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HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 March 2007
PROVINCIAL DEPARTMENTS: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr H Chauke (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Western Cape presentation: Part1, Part2, Part3, Part4 & Part5
Northern Cape presentation Part1, Part2, Part3 & Part4
Limpopo presentation Part1, Part2 & Part3
Mpumalanga presentation Part1, Part2 & Part3
North West presentation: Part1, Part2 & Part3
Free State Presentation: Part1, Part2, Part3 & Part4
Eastern Cape Presentation : Part1, Part2 & Part3
KwaZulu Natal presentation
The Committee received presentations on provincial achievements and challenges from the nine provincial managers. Members had special interest in security at border posts, activity at immigration offices, the high vacancy rate, the slow pace of job evaluations, the many prolonged suspensions and the apparent ineffectiveness of mobile unit programme. Many of these issues impacted directly on service delivery and were a matter of grave concern to the Committee who would take them up with the national Department. It was made clear that the Committee expected provinces to act on Committee's recommendations, and to report honestly on what was in fact happening in their areas. Members agreed that managers should spend less time at Head Office, and more in their provinces so that they would be aware of the issues affecting officials working in the various offices. The Chairperson pointed out that the slow rate at which vacancies were filled, impacted on the morale of officials who had to do three or four times the work they were supposed to.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson said that the Committee had in front of them all the recommendations made after their provincial oversight visits. They had made more than 60 recommendations to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The issues raised at the current meeting would assist the Committee when it met with the Minister to discuss the Intervention Task Team Report. The issues raised now would not be different from the issues raised in the oversight report.
Service delivery remained a problem across the provinces. The provinces dealt with people directly and the meeting that day would give members an idea of what the current situation there was. He added that the Committee would be looking for the links between what provinces had in 2006 said they would do and what they had actually achieved. He expected that the achievements would be very clearly reflected in their presentations.
Ms Thembi Cele, Deputy Director General: Service Delivery, relayed apologies from the Director General, Mr Tshabalala who was unable to attend the meeting. She said that in preparing for the presentations, provinces followed the Committee’s brief to provide updates on staffing, status of immigration, office conditions and office equipment, mobile units and their programmes as well as how the 2006/7 budget allocations had been spent. The provinces also thought it necessary to include issues raised when last the provinces interacted with the Committee a year ago.
The nine provincial managers present were: Mr Sulleiman Hancock (North West), Mr Mpho Moloi (Limpopo), Ms Ypolisa Mkalipi (Western Cape), Mr Bonakele Mayekiso (Free State), Mr Robert Zitha (Mpumalanga), Ms Nomasonto Lusu (Eastern Cape), Mr Monde Maqulu (KwaZulu Natal), Mr Santo Mohapeloa (Northern Cape) and Mr Reynold Ndema (Gauteng).
Each provincial manager went through that province's presentation. The Western Cape presented first followed by a lengthy discussion on it. Due to time constraints, it was decided that the other eight provinces present one after another with a final discussion only at the end of all eight presentations (see presentation documents for full details). Hence Members could only pose a few questions to the remaining eight provinces.
The Chairperson thought it important to address the issues of staff morale because low morale impacted on service delivery. The Committee had also recommended that all staff be identifiable through nametags. That refugee centres were not linked to a mainframe also still remained a problem that needed to be addressed by head office. He said that the Committee had visited the provinces and that managers should that day report honestly in order to do justice to the process. While they might not be able to solve all the problems, the Committee could make clear recommendations that might assist in addressing some of them.
Mr F Beukman (ANC) said that having read through the intervention task team’s report, he doubted whether that day’s process would take the Committee forward. He thought it important that tough questions be asked of the managers.
The Chairperson urged members to focus on state of the provinces, and leave the Intervention Task Team’s report for the following day’s meeting.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) was concerned about the slow rate at which posts were being filled, not only in the Western Cape but within the DHA in general. He felt that rural areas especially bore the burden of the large number of vacancies – the filled posts were mainly in urban areas. Rural areas were vats and had large populations who did not always have the resources to travel to offices in urban areas.
Ms Mkalipi responded that the job evaluation had resulted in some of the post being upgraded. The province did thus not have the money to fund these posts. The posts that were there were unfounded so the province could not doing anything about then until they had not yet received their budget for the new financial year. They had already received a quota for the number of posts they would be able to fill.
Mr Sibande noted that provinces had undertaken many initiatives to address issues related to refugees. He wondered what was being done to address the backlogs and raised concerns about the new refugee system not functioning effectively. The delays were not only related to applicants not providing all the necessary documents, but also to challenges within the offices themselves. The Western Cape spoke of having the necessary systems, but complained that these systems were not functioning adequately.
Ms Mkalipi replied that there had been cases of fighting especially among refugees among who there was much competition as far as service delivery was concerned. The Province had now put in place a queue management system – asylum seekers were no attended to separately.
She felt it necessary to indicate that there were 24 interns who had been appointed to assist at the refugee office. They could not execute refugee reception or the status determination work, because their approval to perform these duties only came through the early in 2007.
