC.
At this point the Chair recognized Ms. Van Wyk (UDM), who observed that there obviously would be insufficient time at this meeting to cover all matters w/ the DG, et al. The Chair agreed, and suggested that while another meeting must surely be scheduled, there was time for another round of questions.
Mr. Swart [ACDP???] continued, requesting further explanation concerning the shortfalls detailed by the Auditor General, and also observed that if the SAPS saves money on elimination of the internal tracking unit and closure of certain border facilities (as mentioned in the DG's presentation), then the Department should receive those funds. He also queried whether airlines had paid outstanding repatriation costs attributable to them, and agreed that answers to his questions could be submitted later, after they had been researched.
*****Ms. Van Wyk (UDM) then asked the "R1.7B question", i.e., how can such a huge amount, as mentioned by Mr. Ambrosini of the Department at the May 8 meeting, be spent on HANIS when the Department can't currently discharge its core duties. She also asked about the recent story concerning the 14 Mozamicans allegedly thrown off (w/ fatal consequences) the Lindela repatriation train to the Ressano Garcia border after bribing officials. She also stated that "this Department has been funded for failure", and that it was imperative that the Finance Minister appear before the committee prior to the May 22 budget vote. She further declared that if there was no delay in that vote it was incumbent on the committee to withhold its support for what is clearly an inadequate Departmental budget.********
Mr. Sikosana (ANC) then requested detail on resignations of Department staff, and how those fit into transformation plans, which he also requested elaboration on.
Bishop Tolo (ANC) then noted that his rural area has no Department facility, and asked what could be done about it.
Ms. Mars (IFP) then asked how many Department posts there are, and what percentage are unfilled.
Mr. Beukman (DA) continued, wondering whether some of the R45M spent on dealing w/ illegal aliens couldn't be used to upgrade computer facilities at border posts, some of which the committee found on its recent site visits to be wholly lacking.
Mr. Lekgoro (ANC) then stated that the emphasis should be on creating new facilities for civic services delivery to the previously disadvantaged, and not on upgrading existing facilities, which redistribution is, according to him, key to the ANC's program. He also questioned the number of S. Africans renouncing their citizenship.
At this point the DG stated his agreement that more time is needed for the committee to address all these matters, and his belief that, w/ regard to HANIS, either a full briefing in Parliament, or a committee visit to the facility, was needed; the Chair expressed his preference for the latter.
Regarding renunciation of citizenship, the DG noted his suspicion that increases in this category are attributable to the new SARS "worldwide revenue/income" taxation regime, and that this raises issues concerning the policy on dual nationality, which is also being examined.
In re: Lindela, he observed that the whole issue of illegal immigration is explosive, but that w/o a functioning MCS and Population Register the Department may as well shut down. Moreover, since these programs are also fundamental to transformation, sacrifices, w/ "cuts to the marrow" as necessary, must be made to ensure that these function effectively.
As for answers to the other pending questions, he went on to say that the time constraints at this meeting dictate that written responses be provided subsequently. Before finishing he added, concerning rural facilities, that the justice system which had extended some premises to the Department was itself strapped for space, and that this had led to the Department's eviction from some offices, which had in turn led to staff periodically working under trees in the Northern Province. Finally, he acknowledged that offices in some previously advantaged areas will be closed, and that citizens in those areas will then have to travel further to access facilities. He further acknowledged that these actions will raise political objections that must be faced.
The Chair then moved to conclude the meeting, making the following announcements:
--the committee Handbook, produced w/ Departmental assistance, is now ready for distribution, which likely will occur with the next week;
--the committee report on its site visits will be considered by the committee after the May 22 Departmental budget vote;
--it is most unlikely that the Finance Minister will appear before the committee prior to the May 22 vote;
--the May 22 vote can't be delayed, so the committee will have to approach the funding issue via a request for supplemental allocation.
The Chair then called on Prince Zulu (IFP) to make a few final comments, which included thanks to the DG, et al., for their informative contributions, and confirmation of the Minister's May 8 indication that getting money from the treasury is like trying to get water from a stone.
The meeting was then adjourned.
