IEC on Registration Activity & 2009 Elections; RSA/Lesotho Agreement on Facilitation of Cross Border Movement of Citizens

Home Affairs

16 February 2009
Chairperson: Mr HP Chauke (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The IEC presented members with feedback on the last two registration weekends. These figures were sorted into results by province, age and gender. Registrations had proceeded extremely well and the voters roll had increased from 18 million voters in 1999 to 23 million voters in 2009. Increases in the number of women and voters in the younger age groups were also encouraging developments. The largest number of registration had taken place in the age groups from16 to 29 years, debunking the myth that young people were not interested in voting. Campaigning had therefore yielded results. 

The Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC, also addressed the recent allegations made by the Inkatha Freedom Party that some of their members had been removed from the voters roll. While this was still being investigated, she assured members that this was a technical impossibility and unlikely since voters were not identified by political affiliation. Other problems were also discussed.

The IEC presented on how the actual voting system would work. This referred in particular to the recent enhancements in the system, consisting of a scanning mechanism, which would improve transparency and efficiency. Some concerns were raised around this, which were addressed by members of the IEC. Further discussion followed regarding the implications of the pending cases for overseas voters seeking permission to vote. The IEC said that they could not really comment, as the cases before the Constitutional Court were all different in nature and had different implications. The possibility of a postponement of the elections was not really entertained by the IEC, as they had to await outcomes of the cases first.

The Department of Home Affairs briefed the Committee on the bi-lateral agreement on the facilitation of cross border movement of the citizens of South Africa and Lesotho. This agreement had been reached against the backdrop of Lesotho’s unique situation as a landlocked nation that is completely surrounded by South Africa. The agreement would further the objectives of the Lesotho-RSA Joint Bilateral Commission of Cooperation especially with regard to assisting Lesotho graduate from its Least Developed Status to that of Developing Country. The present situation in terms of border control and the movement of persons between South Africa and Lesotho was inadequate and encouraged a porous borderline. This agreement would see to the implementation of hassle free immigration formalities for citizens of both countries who were in possession of valid national passports and a shift in focus in the activities of the Department from ports of entry to inland monitoring of compliance with immigration laws. In discussing the agreement, members expressed concerns that the proposed border control mechanisms did not adequately address security concerns and the threat of illegal immigrants from other countries who used Lesotho as a gateway into South Africa.  There were also concerns that the Department was not in control of all the 14 border points on the borderline between South African and Lesotho since the South African Police Service manned some of the ones in outlying areas. The Department responded that security at perimeter gates would be enhanced by the use of biometric devices that would enable the verification of the validity and authenticity of passports as well as gathering statistics to record the movement of people in between the borders of the two countries. An implementation framework was in place that would enhance capacity in Lesotho with regard to border control and immigration facilities and the agreement would strengthen communication at all levels between the two countries and improve consular cooperation.

 

Meeting report

Opening remarks by Chairperson
The Chairperson pointed out that they had already heard a presentation of the Annual Report of the IEC on 27 January. At that meeting, they had heard how the IEC was preparing for the elections and they were satisfied that everything was on course. In the report from the IEC on their preparations for the elections, they had mentioned the use of a new system for the recording of results from voting stations, which would involve scanning of results. He wanted to know how this was going to work. He had been involved with previous elections and had experienced a lack of electricity at certain voting stations. If infrastructure was lacking in certain places, it begged the question of how such a system could work. There had also recently been allegations by the IFP, which were being taken very seriously, that the IEC needed to address. The IEC did not report along party lines. The IEC reported to Parliament and it had come to brief the Committee on these allegations. This meeting had to resolve this issue as free and fair elections had to be ensured.

There would be a presentation by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on the Lesotho Agreement, regarding movement control of Lesotho citizens, who were wholly dependent on South Africa for survival. Restriction of movement was an important issue as people were struggling to acquire documents. Proper identification was a problem with Zimbabwe citizens, who did not have passports. Visa fees were over R1000 and were unaffordable to most. Various other issues around this affected Parliament and would pose a challenge to the next Parliament.

