Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 4 – Home Affairs
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 25 Jun 2009
No summary available.
EPC – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Friday, 26 June 2009 Takes: 130 & 131
FRIDAY, 26 JUNE 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – OLD ASSEMBLY CHAMBER
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the Old Assembly Chamber at 10:01.
The House Chairperson, Ms M N Oliphant, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
START OF DAY
Debate on Vote No 4 – Home Affairs:
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Chairperson, hon members, members of the portfolio committee, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, fellow South Africans, allow me to acknowledge the presence of the chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission, the chairperson and chief executive of the Film and Publications Board, the chairperson of the Refugee Appeals Board, the CEO of the Government Printing Works, as well as my daughter. [Applause.]
On this historic day, 26 June 2009, the 59th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People held in Kliptown, I am honored to present this budget speech as a Minister of Home Affairs.
Our late President, Oliver Tambo, once said:
Using the power you derive from the discovery of the truth about racism in South Africa, you will help us to remake our part of the world into a corner of the globe of which all of humanity can be proud. We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity.
Heeding the words of this great patriot, I pledge to all South Africans that, together, we should continue to do everything in our power to ensure the realisation of the vision projected in the Freedom Charter and that which has found expression in our national Constitution.
Of course, we must just congratulate Bafana Bafana on losing 1-0 to the best in the world. [Applause.]
Allow me to thank my predecessor, Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, for the work she did including requesting government intervention ... [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, hon members!
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: ...and initiating the turnaround strategy. We have to build on those initiatives she took to accelerate change. [Interjections.]
I would also like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude and that of the department to the Independent Electoral Commission for the outstanding work done in successfully conducting the recent national election, which was declared free and fair by all the independent observers.
Through the "ID Yourself Now" campaign that was rolled out to 2 000 schools countrywide, Home Affairs provided almost 100 000 teenagers with identity documents. Additionally, 10 000 more South Africans were given temporary IDs on election day.
The Department of Home Affairs is critical to the determination of the status of all South African citizens and all those who have temporary or permanent residence, including foreign students.
It used to be called - in Zulu - during the apartheid days "Kwandabazabantu". [The Department of Home Affairs.]
... ngempela yikhona kwandabazabantu, ngoba uma ushada, uzalwa, ufuna ukuvakasha uphumela ngaphandle kweNingizimu Afrika, noma usishiya kulom'hlaba, noma usudinga umazisi sihlale sikhona thina uMnyango Wezasekhaya.
Of course, the ID is a very important document. When you write matric, register at university, open a bank account, start a business or want a driving license, you need an ID and that comes from Home Affairs. So you had better be friends with us, my friends! [Laughter.]
We are indeed a department that is needed by every single one of us at every critical moment of our lives. Therefore, this has to be our guiding principle as we go along.
We have two main mandates: Firstly, the issuance of birth, marriage and death certificates; identity documents and passports; and citizens and permanent residence certificates. It is not only a matter of issuance, but also the safe maintenance and archiving of biometric and demographic records of citizens and persons who have been permitted to reside in South Africa.
The National Population Register and related records constitute a national resource that is part of our common cultural heritage. It plays a crucial part in defining who we are as a nation and in building a democratic and inclusive society by enabling citizens to exercise their constitutional rights, including their right to vote.
Our second mandate makes us responsible for regulating migration. The department is required to regulate migration in the national interest, and to facilitate the movement of people across international borders and through the country's 72 ports of entry. We have to manage migration effectively, securely and humanely.
Maybe I should stress that we only manage the ports of entry; we do not manage the border. So, if people cross the border, that act comes under the remit of the security forces and the police, and not of the Department of Home Affairs.
Our first priority in this regard is to ensure the integrity of the state, while at the same time contributing to the socioeconomic and cultural development of society. In a globalised world we cannot grow the economy without securing scarce skills available internationally. To this end, we intend to adopt a deliberate and structured approach and will accordingly seek to streamline some of the regulations.
We also have a responsibility, in line with our international obligations, to receive those who seek asylum in our country. Six days ago, on 20 June, we commemorated World Refugee Day, a day set aside to remind us that we should, on that day and every other day, welcome those who have fled their homes to seek refuge in our country.
We must recognise that they have the ability to contribute to the expansion of our knowledgebase and certainly to enrich our cultural diversity. We must also recommit ourselves to the struggle against racism, xenophobia and related intolerances.
We have to ensure that asylum seekers are assisted and their status is determined timeously. We are reviewing the structure, size and functions of the Refugee Appeals Board. The current status constitutes a significant bottleneck in the asylum seeker processing chain.
As a country, government and Parliament, we have to develop a policy that will differentiate between economic migrants and asylum seekers. This will allow us to discharge properly our obligations towards both the asylum seekers and the economic migrants.
Announcing the appointment of the Cabinet, His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, emphasised the commitment of government to "an efficient, caring and effective administration, which will be accessible and responsive to the needs of the people". This statement speaks directly to the services delivered by the Department of Home Affairs, which touches on the lives of all citizens. It is therefore important that we consider the refugee centres and try to work in such a way that we deal with those refugees as humanely as possible. This will happen if we are able to work together with the Department of Public Works. Such co-operation should improve the infrastructure of Home Affairs, while increasing the number, look and feel of our offices. I am pleased to announce the establishment of 13 additional Home Affairs service points and the improvement of the effectiveness of the 117 computerised mobile units that are used to service remote areas. Let me remind hon members as well as the public to use the call centre. Its number is 0800 601 190. This call centre provides information and assists in tracking and tracing ID and passport applications. As the President has said, henceforth, all Home Affairs officials will wear name badges so that, for the purpose of passing along compliments or complaints, people can identify the person who rendered them the service.
Acknowledging that many children in this country are not registered, we shall undertake a huge campaign, until the end of 2011, to register all children under the age of 16, so that we delink the ID application from the application for a birth certificate.
After 2011 all children should be registered before their first birthday. This will eventually do away with the late registration of births. This will be the first step towards securing our identity, because the birth certificate is the basic document that allows us access to the ID, passport etc. The abridged birth certificate will be altered to include some security features, such as the name and ID number of the mother. This campaign is crucial because it is very clear to us that late registration of birth is the entry point for those who want to acquire South African documents fraudulently. I hope every single member will participate in that campaign. This campaign will run concurrently with the issuance of IDs to youths, particularly those at school, from the age of 16 and above. We think this is also another way of making sure that we are able to give IDs to South Africans. Once we have done that, it will mean that, after 2011, we will only issue IDs proactively to those who turn 16.
Once the vast majority of South Africans are captured into our population register, it will give us space scrutinise anyone who applies for an ID who is not on our population register. We will be in a position to sift those who deserve it from those who don't. This will contribute towards a more accurate and credible population register. It will also remove the pressure of issuing new ID applications during elections. You must assist us in making sure that people have IDs now, because we don't want to be put under pressure by political parties come election time. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please!
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Once our population register is credible, accurate and comprehensive, we can be sure that the passports we issue are indeed issued to South Africans. This has been one of the weakest links in our population register as passports have found their ways to people who should not have them.
Research is being undertaken to determine whether we can delink the process of taking fingerprints from the ID application. We would like to explore whether we can take the fingerprints before the application for an ID so that, when someone applies for an ID, their stored fingerprints can immediately verify that they are on the South African population register and therefore can be given a temporary ID there and then. Such a system will also facilitate the acquisition of the ID, as it would not take as long as what it does now.
We are going to use various technologies in order to secure our documents. We are going to use digitised photographs. We will have stations, starting with the 13 busiest offices, which will have live capture of any information, whether they are looking for a passport or an ID. It is difficult to tamper with information that has been captured live. This means that people do not have to keep bringing photographs which can be removed. We will look at digitising our records as well. The electronic document management system will be upgraded.
We also want to pursue the smart-card issue. At the moment, it is delayed by the State Information Technology Agency, Sita, because Sita is supposed recommend the awarding of the tender. We are looking at getting the process back on track, because we think it is not only for our convenience – instead of carrying a booklet, we will carry a card – it will also have much better security features. We will be able to clean out some of the people who are on our population register who should not be there.