Department of Home Affairs
PRESENTATION TO THE PARLIAMENTARY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HOME AFFAIRS
by BL Masetlha, Director-General
15 May 2001
The Minister of Home Affairs has extensively briefed the Portfolio Committee on 8 May 2001 on pertinent policy issues. His address provided insightful direction for determining the managerial and financial action framework for us who are tasked with implementing policy and the day-to-day running of the Department. In my previous presentation on 7 March 2000 I primarily provided you with an overview of the Home Affairs operating environment and the foremost challenges emanating there from. Today, I would like to focus essentially on the nitty-gritty of the strategic management endeavours that we are confronting in order to give effect to the prescribed policy priorities. This includes both the serious impediments to effective action as well as innovative ways and means that we have introduced in order to ensure the best possible service rendering to the South African citizenry in terms of our publicly announced service standards. I thank you for your support during the past year in bringing about a more adequate operational environment for the Department. We now, even more than in the past, need this Committee's guidance and participation in the building of our Department.
2. Civic Services
2.1 Identity documents
2.1.1 During 2000 a total number of 1 982 343 applications for identity documents were received and this inter alia contributed significantly to the smooth conducting of the Municipal Elections.
2.1.2 According to the service standard set in terms of the Department's Service Delivery Improvement Plan, first applications for identity documents are to be processed within 6 - 8 weeks, and re-issues within 4 - 6 weeks. Nevertheless, during 2000 first applications were completed within an average of 4 - 6 weeks and re-issues within 2-4 weeks.
2.1.3 However, problems are being experienced with ID applications where applicants are not in possession of any documentation substantiating their claims to South African citizenship and late registrations of birth have then to be undertaken. As attempted late registrations of birth is one of the most common routes followed by illegal foreigners to fraudulently obtain South African citizenship, particular care has to be taken to authenticate such applications. This, out of necessity, entails a lengthy process. To avoid applications for late registration of births being delayed by sending them back to offices of origin because of lack of information or substantiating documentation, screening committees have been established at all offices, who even interview applicants for authentication purposes when so required. The success of this procedure is being monitored.
2.2 Passports and travel documents
2.2.1 Passports and travel documents are normally processed within the set service standard time of six weeks. Unfortunately the passport factory is being plagued by unforeseen electronic and mechanical failures that have from time to time caused backlogs, delaying the passport issuing time to up to eight weeks. Following a high level intervention, involving contractual obligations, a team from the suppliers of the factory equipment in the United Kingdom have been on site to address the frequent machine breakdowns and system problems. A significant improvement has since been experienced and certain technical aspects are still receiving attention. Additional staff has also been assigned to the factory to assist in the speeding-up of operations.
2.3 Birth, marriage and death certificates
2.3.1 As far as the issuing of full birth, marriage and death certificates as well as the amendment of birth, marriage and death registers are concerned, serious backlogs are still being experienced thus hindering compliance with the announced service standards. In order to speed-up and professionalise these departmental services, a computer programme has recently been developed for the electronic relay of application data to Head Office thereby enabling local offices to issue such certificates electronically. The implementation of this system is being finalised at present.
The document management system (DMS)
The current system of the microfilmed keeping of population records is antiquated and was inherited from the previous dispensation that catered for a population of 10 million. It is not equipped to deal with the records of a population in excess of 40 million. The Department has consequently decided to scrap microfilming and introduce an efficient computerised document management system (DMS) catering for projected demographic trends. A team of experts has analysed and evaluated requirements and expectations pertaining to record-keeping during the last few months and has made proposals on the introduction of an appropriate DMS.
2.4.2 The DMS is an essential part of the business architecture supporting the implementation of the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) discussed in 2.7 below. Implementation has proceeded to the tender stage pertaining to phase 1 of the new system. It is envisaged that the new DMS will be introduced in three phases. The target date set for the completion of phase 1, is 31 March 2002 and will comprise of the replacement of the microfilming system, the conversion of microfilmed documents into electronic format, the electronic capturing of incoming forms as well as the commencement of the back-capturing of existing paper records at Head Office in electronic format. Phase 2 will entail the implementation of distributed capturing (i.e. to regional offices), live capturing, online forms, expanding query interface usage and the conversion of the Population Register for online processing. During phase 3 the various current Home Affairs databases will be converted and integrated for online usage, the systems integration into a common front-end interface as well as the alignment and re-engineering of the business processes with the requirements of the new system.
