Hansard: EPC: Debate on Vote No 5 - HOME AFFAIRS
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 06 May 2015
No summary available.
EPC - NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Wednesday, 6 May 2015 Take: 100
WEDNESDAY, 6 MAY 2015
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE - CHAMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in the National Assembly Chamber at 17:31
House Chairperson Mr C T Frolick, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayer or meditation.
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
START OF DAY
Debate on Vote No 5 - HOME AFFAIRS:
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Chairperson, hon Ministers, Ministers and hon members,in the 60th year since the adoption of the Freedom Charter, the Department of Home Affairs remains committed to realising the historic aspirations of the people of South Africa.
We believe that our work is a critical enabler for all of the declarations in the Freedom Charter, for it is our department that ensures that the status of each South African is recognised, enabling them fully to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
If there was ever any doubt about the need to further uphold and entrench the values and aspirations of the Freedom Charter, the recent despicable attacks on foreign nationals have been a grim reminder.I want to be absolutely clear: No grievance justifies violence against any person, regardless of their nationality, or immigration status. [Applause.]
After the 2008 incidents of violence against foreign nationals, Home Affairs joined other government departments in taking deliberate steps to ensure such tragic events would not happen again.Through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration convened by the President, we are working with other departments to address the underlying issues leading to the tensions we have witnessed.We believe that these efforts, along with the policy review process and initiatives on border management, which I will outline today, will significantly improve our nation’s management of international migration.
Since 2005, when we began offering birth registration services at hospitals, we have explained why it is crucial to register the birth of your child within the first 30 days.We have also announced thatas of 31 December 2015, we are taking steps to end the late registration of births as a widespread practice, due to the process we have started in the National Population Registration Campaign and the ongoing risks associated with the late registration of births.
From 1 January 2016, all births registered after 30 days will have to undergo a rigorous process to prove that the child is really a South African citizen. The process will be designed to ensure that no genuine South African is at risk of losing their citizenship.
I have outlined five priorities for the Department of Home Affairs for the 2015-16 financial year.The first priority is to make progress on the current phase of the modernisation programme, which is critical to improve services to citizens. The programme will be a digital, or paperless, back office environment and will enable the departmentto serve customers more efficiently.
An example of this is the new live capture system used for smartidentity documents,or ID smart cards, and passports. This is a quick and convenient process, with the documents produced in less than a week in most cases. This clearly demonstrates the benefits to citizens of a Home Affairs that operates on digital, paperless systems.
Accordingly, our key objectives for the modernisation programme in 2015-16 are as follows: On the national identity system, we will issue more than 2,2 million ID smart cards to citizens.In January 2016 we will begin to procure hardware for the development of a new automated fingerprint identification system, AFIS, and begin upgrading theelectronic movement control system, EMCS, at our ports of entry to capture biometric data of all foreign nationals entering the Republic of South Africa.
We have entered into an exciting partnership with four major banks, which are FNB, Absa, Standard Bank and Nedbank, using the e-channels strategy. This will allow us to accept applicationsthrough banks for ID smart cards and passports by the second quarter of this financial year.
It is essential that we establish an uninterruptible service network, which would enable us to serve citizens irrespective of electrical faults.None of the advances I have talked about will deliver better services unless we have access to reliable networks. Recently, our clients have occasionally been frustrated by system disruptions and long queues at offices that offer ID smart cards.
We have implemented several solutions to resolve these issues, including a new disaster recovery site; installing generators at offices; and developing an offline mode, which will allow us to continue serving customers for a short duration.
Our e-channels strategy will also be helpful in providing alternative channels for us to serve clients, thus expanding our footprint and minimising queues.
Let us imagine a client called Takalani. In September this year, she will log on to Department of Home Affairs on the Internet to apply for a passport or an ID.She will pay her fees by electronic funds transfer and then she will book an appointment online.When Takalani comes for the appointment at her bank, she will go to the counter allocated to DHA officials who will verify her identity online and capture her biometrics digitally.She will then receive a message a few days later to collect her document.Going forward, the same system will be rolled out to specific digitised offices.