I would like to tender an apology. We launched a new passport printing machine in April 2009, which produces an excellent passport with good security features and a distinct South African look and feel. Unfortunately, official tardiness in putting in place an effective personal information processing system that matches the high security requirements of the passports, has resulted in the creation of a backlog. The department and I have undertaken that there will be no backlog by the end of July 2009; we will be back to our normal flow. [Applause.]
Secondly, we have a mandate that is concerned with the management of migration. While our mandate emphasises regulation and control of the movement of persons at each of the 72 designated ports of entry, technological advances and changes brought about by globalisation make it possible for the department to carry out those migration functions beyond our national borders. This will include strengthening control of the movement of persons at areas of entry. It will also include advanced passenger processing – especially for 2010 - and biometric verification, resulting in a seamless integrated movement control system, particularly at our airports. We have also piloted an events visa during the Confederations Cup and this visa will also be used in 2010.
We have prioritised the issuance of quota work permits to foreigners who fall within specific occupational classes or specific professional categories. As I said, South Africa needs some of the scarce skills which we cannot find within our borders in order to increase its economy. We will have to have a deliberate process of recruiting those scarce skills into South Africa.
We are also exploring, in conjunction with the Department of International Affairs, the possibility of locating the adjudication process for students, scarce skills and some business permits in our diplomatic missions abroad in the country of origin of the applicant. I believe that this will improve turnaround times. It will also improve the verification procedure, as it would be easier to verify a person's particulars in the country of origin.
The other area of emphasis in the coming years is going to be the prudent financial management. We shall work hard, as the department has already started, towards a much improved audit report. We have to tackle the revenue management and all the areas of concern indicated by the Auditor-General.
The transformation of the department will not happen overnight. It started a couple of years ago and it will take several more years to complete. It has to encompass people, processes, policy, technology and legislation if need be. Focusing on one area without the others will be futile.
All these good intentions will remain hollow, unless there is a good, hard-working, dedicated, honest, patriotic team that will implement it. As a Minister, I will only be as successful as the quality of the team. "Motho ke motho ka batho!" [A person is a person because of other people.] [Applause.]
We shall endeavour to build a department that is characterised by such values as people-centeredness and care; patriotism and anticorruption; professionalism with integrity; accountability and transparency; and efficiency and innovation.
We are aware that there are many vacancies that have not been filled. Given the budget constraints arising from the global economic conditions, we shall be unable to fill all of them. In the next few months we shall concentrate on the recruitment of Deputy Directors-General so as to ensure that the department has competent leadership. In turn, those Deputy Directors-General have to ensure that they bring competent, professional officials with a high level of integrity into the department.
We also have to address the lack of skills and poor management through proper training. The Deputy Minister will say more about that. Although there are thousands of hard-working, honest civil servants at Home Affairs, unfortunately there are many corrupt officials who work with syndicates, with corrupt members of the public and sometimes with corrupt private security members and some corrupt businesses.
We are going to strengthen the anticorruption unit. More effective and efficient measures need to be employed if we are to make a difference. For us to succeed, it will have to be a national effort. Security companies, members of business, Members of Parliament and, more importantly, the public have to assist, both in alerting us to the culprits, and also in resisting temptation themselves. We are of course grateful to some of the members of the public who have begun to assist in this regard. On our part we are determined to root out all the corrupt officials wherever they are found. Of course, we will also root out the lazy ones. [Applause.] In my view, if you earn a state salary and you have not done an honest day's work, you are corrupt.
The other area in which we are going to need the help of hon members and the public at large is in the effort to reduce the number of people applying for repeat IDs. Every year, more than a million IDs produced are repeat issues. In the context of the present global economic situation we cannot afford to keep reissuing IDs. So, I am asking you and the public to take care of your IDs as though your lives depend on them. We will not have the budget this year to continue reissuing IDs to people who have had IDs. That certainly cannot continue; we have to conserve resources.
The efforts of transformation cannot succeed without a strategic relationship between us and our key stakeholders. Accordingly, we shall endeavour to have a good and dynamic working relationship with all our key stakeholders, including yourselves and the media.
May I express my gratitude to the Deputy Minister, hon Malusi Gigaba, who has had to initiate me into this department, to the Director-General, Mr Mavuso Msimang, to the management team with him there, to the turnaround team led by Fever Tree, and to all those hard-working, honest officials, for the work they have done thus far.
In conclusion, allow me, hon members, given this difficult task, to draw inspiration from the wise words of the founding father of our democracy, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, when he said:
I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my walk is not yet ended.
I hope the hon members will support our budget. I thank you
Mr B A D MARTINS
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
Mr B A D MARTINS: Chairperson, hon Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to thank the Minister for her frank and honest appraisal of the state of affairs in the Department of Home Affairs. It is no secret that, currently, the department has a tarnished image and is notorious for sloppy service. It is thus incumbent on the department, as a matter of urgency, to rid itself of employees who tarnish its image and reputation ... [Applause.] ... for that of honest and loyal employees who work diligently every day to advance the cause of our people and country.
The image of the department has to change for the better, and that change can only be brought about by a drastic improvement in the quality of services that the department provides. President Jacob Zuma, in his state of the nation address and in the Presidency Budget Vote, committed government to ensuring that all three spheres of government – local, provincial and national – improve service delivery.
In carrying out its oversight function, the portfolio committee will be guided by the principles of Batho Pele and its commitment to ensuring that services delivered by the offices of the Department of Home Affairs are efficient, caring and responsive to the needs of citizens and foreign nationals. Our non-negotiables are that civil servants should be at work on time, with no neglect of duty and with no intransigence, rudeness and any form of abuse of clients. [Applause.] It will thus be our ongoing duty, in conjunction with the Ministry, to ensure that the provision of courteous and efficient service from the staff of the department takes place at all times.
In the fight against corruption and fraud, we will support the department, the police, and law-enforcement agencies to root out corrupt officials who continue to collude with criminal syndicates. We thus call on members of the public to report all instances of bribery and corruption to the police. It is only when all of us take up our civic duties and responsibilities that our shared value system based on honesty, integrity and justice will become an integral part of the functioning and ethos of the Department of Home Affairs.
Another serious matter that has contributed to the negative image of the department has been the series of audit qualifications it has received. In the 2007-08 financial, the department's financial statements were disclaimed for, amongst other reasons, a lack of supporting documents in regard to: Firstly, transactions relating to the immigration account allocated to the departmental account; and secondly, a lack of an audit trail in regard to immigration fines and penalties.
The Auditor-General also raised several noncompliance matters. Of particular concern was the noncompliance with sections of the Public Finance Management Act, Treasury regulations and the Public Service Act.
An important element of the department's turnaround strategy in building a new and positive image and ensuring operational stability will have to be its compliance with legislation and matters of governance. It will have to institutionalise the gains made and lessons learned from the audit processes.
The department will also have to consolidate and further improve operational and service delivery quality and efficiency at all levels, from front-line offices to back offices where processing takes place. This will, obviously, call for a cadreship of highly motivated, productive, disciplined and honest staff, because the effectiveness of any strategy is ultimately dependent on the integrity of those entrusted with its implementation.
It is important that the significance of the Department of Home Affairs be appreciated in broader terms than its role in determining the status and the issuing of enabling documents. The Department of Home Affairs plays a crucial part in defining who we are as a nation and in building a democratic and inclusive society by enabling citizens to access their constitutional rights, including their right to vote.
From its responsibility of determining the status of asylum seekers flows a challenge of how we, as a nation, engage with those given refugee status, especially at the levels of provincial and local government and communities. There is thus an ongoing need for discussing and resolving how government and civil society organisations define their responsibilities towards refugees and migrants, co-ordinate their efforts, and promote tolerance and understanding.
In conclusion, today, being the 54th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter, the time has come to turn a new page on the Department of Home Affairs. In carrying out our oversight responsibility we, as the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, will engage in a critical and constructive relationship with the department in order to assist in turning it into a centre of excellence.
In pursuit of this objective, we will remain in touch with the clients and stakeholders of the Department of Home Affairs and listen to their needs. As the ANC correctly reminds us, "Working together we can do more." I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms J F TERBLANCHE / End of Take
Mr B A D MARTINS
Ms J F TERBLANCHE: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister, members and colleagues,
Binnelandse sake is een van dié belangrikste staatsdepartemente vir die inwoners van Suid-Afrika. Soos die Minister al by meer as een geleentheid opgemerk het, is dié departement die een wat by elke individu is vanaf die wieg tot by die graf en vir al die belangrike mylpale tussenin.