He noted that the Films and Publications Bill had been sent back by the President and the Committee was responsible for looking at the issues he had raised, keeping in mind the Constitution. The Bill affected the serious issues of pornography and child pornography. There would be an opportunity for members to go back to their party study groups, to engage with them to make recommendations and to engage with this Bill.  Only one clause really was at issue.

IEC briefing on National and Provincial Elections 2009
Ms Pansy Tlakula, IEC Chief Electoral Officer, said she would be presenting members with an overview of voter registration activity in the last weekend of registration, as well as addressing the allegations made by certain members of the IFP that some of their members had been removed from the voter’s roll.

The first slide showed registration activity by province. Gauteng showed the highest number of new registrations, followed by KZN. Gauteng also experienced the most activity throughout, with new and re-registrations.   During the last weekend, there had been altogether 1.5 million new registrations, the highest recorded ever in a single registration weekend.

Combining the figures with those who had re-registered during the weekend, a total of 3.3 million voters had registered. This was also a record high. Analysing the registrations according to gender, some 206 000 women had registered in Gauteng and 204 000 men. Overall, in all the provinces except North West more women than men had registered. This had resulted in 51 % of voters being women and 48% being men.  The IEC was very pleased by this.

An analysis according to age groups, found the most registrations over the last weekend to have been in the 20-29 years age group, totalling 434 000 women and 393 000 men. The largest number of registration had taken place in the age groups from16 to 29 years, debunking the myth that young people were not interested in voting. Campaigning had therefore yielded results.

Dividing registrations by province and age, the 16-29 year age group showed the highest number of registrations, particularly in KZN, followed by EC and then the WC. The biggest registration had taken place in the 20-29 years age group. This was reassuring. The IEC congratulated young people for this admirable turnout. Comparing registration figures showed an increase from 20 million voters to 21 million voters registered from before the November registration until after the November registration and a further increase to 23 million voters registered after the February registration. This constituted and overall increase of 6.5% in the voter’s roll. Comparing provinces, Gauteng led by far on all scores, followed by KZN and the Eastern Cape.  Growth of the voters roll since 1999, had showed a steady increase, starting with 18 million and ending with 23 million voters in 2009. This again was a very pleasing result.

The IEC had requested details of members that have been removed according to the IFP from them and had asked for their ID numbers, names and areas. Not wishing to pre-judge the case, Ms Tlakula did want to state that in terms of the mechanisms of the voter’s roll, it was technically impossible to remove someone from the voters roll. Registration involved the voter filling in a form, scanning their identification document and giving them a sticker, uploading the data through satellite and compiling the roll. Before finalising it the roll was sanitised, checking it against the citizen register, so that if someone was deceased they would be removed. This process happened on a monthly basis. People were not asked for their political affiliation. They were waiting for the information in order to get to the bottom of the matter.

Discussion
Ms I Mars (DA) said there were many urban legends doing the rounds regarding removal of voters. She was glad for the way it is was being handled.

Ms N Mathibela (ANC) asked whether people indicated their political affiliation on the voter's roll.

Mr M Sibande (ANC) said the slides did not refer to ages above 80 years old. He asked what happened when people were removed from the roll because they had been declared deceased.

Mr W Skhosana (ANC) said he was proud of the work being done by the IEC. Clarity was needed on mistakes that might happen as mentioned. Some persons did vote and register, but Home Affairs had registered them as younger than they really were. He asked how people who had lost identity documents and married people who had changed their surnames were being dealt with and whether there was a linkage with DHA.

Mr S Swart (ACDP) wanted to raise the issue of overseas voters. He asked whether the Committee have to sit again and what were the possible implications from the outcomes of these pending cases He surmised the voters roll was open to public scrutiny and that it should be suggested that people check whether they are on it. This should help allay fears of being removed.

Mr Chauke asked whether information was transferred between the DHA and the IEC, especially in terms of migration form rural to urban areas. Gauteng was a centre of internal migration, as well as KZN. He asked whether people who changed their addresses had notified the IEC.