The Population Register
A further critical challenge pertains to the urgency of rewriting the Population Register, which has become inadequate to reliably deal with the records of the total and still growing population. For this purpose the acquisition of entirely new and advanced hardware and software platforms are imperative. The rewriting of the Population Register is closely aligned with the implementation of the HANIS (discussed in 2.7) as well, especially in terms of the reliability of its data. As a matter of fact the Population Register sets the platform for diverse governmental systems (i.e. departments such as Transport, Labour and Social Development) as well as private sector institutions (i.e. the banking sector and insurance companies). The rewriting of the Population Register and the operationalisation of its electronic requirements inevitably has extensive cost implications. Although the Department has included the funding of this process in its budget request, State Expenditure did unfortunately not make any allocation therefore in the current departmental budget. This necessarily has serious overall implications for the continued provision of civic services as well as service delivery improvement.
The Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS)
The Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS), which encompasses the development and implementation of an insurmountable biometrics-based computerised identification system, was approved by Cabinet in January 1996. Coupled with associated advanced technology such as an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) and Smart Card technology, HANIS will undoubtedly place South Africa in a world-class league with regard to civic services management. The HANIS Supply Contract was signed in November 1999, the Minister officially launched the project on 31 January 2000 and the first phase thereof, namely the construction of the HAN IS facility, was completed at the end of 2000. HAN IS will become operational during the last quarter of this year.
2.6.2 Following a Cabinet decision taken on 21 January 1999, to investigate the feasibility of the current ID document and its replacement with a smart card. The Department concluded an in depth investigation on the utilisation of smart card technology for identification purposes. Apart from the relevant technical aspects, the investigation also entailed close interaction with other state departments whose applications can be hosted simultaneously on the card. An Interdepartmental Committee meets regularly to ensure that the full spectrum of governmental needs is incorporated in the smart card specifications. Also, an investigation into the utilisation of an electronic purse has been undertaken and extensive discussions have been held with pertinent state departments, the Reserve Bank as well as the major commercial banks on the matter. The successful implementation of HANIS, one of the largest state-sponsored projects, is certainly the greatest challenge faced by the Department.
Critical transitional choices
It is clear from the above that the Department has dynamically initiated programmes that will culminate in the introduction of state of the art technology with regard to civic services provision in South Africa. Meanwhile, critical and sensitive choices have to be made regarding the maintenance and even expansion of existing, largely manual and often obsolete systems in order to, at least, ensure acceptable levels of service delivery in the transitional phase. As this affects the total spectrum of civic services, entailing apart from identification, birth, marriage and death registrations, the safekeeping of records and passports, this is destined to remain a burdensome task until especially HANIS becomes operational.
South Africa has become a foremost international migratory destination, which is resultantly completely overstretching existing departmental capacities. With, in an excess of eight million annual foreigners visiting the country and possibly a high number of illegal migrants residing here, migration services, encompassing port control, visas, temporary and permanent residence permits as well as the control over illegal immigration and the management of refugee affairs, has become a major operation. Consequently, befitting systems and processes for the adequate management thereof are essential. It is evident that the Aliens Control Act, 1991 (Act No 96 of 1991) is an insufficient instrument to deal with the current situation. The Migration Bill to be presented to Parliament this year consequently aims to modernise migration management in South Africa, redesign systems and processes to effectively deal with migration challenges and, whilst ensuring proper migratory control, streamline and expedite the lawful entry of foreign visitors from a service delivery perspective.
There are currently a total of 72 ports of entry of which 12 are international airports, 7 harbours and 53 land border posts. The departmental staff establishment provides for a total of 1 064 posts at these venues of which 15% are vacant, the filling of them being dependent on the availability of funds. It is of the essence to note that this establishment determination was done in 1995 and does consequently not cater for the surge since of 27,71% in tourists and other visitors entering South Africa and the expected further annual increase of around 9% for the foreseeable future. A scientific analysis undertaken last year indicated that 558 additional staff members were then already required to cope with the situation at border posts. Extraordinary requirements to deal with increased tourism in a professional and customer oriented way, such as vastly extended operational hours, necessarily also place further demands on personnel levels. Despite numerous requests to State Expenditure, the more adequate resourcing of the Department's Migration Service has not materialised.