In Suid-Afrika se geskiedenis speel identiteit 'n baie belangrike rol. Hoe mense geklassifiseer is het aanleiding gegee tot geweldadige opstande, bloedvergieting en talle tragedies. As 'n nasie, bou ons steeds 15 jaar na die eerste demokratiese verkiesing aan 'n unieke Suid-Afrikaanse identiteit en word tereg regoor die wêreld erken as 'n reënboognasie. Daarom kan mens verstaan as inwoners baie emosioneel reageer indien hulle nie die diens kry wat hulle benodig vanaf hierdie uiters essensiële departement nie.
Ek wil daarom die agb Minister bedank vir die openlike en eerlike wyse waarop sy die probleme wat die departement ervaar, erken en probeer aanspreek.
I want to repeat that in English. I want to thank the Minister for the open and honest way in which she acknowledges the problems that the department experiences, and for the way in which she tries to rectify this. I also want to thank the chairperson of the portfolio committee; your approach is very refreshing. [Applause.] It is only when we acknowledge with integrity and with honesty the problems that we face that we can start to address that. And I really appreciate that.
South Africans have not only been exposed to media reports such as the following in the Mail & Guardian of 07 May 2009:
US slams 'corrupt' South Africa Home Affairs department.
Poor administration and corruption at the Department of Home Affairs has resulted in thousands of fraudulent passports, identity documents and work permits being issued, according to a recently-released United States government report.
South Africans also had to face international humiliation all over the world and at emigration ports. The emigration officials are increasingly scrutinising our passports more and more to see if they are valid documents. I therefore hope that the turnaround strategy and all the strategies that are being put in place to combat this and to combat corruption will really bear fruit.
Since I have been appointed to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, I have had a good oversight and insight into the problems that South Africans and foreign nationals experience on a daily basis. My inbox, my SMS and my cellphone line are frequently busy with people complaining to me about the way that they are being treated by officials. And I must say there is only one way to describe it, it's appalling. It is unfortunate, but that is what is happening.
In one instance, a lady phoned me to say that she can't get unabridged birth certificates for her children because the official said that the building she has to go into does not have lights, so they have to go and search for those documents with flash light, and no one is prepared to go and do that. I mean, that is a very desperate situation. Therefore, I am very grateful for the fact that the Minister said that Public Works needs to play a very constructive role in seeing that your department functions properly. Because if there are no lights and Public Works is responsible for that, then there is a serious problem.
I appreciate the fact that a large number of the department's officials attended the budget meeting. It is a pity that not more members of the portfolio committee actually attended. I was very embarrassed, deeply embarrassed, to sit there. Initially we were three, and later on there were more members. Initially it was the chairperson, one other member and I.
At the time of voting on the budget we didn't have enough people to reach a quorum, and the ANC members were hauled from the passages to come in and sit for three minutes, vote on the budget and leave. They did not participate in the discussion. [Interjections.] I know that they can technically do this, but is this the way we should treat this important department's budget? I don't think so.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, hon members!
Ms J F TERBLANCHE: At least, at the committee level from the members that were present, we agree that we need to spend more time with the department to engage with these issues. The absence of ANC members at the crucial meeting highlighted an aspect of the massive Home Affairs crisis and the unwillingness of the ANC as a collective to accept responsibility for allowing Home Affairs to sink in a state of decay.
To deny responsibility will only aggravate the situation. Therefore, I am happy with what the Minister is doing. I am also pleased with the senior management that they appear to be committed to turn the department around. Oversight plays an important role.
On Tuesday's meeting we had a discussion with the chairperson; we will have a brainstorming session to determine priorities of where we will go and what places we will visit. That is something we must do, and we will do. The officials of the department - the hard-working ones and those that are not doing their duty - will know. When we walk through the door we will scrutinise everything that they do. Not only by being there, but also through, I hope, the hotline, which the President is going to set up. I hope that that will also be treated with honesty and integrity that we can look at the problem in an honest and open way and then address it.
Something that is also of deep concern to me is the way we treat people that are coming across our borders, whether they come in illegally or in a legal way. I've recently had the experience of watching a DVD of the human rights violations that are taking place in Zimbabwe. Hon Minister, let me tell you, if I was living in that country and I was faced with that situation, and if any of my children or my family members were subjected to such type of violence and intimidation – and I've got proof of that. We've got a video to show that. The Speaker of Parliament also received a copy of such a video - I would also consider, maybe, illegally entering another country to try and safeguard the future of my children and myself. [Applause.]
When you exit from another country, even if it's illegally, to be faced with uncaring, unsympathetic officials and not be treated with the compassion and the empathy that you need, I think is shocking and I am grateful for the fact that that is going to be turned around as well.
We should also prevent the shameful xenophobic violence incidents that we witnessed last year. [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms A MDA / End of Take
Ms J F TERBLANCHE
Ms A MDA: Chairperson, let me greet the Minister, the Deputy Minister and the hon members of the portfolio committee and congratulate the Minister on her appointment as the Minister of this department.
The Department of Home Affairs is the most crucial department in the birth, growth and working life of every citizen in this country. This department represents the commitment of government in ensuring that no one is deprived of her or his rights as a result of not having proof of identity. This voting debate today is supposed to bring about hope, yet again, to South Africans, that despite the fact that the department is currently in a tatter situation challenged by many predicaments, it can still rise above all these to deliver on its mandate.
The Congress of the People notes the turnaround strategy of the department that was introduced in the last quarter of 2007 and the good intention that was meant to be carried out by the intervention. But in the same spirit, we wonder if the department could not draw all its annual allocation instead of having about R20, 47 million being sent back to Treasury. One wonders how all this is going to be able to work effectively, because, whilst having such a good strategy, the department continues not to draw all the money that has been allocated to it to be effective and efficient in discharging its mandate.
The 2009-10 annual performance plan of the department; as much as I take cognisance of the good intentions that the Minister has outlined here today, the Advanced Passenger Processing, APP, does not outline the performance measures that the department will use in order to ensure that, if its shortcomings are as a result of underperformance or it is identified as one of the major challenges that the department faces, it is dealt with. In this regard, I refer to the issues of the high vacancies that the Minister has also accepted as one of the issues.
The 2007-08 annual report of the department alluded also to the fact that there is serious theft that occurs in the department. Although it is not specified in the report as to whether or not this theft occurred as a result of staff, it again drops an undetailed plan from the department as to how exactly it seeks to address this issue except for making a note of cases currently in the hands of the police. I think we needed to have a situation where it is outlined whether this is theft that continues to happen in the department as a result of staff or it is a situation of an external force.
It is worrying to find no intervention in place to attend to this matter as this department has proven over the years to employ staff that loot from the state and enter into illegal dealings in granting identity documents, including selling the names and surnames of our brothers and sisters to people who use those for other motives.
The suspension of senior officials, as per the annual report, is also silent on the department's plan to tighten up at that level in order to deal with this act, and close any possible vacuum. With the strategic realignment of departments as well the introducing a few, one would have expected that the Department of Home Affairs, as one of the biggest departments this country has, would also have been divided into two, more especially after the Ministry has continuously run dry in coming up with solutions to process applications for asylum seekers and other issues. I must say that one wonders if the decision to break some of these departments into two was politically motivated rather than focusing on service delivery.
The refugees in this country are roaming the streets with the department doing little or nothing to ensure that all of them are legal immigrants. It is against this that I believe home affairs indirectly contributed to the barbaric xenophobic attacks that took place in this country a year and a half ago. The department, in its 2009-10 APP, alluded to its turnaround strategy on the immigrants, but fell short of giving details, and this may lead one to conclude that no concrete plan is in place to deal decisively with this matter.
The committee must also note that this department has continued to prove failure in all attempts of delivering as a way of living up to its vision of being a leading department in service delivery. To this end, centres of operation where people can apply for birth certificates or identity documents are far from where the people of this country reside, and this gives the notion that people are paying severely for the services of this department as waiting periods are strenuous and unbearable as well. It must be noted that the mobile services of this department are easily accessible during election campaigns, and this has given a label to the department that its services are partisan.