Next week, at our Edenvale office, we will begin piloting a payment system that will allow clients to pay for Home Affairs services with debit and credit cards, which we will roll out to all 140 ID smart card offices by March 2016. [Applause.]
Our second major priority this year is the establishment of an effective Border Management Agency, BMA, in the 2016-17 financial year.We have developed a model, approved by Cabinet, for a specialised agency, which will significantly improve the management of our ports of entry and borderline. Legislation about this is being drafted and will be introduced in Parliament by the third quarter of this financial year.
The Department of Home Affairs has assumed leadership of the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee and 93 officials have been seconded to theBorder Management Project Office
Ports of entry that will serve as BMA pilot sites have been identified for roll-out in 2015-16 to test the new integrated model, with all officials under one command structure.In the coming weeks, as an interim measure, we will be launching a programme aimed at strengthening the control of the border environment, prior to the establishment of an integrated BMA.
A related and third priority is the revamp of the physical and systems infrastructure of the six key land ports of entry at Beit Bridge, Lebombo, Kopfontein, Oshoek andFicksburg Bridge, as well as Maseru Bridge.We will work closely with National Treasury to develop viable funding and management models to address the serious infrastructure deficiencies at our key ports of entry.To this end, we will be appointing a transaction advisor to undertake the technical studies required to support these proposals.
Our fourth priority is the comprehensive review of our International Migration Policy. Last year we began a total review of the outdated 1999 White Paper on International Migration, and this process is now at an advanced stage.
While it would be premature to outline specific policy positions, I can promise this House and the nation at large that we will emerge with a modern, progressive and robust policy on international migration, which will take into account the enormous current and potential contribution of immigrants in our society, and our connectedness with the rest of the world, while minimising the associated risks and protecting our national interests.
The Green Paper will be finalised by March 2016, leading to a White Paper and a comprehensive overhaul of legislation subsequently.We are continuing to implement the Immigration Regulation of 2014, working closely with stakeholders to resolve any implementation issues as they arise.
The introduction of visa facilitation centres has improved customer service, realised significant efficiencies and has improved security. In order to improve access to our visa system, nine new centres have been opened in India and an additional two will be opened in China.
The 10-year, multiple-entry visa for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa,Brics, business people has been well received. We will work with other departments on how and when to extend a similar visa to other countries.
This year, in partnership with the Gauteng Development Agency, we will launch an immigration business hub in Sandton, which will provide one-stop advice and services.
I have established a panel of experts on immigration management practices to advise on innovative ways to improve our visa system. We must never forget that many other countries are competing for the same skilled international migrants.We are at an advanced stage inthe development of an initiative to make it easier for foreign students with critical skills to remain in the country after graduating from our universities. [Applause.]Similarly, we are looking at ways to make it easier for holders of corporate visas to acquire critical skills visas.
South Africa receives among the highest numbers of asylum seekers in the world. The Deputy Minister will update you on steps being taken to address the challenges in this area.
Our final and fifth priority is to ensure a consistently high quality of customer experience in our front offices.
We want to share our strategy with the public, which is to challenge the leadership of the Department to establish model offices. The vehicle for this programme is the MoetapeleLeadership Initiative, which the President is launching on 12 May 2015.The Deputy Minister is charged with oversight of this project and will provide details in her speech.
The Government Printing Works is undertaking the following initiatives to achieve the objective of becoming Africa’s leading producer of security documents by 2017: The Security Printers Bill is to be introduced during this financial year, to enable the transition from a government component to a state-owned company within two years.
The R600 million asset recapitalisation programme will continue in 2015-16, for completion by 2019. Among other benefits, this will enable the Government Printing Works,GPW, to increase its production of ID smart cards.A R1 billion development of the GPW headquarters is on track. This will be completed in 2019, bringing all GPW functions into one state-of-the-art, highly secure facility.Finally, the construction of a high-speed examination paper printing facility and dispatch centre for passports and smart ID cards will begin during this financial year.