Head Office was assisting the provinces with refugee IT interface systems.
Mr Sibande thought it high time that the Committee be given all the necessary information that would enable them to make recommendations as far as the suspended officials whose cases were still pending, while they continued to receive salaries.
Ms Mkalipi said that she would forward the information relating to the suspended officials to the Committee because she did not have the information readily available.
The Chairperson asked her to explain how the Province dealt with disciplinary issues. He wondered how long the process took. Nationally there were quite a large number of officials who were still awaiting the outcomes of cases.
Ms Mkalipi replied that because the provincial office did not have a labour relations function, they did not have a system. When they picked up cases, they reported them to the DHA head office. Managers, who had the disciplinary skills, used these skills to try and address the matters. The province had negotiated with the Deputy Director General for service delivery for assistance with those cases that could easily be dealt with. Officials from the province and head office dealt with the cases of those officials, who had been suspended. They would be dealt with a week later.
The Chairperson wondered how old these cases were.
Ms Mkalipi replied that they dated back to 2005.
Mr Mohapeloa said that in their experience most of the people who chaired disciplinary hearings at provincial level were people who had specific functions. The chairing of disciplinary hearings was an additional function.
Mr Sibande wondered whether Ms Mkalipi could elaborate on the state of security especially at the refugee offices. He wondered whether the security company employed was able to address all security concerns.
Ms Mkalipi responded that the province had requested that the security company, with which they met on a monthly basis, provide the offices with “well built” securities. They also requested that the home affairs offices in the province be provided with male security officers. The security manager made monthly reports on the status of security in the region.
Mr Beukman referred to the value of leading by example. He wondered whether the western Cape gave written responses to queries from the public or members of Parliament. In his experience this did not happen in the Western Cape.
Ms Mkalipi replied that they responded to the public in writing – sometimes they sent initial correspondence to confirm the receipt of the request or query. This was followed up later but the relevant unit. They also had a database of the complaints they had received and tried to address all of them.
Mr Beukman found this response quite worrying – in his experience there was no response apart from perhaps a telephonic one. The head of a provincial department should make sure that queries were being responded to. He emphasised that he did not expect to be responded to because he was an MP. If they did not even respond to him as an MP, he wondered what the experience of ordinary citizens were.
Mr Beukman noted that the Western Cape presentation had made no mention of the satellite office at Somerset West. He wondered whether Ms Mkalipi had visited the office yet and whether that office was experiencing any service delivery problems.
Ms Mkalipi replied that she had not been able to visit all the satellite offices. She assured members that the province had tried to ensure that peripheral offices received the resources needed.
The Chairperson wondered whether she would be visiting these offices in 2007. He pointed out that the Committee, which consisted of ten members, had probably visited each and every home affairs office in the country.
Ms Mkalipi committed herself to visiting all the offices in the region. She said that the province had started having internal imbizos during which they visited all members of staff from the cleaners all the way to the managers to understand the issues they had.
Mr Beukman commented that close management was needed. As chief director of the provincial office one needed to at least visit every service point so that could no what the staff’s needs were. The current situation was unacceptable and needed to be improved upon.
Mr Beukman said that staff at the Barrack Street office in Cape Town reported that most of the photocopiers at that office were not working. He wondered whether the situation had been addressed.
Ms Mkalipi replied that the photocopiers were out of order during February. The invoices had been sent to head office, but they had a magnitude of them to deal with. Service providers sometimes refused to provide services until they had been paid. The photocopiers in question were now all working.
Mr Beukman pointed out that the barrack Street office was the biggest one in Cape Town and for a month it had to without photocopiers, which caused huge delays. The situation had needed management’s intervention. Chief directors were earning hundreds of thousands of Rands and had to deliver.
Mr Beukman noted that the Western Cape presentation had indicated that the province experienced problems with Department of Public Works (DPW) as far as accommodation was concerned. He wondered whether the provincial manager had reported these difficulties to the Minister or Deputy Minister.
Ms Mkalipi replied that the issues the province had with DPW as far as accommodation remained a challenge. She would take the matter up with the DDG as well as the Minister.
Referring to the Western Cape’s cooperation with the security cluster, Mr W Skhosana (ANC) asked for an update on the situation with the Somali refugees. He was particularly interested in whether the children were able to go to school.
Ms Mkalipi said that they were working together with the security cluster and had been instrumental in addressing the violence against Somali refugees. Together with SAPS and the Office of the Premier they had established a steering committee that would address the problems in the area. The provincial department’s role had been to ensure that they could identify the asylum seekers that were in the area and to supply them with the necessary documentation. The xenophobia unit from head office had also met with the premier’s office to get a bigger picture so that they could address it in future. They were also engaging closely with other role players in the refugee sector so that they could close the gaps that still existed.
Mr Skhosana wondered the Western Cape still experienced that people in around Cape Town failed to collect the identity documents (ID). He asked whether they had improved their ID distribution system.