Ms Tlakula said they asked for identity numbers, names, surnames and residential address. They did not ask for political affiliation. They did show registration figures for people above the age of 80. Sometimes they had a problem with people who are over 100 years old, but this had been resolved. Deceased persons were a challenge, as they had had an instance where a young girl in Johannesburg had come to register and had been informed that she was deceased. Not much could be done about this. In the 2006 elections 500 000 people were indicated as deceased and had physically come to the voting stations. They had to be placed back on the roll, which was a long process. One had to go through every name, which took time. This had to be completed before voting day and before the voters roll is certified. After this one could not allow them to vote as the law did not allow it.

Mr Chauke was disconcerted by these matters and suggested they work closely with the DHA, because this could cause problems later for people. He asked how they maintained the voters roll.

Ms Tlakula said they were the sole custodians of voters roll. They only worked with the DHA to change certain details like surnames, although the identity number remained unchanged. Where an identity number changed, the change was recorded, indicating the previous number as well.

Mr Masotho said when they uploaded or verified the voters roll against the register they asked for the new identity number issued and linked it to the old identity number from the DHA. The website brought up your name, and also had a field if you had changed your identity number. One could check the voters roll, which would be published this Friday. It was also available on the toll free number, via SMS and the website. The problem was often not with young people but with older people born around 1901. In those instances their details were captured at the voting station, bypassing the century problem.

Mr Mosotho said if a voter registered in one province and again in another province, an audit trail would reflect where they had initially registered. Incidences of fraud could be picked up because they could go backwards and check every single record of a voter since they started registering voters.

Mr Chauke asked for figures on how many had changed address.

Mr Masotho indicated the figures for those who had re-registered at a different station.

Mr K Morwamoche (ANC) said the onus was on the voter to ensure they were on the voter's roll.

Mr Chauke thanked the IEC. Parliament should be used to engage issues.

Mr Swart said he was impressed by the work being done. It seemed to be extremely well run. 

Ms M Maunye (ANC) implored all parties to adhere to their codes of conduct and behave themselves during elections.

IEC Overview of the election process and system
Mr Simon Moepya Mosotho, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer for Electoral Operation Division, presented an overview of the election process and system. He explained the results process, whereby counting took place at each voter station until the result was finalised and agreed upon. Thereafter two result slips were created, each one unique and which could not be swapped around. Every voting station had a unique number. The national ballot had a different colour to provincial ballot. A copy of this result slip was left in a public space and then the original was placed in a tamper proof transparent envelope and sent to the capturing centre, where the two result slips would be checked to the scanned image of the slips, as part of the verification process. This included checking whether the slips came from the correct voting station.  The results were then scanned into the system using barcode scanners. The results were captured twice and if they agreed they were saved. The results were then printed out and sent to the auditor, who would check them to the original before signing them off. The original slips were then sent for filing, going through internal validations. He said the results were transparent and available to all. The result slips had to be scanned and the images had to be made available on the system to enable parties to perform comparative analysis. These results were available in various formats.
 
Mr Mosotho said the results system was linked to the voter’s roll to give an indication of how many voters could be expected at a voting station. This had been built into the system so that it would not exceed possible numbers.  A separation of duties, between auditors and data capturers, on the system ensured that auditors could not enable the system to change results and data capturers could not enable the system to change results once the second capture had agreed with the first capture. Spoilt votes were also accounted for in the system. The validation done by auditors, who went to every data-capturing centre, was checked through a unique audit code, which was used after the auditor had validated the results.

The management of key processes looked at tolerance of the exceptions being included in the process of securing and checking the functioning of the system. It was possible to edit the system, but exceptions would be flagged and results would not be final until they had been resolved. High variances in voter turnout would be picked up by the system, for example, picking up on Section 24A voters, who had registered in another area.