In the 2015-16 financial year, we are transferring R1,5 billion to the Independent Electoral Commission, IEC.
As I conclude, the Department of Home Affairs remains committed to becoming a modern, professional department offering critical services, which will enable all South Africans to realise the aspirations of the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.
Finally, I would like to thank the Deputy Minister, the Director-General, the CEO of the GPW, the Deputy Directors-General and all the Home Affairs, Government Printing Worksand IEC staff for their hard work, dedication and constructive support.
I would further like to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, hon Mashile, as well as all the members of the committee for their support and constructive criticism and guidance in the execution of our mandate.
Not least, I would like to thank my wife, Nomachule, my children and my family for their unwavering support as we continue to execute our mandate and serve our nation.[Applause.]
Chairperson, it is my privilege at this moment to table Budget Vote 5 for the Department of Home Affairs in this august House. I thank you.
Mr B L MASHILE
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
Mr B L MASHILE: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister Gigaba, hon Deputy Minister Chohan and hon members, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs met with the department on 17 March 2015. It also met with the Electoral Commission and Government Printing Works on 24 March 2015 to receive their briefings on their strategic plans for the next five years and the relevant annual performance plans for the 2015-16 financial year, as well as their related budgets.
The total budget for the Department of Home Affairs is R6,5 billion for the 2015-16 financial year, inclusive of transfers to the entities. The committee received briefings from Home Affairs, Police and Small Business Development last week, on Tuesday, 28 April 2015, on the violence against foreign nationals and related small business. After the presentation on the government intervention by the National Joint Operational and Intelligent Structure, NATJOINTS, the committee resolved to support the interventions led by the President and condemned the violence in the strongest terms.
We have noted that some interventions are yielding results in rounding up illegal foreigners, drugs and illegal firearms. I therefore call on the department and related organs of state to speedily process the illegal immigrants to avoid overcrowding at Lindela Repatriation Centre. We call on our people to engage on any challenge they come across within the communities. Say no to violence!
Hon members, I should indicate that the Department of Home Affairs is responsible for determining and recording the identity and status of all the people living in South Africa and the issuing of documents to affirm that. This is done under two broad categories: civic services and immigration services.
Civic Affairs is the custodian of the National Population Register, which contains the records of all citizens and permanent residents, including changes in their status, such as marriages and deaths. Services to citizens include issuing enabling documents after their status has been confirmed and the verification of their identity to government institutions, banks and other private sector institutions.
Immigration Affairs determines the status and identity of foreign nationals, regulate immigration through permitting and movement control systems, and provide consular services abroad. The branch also has an inspectorate function responsible for enforcing the Immigration Act and its regulations. Added to this function is the processing and determination of status of asylum seekers and refugees. This is done within the prescripts of AU and UN conventions.
The functions outlined above ensure that the prescripts of the Freedom Charter are enhanced: “All shall enjoy equal human rights” and “There shall be peace and friendship”. These enabling documents enable citizens to access all rights and free movement within and abroad. All this work talks to four national outcomes, which are the following: All people in South Africa are and feel safe; decent employment through inclusive economic growth; an efficient, effective and development-oriented public service; nation building and socialcohesion.
In line with the above, the establishment of the Border Management Agency to secure our borders, the cleaning up of the National Population Register, regulation of the immigrants and refugees will ensure access to rights and social cohesion will be enhanced. The registration of births within the first 30 days will ensure a clean population register. This speaks to the core mandate of the department, that is, to secure identity and citizenship; to manage immigration securely and deliver services related to these critical functions of the state.
The department has a modernization programme aimed at replacing outdated systems by means of a paperless, integrated, secure digital platform. This includes live capture and biometrics technology to enhance security.
This programme will deal a serious blow to corruption and fraud by reducing human intervention in the processes and systems. The National Development Plan obliges the department to facilitate the acquisition of critical skills for the economy and also to enable the efficient, secure and managed movement of people. This is achieved by simplifying the applications for such needed critical skills.