Ms Mkalipi replied that there were offices in the province that were not compliant with the distribution of IDs. Management met with the South African Post Office (SAPO) on a monthly basis to establish if there were any gaps that might exist. SAPO interns delivered IDs to informal settlements. DHA in turn had identified offices that were not supplying the documents. They had put internal measures in place to ensure that no office kept and ID for loner than three months without delivering it. Those that could not be delivered were sent back to the head office after one year.
The Chairperson was aware that the province had for some time experiencing problems with emails and faxes. He wondered whether these problems had now been resolved. He continued saying that the Committee knew the provinces better than the managers did. Sometimes, because managers had been newly appointed, the Committee felt that given time they would adjust.
He said that there was no point in reporting to the Committee that everything was on order when in fact that was not the case. The Committee was trying to forge the kind of relationship with the provinces that would resolve the problems they were experiencing. The Intervention Task Team had been instituted because the Minister had acknowledged that there was a problem. The Committee had supported the effort. He emphasised that Members had a responsibility to ensure that the provinces delivered services to the people.
Ms Mkalipi thanked the Committee for the guidance and said that she would respond to the management and leadership issues Mr Beukman and the Chairperson had raised.
Ms M Maunye (ANC) was concerned that the procurement process took long because such delays impacted on delivery. Ms Cele said that there were a number of outstanding national issues she would like to address. She said that some of the questions were difficult to respond to because they were not the people responsible for performing some of the tasks. She would try to respond from a management point of view.
As far as the long appointment process she explained that although the posts had been advertised, the short listing had not been done. Dates for the short listing had been set, but had been postponed. The corporate services unit would best be able to give a reason for the postponement. The director post in the Northern Cape was advertised, short listing and interviews had taken place and then the competency tests would take place. The results of the competency tests then had to be considered. The dates for that process had been set but also postponed. The Free State and the KwaZulu Natal area manager posts had more or less the same status as the Northern Cape one. Ms Cele said that competency tests were new to the Department and was part of the plans to improve the appointment process.
Ms Maunye had been disturbed that while the renovations at Knysna Hospital were underway, no registration of patients had taken place. She wondered why an alternative service had not been put in place.
Ms Mkalipi replied that service at Knysna hospital did not stop during the renovation process. Services were provided through the mobile units and outreach programmes. The Paarl and George hospitals had also provided assistance.
Ms Maunye wondered whether there was any of making sure that IDs delivered via the post ended up with the correct recipients. It was unusual for such sensitive documents to be sent posted precisely because they might end up in the wrong hands.
Ms Mkalipi replied that the department held SAPO responsible for the safe delivery of IDs to the correct recipients. The person whose ID it was signed for it upon delivery.
Ms Maunye wondered whether the Border Control Operational Co-ordination Committee (BCOCC) was in place and functioning properly.
Ms Mkalipi said that the BCOCC was functioning in the province.
The Chairperson said that shortage of staff, which impacted on service delivery, had also been very sharply raised in the President's State of the Nation Address. He questioned whether services could be delivered if offices were operated on a 50% staff complement. He wondered what process had been put in place to resolve such situations. He felt that the Western Cape department was “non functional”- it could not operated with only half its staff complement.
The Chairperson said that at the end of March the trainee contracts at Cape Town International airport came to an end. He wondered what plans had been put in place to handle the influx of refugees.
Ms Mkalipi explained that the province had tried to solicit ABSA‘s support in this regard. They had indicated that they would be able to assist so that could employ thirteen contract workers. They were awaiting National Treasury’s approval to continue with the plan. The DHA had undertaken to assist so that the people currently employed would remain until the contract workers could take up the positions.
The Chairperson sought more details on the assistance ABSA would be giving.
Ms Mkalipi responded that ABSA was prepared to fund 13 contract posts.
The Chairperson wondered what systems the provinces had in place for dealing with their finances. He was also concerned about corruption cases, across provinces, which had not been dealt with. The matter would also be taken up with the Intervention Task Team.
Mr Beukman wondered whether since Ms Mkalipi took office the DG had visited the Western Cape offices to look at general management and supervision.
Ms Mkalipi replied that neither the previous nor the current Director General had visited the provincial offices yet.
Ms Cele agreed with the Chairperson that it was important for provinces to be frank when discussing their challenges. She had been struggling to get her counterparts to “free provincial managers so that they could do their work”. “Ad hoc activities” centrally had resulted in managers being away from their stations “quite a bit”; this impacted on the amount of time they spent in the provinces. Provincial visits were part of the plans for 2007, and they would cut down on ad hoc activities.
She added that in terms of the management’s expectations of the senior management echelon all SMS members were expected to spend five days at the service delivery points. This was factored into their performance contracts.
They had also been accompanying the deputy minister as he was doing his own counter activities. Those who were not normally dealing with the “front”, would benefit from the first hand experience. She maintained that provincial managers could not be ad hoc, but had to be at their stations.