The issue of corrupt officials who daily devour the department through selling passports, IDs as well as conniving with illegal immigrants who seek to buy South African names to pursue their corrupt practices is a cause for concern. It should be noted that even young people who want to apply for Child Support Grants are subjected to giving "amantshontsho" [Bribes.] up front. This is despite the fact that some of these people have travelled unimaginable distances, only to have public servants milking them. [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms H N MAKHUBA / End of Take
Ms A MDA
Ms H N MAKHUBA: Chairperson, the Department of Home Affairs is a custodian and protector of the identity of South African citizens and plays an important role in defining who we are as a nation. The Department has a duty to protect the interests of the inhabitants of South Africa.
Since 1994 the profile of South Africa has increased greatly and we now play a greater role on the African continent as well as globally while greater numbers of visitors are coming to our country each year. This has brought many benefits, but it has also presented many
challenges for this department, the resultant influx of visitors taking great strain on the resources and capabilities of the Department of Home Affairs. If the department is to successfully fulfil its mandate, it is imperative that it has the necessary employees with the required skills and expertise working for it. This will also lead to improved customer service. Corruption must be wiped out at all levels and any official found guilty of corrupt behaviour must be brought to book. This is an enormous task, but it is crucial to the successful operation of the department.
The 2010 World Cup, which is fast approaching, is the biggest event that this country has ever hosted and along with all the sports fans and tourists there will also be deceitful individuals hoping to take advantage of the great influx of people and sneak into our country illegally. This must not happen and our various ports of entry must be secure by the time the World Cup begins. This department has an important role to play in the success of this major sporting event. While the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, did an admirable job of handling the recent elections, I feel that there are certain areas where they could improve. They must strive for maximum efficiency and to make voting as pleasurable an experience as possible.
The xenophobic behaviour exhibited by some of our fellow citizens, which led to violence against our brothers and sisters from other African countries, is unacceptable and sad. Similar incidents must be avoided in future. I hope that the department allocates the necessary resources to combating xenophobia.
This department is integral to the successful development of our nation, but there are still many challenges to overcome and much hard work to be done. The new Minister has a very difficult road ahead, but I believe that she can turn the fortunes of this department around. We wish you all the best, hon Minister. The IFP supports this Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms K R MAGAU / End of Take
Ms H N MAKHUBA
Ms K R MAGAU: Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, hon members, comrades and friends, one of the Department of Home Affairs' mandates is to effectively and efficiently manage migration and securely facilitate entry, stay and exit within specific timeframes. This, of course, we have not managed very well thus far. We can, with the department's commitment today, do more.
The ANC's meeting in Polokwane in 2007 chartered a new direction with regard to migration, refugees and Xenophobia. This happened a mere five months before television and media images brought home the tangible, however complex, reality of prejudices towards fellow Africans.
In addition, migration has been given pronounced space by the media in this country, and peculiarly so. Just for your information, this phenomenon, as we have seen in South Africa, is not new in Africa. In the 1970s, Ghanaians expelled Nigerians under the so-called Alien Compliance Order, and in early 1980s, Nigerians retaliated by expelling hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians. However, having said that, the ANC will continue to deem these and other similar practices un-African.
The Polokwane conference resolution taken by the ANC acknowledges that regional integration and the free movement of people pose a particular challenge to the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. The conference noted that we still need to work closely with SADC countries to harmonise immigration policies, with particular reference to the combating of crime associated with illegal immigrants.
The conference also resolves that our policy needs to take into account the United Nations codes on refugees. We have ratified these codes to ensure that the manner in which we treat refugees is humane, including taking lessons from other countries which give support in respect of initiatives likeeducation and social welfare. We also need to work on improving the relationship between foreign nationals and South African communities and conduct awareness campaigns amongst our communities to prevent incidents resulting from Xenophobia.
As a country we have ratified all of the United Nations conventions, protocols, declarations and other instruments relating to migration in all its facets, refugees, etc. Therefore, adherence is notnegotiable, but a must. Our Refugees Act of 1998 provides for the needs of forcibly displaced persons coming to South Africa in search of asylum status. It states that refugees are allowed to seek employment and have access education, as well as being entitled to certain rights enshrined in Chapter 2 of the Constitution. Ours, therefore, is to make sure that we provide the necessary documents to enable this process to take place.
In fact, these ratifications aside, it must be stressed that our country is one of the most welcoming countries in the world. This is reflected in the current harmony in our unique ethnic, religious and cultural mix that defines us as a rainbow nation. This is testimony to the vision of Oliver Tambo, Chief Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and many others.
We welcome and acknowledge that the Department of Home Affairs has, in conjunction with the local and provincial government, launched training initiatives to empower these tiers of government on how to engage with, manage and implement immigrant and refugee legislation and other policy instruments.
We need to subjectively look at the causes of migration. This is caused by normal reasons like people moving from one country to another, and this applies to South Africa as well. This happens because people are looking for opportunities for trade, selling of expert knowledge, studies and visits. All these bring people from one country to another. Therefore, as a country, we need to tighten up those areas where we can do more and make sure that people feel welcome when they are within our borders.
As the portfolio committee, we are encouraged by the objectives and measures outlined by the Department of Home Affairs to control and facilitate the immigration of various categories of foreigners into and out of the country. This is done with the view of reducing the turnaround time on the issuing of the following: Visas - from 10 days in the 2007-08 financial year to 3 days by the end of the 2010-11 financial year; section 22 asylum permits - from 5 days in the 2007-08 financial year to same-day issue by the 2010-11 financial year; refugee status - from 3 months in the 2007-08 financial year to 1 month by the end of the 2010-11 financial year; temporary residence permits - from 24 weeks to 2 weeks by the end of the 2010-11 financial year; and permanent residence permits - from 18 months to 6 months in the 2010-11 financial year.
The Department of Home Affairs also undertakes to ensure that the control and facilitation of the immigration of various categories of foreigners into and out of the country is reduced to a number of days to finalise 100% of cases by the Refugee Status Appeals Authoritywithin 30 days by 2011-12 financial year and issue a refugee identity document from 6 months in 2007-08 financial year to 3 months by the end of 2009-10 financial year.
We are naturally aware of the challenges immigration and refugees pose to any developing country. We are in agreement with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which has emphasised the effects it has on local communities which are invariably affected by the movements of refugees. Suffice to say, if it is not properly managed by all parties concerned - meaning Home Affairs, NGOs, CBOs, MPs and political parties - these things will continue to happen.
In conclusion, given the challenges that still lie ahead in the department, I would like to call on political parties and all parties involved, like NGOs and CBOs, to work together to build a better South Africa with a better Home Affairs that we will all be proud of.
On behalf of the ANC, I would like to support Budget Vote 4. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr J J MC GLUWA / End of Take
Mr K R MAGAU
Mr J J MC GLUWA: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon members, corruption and mismanagement in Home Affairs are so deep-seated that it will take enormous effort and political will to eradicate them.
I have followed the hon Minister's progress closely. I can assure the Minister today that I have followed it myself; I did not send Lesilo. I am impressed with her commitment to root out corruption.
She has been candid about the massive challenges in the department on her surprise visits to the refugee offices and other offices, and has promised to come up with solutions.
Hon Minister, allow me to share my own experience. On Saturday, 20 June, I was asked by a member of the public, Mr Gavin Ruiters, to assist him and his wife who were turned away at the Cape Town office due to the lack of staff. People were also sent from as far as the Bellville and Wynberg offices to the Cape Town office for assistance. I spent three hours on the phone with Home Affairs, and this includes the toll-free number, but to no avail. On Monday, I phoned again and was sent from pillar to post without any progress. Our people must be served with dignity and pride. Imagine the difficulties an ordinary South African experiences without resources.
I would also like to congratulate the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, on managing the recent elections with success. However, I would like the Ministry to look at the very troublesome section of the Act - section 24(a) - which allows voting at any polling station. This will be a challenge for the department.
In her response to this budget, I trust that the Minister will assure us that the department will be adequately prepared to deal with the necessary travel documentation for the thousands of fans.
In closure ... [Interjections.]
ID e thekga ditekanyetšo. Ke a leboga. [Nako e fedile.] [The ID supports the budget. Thank you. [Time expired.]]