The Electoral Commission is conducting local government elections in 2016. We hope to fill the outstanding vacancy in the commission within the next two months. We congratulate the recent appointment of Mr Vuma Glenton Mashininiasa Commissioner. [Applause.] His knowledge on electoral matters will assist the commission to ensure free and fair elections. However, it is important that the Municipal Demarcation Board completes its work on the delimitation of wards in time for the Independent Electoral Commission to complete its work.
On the other hand, we have a professionally run and secured state printer, which is responsible for the printing of most government documents, including our ID smart cards. Since the Government Printing Works is mostly self-financing, it is important that it secures business even outside government to ensure the sustainability of its finances and human resources.
We appreciate the strides that the departmenthas made in civic affairs over the years to turn its challenges around. However, to attend to some of the issues that create discomfort in the country, the committee has made recommendations to address these challenges. The following are some of them:
The Department of Home Affairs must ensure that the personal information of citizens is safe in the application process for ID smartcards through the banks and Post Office. The Department of Home Affairs must improve the capacity of the inspectorate to be able to discharge their responsibilities in respect of noncompliant foreign nationals. The Department of Home Affairs must secure the vetting of its officials by the State Security Agency. The Electoral Commission must work closely with the Municipal Demarcation Board to finalise the delimitation of wards in time for the 2016 local government elections.
The Electoral Commission must pay attention to the availability of infrastructure for elections and the functionality of the future technology, particularly of the newbar-coded scanner units. The Government Printing Works must remain ahead of criminal syndicates with regard to the security of our documents. Lastly, the Government Printing Works must find innovative ways to retain and sustain staff.
Chairperson, I believe that attention to these recommendations will address some of the weaknesses and enhance improvement in the performance of the department as a whole. The Freedom Charter enjoins all of us to ensure that South Africans enjoy equal rights. These rights can be enjoyed by citizens who are safe and feel safe. This budget, through Civic Affairs, Immigration Affairs, the Independent Electoral Commission and the Government Printing Works,is achieving this intent in a big way.
Only the ANC-led government has the capacity to bring a better life to South Africans. Therefore, the ANC supports this Budget Vote 5 and moves for the adoption of the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on the Annual Performance Plan and Budget Vote 5 of the Department of Home Affairs, dated 21 April 2015. [Applause.]
Mr M H HOOSEN
Mr B L MASHILE
Mr M H HOOSEN: Chair, we meet at a time when, just days ago, we collectivelyreflected on the achievement of the nonracial democracy andfreedom that we all enjoy today.
South Africa is a better place today than it was before 1994.We have made significant advances in protecting the rights andfreedoms of all South Africans and today more South Africansenjoy the freedom and success of our democratic dispensation.
The Home Affairs department has also played its part incontributing towards the protection of the rights and freedomsof all South Africans.
We must all celebrate the advances we have made as a nation,but we must also not become saturated with self-praise andhonour. All of us have a responsibility as leaders of society to questionour weaknesses and failures, not in a manner that serves togain political advantage over each other but in a manner thatwill challenge us to look deeper at our actions and holdourselves accountable for our own performance.
For as long as we keep denying our failures and defending theindefensible, our people will lose hope in their future.[Interjections.]If I joined the ANC, the ANC would groan. [Laughter.]We must be honest and open about our failures and give creditfor our successes.We cannot do one without the other.
The freedom that we fought for is under threat. In particular,there are failures of the Home Affairs department that weaken our freedom. If we pretend that these threats do not exist,we will wake up one day when it is far too late. This was thecase with the recent violence perpetrated against foreign nationals.
The recent xenophobic violence was a horrendous experiencefor many South Africans and foreigners alike. We mustcondemn this in every possible sense. Violent attacks on anyperson, whether legal or illegal immigrants, are unacceptable.No good can come of violent behaviour. It serves only toadvance the interests of hooligans and gangsters.