She acknowledged that IT systems were simply not of assistance. The Basic Accounting System (BAS) for instance was meant to be assisting them to capture their invoices and manage their spending, but it was unstable. At the last February meeting they had been talking about a possible solution of the matter. They had also acknowledged that the refugee system was not integrated. They would be coming back with a response as far as how to resolve the problems. There were a number of related challenges that hampered the effectiveness of the provinces. She reminded the Committee that IT was one of the aspects of the intervention. The solution lay in management putting processes in place that would address the problems.
She said that the filling of posts was a sore point and was also an area of focus for the Intervention Task Team. They had tried to expand their services through the maximisation of the multi purpose community centres (MPCC). There had however not been an increase in staff that was commensurate with the intended increased use. The money needed to fill the posts was spread over a number of years. This meant that while one had a specific number of posts available one did not have the associated funds needed to fill those posts.
She reported that the management had not yet had the Human Resources indaba they had requested. Management had to sit down and chart the way forward. The provincial manager had no control over the number of posts that would be filled in his or her province. They also did not have a system of identifying the posts that they would prefer to see filled. They had hoped that they could have an indaba with the Human Resources and Finance sections so that they could sit together and strike a balance. They had finally gotten Head Office to accept that the Human Resources indaba was absolutely necessary.
Ms Cele said that the provinces had never been able to fill even the number of funded posts they had available. The 2006 strike on the immigration posts put a stall on the filling of those posts. The revelation that all the posts had not been evaluated added a further complication. Every year there was a backlog. Top management felt that a special intervention on the filling of posts was necessary. To further illustrate the staffing dilemma Ms Cele pointed out that although she had been in her position for two years now she still had not had any of the positions in her unit filled.
She also acknowledged that there had been delays in the disciplinary cases. Provinces were requested to investigate why there was a backlog in disciplinary cases. He unit had received the report in February. The provinces understood that part of their management responsibility related to people and that they had to take a lead in disciplinary and labour related matters. A process of addressing the disciplinary cases in each province had been started. A number of the suspension cases had to be dealt with centrally.
Ms Cele said that that the devolution plan would assist in addressing staff shortages - certain functions could be devolved from national to the provinces so that service delivery would be fast tracked. HR had indicated that provinces could
only fill posts from levels 1 to 8. With the devolution plan in place, they would be able to appoint up to level 12, which was the director general level.
The Chairperson asked the Western Cape whether they knew where all their officials were appointed.
Ms Mkalipi replied that they had requested Head Office to assist them with head counting.
The Chairperson was concerned that the province was not able to indicate how many people were working at their offices.
Ms Maklipi responded that it was necessary for the province to do a reconciliation of their employees. She said that due to fluctuations resulting from transfers, requests for assistance elsewhere, etc it was difficult to pinpoint where each official was situated.
The Chairperson said that this matter would have to be dealt with at another level.
The Chairperson felt that the unique challenges the Gauteng presentation had indicated, represented the core challenges plaguing the province and raised interesting questions. He appreciated the manner in which Gauteng tried to deal with the issues at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA).
Mr Sibande said that the situation at the Soweto office was of great concern. It had time and again been raised and he was pleased that the provincial manager had this time raised it himself. He wondered why the problem persisted.
Mr Ndema responded that the problem lay with DPW. He had earlier that day been informed that that department was still waiting on tenders.
Mr Sibande raised concerns about the state of security at OR Tambo International Airport. He felt that the presence of CCTV cameras would not be enough to address the security problems existing there. The airport also needed to have the capacity to address issues of security that were raised otherwise the embarrassing security challenges would remain.
Mr Ndema replied that as the presentation indicated the tender request had been advertised and there had been respondents. There queue management and the CCTV systems had not yet been implemented. They were currently using the cameras the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) had installed. These had helped them to identify instances of corruption. For the current financial year they had dismissed 23 officials found guilty of corrupt activity. He pointed out that most of the people involved in such activity had been long-term employees at the airport and thought it important to indicate that both black and white were officials were involved.
Mr Sibande recalled that he Committee had recommended that the Market Street office had to be closed. He wondered why that office was still operating.
Mr Ndema confirmed that instruction had been given to close the office and that a project team had been appointed to close the office. The team had included different directorates – asset management, finance, human resources, labour relations, internal audit, etc. The team had had quite a number of meetings and an action plan had been put in place. Labour unions then raised concerns because they had not been consulted in the process of the closure of the office. It was then decided to hold a number of meetings with the unions to inform them of the plans for the closure. The plan had been to close the office and to re-deploy the officials at the Johannesburg regional office. The Johannesburg office was however going through a ramp project and would thus not have been able to accommodate all the officials. Free flows were currently being completed and finalized. The project team would have their final meeting on that coming Monday and the office would then be closed in stages. The Birth, Marriage and Death section would close first and be moved to Johannesburg. They also needed to take care not to lose any of the documentation that would have to be moved. He believed that the office would be closed by the end of June. The Market Street office would then be used for other home affairs functions.