A barcode scanner unit would contain the entire voter's roll. Every person voting would be given a sticker indicating name and their number on the voter's roll and whether they could vote in the national and provincial ballot. Once the checking process was done and scanned, the results were committed to a result database. There would be a replication into more than one database, the details of which could not be divulged. Results would be are available to the public on the IEC website as they were updated. Results were downloadable, in several formats. This was a great improvement on previous systems. Once the results were captured and replicated, they would get a time and date stamp. Issue tracking was available. The system was available for testing to political parties although the window period was tight. The IEC would have done its own testing already. Shortly before the elections a training and dry run would take place where results would be posted at all the voting stations at the same time, in order to perform a stress test on the system.

Discussion
Mr Swart said there had been instances before where younger voters had managed to vote even though they were not eligible. These cases were difficult to pick up in the past because the necessary information had not been available for a long enough period of time. He asked whether this had been addressed in the current system.

Mr Chauke was concerned that the change from a less technological system to the one presented lacked necessary testing. He asked what the response had been to the system by the various political parties. He asked whether the system had been piloted, as they would possibly be dealing with highly contested elections.

Mr Sibande asked which regulations supported the implementation of their system and what guarantees could they offer that security would be maintained.

Ms Maunye commented that the DHA seemed to have been left out of the loop. Where were the election centres to be located and would this be done nationally.

Ms Tlakula said votes were counted manually at the voting stations as had been done previously and which had worked well before. She emphasised this was not a new system, which had always been used. The only addition was the scanning of the results slip, in order to improve on transparency and efficiency, especially after the mistakes that happened in 2004. These had occurred as a result of human error and had effectively lost the ACDP a seat. Manual capturing would happen twice as well as a scanning of the results. Political parties would be able to verify these results. This was then just a tiny enhancement; the making of an image of the result slip in addition to the manual capturing of the results. The Election Commission had throughout the last two years maintained a close association with all political parties for suggestions on improving the system. This was how they had been able to identify certain problems, the solutions to which had been developed with every party being involved, hand in hand, as required by the law.

Mr Masotho said the security of the system was impeccable. This included not just the process itself, but also in terms of the possibility of hacking, as it related to the manner in which the infrastructure functioned and had been set up.

Mr Chauke asked for greater detail on how the security could be rated as impeccable, as he needed to be convinced in order to be able to reassure people that these would be free and fair elections.
        
Mr Mosotho reiterated the results on the results slips were saved at more that one location. More than two sites would be functioning all the time, in order to ensure the system operated even if one of those sites were to go down as a result of power failure. The system had been tested for hacking and political parties were welcome to come and test the system for security ad well. They would be operating from result centres throughout the country and results would be captured at 300 different sites, each of which would be supported by back up measures. In IT terms the operation would be akin to the operation of a banking system.

Mr T Tselane, Commissioner for the IEC, reassured members this was not a new system and therefore had required no change in regulations, which in any case would have had to be ratified by parliament. The voting process itself was still done manually, as the counting was done manually at the voting station, after which the result slip was pasted up outside the voting station. A photo would then be taken of the slip with the required signatures of the representatives of the political parties. This image was then transmitted from the various municipal offices, using IEC computers. Therefore, at the actual voting station, there was no need to have electricity. The additional procedure of making an image of the result slip was just an enhancement of the system, in order to safeguard the transmitting of this info, in effect a better transport system. There was nothing new to the system and therefore no violations of regulations. He asked whether members would like to come and see how the system operates, an extended an invitation to them. He said that all political parties had access to seeing how the system operates.

Mr Chauke emphasised the need for Parliament to be assured of the security of the system, as it carried a responsibility to the public to facilitate free and fair elections. Mr Chauke said that whatever the outcome of the court cases about extend voting rights to South Africans living abroad, the decision of the court would be respected.

Ms Tlakula said about five of the cases related to voting rights for voters who were already registered as voters. The other cases related to voters who wished to be able to vote, although they were not yet registered to vote. She said were these applications to succeed, the Pretoria High Court would strike down certain words in the relevant Act, allowing those who are overseas to register and to vote. The IEC did not know how the Constitutional Court would rule, as in each of the cases the litigants were asking for different things, some of whom were registered as voters and some of whom were not registered. They might also do away with the fifteen days notice requirement, which the IEC was supposed to receive from people who wanted to vote overseas, as this section might be pronounced unconstitutional. It was extremely difficult to predict the outcome of these cases.