Let us not forget that South Africa has emerged from a cultureof violence in our past, to a new culture of democracy today.For some, the culture of violence still lingers on. When government then fails to properly implement its own laws,citizens take it upon themselves to solve their problems.
There is no excuse for violent behaviour in a democratic SouthAfrica, but our frustrated citizens took it upon themselves to deal with afailure of government: the high number of illegal foreigners inour country.South Africans have lost confidence in our Minister’s ability tocontrol the influx of illegal foreigners into our country.
The influx of illegal immigrants is not a phenomenon that is unique toSouth Africa; it is a worldwide problem. Governmentsall over the world take proactive steps to meet the demand andinvest more in their capabilities to control the inflow. We haveseen this happen very recently, when the EU met urgently toaddress this problem.Leaders of the EU met and took proactive steps to reduce theinflux of illegal immigrants and prevent citizens from taking thelaw into their own hands. Similar steps and investments byother countries were recently adopted as well.
But here in South Africa, we do not make those investments. We do not take proactive steps. We play the blame game.
Our government operates in permanent crisis mode and ourPresident is constantly involved in damage control.For several years now, it was known to both the current andthe former Ministers of Home Affairs that hundreds ofthousands of illegal immigrants were settling in ourcountry. They knew for many years that our borders were not properly controlled, but they did nothing.
When the violence broke out, our Minister went into “shockand horror” mode. Then he needed someone to blame.The Minister needed a scapegoat. He took the easy route and blamed the violence on the Zulu king, but when he realised that theking had political clout in KZN that could damage the ANC, he backtracked very quickly. [Interjections.]
President Zuma was also in damage-control mode and he tooneeded someone to blame it on. He took the madness muchfurther and blamed the xenophobic violence on other countriesinstead of looking into the failures of his own government.Then, suddenly, the President deployed the Defence Force.
Tell us, Minister, why you did not see fit to ask the President to dothis before, when you knew very well that there was a seriousproblem with control at our borders? But you respond now.
And now suddenly we see there is an investment of R118 million toboost the Inspectorate division. This is the division that is solelyresponsible for seeking, arresting and deporting illegalforeigners.Tell us why, hon Minister. Why was this investment not madeearlier, when you knew the problem was spiralling out of control?
Your late intervention, I am afraid, is too little, too late.The R118 million over three years will not achieve the results thatwe want in a short space of time. That amount will increase the Inspectorate by onlyabout 170 officers.
By contrast, as the director-general informed us last week, the City ofLondon has about 3 500 immigration officers. We have 700for the entire country. [Interjections.] And the extent of illegal immigrants inSouth Africa is far greater than that of London.
Our government does not own up to its failures; it plays theblame game.
You see, the reason we have load shedding isthat government failed to invest in Eskom. [Interjections.] And the reason we had xenophobic violence is that theMinister failed to invest in border security and in resourcingthe Inspectorate. It is that simple, hon Minister. You do not need crime intelligenceto give you the reasons for the violence long after the violence had started. I am giving it to you now, for free. But you know it too.
We have one crisis after the next in immigration, and yet yousee fit to allocate only 15% of the budget to ImmigrationAffairs. This department has been under-resourced now formany years and the poor results are starting to show.
Last week, we were informed that just over 330 000 people haveoverstayed their visas since 2010. Where are these people andwhy has your department not traced them? Why has yourdepartment not arrested them and repatriated them to their home countries? [Interjections.] And these are legal foreigners that we knowabout, who entered legally through border posts. There arepossibly hundreds of thousands more in our country, and noteven your own department can put a figure to it.
Hon Minister, take responsibility for your department’s failures.Tell South Africa the truth. The root cause of the recentxenophobic violence in the country was because you failed tocontrol the influx of illegal foreigners into the country and youfailed to reduce the number of illegal foreigners already in thecountry. [Interjections.]
While the real priorities in your department were being ignored,you have been busy with all sorts of PR exercises to grow yourown public profile. You are not a GQ model; you are theMinister of Home Affairs![Interjections.]I am going to stay there and you are going to be sitting this side just now! [Interjections.]