Mr Beukman said that bearing in mind the issues raised ion the Auditor General’s report he was very concerned about the security challenges facing Gauteng particularly as far as cash in transit robberies were concerned. When renewing the security company’s contract the province should make sure that it was able to address the security challenges. There should be no transgression of the Public Finance Management Act, so that they could ensure that their risks were covered.
Mr Ndema responded that cash losses were not only attributed to heists or the security company, but could also be attributed to poor management of the offices. If offices were managed efficiently, officials would be able to determine how much money was banked on a particular day. If the security company could not manage to pick money up on a particular day, there were other means of delivering it to the bank. They were currently using well-armed internal security officers to pick money up and deliver it to the bank.
Mr Skhosana asked whether the DHA was sure that the security officers manning their offices were South African citizens. He asked what the provinces did to ensure that the security companies employed South African citizens.
Mr Ndema responded that when the tender was awarded, the security companies short-listed were vetted. Gauteng province had however not yet verified whether the company only employed citizens. The Committee might have evidence. The province wanted to do its own investigation of the allegations.
The Chairperson wondered whether the provincial managers in their capacity as intervention officers, interacted with the security companies.
Mr Ndema said that he normally made unannounced visits at offices (even at night) to see whether the security officers were on duty. He has however never questioned where e officers came from.
Mr Skhosana recalled that the Committee had been told that some flights at Lanseria and other private airports might have landed without being detected. He wondered what progress had been made in this regard.
Mr Ndema responded that the province had identified that the absence of immigration officers at cargo was a security risk. This was a challenge at both ORTIA and Lanseria. With the appointment of more immigration officers at the cargo pints, the above-mentioned airports’ security challenges would also be addressed.
Mr Skhosana wondered how far the province had progressed as far as the cross border offices.
Mr Skhosana noted that Gauteng reported that staff shortages impacted on service delivery. He had spoken to DHA that morning about a young man who had since 2004 been battling to get his ID and had approached the member for assistance. The young man had applied to
three offices but had no success.
The Chairperson pointed out that the Department’s track and trace system had clearly failed to pick up on the multiple applications.
He felt that the provinces would always say that they could not perform service because of staff or fund shortages. The ITT would have to indicate how these matters would be resolved. For the past twelve years the Committee had been hammering on the same issue – the turnover time for getting an ID. Before 1994 he had been involved in a campaign to help people from the former homelands to acquire ID documents for the elections and that process had taken a week. He wondered why now it took almost four years.
Mr M Sikakane (ANC) wondered about what progress regarding the Mduba site in KwaZulu Natal. Certain people had offered land for the building of Home Affairs offices that would have replaced the mobile offices, which had been situated 3 kms away.
Mr Maqula responded that in 2006 he had visited the proposed site and had found that it was unsuitable. It was situated far away from the people. They had since approached DPW with a request to look for alternative accommodation in the area. Negotiations were currently underway. He felt that offices needed to be situated close to the people.
Ms Maunye said that the Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces, which had begun to use the Community Development Workers, humbled her. She hoped that other provinces would follow their example.
Ms Maunye noted that the Limpopo province had made reference to an asset management system which she had not heard spoken of by the other provinces before. She hoped that other provinces would follow suit and report on their asset management system.
Mr Maqula responded that in KZN the IT unit had developed an electronic asset register that gave the details of assets across the provinces. When offices were being visited they took along the list and verified whether asset management was performed.
Mr Moloi said that the asset management register was not unique to Limpopo but was also implemented in the other provinces, but was not reflected due to the varied nature of the reports. He suggested that in future reports should be uniform in their structure.
Ms Maunye said that the Committee had since 2004 raised issues related to staff shortages as well as corrupt officials, chiefs, indunas, priests and so on. These matters had even been raised in the Committee’s reports to Parliament. She felt that the matter should perhaps follow the matter up with Parliament to see what had become of the recommendations made in the reports.
Ms Maunye wondered why asked why the job evaluation process took so long. The delay impacted on service delivery. She wondered who was responsible for this evaluation.
Ms Cele said that jobs had not been evaluated had come as a surprise. As soon as a position was created, it had to be evaluated to assess what level it should be at. It also assisted in giving guidelines as to what the job description ought to be. Posts however had been advertised without them having been evaluated. The current chief director for support executive services had discovered the huge backlog in job evaluations in August 2006. It seemed that some of the posts had actually also already been filled. There was a delay in the evaluation of provincial deputy director posts in particular.
Mr Beukman said that he had read through all nine reports and felt that further reports should reflect some uniformity. He preferred the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal reports, which spoke to their challenges, because that was what the Committee needed to be made aware of. He wondered whether the provinces could comment in the status of their control environment, which the Auditor General’s report had highlighted as an area of concern.
Mr Beukman said that Free State did well as far as inspections by the provincial managers were concerned. He asked the other provinces to give a progress report on their activities in this regard.
Mr Maqula responded that he had established a number of committees to address some of the challenges. The Financial Inspections Committee reported directly to him. As a result of these committees’ activities a number of people involved in fraudulent activities had been suspended. Some of them had been involved in fraudulent overtime claims. When he arrived in KZN there had been no system as far as petty cash claims. People would for instance purchase goods and only then seek approval to do so. The management of the province, including him, visited the various offices.