Mr Swart said he appreciated the difficulty the IEC was facing. He referred to an article, which had speculated that a postponement of elections was a possibility, should some of these cases be decided in favour of the litigants. He asked whether the IEC had considered the implications and possibility of this happening.

Mr S van der Merwe, of the IEC, said in one of the cases, the court had made a finding of unconstitutionality, which would have to go to the Constitutional Court for confirmation. Since this finding in one case, which would need to be considered and confirmed, the IEC had written to the Chief Justice, asking him to consolidate all these cases, in order that they go to the Constitutional Court in one trial for one hearing. The Court had accommodated them by issuing instructions and had opened the case up to all litigants, inviting them to join in the case. This would come before the Constitutional Court on 4 and 6 March. It was hoped that all litigants would join together in presenting one case as this was in everyone's interest.

Ms Tlakula stated that in the previous elections1379 of the 1568 voters who voted overseas, were employees in government services, while the balance of 189 voters fell into various other categories. The cost of administering the voting by these overseas citizens, had totalled R581 709. 

Mr Swart commented that the cost was essentially irrelevant to the issue of whether overseas voters should be allowed to vote or not.

 Mr Chauke agreed, but emphasised that those voters in rural areas that struggled to register or vote should perhaps be given as much heed and attention as overseas voters.

Afternoon session:
RSA/Lesotho Bilateral Agreement on Facilitation of Cross Border Movement of Citizens: Department of Home Affairs presentation
Ms Mari Greyling, Deputy Director-General: Port Control, provided the Committee with the background to the agreement between South Africa and Lesotho with respect to the facilitation of cross border movement of citizens. She pointed out that Lesotho was the only member of the United Nations that was completely surrounded by another country. Lesotho was therefore landlocked by South Africa and South Africa was its only neighbour. This unique situation called for a special approach, which had been the reason why Lesotho and South Africa had signed a treaty on closer cooperation for mutual benefit that is the Lesotho/RSA Joint bilateral Commission Agreement of Cooperation (JCC). A key objective of the agreement establishing this JCC was to assist Lesotho to graduate from its Least Developed Status to that of a Developing Country. This agreement aimed to further this objective. A large percentage of Lesotho’s GDP was derived from migrant workers in SA. This dependency on South Africa was linked directly to the need to cross back and forth the SA border. Foreigners could only enter Lesotho via SA. The security considerations of this unique situation therefore affected both countries.

Current Situation
The current process in terms of border control was not able to cope with the high volumes of travellers. The Department estimated that about 28 000 people crossed the border between SA and Lesotho on a daily basis. The effectiveness of what the Department of Home Affairs referred to, as the “sausage machine” approach was therefore questionable. The porous borderline furthermore encouraged the bypassing of controls whilst the high number of travellers raised service delivery considerations from the resultant long queues of compliant travellers.

Options
The Department was presented with three options as a result of the current situation:
- To maintain the status quo, which was not working for the Department;
- To increase resources to effectively manage peaks, meaning that there would be under-utilisation during troughs or quiet times; and
- To stop processing routine commuters and to monitor their compliance.

The objectives of this third option were:
- To facilitate the movement of the citizens of the RSA and Lesotho;
- To reduce immigration formalities over citizens of both countries when they were visiting the territory of the other state
- To focus the department’s efforts on inspections, for example, in workplaces to detect illegal foreigners;
- To free resources and use them more effectively; and
- To reduce the opportunities for corruption within the SAPS and the DHA at the port of entry. This last point referred to travellers who bribed officials to gain entry despite the expiration of their 30-day permits.

Progress Report
The draft agreement had been presented to Cabinet before, in 2005. Cabinet had resolved that the matter be referred back to the JBCC for consideration of the implications thereof for the RSA and Lesotho and finally to the JCPS. The JBCC considered the implications and found that it would be advantageous for South Africa and Lesotho to implement the agreement. It was finally signed on 19 June 2007. The advantages of implementing the agreement would be the creation of “fast lanes” for SA and Lesotho citizens at the 14 land border posts. The DHA would be able to reduce congestion and the numbers of immigration officers employed at border posts. This would enhance the focus on problem cases within the territories of both countries. There would also be economic advantages of free movement.