3.2.2 The situation is further aggravated by the decision that the Department should also take over an additional 14 border posts that are currently still being staffed by the SAPS and in some instances have hardly any facilities resembling a standard port of entry . The cost implication hereof has been determined to be R 7,356 million, which was requested, though also not funded. Moreover, poor infrastructure at many border ports is of concern - in many instances physical facilities are inadequate to handle additional traffic and obviously contribute to negative first impressions among foreign visitors arriving in the country. Other developments in the fields of inter alia the economy, transport and tourism such as new transport routes (i.e. the Trans-Kalahari Highway and Maputo Corridor), Transfrontier Conservation Areas (Kgalagadi, Richtersveld, Gaza, Lubombo, Vhembe and Maloti) and the opening of new terminals at international airports (i.e. Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban), naturally impact on the required border control capacity of the Department as well.
3.2.3 Within the above context the Department has innovatively explored alternatives and introduced measures, not only to cope with rising demands, but also to improve port control services. Three border ports have been included for upgrading in the current Capital Works Programme of Public Works. Most of the sixty computerised ports of entry are already transferring data via satellite, four of these (including Johannesburg International Airport) make use of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) communication and five others transfer data via modem communication. Furthermore, at Lebombo, the major border post between Mozambique and South Africa, bulk traffic such as buses and heavy vehicles have been separated from ordinary traffic resulting in a much faster clearance of travellers through the border post. The same applies to Maseru Bridge, the busiest border post between South Africa and Lesotho, where construction is presently in progress for the separation of pedestrians from other traffic. Arrangements have been made for the extension of office hours over peak festive periods such as at Lebombo where a 24 hours service was provided during the past Christmas and Easter holidays.
3.2.4 The possible rationalisation of border posts is currently being investigated especially in the case of the smaller ones that are costly to maintain although very few visitors are cleared daily. However, implications of their closure such as the fact that it might encourage illegal border crossings and that the views of the neighbouring governments concerned will also have to be entertained, need careful consideration.
3.2.5 Negotiations regarding the draft Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons in the SADC also provide distinct possibilities that could benefit the Department. Although South Africa has expressed reservations regarding certain aspects of the draft Protocol and mainly the ongoing wars in Angola and the DRC delay progress towards its finalisation, its eventual implementation will assist in alleviating the departmental burden.
3.3.1 The new departmental visa control system has already been implemented at 54 SA Missions abroad. The installation of the system at a further 27 missions is scheduled for this financial year and it is foreseen that the project will continue for another year in order to equip all the missions therewith. Also, twenty-two missions are already utilising Internet communication. The visa system entails the capturing of data of a visa applicant on computer in the mission and transferring the data via Head Office to the ports of entry. Once a person enters through these ports of entry his/her particulars are already available to the immigration officer, thus expediting the clearance process and eliminating forgeries.
The granting of permanent residence to foreigners is considered in terms of the selective immigration policy of the Government. The function of the Department in this regard pertains to the processing of applications for consideration by the Central and Regional Committees of the Immigrants Selection Board and the admission of successful applicants into the country. The set standard requires such applications to be finalised within 18 months. Generally this standard is being met and no significant backlog exists despite the fact that the migration sections of the Department were hardest hit by voluntary severance packages. In terms of the VSP dispensation, resulting vacancies cannot be filled.
It is imperative that a clear function specification with regard to the Home Affairs' role in the consideration of work permits is done. The Department does not have the technical competency to decide on investment priorities and critical expertise shortages experienced in the country. This falls within the ambit of proficiency of the Departments of Trade and Industry and of Labour. The function of Home Affairs pertains only to the formal issuing of permits. The same applies to study permits and the Department of Education's proficiencies in this regard. Following high-level discussions between these departments, developments are at an advanced stage to set up a mechanism that provides for a focus on department specific roles, proper interdepartmental co-ordination and the expediting of decisions. Current delays in the finalisation of such applications should be eliminated hereby.