Mr Beukman noted that it appeared as though a lot of new appointments were being made. He asked provincial managers to comment on how they went about ensuring that new appointees were mentored, received the necessary support and fitted into the departmental framework. Care had to be taken that left without guidance new appointees might adopt work methods that were not inline with the Batho Pele principles.
Mr Zitha responded that newly appointed officials went through an induction process. Thereafter there were training programmes and weekly training sessions in the various offices. The new immigration offices expected to start in Mpumalanga soon had gone through the training institute at Alpha. They had served at other ports of entry and would now be deployed to their permanent stations.
Mr S Vundisa (ANC), directed his first question to the Northern Cape. He said that Mr Mulusi was suspended in 2006, was not found guilty of corruption as the allegations suggested, and was receiving a salary every month. He wondered when Mr Mulusi would be reinstated.
Mr Mohapeoloa said that Mr Mulusi had not been dismissed but his services were suspended pending the investigation. As far as he knew Mr Mulusi would not be reinstated. A week earlier Mr Mohapeoloa had sent an email to Labour Relations regarding the pending investigations. He was not aware of the case having been dismissed. In Mr Philinder’s case the province was still awaiting the outcome of the labour court case. Both Mr Philinder and Mr Mulusi’s cases were being handled at head office. Both of them were still getting paid.
The Chairperson wondered at what point feedback was sought on cases that were being handled at head office.
Mr Maqula responded that following discussion amongst themselves around the cases that had been outstanding for a long time, the provincial managers took it upon themselves to take the matter up with the director of labour affairs at Head Office. On 26 February he had submitted a list of the outstanding cases as well as their status. Head Office was also visiting the provinces to report on the process.
The Chairperson wondered whether there was a programme for these provincial visits. He also wondered how many officials were suspended.
Mr Vundisa wondered where Mr Yusuf Simons was and when the director’s post would be filled.
Mr Mohapeoloa explained that the province was awaiting the decision of the interview panel.
Mr Vundisa recalled that the mayor of Posmasburg had offered free office space to the provincial department. To this day the office was not being utilized however. He wondered where they would operate now.
Mr Mohapeoloa said that they had found the initial structure inappropriate. There had been no safety precautions and they would have had to share the space with the Electoral Commission.
He said that the province had a five year roll out plan to improve access. They started with Posmasburg and Prieska and would be engaging with Jankendorp municipality shortly.
Mr Vundisa said that the office at Sterkspruit were servicing 157 000 people, but had a staff complement of only 4 people and 2 computers. He wondered whether any progress had been made in this regard.
Ms Lusu responded that DPW had identified alternative accommodation but that accommodation was too far and as a result no relocation could take place. They were currently in negotiations with the MPCC for additional space. The MPCC, previously managed by the GCIS, had now been handed over to the municipality. They realised that the DHA was the major role player in the MPCC, and additional space would thus be looked into. Currently the Sterkspruit office was equipped with five personal computers, a laser printer as well as two other machines for printing of certificates. The online and offline times had been identified as a challenge. The SETA as well as the IT regional manager would assist as far as direct interventions.
Mr Vundisa wondered how the people in Barkley East were serviced.
Ms Lusu said that the Queenstown regional office currently serviced them. That office was far from Barkley East. The area had been accommodated in the new establishment and would be serviced by a permanent mobile unit administered by the Sterkspruit regional office, which had 18 posts. Three of these posts would be for the mobile unit, and were unfunded.
Mr Vundisa said that there was a huge gap in terms of status of posts in the Eastern Cape. The province had 687 funded posts and 602 unfunded vacant positions.
Ms Lusu said that out of the 127 posts which were funded but not filled, 59 would be filled by June 2007. The short listing and interview process would take place in April. The other posts were not within the ambit of the province: 16 posts were awaiting their job evaluation from the management services, while the other 52 posts still needed to be finalized by Human resource management.
Mr Vundisa wondered when a permanent manager would be appointed. Ms Lusu had now been the Eastern Cape acting provincial manager for two years.
Mr Sibande said that many of the issues he wanted to raise cut across all the provinces. He said that the Batho Pele principles were being used to bring services to the people. Many people however still had to travel long distances to get to the department’s provincial offices. The matter was raised every year. The Committee would need tangible examples of what provinces had tried to address the issues.
Mr Moloi said that Batho Pele principles provided for only one aspect namely reach and penetration, which spoke to the accessibility of the offices. Limpopo tried to include courtesy as a principle of Batho Pele in their contracts. He hoped that as they learnt from the mistakes of the past they would eventually be able to say that they worked according to the Batho Pele principles.
Mr Sibande noted that every province had raised concerns about job evaluations. He wondered who was responsible for this. A newspaper article had a few days earlier, attacked the DHA for lack of delivery. Service delivery would remain impossible unless the DHA’s major challenge staff shortages were addressed.