Dr C P MULDER / End of Take
Mr J J MC GLUWA
Dr C P MULDER: Chair, I would like to start off by congratulating the hon Minister on her appointment. The fact that such a senior Minister was appointed is a clear indication that President Zuma recognises not only the importance of this department, but also the well-known current crisis in the department, and that the Minister is there to try and rectify it.
The predecessor of the Minister has just left. I listened to what the Minister said today and I heard all the wonderful things she said with regard to trying to turn this department around. However, those were the exact same things said by her predecessor in the last two budgets. So, I can understand that the intention from the ANC and the government side is there, but we have not succeeded, in practice, to take things further in that sense.
I believe that President Zuma's administration is serious about service delivery. However, we have to understand that serious service delivery starts with this specific department. The Department of Home Affairs is the basis from where we have to start in terms of service delivery in total in South Africa.
My concern is that the department is top-heavy. We have, in terms of the strategic plan, 6 deputy director-generals and 24 chief directorates. I think it should be the other way around. It should have 6 chief directorates and maybe 1 or 2 deputy director-generals. This is something we need to look into.
If one looks at the department's core objectives, I don't think anybody can disagree with them. They are absolutely laudable. But we have to do certain things practically. Let me make one or two examples. Why can civic services not be devolved to local government in terms of being the contact point towards citizens? Each and every local government office should be a contact point for Home Affairs, with efficient officials in contact with the public on a basic level. A policy can be developed on a national level; that is fine. But in terms of contact with the public, why can we not use these offices for an effective local government? It should be much better.
Die agb Minister het verwys na die 72 punte van toegang na Suid-
Afrika en gesê die verantwoordelikheid van haar departement is bloot om daardie toegang te reguleer. Hulle is nie verantwoordelik vir grensbeheer nie.
That is a problem. South Africa needs to rethink this whole issue. We need a different department – we can call it home security or whatever– that is combined and that will look at border control and immigration to take control of this whole situation.
There was reference to the question of corrupt officials, and I think everybody recognises that. If it does not exist, can we not get some kind of internal line for our own officials to report a scoundrel or a crook? Clearly, there are many in the department.
Hulle is die mense wat maak dat die hele department 'n baie slegte naam het. Ek wil terugkom na ons agb kollega van die DA. Ek het mooi gehoor wat sy sê en sy het groot begrip vir die feit ... [Tussenwerpsels.]
Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS / End of Take
Dr C P MULDER
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Chairperson, Ministers, Minister of Home Affairs and hon members, today is 26 June, the 54th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter. Among other things, the Freedom Charter proclaimed that all shall be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province to province, and from South Africa abroad. It further said that pass laws, permits and other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished. Fifty-four years later the question is: How far have we gone in realising the vision and injunctions of the Kliptown meeting?
From the outset we must emphasise that we remain deeply committed to the principal task of building a department that will play a meaningful role in the implementation of the key tasks of the pillars of the electoral mandate of the ANC.
Hon Chairperson, as you are aware, we have redesigned and overhauled the business architecture of the department and adopted a new operating model. One of the most distinct features of this model is the clustering of provinces into four zones to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our front office. As part of our swift and prompt response to the address of President Zuma during his Budget Vote speech, commencing in July this year we will begin to travel to our zones to engage our frontline management and officials, and visit some of our offices, so that we can begin to intervene decisively in front-office operations and frontline services. This will also give us the opportunity to ensure that the changes that were introduced as part of the turnaround programme are applied consistently across the organisation, and begin to be embedded in our regular operations, so that they become part of what we do daily. However, the President will be pleased to know that the Department of Home Affairs already started some years ago to implement the nametags project. We shall follow in his further instructions to enforce this and ensure total and strict compliance.
During the course of this financial year we will begin to change the look and feel of our offices, and change the citizen and customer experience where and when they interact with our department, through a series of interventions which will involve improving our leadership and management, increasing our capacity, and enhancing our processes and systems, so that we improve the quality of the services we offer. This should be achieved through the gradual refurbishment of our offices during the course of the year, which however will not be completed in this year alone, given just how extensive this process should be.
During the course of this year we will roll out six centres of excellence, which should be model offices, intended to provide excellent customer service. We plan to roll out these centres in our busiest centres in each province over the MTEF period, the first of which is planned for Soweto during this financial year. Our focus in this area will ensure that we, as the executive, are as close to the frontline operations as possible.
The Minister has already said that we intend to review our overall management and approach to refugee affairs, which should entail the legislative framework, processes and systems. What is clear is that it cannot continue to be business as usual. Accordingly, in addition to what the Minister has said, we will focus on stamping out corruption and the factors that give rise it. We will also formally establish the Musina refugee reception centre, to be followed in the coming financial year by the extension of the asylum seeker processing footprint to zones as the need dictates. Based on lessons and observations of the regrettable incidents of last year, which saw the inhuman and barbaric attacks on foreign nationals in our country, we will intensify our campaign against xenophobia. This campaign will be anchored on forging partnerships with other government departments, the provincial and local tiers and, most importantly, local communities where immigrants reside. It will focus on training, stakeholder management and public education. We will vigorously take the issue of immigration and xenophobia to the public.
We must here, today, express our deepest concern at some xenophobic sentiments which seem to be resurfacing in certain communities and urge our people to resolve their problems peacefully. We call on religious and other community leaders, especially our MPs, our MPLs and our councillors, to play a leading role in facilitating dialogue and mediating in communities wherever and whenever conflicts and differences may arise involving our immigrant communities.
South Africa values immigrants, and we believe that they make a significant contribution to our economic development and cultural diversity, and enhance our humanity as a people. As a key service delivery department, the role of our officials is critical. Our officials are the mainstay of the present turnaround strategy, the pivot around which it is anchored. Without them, there can be no turnaround. Long after the consultants have gone, our officials will remain steering the wheel of service delivery, discharging the mandate of Home Affairs, and fulfilling the service delivery objectives of government. It is in them that we must make the most significant investment, because no amount of technology can replace them.
In this context, one of the key challenges of the department is the urgent need to optimise the capacity and efficiency of the human resource functioning, to ensure that it fulfils its role in assisting us to deal with the complex task of recruiting the right people with the right skills and attitude, and placing them in the right positions.
Having successfully migrated all our 63 senior managers from their positions in the old structure to the new structure, we will this year finalise the migration of all officials below salary level 12 into the new structure. We will pay greater attention to enhancing the leadership and management cadre of the department through proper recruitment, and training and development.
Partly to achieve this, we have decided to introduce the Home Affairs learning centre of excellence in order to train and develop the distinct skills requirements of our department, given that, as matters stand, there is no training institution in our country that meets our skills requirements in national immigration and civic services.
To ensure the speedy roll-out of the learning centre, we will this year finalise the business case and benchmarking with the best practice in both the private and public sectors.
We are pleased to report that we currently have a total intake of 760 young people involved in the National Youth Service in the department, 457 of whom are female and 303 male. At the same time, during the 2008-09 financial year, we had 191 interns placed in all specialised areas in the department. During this financial year, we plan to recruit 300 youths for the National Youth Service, and 200 for the internship programme. [Applause.]
Information services constitute one of the most important and strategic areas of our work. Following on that the Minister has said, we have made strategic advances in rolling out some of the critical technological systems to improve service delivery. Our key target for this financial year is to build the required organisational capacity and stability in the branch through the appointment of competent senior leadership. Without optimising the performance and capacity of this branch, we will not be able to drive many of our key projects.
As hon members will recall – and this is already in the public domain – the "Who Am I" online project, which is intended to integrate all our IT systems, was at our request investigated by the Auditor-General. Based on the Auditor-General's findings, a decision has been made to conduct a forensic audit. Once this process is completed, a report will be presented. However, 2010 preparations are advanced, and we are confident that we will have our IT infrastructure ready to facilitate the movement of keen soccer fans.
Hon Chairperson, during the past year the Government Printing Works achieved numerous milestones, the most important of which was the construction of the new passport factory and the acquisition of the new passport machine. During this financial year, we will conclude the conversion of the Government Printing Works into a government component. In terms of the provisions of the Public Service Act, Act 30 of 2007, section 7A, we can make bold to say that we are now well on the way to transforming the Government Printing Works into a modern and high-security state printer. We shall continue this year, to the tune of R367 million, to acquire even more state-of-the-art machinery to enhance our printing capacity and services, and place the Government Printing Works on par with other printers in the same market.