3.5.2 The Visa Control System is also utilised for the processing and issue of work, study, work seekers permits etc. Service delivery is enhanced by the use of this system. It takes between 6 - 8 weeks to process a temporary residence application. For the period September 1999 to the present a total of 16 491 applications have been received and only 400 hereof are still pending.
The first refugee legislation in South Africa, the Refugee Act, 1998 (Act 130 of 1998) together with the Regulations drafted in terms of the Act, came into effect on 1 April 2000. Due to the delay in the promulgation of the Act as well as political events, mainly in the Southern African subcontinent leading to a surge in asylum seekers, the new refugee system kicked-off with a huge backlog. In terms of an agreement between the Department, Lawyers for Human Rights and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 38 qualified South African lawyers and 10 clerks were employed to assist in clearing the 27 000 pending applications. This was completed by 31 March 2001. Since 1 April to 31 December 2000, 5 834 new applications have been received of which 1 753 have been finalised and 3 651 are still pending. Refugee ID Cards are being issued since 1 May 2001, enabling asylum seekers to exercise their rights and comply with their obligations. The Act also provides for the establishment of Refugee Reception Offices. Pretoria, Braamfontein Durban, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town were identified for this purpose. It has been determined that a staff compliment of 89 is required at these offices. The cost thereof is estimated at R 11,2 million. The Department of State Expenditure did not allocate any funds for these Reception Offices. Twenty of these posts have been included in the departmental schedule of critical posts to be filled.
The question of illegal immigrants remains a problem. The Department just does not have the necessary manpower and resources to follow up the cases of foreigners overstaying the validity of their permits, nor to trace those that entered the country illegally. Whereas a staff compliment of 1 200 immigration officers is required to police the presence of illegals in South Africa, only 353 such officials are at our disposal. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that the SAPS has closed down its internal tracing units that in the past greatly assisted the Department in this task.
3.7.2 A proper administrative management structure has been established at Lindela Holding Centre where illegal aliens are held awaiting repatriation to their countries of origin. The purpose of this step was to ensure proper financial and administrative control on a day to day verification of admissions to and releases from the centre. A management structure with a dedicated establishment has been set up for Lindela, although once more without any funds being allocated by State Expenditure for this purpose.
3.7.3 The extensive and extremely porous borders of South Africa cause the policing of illegal crossings to be a mammoth undertaking. In terms of the Constitution the protection of the border integrity of the country is the responsibility of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Ensuring the effectiveness of border control is currently being considered in the relevant intergovernmental foray.
The Movement Control System (MCS)
The MCS of the Department of Home Affairs is the central register of movements of persons across the borders of South Africa. Apart from being the primary migratory monitoring instrument, it is also used by various other state departments such as security agencies and the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Environmental Affairs and Tourism and Statistics SA. Largely as a result of the surge in foreign visits to South Africa (resulting in storage capacity inadequacies), but also due to its age (resulting in continuous technical failure), the current system has become outdated, reflecting in delays of up to six months in the processing and provision of accurate information. In essence, the current system suffers from being a conglomeration of largely redundant separate systems requiring substantial additional manual work to produce the needed information.
3.8.2 The estimated cost for the first phase of the new MCS and required during the current financial year, is R 23,84 million. However, the Department's request to State Expenditure for budgetary provision hereof was unsuccessful. Following discussions with other stakeholders, who also place a high premium on an effective and reliable MCS, a joint effort to approach Cabinet for the required funding of this initiative is underway.
General management and service delivery issues
The strategic management approach
The strategic management approach has been firmly imprinted in the Department, providing an organisation-wide integrated focus, decision-making consistency and comprehensive and ongoing planning. A foremost outcome of this new management approach has been the finalisation of the first departmental strategic plan in January 2001. The Plan ensures departmental alignment with the strategic planning rudiments of the Public Finance Management Act, 1999, (Act 1 of 1999) as amended as well as the Integrated Implementation Programme (II P) as sanctioned by Cabinet. Furthermore, it links-up with other key governmental policies and programmes, thereby directing the intergovernmental role of the Department. These notably include the White Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service (1995) and the White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery (Batho Pele') (1997) as well as the Integrated Rural Development Strategy and the Urban Renewal Programme of the Government.