Scope of the Agreement
The scope of the agreement was the 14 land border posts between the RSA and Lesotho; it only applied to citizens of the RSA and Lesotho who were in possession of valid national passports and only in respect of visitors and permit holders. Those permit holders would be people with permission to work or study in either state and it would also apply to contract workers when they departed, however when they arrived the DHA would have to activate their permits and therefore require them to report to immigration.

Proposed Mechanisms
The proposed mechanisms that the DHA intended to implement with this agreement were:
- The broadening of the current visa exemption. Currently Lesotho nationals could visit the RSA for periods of up to 30 days only. This exemption would have to be changed so that it would not have to be time bound. However, it would be only for the limited purpose for which a visitor’s permit was required, that is holiday and business.
- Exemption from the requirements of a visitor’s permit; and
- Category exemption to RSA and Lesotho citizens not to have to report to immigration when entering/leaving the RSA.

The proposed procedures would be that visitors produce their passports at a perimeter gate instead of at immigration for verification of their validity and authenticity. There would be no endorsement of passports at the border post and individual movements would not be captured. Permit holders would not have to report to immigration on arrival and departure.

The unaffected categories would be third country nationals, irrespective of status in the RSA or Lesotho and airport users for flights between the RSA and Lesotho. Another category that would be excluded was that of people wishing to cross the border legally at places other than the 14 border posts. The risk factors identified by the Department were document fraud and what the Department referred to as ‘stop list’ cases. This would be people who were prohibited in terms of the Immigration Act.

The ways that the Department would mitigate this risk would be to shift their focus from the port of entry to the inspectorate division of the Department and to improve co-operation and exchange of information at all levels between the two states. The Department would continue actively pursuing its anti-corruption strategy and the Implementation Framework, that is:
- The Airports Project; this entailed the placement of RSA immigration officials at Moeshoeshoe International Airport;
- Intensified focus on the borderline;
- Security of enabling documents; and
- To improve consular cooperation.

In terms of the Implementation Framework, she added that both countries were committed to it and that it was currently in a draft format.

Way Forward
The way forward was ratification of the draft agreement by the governments of both countries as well as legislative enablement. Communication implications referred to the implementation plan that would focus on a citizen education programme in order to ensure a common understanding of the terms and conditions of the agreement. Finally, the Committee was urged to lend its support to the ratification of the agreement.

Discussion
Mr K Morwamoche (ANC) asked for an explanation why, considering that the agreement had been signed on the 19 June 2007, the Committee had only received a briefing from the Department today?  Secondly, it had been the DHA themselves who encouraged “porous border” and he therefore did not see the purpose of an agreement if they had a policy of “porous border”. The Department had also made mention of 14 border posts. There were also border posts that were being manned by the SAPS illegally against our Immigration laws. This came back to the question he had asked before, that is, what was the purpose of signing this agreement?

Mr Jackie Mckay, Deputy Director-General, National immigration Branch in the DHA responded that it was correct that this had been signed in 2007. The reason for the delay had been that it had be sent to and from the State Law Advisers, the DHA’s Legal Advisers, Cabinet and the JBCC. That consultation had taken a lot of time and that is why it had only been brought before Parliament at this time. He agreed that the DHA was not in control of all the 14 border posts and that the police were assisting them in that regard. However with the turnaround strategy within the Department, one of the objectives was to have those ports of entry manned by Immigration Officers from the RSA. These ports would be incrementally taken over as and when money became available for the recruitment of new staff. The purpose for the signing of the document was to regulate the movement of people between the two countries. At present there was an untenable position where as the Chairperson had rightly pointed out, people did not have documents to cross the border and used illegal methods to come into the RSA. This was therefore one of the ways that would get a regime in place that would enable everyone to cross through a border point. All the immigration rules had been flouted by people illegally crossing the borders and it seemed that this agreement would regularise that movement by enabling a record and control of people’s movements across the border points of the two countries. He called on Ms Greyling to speak on the issue of the implementation of the agreement and the security considerations that had been raised by the Committee.