The conversion to a government component will enable the Government Printing Works to recruit and retain skilled artisans the organisation requires to discharge its mandate. Once this process is completed, we will, during the course of the year, appoint the board, which has never existed, and complete the establishment of the new leadership and management structures. We have made major strides to fulfil the long-awaited relocation of the organisation to a new facility conducive to modern and high-security printing functions. We have identified and are working with the Department of Public Works to prepare this site for these purposes. Meanwhile, the passport factory has already moved to the new facility and shall soon be followed by the rest of the organisation.
Chairperson, as you will recall, the Film and Publications Amendment Bill was returned to the National Assembly by the President for certain further amendments, which were made. Once this has been assented to, its implementation will include, among other things, the application of the new governance structure, which will improve the board's efficiency. Furthermore, it will strengthen and widen the Film and Publications Board's scope to protect children from harmful material. We are pleased to report that the FPB has been accepted as a member of Inhope, the International Association of Internet Hotlines. This will strengthen our co-operation with other member countries in the fight against the heinous crime of child pornography.
We will continue this year to wage a sustained campaign against child pornography to meet this obviously growing challenge in our society, and as part of this, we will make further improvements on the Internet hotline we launched last year. We are working with the law enforcement agencies, NGOs and the 2010 Local Organising Committee to ensure that there is heightened focus on child protection against many paedophiles that will come into our country pretending to be soccer fans, to ensure that the 2010 World Cup is child friendly.
Chairperson, I would at this stage like to thank the hon Minister for her leadership already during the past year. Sorry, during the past month. It seems like a year already! I would also like to thank the former Minister for her stewardship during what was a difficult period. I would like to thank the director-general and top officials of the department, the Government Printing Works, the Film and Publications Board and the IDC for their support. I would also like to thank the chairperson of the portfolio committee, as well as members of the portfolio committee for their support and cordial relations already, and we look forward to a cordial but robust engagement in the year to come. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms C DUDLEY / End of Take
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
Ms C DUDLEY: Chair, hon Ministers, the ACDP would have thought that this department, more than any other, should have been divided and restructured. Migration, immigration and related issues, for example, surely need a dedicated, more specific focus. We are however, pleased to see a special allocation to Information Technology, IT, and commend efforts by the department to set up a special call centre for citizens to check if they have been wrongly declared dead and to check their marriage status due to fake marriages being registered. Has there been sufficient publicity to ensure public access to this?
South Africa's Department of Home Affairs has been crippled by corruption and inefficiency over many years. In 2005 a young man won the sympathy of many South Africans when he held a Home Affairs official hostage with a fake gun, demanding his identity document after a two year wait for his ID book, which is vital in every aspect of daily life. We do appreciate that turning this department around is going to be a mammoth task, but we are concerned by the shocking number of documents and files being lost. It is now almost expected by document seekers that they will have to apply more than once, if not many times, a costly exercise in time and money. Olga Matsimbi in July last year had applied four times over five years to get an identity document before she could seek work and apply for her daughter's birth certificate and child support grant. A university graduate, who passed out top of his course at the University of Cape Town, was turned down by Home Affairs for a work permit. He should have already been a South African citizen but his parents' papers were lost by the department. He was snapped up by a Johannesburg firm who waited three months to be told that he had been turned down. On appeal, it appeared he was not rejected; the papers had just been lost.
Sadly, this steady stream of queries I get find little relief as I struggle to get a response from the department, wasting more man hours. People are waiting up to three years for approval of citizenship and permanent residence, only to be told that documents are lost. How much longer is this going to be the norm? Has sufficient budget been allocated to data capture and retrieval, to document storage and retrieval systems, and to train personnel to run them? Thank you. [Time expired.]
Ms M M MAUNYE / End of Take
Ms C DUDLEY
Ms M M MAUNYE: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister, comrades and hon members, central among the indicators of a maturing constitutional democracy, are fully functioning institutions, especially those which must support democracy and constitutionalism. In our case, we refer to national bodies like the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, the Government Printing Works and the Film and Publications Board. Like other general elections, 2009 elections confirmed the ability of the IEC of South Africa to conduct successful elections.
Because of its history of success over many years, South Africa has now become a case study for many countries on the African continent and beyond. For this reason, South Africa, through the IEC, continues to make interventions in African countries that are having difficulties in conducting free and fair elections. With this, and success at home, we are convinced that the IEC is capable. However, we know and understand that there are still election-related challenges in our country.
Another critical issue which has been brought to our attention are suggestions that the IEC does not have sufficient mechanisms to deal with corruption on election days. Relying on political parties cannot be a comprehensive answer to the problem. With regard to these challenges, we will work with other political parties, government and organs of civil society to develop political and other solutions with a view to ensure that the IEC delivers, even more than it has done since 1994.
In commending and congratulating the IEC for their dedication, commitment and diligence, as well as its credible work at home and beyond, we have to understand that full functionality of this constitutional body largely depends on the funding to improve human resource and technological capacity of this body.
Chairperson, let me now deal with the Film and Publications Board. As a matter of fact, this body is in a state of limbo because the Film and Publication Amendment Act, which governs the board, is yet to be signed into law. This is something which the government has to address, to ensure that the board fulfils its mandate of balancing the right to freedom of expression and publication, with an obligation to protect our children from exposure to disturbing, harmful and inappropriate materials.
Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to the Government Printing Works, an entity which is entrusted with the responsibility of security printing, meaning the printing of government documents and publications. This body is beset by a range of challenges, which include lack of proper governance structure, outdated equipment and facilities and inability to compete for skilled artisans because of better salaries in the private sector. However, we are of the view that the Government Printing Works has the potential of being competitive, profitable, cutting edge and fit for its purpose. The starting point will have to be efficient and effective governance, particularly in view of the Auditor-General's qualifications issues, which have not yet been fully addressed.
We are also aware that the new passport machine, with high security features, is operational. However, we are concerned that a transition from the old to new system apparently presented its own challenges and, surely, this will cause delivery problems.
In conclusion, Chairperson, within a relatively short space of time we have had robust, yet cordial, engagement with both the departments and the entities. We trust that these bodies will exercise their responsibility with prudence and in the national interest. The ANC supports the Vote. Thank you, Chair. [Applause.]
Mr R B BHOOLA / End of Take
Ms M M MAUNYE
Mr R B BHOOLA: Chairperson, firstly, I want to congratulate Bafana Bafana on an outstanding performance last night. [Applause.] If it wasn't for the misfortune, Bafana Bafana would be playing in the finals on Sunday. We also want to congratulate the hon Minister on her new duties. She has been out of the country and now she is back home. But we also want to comment on press reports and the commentaries that the department has been in a mess, but is now beginning to turn around. In this respect, we want to compliment the hon Minister.
The Department of Home Affairs is indeed a very important department. People travel very long distances to get to this department and stand in long queues. We appeal to the hon Minister to make sure that people are attended to expeditiously. The hon President has said in a television interview that if the offices close at 4 o'clock, it doesn't mean that people must be turned away.
The MF would like to strongly propose that our immigration officials be given special tuition on human relationship because there are concerns over attitudes at the Oliver Tambo Airport. May I suggest to the hon Minister that when people arrive in this country, the staff at the immigration office must reflect the broad-based section of the province's population.
I further suggest that the question of not recognising our travel documents in the United Kingdom be attended to. I have read that it is affecting tourism to the United Kingdom and, of course, we don't want to discuss the reasons why the United Kingdom has taken this particular decision. We are very mindful of the measures that the President has taken about efficiency, etc.
May I also make an appeal that whenever a person is given a job in the Department of Home Affairs, the best should be selected because we have to vote with our IDs. We also have to process our grants using our IDs. The MF will support the vote. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr M MNQASELA / End of Take
Mr R B BHOOLA
Mr M MNQASELA: Chairperson, hon Minister and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, fellow members, representatives from government entities, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived under the sun to the somehow gloomy eclipse of human civilisation. This is the description of a department that is riddled with kwashiorkor. The kwashiorkor has been described appropriately by the Minister, the chairperson and the Deputy Minister. Obviously, the DA has somehow come up with some solutions. [Interjections.] And I'm delighted that hon Terblanche has actually given advice on how we can tackle these and many other problems.