Mr Sibande said that the Committee had listed a lot of concerns. One of these was transport yet very few provinces had addressed this matter.
Mr Sibande wondered how it was possible to make effective use of mobile units when most of them were grounded. A province like the Northern Cape was vast and would not be able to bring resources to the people without the trucks.
Mr Moloi said that there was a history behind the mobile trucks. They had been a function of the civic services. People who were not familiar with the terrain in which many of these trucks would operate had drawn up the specifications. He suggested that one could perhaps draw on expertise from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who had conquered difficult terrains.
Mr Sibande wanted to know how officials could be suspended for two years with a resolution of the cases. These suspended officials were still earning money. He proposed that the Committee recommend that the relevant people should take action.
Mr Sibande said that he was seriously concerned about certain issues related to immigration. He felt that when the Department spoke of immigration they always referred to black people from Zimbabwe or Mozambique from Africa. It appeared as though white people were holy cows because nothing was said about them. This raised a serious concern. The Committee’s visits to some of the refugee camps confirmed that all the people held there were black.
Mr Sibande appealed to the provinces to take seriously the recommendations the Committee made.
Ms Lusu said that provincial managers held branch meetings where best practices were shared. The Deputy Director General also identified best practices that could be used in other regions.
Mr Skhosana wondered who determined the type and suitability of the vehicles the provinces acquired. Sometimes the job required a different type of vehicle.
Mr Hancock responded that after a needs analysis was done and forwarded to head office. Head office bought a certain number of vehicles and then allocated them to the provinces based on the needs analysis. The deployment of the vehicles was entirely up to the provincial manager.
Mr Skhosana wondered whether the mobile units were still under warranty.
Mr Hancock responded that the majority if the grounded mobile units had hardly even traveled 5 000 kms. They had an array of problems ranging from the technical to the mechanical. In addition there were not enough qualified drivers. He had been part of the mobile unit team who had been given the responsibility to ensure the correct placement of the units across the province and admitted that they had not done the initial phase of the acquisition of the mobile units correctly. The maintenance and the warrantee contract kicked in when the units were received and their agreement with the supplier required them to pay. No mechanism had unfortunately been put in place to ensure that the units, which had cost R1 million, would be properly utilised.
The Chairperson felt that the Committee needed to call the service provider before it for an explanation. Much money had been spent on what could have been a wonderful initiative. This would happen within the next week.
Mr Skhosana noted that many immigration workshops were conducted across the provinces and felt that there should be a uniform standard when it came to the training of these officials.
Ms Mkalipi reported that there was centralised immigration border control training. In the Western Cape appropriately skilled managers assisted in training officials as far as in civic, immigration and permitting. Officials with dual capabilities would be used at Cape Town International Airport. She said that the province was a champion as far as immigration training. In recent weeks all provinces had participated in a joint training programme with the province, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the National Prosecuting Authority. The province was trying to capacitate its officials as far as interrogation and registration skills.
Mr Hancock said that all provinces took part in the immigration training offered by the University of the Witwatersrand.
Mr Skhosana wondered whether the provincial managers could supply the Committee with information related to how regularly they visited their offices.
Mr Skhosana said that there were suspicions that farmers in the Mpumalanga area used certain landing strips. He wondered how far they have gone in looking into the matter.
Mr Zitha responded that the SAPS and NIA, who had not reported back to the provincial BCOCC, were investigating the matter.
The Chairperson wondered whether they had been given a specific mandate to address the mater. He wondered what timeframes had been attached to the investigations. The poor security at these landing strips should be treated as matters of priority. If the province d not have an answer now, they should report to the Committee in writing as soon as possible. All provinces should address the matter of security at ports of entry. The President had also called for increased security at these stations.
Mr Zitha said that the province had no accommodation at its ports of entry. They had appointed immigration officials and tried to locate them in the vicinity of the ports of entry to curb the accommodation problem. They needed bigger buildings and offices that would accommodate the staff establishment. Parking spaces at ports of entry were also not sufficient.
Mr Skhosana wondered why only the Capricorn region in Limpopo reflected late registration.
Mr Moloi replied that the late birth registration of children under the age of 15 still fell under registration while late registration referred to the registration of children over the age of 15, and required a different process. The 190 applications received by the end of January and still not processed, was resultant of the committees that had been established within the regional offices which had to scrutinise every application to ensure that the quality returns from head office could be kept to a minimum. Provinces should ensure that they verified all information so that the people entered into the national population register belonged there. The successes of involving immigration officers in the process were not yet evident.
Ms Maunye wondered why, in the Free State, security officers verified endorsements.
Mr Mayekiso responded that anyone who went through the port of entry had to go to the immigration officers to have the documentation verified. At the last gate security guards operated the boom, and also verify whether the documents had been stamped.
The Chairperson said that that there was no proper system that did not involve security guards was a problem that needed to be addressed. At the Mpumalanga security officers did their work and immigration officers and the police did what they were supposed to do. He warned that at such weak points, corruption entered easily. The matter would be taken up at national level.
Ms Maunye sought elaboration on why police officers should man border posts.