Capacity building and training
Following from the set strategic objectives of the Department, and in line with Government policy and legislation on the development of human resources capacities, a concerted effort at capacity building, including the full spectrum of consolidated training and career-pathing under one roof, has been initiated. Unfortunately the R 10,982 million that has been requested for this purpose in the current budgetary allocation has been refused. Nevertheless, the Department is in the process of establishing a training college, which will entail constant training of officials in all aspects of the Department's functions. It is envisaged that this institution will be operational by the end of 2001. The Department is embarking on the process of possibly acquiring donor funding for this purpose.
4.2.2 As prescribed, the Department's training budget should represent 1% of the total personnel allocation and 20% of the training budget must be contributed towards sectoral education and training (PSETA). With the existing shortages of funds the Department is hardly in the position to comply despite the fact that training is one of our highest priorities.
Office accommodation and infrastructure
The number and state of departmental office accommodation where services to the public are provided as well as their location is of major concern. Equipment is also inadequate, especially in remote areas. A thorough investigation was undertaken by the Department in conjunction with the Department of Public Works, on essential requirements with regard to the upgrading of existing offices. The Department's funding request for this purpose of the MTEF cycle 2001/2002 - 2003/2004 was calculated at R 97,727 million. However, only R 28,658 million has been allocated, representing a shortfall of R 59,069 million. No funding has been allocated for the opening of new offices. Pertaining to equipment, the foremost priority relates to the computerisation of outside offices. Already, efficient service delivery is hardly possible in offices and service points that are not electronically linked to the Department's mainframe and once HANIS becomes operative, this becomes an absolute essentiality. An amount of R 9,78 million was requested in the current budget specifically for this purpose but has unfortunately not been allocated. In terms of the departmental IT Plan the bulk of this expenditure would have been in remote, rural and marginalised communities where the need is greatest. This also impedes the Department's ability to contribute maximally towards the rural development and urban renewal strategies of the Government.
4~3.2 Nevertheless, the Department is imaginatively exploring and implementing alternatives to indeed effect service delivery improvement despite these serious impediments. With the assistance of the Department of Provincial Affairs and Local Government, negotiations with local and traditional authorities regarding the sharing of their infrastructure for the purposes of departmental service provision have reached an advanced stage. Moreover, the Department is participating fully in the initiatives of the Government Information and Communication Service (GCIS) on the countrywide establishment of Multipurpose Community Centres (MPCC's) in line with the Minister's announcement that Home Affairs will fully participate in all MPCC's.
4.3.3 In addition, following an offer from Spoornet of providing the Department free of charge with unused containers, ways and means of converting these into offices has been explored for some time. This initiative has advanced to the stage where the production of such a prototype office should soon commence. Again, the materialisation of this initiative will largely benefit remote rural communities where conventional office space is often non-existent and the design even provides for the equipping of such units with solar energy and satellite communication.
4.3.4 An investigation is also currently being conducted into the relocation of offices, more reflective of the post-apartheid dispensation.
4.3.5 Lastly in this regard, the Department has also been exploring various options for establishing private/public partnerships (PPP's) in order to help alleviate its predicament in the fields of infrastructure provisioning.
4.4.1 Although the Department was the first government agency to produce a Service Delivery Improvement Plan and set service standards, the experience gained in Batho Pele' management since 1998 and the progress made in the modernisation of our business processes, necessitates the revisiting of the original standards. The drive towards service excellence has, despite financial and other operational impediments, been listed as a central goal in the departmental Strategic Plan. Following therefrom this aspect is currently receiving renewed priority attention and will result in enhanced service standards.
Financial and budget planning
The persisting financial inadequacies experienced by the Department emerged throughout this presentation. The situation has become critical. Despite well-motivated requests and motivations to State Expenditure, no rectification of this situation transpired. In fact, if personnel expenditure and transfer payments are excluded, the 2001/2002 budget allocation to the Department has decreased by 5,9%. Not only are the normal day-today service delivery efforts of the Department severely affected, but the planning and implementation of critical strategic priorities are rendered not feasible. In monetary terms these unfunded priorities, encompassing the upgrading of the Population Register and Movement Control Systems, the computerisation of Regional Offices, the taking over of border posts from the SAPS, Human Resources Development and Security amount to a shortfall of R 100,187 million.
