Department of Home Affairs Budget Vote & Strategic Plan adoption

Home Affairs

09 June 2008
Chairperson: Mr P Chauke (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting was held as a follow up to the presentations delivered earlier by the Department of Home Affairs on the Strategic Plan and Budget for 2008/09. The Director General, as requested, gave more detail to the Committee on the partial separation model that had been agreed upon, whereby civic services and immigration were to be divided, with reporting lines being established in zones. Supporting services such as HR, IT and the like would be available to both branches of services, and there would be the assurance that the systems would speak to each other in cross-cutting issues. The staffing implications and new organogram were explained. There would be new posts created, including seven posts internationally, which would further assist in the run up and preparations for the 2010 event. The changes were intended to better focus the functions of the Department, and achieve more specialist dealings. The hope of all these changes was to achieve better focus on certain functions within the Department, despite increasing the geographical spread, with the ultimate aim of improving client services. Members asked questions of clarity on the staffing, control and power at Head Office, change management and whether the Department was confident that it had the capacity to address all issues. The strategic plan was adopted by the Committee.

The budget had previously been presented to the Committee, setting out the allocations across the programmes. The changes between the new and old budget were now reflecting the partial separation of functions within the Department. The under-spending by the Department in certain areas was questioned and it was decided that this would be dealt with in a separate meeting. Another meeting would be required to deal with the Department’s role and functions around 2010. The amended budget was adopted by the Committee.

Meeting report

Strategic Plan of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA): Further Deliberations
The Chairperson noted that this meeting was a further follow up to previous meetings at which the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had outlined the Strategic Plan, and would also address in more detail the Department’s plans to create zones in respect of certain functions.

Mr Mavuso Msimang, Director General, DHA noted that the separation between the two functions of immigration and civic services was detailed in page 2 of a document which he had earlier submitted to the Committee. The recommendation was for a partial separation, and that had been approved by Cabinet and the Portfolio Committee earlier. It was emphasised that the separation was only partial, as there were benefits to the services being not completely separate, such as facilitation of the links between the branches, a prime example being passport access. The partial separation model that was recommended was addressed in more detail. The split in reporting lines was detailed for civic services and immigration. The functions and budgets of those functions would remain separate. However the IT and similar cross-cutting services would be shared, and the Department would ensure that all sets of services and areas spoke to each other. The proposal also involved an increase in staffing. It was stated that the focus on the customer would strengthen due to the partial separation and shared services. The current functions of provincial managers would be centralised for both immigration and civic services. Because there were currently no direct reporting lines for the various functions, it was decided that the managers would report to a Zone Manager, who would bear responsibility for more specialised services, instead of dealing with the whole range. These managers would be relieved of Human Resources issues through the new reporting lines. Although there would be an increased geographical spread there would be a more specific focus.

The new composition and the new duties of the Home Affairs officials were set out in the form of an organogram and the lines of direct communication were tabled. It was hoped that the zones’ performance would be improved and become more consistent through this new reporting method.

Mr Msimang summarised, in conclusion, that in future DHA would have two distinct functions, civic services and immigration. The similarities and support services should be exploited by the partial separation of these functions and the hope was that these changes would improve the speed of services without risking quality.

Discussion
Mr M Lowe (DA) asked about the status of the document, which was stated to be “highly confidential” and he wondered when this could be made public. He applauded the new changes as he said that there was a need to think laterally.

Mr Msimang clarified that the document was no longer to be regarded as confidential.

The Chairperson asked when the operation of the zones would be implemented and if the capacity of the zones would be sufficient. He highlighted that as the Committee allocated funds it was important that the capacities were fully understood by the Committee. He also asked how prepared the ground staff were for this partial separation, and whether measures had been put in place to ease this transition.

A member of the ANC also asked for clarification of the control and power at Head Office.

Mr Msimang responded that up to level 8 there was complete devolution of control to the local area. The posts were standardised as much as possible and were advertised correctly and as much control as possible had been given to the local offices. He noted that it was hoped to fill 700 positions, as there would be a need for more management. He noted that a table of these new posts could be found in the documents he had provided to the Committee. There were 44 posts at the Senior Management Service level. The OR Tambo and Cape Town airports would take the bulk of the positions. Seven posts would be outside the country, and these would be most important in the run up towards 2010. There was a plan to transfer some officers abroad. Migration issues had been discussed with people holding the top 200 positions in the department, when the issues and questions were frankly discussed and issues of change management had been addressed. The DHA felt that it had coped adequately with these matters.

An official of the Department of Home Affairs stated that the evaluations of the positions would be done by the time of tender. She also stated that the Human Resources division was ready to fill the 700 positions within the current financial year.

The Committee resolved to adopt the Strategic Plan, with the amendments.

Budget deliberations
Mr Msimang had previously tabled the budget of the Department, broken down across the programmes. It was noted that there had been under spending of R279 million. The programme structure had now been changed to reflect the partial separation of the two functions. It was identified that only three provinces had not spent their budgets in full; the rest of the provinces had overspent, but the total result was that the Department as a whole had not overspent. It was explained that the provincial offices had been allocated budgets depending on the numbers of potential customers.

Discussion
Mr Lowe asked how the budget reflected the changes needed for the conditions under which the provincial departments were working, as there had been complaints such as leaking roofs and poor working conditions in the buildings. He also asked how the improvement of communication and access of the Department was being addressed in the budget.
 
An ANC member addressed the discrepancies between certain budget allowances, and the under-spending on those budgets, such as in entertainment, travel and advertising.

Mr Msimang noted that the strategic plan was based on what National Treasury had approved. It was known that the IT and Capital Works expenditure had been underspent. In terms of travel, advertising and entertainment, there was not detail available to Mr Msimang immediately, but he would be happy to address this in a future presentation.

The Chairperson said that these questions were pertinent but ruled that they were not entirely relevant to this debate. He said that the DG should address these issues at another time. A full presentation on how the DHA was involved in the preparations and running of the 2010 Soccer World Cup must also be delivered at a future date.

The budget was adopted by the Committee, as amended. It was noted that further discussions would still be arranged around the issues highlighted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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