I have invited to the gallery Mr Conrad Tamprecht, who witnessed some of the atrocities and, in the main, anomalies that we saw in the Nyanga refugee centre. I must say that the DA welcomes with both sadness and delight the news that Judge Owen Rogers has decided to shut down the refugee centre. Now the challenge is whether or not we will be able to administer the services that we have been administering from that centre. The Minister must help provide political leadership.
This is a challenge, because if we discontinue the services provided to the refugees serviced by that centre, they are not going to get those services. If we continue under the current circumstances, the businesses there will shut down and leave that area. That will not be good for the environment given the economic crisis that we face.
This brings me to my next point that if we, as the portfolio committee, do not play our role properly, many of the challenges that the Minister has raised will be very difficult to manage. The Deputy Minister tried to piggy-back on some of the issues, such the "Who am I" Online project. Minister, the question before you around this project needs urgent answers, and I am hoping that those answers will be forthcoming.
There has been very good emphasis by many hon members on the many programmes of the department, such as immigration, public services, state entities, to mention but a few. I must acknowledge that if one talks about service, when members of the public walk into an office they must not feel that they have to beg to get these services. They also must not feel that it is compulsory to follow some of the bad practices such as paying a bribe in order to get a service.
Corruption, fraud and maladministration seem to be a priority for this government. From the DA's point of view, we acknowledge that and we applaud such an approach, but we will watch you very closely. It takes more than just saying it. [Interjections.] We need action, action and action.
Uyicacisa njani into yokuthengiswa kweeNcwadi-zazisi, amaphepha abaphambukeli asemthethweni kunye neziqisekiso zokuzalwa? Uyibeka njani ebantwini beli lizwe into yokuba bahambe baye kuthenga izinto ezinje?
How do you explain that to the nation?
Ukuba neNcwadi-sazisi lilungelo lomntu eliqhelekileyo elo, ayilolungelo likhethekileyo. Ndifuna ke sazi ukuba uMgaqo-siseko weli lizwe uyayicacisa loo nto. Nawe lungu elihloniphekileyo, nokuba ukweliphi icala leNdlu, ukukhusela abantu benqila yakho yovoto, masincedisaneni singavumi ukuxhasa izinto ezinje.
Last year we saw an emergence of xenophobic attacks and much has been said about them. We also need to ask questions, such as: Why are these attacks directed at the brothers and sisters from our Diaspora? These forms of attack are looming again, according to reports in the Cape Argus yesterday, and we need to do something very urgently.
Hon Minister and all the members who are heckling there, it takes more than heckling. I invite you to go and read that newspaper, and visit abantu baseGugulethu [the people of Gugulethu]. [Interjections.] Go to Du Noon; go to Khayelitsha; go to Diepsloot and Alexandra. Hon members seem to be very comfortable sitting in this lavish environment, driving expensive cars and not going to their constituencies. Now, again I invite them to go to Du Noon. They must also go to Gugulethu and Delft. They will see that people who come from other countries, especially the Somalians, because of their ability to run businesses, their entrepreneurship skills and so forth. Thank you very much. [Time expired.]
Mr P M MATHEBE / End of Take
Mr M MNQASELA
Mr P M MATHEBE: Chairperson. Well, it's unfortunate that hon member Mnqasela is new in Parliament and doesn't understand these issues. [Interjections.] He has been attending our portfolio committee meetings very regularly, and we have been provided with all the documents detailing all the challenges he was speaking about. But the problem with him is that he is lazy when it comes to perusing those documents and familiarising himself with all the challenges, and with the initiatives that are being undertaken by the department to address them. He's very lazy. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please! Order, hon members!
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, on a point of order: I believe it is totally inappropriate for one hon member to refer to another hon member as "lazy". [Interjections.] It is unparliamentary, and I ask you to insist that he withdraw that, Madam Chair. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please! Order, hon members! I am advised that, in terms of the conventions of this Parliament, the word "lazy" is unparliamentary, so could you please withdraw, hon member?
Mr P M MATHEBE: I withdraw, Comrade Chair. The hon member is not lazy, but he does not read the documents. [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, hon member! Do you have a point of order, hon member? Hon member, would you take a question? In that case you may continue.
Mr P M MATHEBE: Chairperson, whether the hon member is ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please! [Interjections.]
Mr P M MATHEBE: The hon member is not lazy, but he doesn't read the documents in order to familiarise himself with the issues and the challenges of the department. You know, this reminds me of a boy I knew when we were still young. [Interjections.] Yes, when we were still young. We used to play outside at night, and when an aeroplane would pass we would say loudly, "Oh, an aeroplane!" But the lazy boy would just say, "There's an aeroplane." [Laughter.] He wouldn't even bother to look up. [Laughter.] Very lazy, and just like this hon member. [Laughter.] But, Chairperson, one has to forgive him.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, hon member! Do you rise on a point of order?
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, the hon member has again referred to our hon member as being lazy. [Interjections.] The inference was there – very, very clearly indeed. You have already given the instruction that he cannot say that, and I ask you to again insist that he withdraws that.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Ellis, the hon member said he was "like". He didn't say he "is". Therefore, hon Mike Ellis, could you please take your seat? [Interjections.] Please continue, hon member.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, on a point of order: I hear your ruling.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Mike Ellis, I have given a ruling and therefore you have to take your seat.
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair, I'm questioning your ruling. [Interjections.] I am questioning your ruling. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Mike Ellis, could you please take your seat?
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Chair ...
Mr P M MATHEBE: Order!
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Mike Ellis, please take your seat. Please continue, hon member.
Mr P M MATHEBE: Comrade Chairperson, you know, the problem is that these people are not objective. They are taking instructions from Wale Street – from the "Iron Lady", who doesn't know anything about the issues in this Parliament. [Interjections.] She only knows how to try to stop this ANC government from delivering services. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please!
Mr P M MATHEBE: Shut up, you! [Interjections.] I withdraw, Comrade Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Mathebe ... [Interjections.]
Mr P M MATHEBE: I withdraw, Chair. I withdraw.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Continue, hon member. [Interjections.] Hon Mathebe, please don't provoke the members. Just focus on your speech, please.
Mr P M MATHEBE: Comrade Chairperson, the President of South Africa and the ANC ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Hon Mathebe, order please!
Dr C P MULDER: Chairperson, on a point of order: I want you to make a ruling with regard to the decorum of this committee and the decorum of this House. And, with all due respect, the hon Mathebe has a history of making these kinds of jokes, and we are busy with a really serious type of debate. We have a Minister and a Deputy Minister and a chairperson who feel very seriously about addressing the issues, and it's a tragedy that we end the debate with this kind of person who doesn't even have a speech. [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, hon Mulder. [Interjections.] The hon member has a time allocation. Whether the hon member uses his time fruitfully or not is the responsibility of his political party. Please continue, hon member.
Mr P M MATHEBE: Thank you, Chairperson. Chairperson, I said that the President of South and the ANC has spoken. During his state of the nation address, we were, as public representatives, directed by him, among other things, to commit ourselves to the service of our nation with dedication, commitment, discipline, integrity, hard work and passion. Together we must build a society that prizes excellence and rewards effort, and shuns laziness and incompetence.
These are the injunctions that we are conscious of as we grapple with the Department of Home Affairs' Budget Vote today, more so because we are very aware of the challenges that have, in recent times, beset this critical delivery vehicle. Moreover, we would like to remind the Department of Home Affairs that we, as the portfolio committee, demand the highest standard of service from the department.
A transformed Home Affairs is a vital instrument for enabling nation-building and for the state to deliver on the programme of action of the government. In this regard, the department is pursuing a turnaround strategy which we, as the ANC, support wholeheartedly. This turnaround programme consists of over 30 projects, and it has been the main strategic vehicle for implementing transformation of the Department of Home Affairs for the past 21 months.
A number of gains have been made, and from the viewpoint of the public, there have been significant advances in service delivery and the turnaround time of enabling documents, more impressively, identity documents. This has involved the planning of processes, greatly tightened budget contracts, and transforming the key sections of operations through operations management and in training and motivating supervisors and their staff. Productivity, we are informed, has increased 300% in targeted units, and higher levels of morale are evident as officials understand and are proud of the value they add to processes they control. In this case, ID documents and other documents are being provided on time. We are informed that the time taken for the first issue and reissue of identity documents has been reduced to an average of just under 60 days. Temporary documents are also issued on the spot.