Ms Mari Greyling, Deputy Director for Port Control, as part of the technical explanation, mentioned that the police officials performing immigration functions at the moment at some of the outlying border posts were duly appointed as Immigration Officers in terms of the Immigration Act. There was therefore no irregularity to that work being performed on an agency basis.

The Chairperson asked for clarity regarding the issue of documentation. He stated that one of the problems that had been identified was that the majority of the citizens of Lesotho were not in possession of documents and that they have been using photocopied pieces of paper that they presented at the border. One of the concerns therefore had been about the capacity of the government of Lesotho to issue out documents to its citizens. When the DHA spoke about the free movement of persons, did this refer to free movement that would not be recorded where people just moved freely without being captured? The issue of security was a concern as well since he knew for a fact that there were a number of people who accessed South Africa via Lesotho since it was easy for them to acquire whatever documentation was required for them to enter the RSA. 

Ms Greyling responded that nationals of both countries would be required to be in possession of valid passports. The implementation of the agreement was dependent upon an implementation framework that would guide the process. The Implementation Framework was currently being drafted and was very secure on the requirement for passports. Lesotho had implemented a machine-readable passport and although they had a backlog in terms of the issuing of passports to their citizens, the DHA was constantly urging them to find means and ways to clear it so as to enable all citizens to travel legally.

Ms M Maunye (ANC) asked for clarity with regard to the SADC protocol on the movement of people and how this agreement related to it.

Ms Greyling responded that this actually went beyond the SADC protocol in that the SADC protocol only provided for visa-free movement and for settlement. This agreement went beyond that because now they were also saying that due to this unique situation, they would not have to be required to report to immigration on each and every movement.

Another ANC member hailed the agreement as a long overdue development because the status quo had just been a source of frustration for many people. The citizens of Lesotho had been crossing from the mountains, not to stay in the RSA but to come and shop and go back to their country. After all, there was a SADC protocol that was coming in that would ease all these restrictions and he therefore had no qualms with the agreement.

Dr S Huang (ANC) asked if there was any record of the number of the illegal immigrants who were in the RSA from Lesotho such as those who entered legally at first but never returned to their home country after the expiry of their permits.

Mr W Skhosana (ANC) commented that whilst as a Committee they were happy with what was being done, however, they had to take into account that the administration of two countries had to continue. This was in relation to the point about category exemptions, which exempted the citizens of Lesotho and the RSA from immigration formalities. What would be the criteria for determining who was or was not a citizen of either of the two states? What would be proper would be to say that there would be a different treatment of people who entered as RSA or Lesotho citizens. He had not understood very well how one would simply let people through at a perimeter gate on the basis that one was a citizen of the RSA or Lesotho.

Ms I Mars (IFP) asked a question along the same lines whether all a person was required to do was produce their national passport?  If so then how would the RSA know who was in the country and who was not?

Ms M Maunye (ANC) also asked how the RSA would know how many immigrants were in the country and how would it be established that they were citizens of Lesotho since people could come via Lesotho?

Ms Greyling responded that the way in which the DHA intended to make the system secure was to use biometric systems at the perimeter gates that would be able to detect fraudulent documents. People would enrol into the system so that the DHA would have their details, their fingerprints and the ability to verify the identity of the person crossing the border. If such a biometric system was implemented it would also provide the statistics of people’s movements and the numbers of the people who had not departed.

The Committee resolved to deliberate further at another meeting and excused the officials from the Department.

Mr Chauke alerted the Committee to the matter of the Films and Publications Amendment Bill that he mentioned had been returned to Parliament by the President because of concerns about the constitutionality of certain provisions. He requested members to direct their attention to the provisions of the Bill, especially clause 29, so that they could deliberate over this at a meeting on 18 February.

Mr M Lowe (DA) requested that the legal opinion attached to the Bill by the President be made available to members of the Committee.

Mr Chauke agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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