4.5.2 In order to at least ensure the continued smooth operation of the Department, the departmental top management embarked on a serious and in-depth financial re-prioritisation exercise at the commencement of the current financial year. Every penny was literally turned around many times. The most critical priorities were extracted from the already crucial priorities and from these the most vital of the already critical priorities were identified, followed by the scraping of the barrel for their most reticent funding. Consequently the Department is functioning in a financial milieu of no fat, sugar or cholesterol at all. No "nice-to-haves" remain. Working smarter and without waste underpins the imposed financial restraint. Austerity, however, has its limits after which it plummets into disarray. It will be understood that this resourcing crisis severely drains crucial operational modalities such as staff motivation, strategic goal achievement and, above all, possibilities for service delivery improvement. Redressing the accumulated financial imbalances of Home Affairs cannot be delayed any longer.
5 Concluding remarks
5.1 It is evident that the chronic underfunding of Home Affairs is not only the root cause for service delivery deficiencies in the Department, but also for the looming collapse of some of its most crucial operations directly linked to the maintenance of the integrity of the State and the protection of our national interest. It is amazing that a profound realisation hereof exists at an intergovernmental level and transpires in the co-operation and assistance received from other governmental agencies at the national, provincial and local level. In contrast hereto, the Department of State Expenditure and the Treasury seems to remain blind to the situation and has persistently turned a cold shoulder to our relentless efforts at sensitising them to the critical implications and well-motivated pleas to rectify the inadequacies. Our disillusionment is aggravated by the fact that some other departments annually report large budget surpluses, yet not even the crumbs from the table fall within our reach.
5.2 The Department participated in a joint exercise with the Department of State Expenditure during last years budget process (June/July 2000) to review the composition of the budget in terms of its completeness, affordability, economy and accuracy as well as to review any internal control deficiencies that have an impact on the budget. Although State Expenditure agreed after the evaluation process that the baseline amounts as indicated in our MTEF input were insufficient, they did little to correct these baseline amounts, thus causing the serious shortfall in our budget allocation for 2001/2002 highlighted throughout this presentation.
5.3 The unfunded critical departmental priorities for the current financial year and the implications thereof have been listed above. A further consequence of their effective mothballing is that even funded operations and projects are incapacitated and will eventually collapse as a direct result of our inability to modernise, automate and build capacity. Thus, funding the outdated and obsolete without the prospect of renewal and development hardly makes any financial sense. The planned automation efforts constitute an interrelated and interdependent set of state of the art systems representing the required integrated business architecture to, on the one hand, avert the imminent breakdown of Home Affairs services and, on the other hand, equip the Department to effectively deal with the challenges of the new century. All the components thereof, including the rewrite of the Population Register, the DMS, the MCS, HANIS, human capacity building as well as the provision of adequate security for these systems and their associated infrastructure, constitute a systematic unity that have to be designed, implemented and managed in a closely coordinated way. This obviously also pertains to the budgeting process.
5.4 The high personnel vacancy rate in the Department (19,2% during 2000) and our inability, due to financial constraints, to secure acceptable staff levels, is also taking its toll. We have not only been loosing some of our finest officials, who have found greener pastures for applying their talents and fulfil their commitment to public sector improvement, but have been witnessing the frustrations and anxieties resulting from the traumatised workplace conditions. A total of 553 resignations have been tendered during the last three years and 62 officials have been boarded on stress related medical grounds. Many of them pass through my office when they leave and the human face behind these statistics, also reflecting on kith and kin, is even more disturbing.
5.5 These are the operative parameters of Home Affairs. It is for their understanding that we plead. Your advocacy at the national decision making level to addressing the Department's foremost predicaments and the enabling of our advance to a better dispensation, is imperative. Without your concerted effort and active support the creation of a new Department of Home Affairs cannot materialise.