The Chairperson added hat the Committee had raised concerns about the police performing this function in KwaZulu Natal and at border posts elsewhere. They felt that immigration officers should be performing that function. When the Committee had found that only police manned cargo entry points, they had said that the matter had to be addressed immediately. The reports however made no reference to how the matter had been addressed. He sought a progress report, because the Committee would also have to take it up with the national unit.
Mr Ndema responded that the province would assign immigration officers at both ORTIA and Lanseria.
He added that the Committee would ask for performance contracts. He wondered what the coordination at national level was. He raised concerns about the frequent visits to head office, which cost much money for traveling and accommodation.
Ms Maunye asked whether all provinces had an agreement with the Gauteng Government Garage.
Mr Beukman noted that Mpumalanga had indicated that they had a R70 million budget but only had a senior administrative officer overseeing the finances. He wondered whether it was not better to employ a person at deputy director level to perform this task.
Mr Vundisa said that Kimberley airport did not have immigration officers, but the smaller airport at Upington had one. He wondered why that was the case.
Mr Mohapeloa said that the province would definitely be addressing the absence of the immigration officer at Kimberley airport.
Mr Vundisa noted that in the Northern Cape two mobile units serviced De Aar in the ID Campaign. Kuruman and Springbok, although greater in population, had only one mobile unit and also fewer staff.
Mr Mohapeloa said that the difference could be ascribed to the difference in the capacity of the two types of vehicles used as well as in the occasion the units were used for. In Kuruman a seven-ton unit was used and did not warrant an additional unit.
Mr Skhosana noted that two province required mobile unit drivers with Code 10 licences, while the others required only Code 14 drivers’ licences. He wondered why that was the case.
Mr Moloi explained that Limpopo went to the public driving license offices to find out what the various specifications for driving a departmental vehicle were. For a seven ton truck one needed a public drivers permit. They had set out a process along with the human resource department for their staff to access these permits.
Mr Skhosana wondered whether the provinces could give the Committee an indication regarding the situation regarding landing strips in their provinces.
Mr Moloi admitted that a thorough study had not been done of the landing strips in the province. Now that the matter had been brought to their attention they would audit all the strips, private and otherwise, as a matter of priority to make sure that he security of the country was adequately protected.
Mr Sibande said that the issue of landing strips was a serious issue. The matter had been extensively debated. He recommended that all provinces should have clarity about the situation as it posed a threat to security.
Mr Skhosana wondered why six of the mobile units in the Eastern Cape, where the project had been launched, were not functioning.
Ms Lusu responded that all ten mobile units had at some stage of their lives been down. Reporting the faults and getting the service provider to come from Johannesburg for repairs was an ongoing struggle.
The Chairperson wondered why Mr Ndema refused to address the question related to the wrongful appointment of the province’s top officials. He reminded him that the Committee had a responsibility to seek answers. He asked whether Mr Ndema might perhaps be protecting anyone. The Committee had raised questions about the interview process followed in the case. Someone who had experience was properly qualified and who qualified was sidelined for the appointment.
Mr Ndema responded that at present there was a grievance that had been lodged by the official. They would be meeting with the labour department on that coming Thursday. The area manager would be present at the meeting.
The Chairperson asked when the complaint was lodged.
Mr Ndema responded that it was lodged late in 2006, but he was not sure of the month.
The Chairperson asked whether Mr Ndema was the provincial manager and whether he realised that the Committee raised serious concerns. He pointed that he was under oath and could be charged if he was not honest in his answer. There was no point in having portfolio committees of Parliament if their concerns were discarded. Their task was to do oversight work and yet they were pushed from one side to the next in the process. The Committee would not tolerate that in 2007. He requested Mr Ndema to, if he did not have an update, on the matter, to send one to the Committee in writing the following day. The Committee during its visit had been informed that the official had been wrongfully appointed, the story had been in the media and the Minister had tried to address the matter, yet nothing had changed. He said that people died for the freedom South Africans enjoyed. Home Affairs was the nerve of the security of the country and if matters were not taken seriously and addressed, South Africa would disintegrate.
Mr Ndema said that he would be able to submit the report on that coming Friday.
On Mr Sibande suggestion, the Committee agreed that Ms Cele, who in her comments would be touching on some of the aspects to be discussed in the following day’s meeting, be excused from responding to further issues. The matters would be noted in the budget processing on 27 March.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would meet again to discuss that day’s meeting. The Committee would also engage with the report of the Intervention Task Team. He reiterated that the Committee expected provinces to respond to recommendations. He felt that all provinces had responded well to issues raised. Matters such as the devolution of powers still needed to be addressed. He reiterated that the security of the country was paramount and thus issues related to the ports of entry, had to be addressed. He pointed out that due to staff shortages, officials were overextended. The Committee would be performing oversight for the remainder of the term. People had voted for them to do so and members would not be stooges to anyone. Provinces thus had to accept the Committee’s critical interaction because being a civil servant was not a simple matter.
The meeting was adjourned.