Regarding passports, we are informed that the turnaround time has improved from three months to 14 days for an adult and seven days for a child. There is also SMS notification to inform clients of the readiness of their birth, marriage and death certificates. Customer-service centres are fully operational and are rendering services for both civil services and the National Immigration Branch. There are some initiatives, as the hon Minister has already said, to digitise photos so as to minimise the issuing of incorrect photos on identity documents. Similar gains in efficiency can be seen in other areas, such as the determination of status of asylum seekers at reception centres.
These improvements are important, and the strategic plan includes taking to them to scale across the department – for example, through the wider introduction of operations management. This is indeed commendable and we would like to notify the department of our intent, as the portfolio committee, to gage for ourselves not only the extent of these achievements, but also whether they are sustainable.
It must be recognised, however, that transformation involves larger and more complex challenges than just the radical improvement of outdated business processes. By far, the most urgent and serious problem confronting the department is corruption involving syndicates in collusion with officials, leading to the theft or illegal acquisition of identity documents. This devalues enabling documents and poses a serious threat to individual citizens and national security. The problem is complex, with deep historical roots, and requires a range of responses, including the active support of government and the public as a whole.
Underpinning the efforts to fight corruption is the achievement of several other critical milestones over the next three years. By far the most important of these milestones is the transformation of the department as an organisation. Targets in the strategic plan that address these challenges include, among other things, the implementation of the new organisation structure and the establishment of sound government structures and practices. Also, there is the issue of professionalism in the development of managers, and the strengthening of key functions such as planning, monitoring, evaluation and risk management.
These initiatives are admirable and the ANC trusts that they will assist in putting in place a management team that will provide leadership and governance. But more than this is the critical aspect of ensuring that the department puts in place the long-overdue critical mass of supervisors and senior managers to cover all areas of management in front and back offices. Also, although training has improved, there is the challenge for a larger scale and well-structured programme of quality training.
We are told that with the current financial situation, the department can only fill critical positions, and the process of identifying these posts is based on the fact that the department has to ensure that management posts are filled at all levels so as to ensure the filling of other lower positions. Another factor is the placement of those occupying positions of deputy directors and below in the new organisational structure.
In response to national youth development, the department has also engaged interns and national youth services and contract workers to sustain service delivery. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS / End of Take
Mr P M MATHEBE
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Thank you, hon Chair. First, let me thank the chairperson of the portfolio committee, Comrade Ben Martins, not only for the input he has made here, but for the way he is conducting the affairs of this portfolio committee. [Applause.] And I also thank the portfolio committee members as a whole. I would really like to express my appreciation for the seriousness with which you have approached this debate. [Interjections.]
HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please!
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: I think this should be a reflection of how you are going to approach the work of this department.
I will not say a lot about everything, but I would just like to say that it is true that everyone should expect proper service when they go to a Home Affairs office, and this is not yet happening. Not all the officials are giving such service. But I think what will help us is if, when you to go to an office, or whoever tells you they have been to an office, you tell us the name of the official you dealt with. We can only respond when we get feedback from yourselves and the public. Indeed, I take seriously the suggestion that there should be an office where all complaints are received. Officials should know that there are consequences to the actions they take. [Applause.]
The team is sitting here, and the Fever Tree team is sitting there. They heard what you said, and they must implement it. Because then we will know who is doing what, which office is working well, and which officials are not. We have to engage the trade unions, that indeed we are going to sack officials who do not comply. [Applause.] But we need your help. We need everybody's help. Indeed, that is the only way you can deal with Home Affairs. If we just keep saying, "please, do this", it will not work. You have said yourselves, it is deep-seated. It has been like this since time immemorial. Those who come from KwaZulu-Natal, where I grew up, know this corruption is not new, and it exists not only in Home Affairs, but generally.
There was a thing where you say ...
Heyi! Unjani umsebenzi wakho? Likhona igwinya ? Uma uthi hhayi alikho. Hawu uhlaleleni? Ngiwushiyle loya msebenzi awunalo igwinya.
"Igwinya" means something that you get on the side. So it is very important that you assist us. We cannot do it alone. You have to assist us. You and the general public have to assist us. [Applause.]
In terms of refugees, of course we have an obligation, not only because of international law and our own laws, but also because of our own humanity. We must treat human beings as human beings. I agree with hon Mnqasela that maybe we should visit these areas. Parliament had visited before when there were xenophobic attacks. Maybe we should agree that a parliamentary delegation or portfolio committee members should visit these places and see what is going on, so that we are not taken by surprise. He is an hon member. If he says he is seeing the seeds of this reoccurring, we must take it seriously, and work, and go there and see. [Applause.] That is my view.
Also, hon member Terblanche, I think you take your work very seriously. And we have to work, all of us, the opposition and ourselves. This is a critical national matter, Home Affairs. We cannot use it as a political football. We will co-operate with you, just as much as you co-operate with us, and we are happy that you have taken that attitude. [Applause.] We will have regular interactions. We have noted the issues.
Regarding the questions that hon Mda has raised about mobile units and all that: I think it is unfair to say the mobile units are partisan. We will be using these mobile units. If you listened closely, you would have heard that I said we do not want to be put under pressure for IDs during elections. We want to do it now. We want to have a campaign now, for the next two years, so that come 2011, we are not going to be put under pressure. We will not allow any of you to put us under pressure. But that means you have to work with us now to do it. [Applause.]
We are not partisan. We have a responsibility to every citizen in this country, and we will maintain that. The ANC will sack us if we become partisan. If I start being partisan and giving IDs to ANC members and not to anyone else, the ANC will be the first to say, "Minister, you have lost it – out!" You must just understand that. And you yourselves must not be partisan when you deal with this matter. Let's all work together.
I am not saying don't criticise. Of course, you have to criticise. That is your responsibility. You criticise and you give solutions, and we work together, constructively. [Applause.] [Interjections.]
HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): Order, please!
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Of course I agree with hon Makhuba about employing people who are efficient and skilled and all that. Indeed, the department needs that very much.
The other areas, I think, were covered. The issues that hon Magau have raised we have noted, and we will obviously make sure that we deal with those. If the hon member spoke for three hours on the phone, and people went this way and that way, after we leave here, give us the names of the people you were talking to, the people who were not helpful, and we will take action. [Applause.]
Hon Mulder, yes, we would like you to report all the crooks to us, all the people who are doing wrong things. But also it is unfair for you to say to us today, "This is what the previous Minister said." The previous Minister did what she could. We are here. Reserve those comments for five years' time, when I finish my mandate. Then you can say, "You said this at the beginning and nothing happened." You cannot say that now. [Applause.] You cannot say that now. You have to give me the benefit of the doubt, and say, maybe she means it, and maybe she will do it. This my maiden speech!
Dr C P MULDER: Chairperson, may I ask the hon Minister a very friendly question?
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: It's fine, if it won't take my time.
Dr C P MULDER: Thank you, Chairperson.
HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Ms M N Oliphant): It will take your time, hon Minister.
Dr C P MULDER: It will be one second. Hon Minister, will you agree that I was about to give you the benefit of the doubt, before the Chairperson stopped me because my time had expired?
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: OK. Thanks.
We will deal with the questions of the Auditor-General, as indicated. If there are problems at Oliver Tambo, we will take that into account.
The hon member seems to be complaining that the UK is losing tourism. I think it is not necessarily our business that they are losing tourism. Maybe South Africans should begin to be internal tourists. I am not justifying what happened; we will correct that. But also South Africans should give themselves enough opportunity to tour in their own country. South Africa is an excellent destination for tourism. You won't lose anything by not going to the UK. So, please, in the meantime, tour South Africa.
The last thing I just want to say, in a friendly way, Chair, is that I hope the fact that it is unparliamentary to say that we are lazy, does not mean that we should be lazy. I agree that it is unparliamentary, but the public would have a fit if they heard that we were actually happy to describe ourselves as lazy. So we shouldn't describe ourselves as lazy, but we should not be lazy either! [Applause.] I am not saying you are.
Generally, my last comment, really, hon Chair, is: Let's work together. If we work together, all of us, including the public, we can change things around. But if we expect only the department to do it, it will not work. Thank you. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 12:04.
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