Hon Minister, even if you make a better investment in theInspectorate, you are going to have yet another problem.Let me point it out to you. Make a note of it. Hopefully youwill take me seriously and prevent yet another disaster in your department:If you succeed in the months ahead to arrest thousands ofillegal immigrants, you will perhaps regain the confidence ofSouth Africans that you are finally implementing theimmigration laws of the land effectively. But then you will haveanother problem. Where will you keep those people that you have arrested?
You and I both know – and the chairperson mentioned it just now – that Lindela Repatriation Centre is overcrowded, with shocking conditions, and you are strugglingto manage the numbers. Your department also has a terribletrack record when it comes to human rights violations and noncompliance with the Immigration Act. That is why the HighCourt ruled against your department dozens of times, costing the country millions of rand in legal fees – money thatwe could rather have used to employ more inspectors.
So tell us, hon Minister, what is your plan? Do you even have a plan, or are we going to see yet another disaster at Lindela? [Interjections.] Yes, we will see another disaster.
While we celebrate our own Bill of Rights, thisdepartment violates the rights of foreigners at the drop of ahat.Recently, the Constitutional Court ruled that a prisoner held in custody must not be deported to face the death penalty inBotswana. Home Affairs ignored that order and deported himanyway. What consequences are there for those involved inthis violation of the court ruling and the human rights of theindividual concerned? Your department has remained silent.
Our hard-won democracy in our country waseventually achieved through peaceful negotiations and free andfair elections.We would never have achieved the democracy that we have today had it not been for the independence of our electoralcommission. The work that they do is admired all over theworld, more especially because the Independent Electoral Commissioncommands the respect ofall South Africans and all political parties.
But that respect and confidence is now being eroded becausethe ANC has seen fit to railroad through the appointment of Mr Mashinini, a known ANC sympathiser and former advisor to President Zuma, as a commissioner and nowthe chairperson of the IEC. [Interjections.] This is yet another attempt by the... [Interjections.]The ANC doesn’t like it when people speak the truth.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Order, hon members! Order!
Mr M H HOOSEN: This is yet another attempt by the ANC and President Zuma tocapture another state institution to further the interests of theANC.
Regrettably, the appointment of Glen Mashinini to the IEC will have far-reaching implications for the independence andimpartiality of the IEC in the future.The very real possibility exists that more political parties willquestion the outcome of future elections. If the ANC was not inthe business of skewing results in their favour, why then would they appoint a known sympathiser to chair an institution that ismeant to be free from all political manipulation? [Interjections.]
Our country is very dependent on the billions of rand generated by the tourism sector, and thousands ofjobs are nowat risk because of the immigration regulations. What, then, is the plan of our Minister to undo thedamage and make South Africa an easier destination to visit,especially when theimmigration regulations have had theopposite effect?
The Department of Home Affairs plays a central role inprotecting the rights and freedoms of all South Africans. But thiscannot be done with declining revenue allocation to thisdepartment. With the little money that is made available torun such a massive department, it is critical that the Ministertakes steps to reduce wasted expenditure, especially on legal fees.
As I said earlier, our freedom is under threatand now our democracy is equally under threat with a formersenior ANC official heading up the IEC.
The DA will not sit back and watch the ANCdestroy every state institution as it pleases. [Interjections.]Our freedom and democracy belongs to us all, and we will continue to fight toprotect it. Ithank you. [Applause.]
Ms H MAXON
Mr M H HOOSEN
Ms H C MAXON: House Chairperson, the EFF does not support Budget Vote 5. [Interjections.] Can you just listen, because we are cleaning your mess here. The Department of Home Affairs failed to bring the Independent Electoral Commissionto scrutiny before the portfolio committee for the R1,52 billion which constitutes 24% of the R,45 billion vote thatwe are being requested to support here today.
The IEC has now appointed Mr VumaGlentonMashininias one of the commissioners. Mr Mashinini is a former advisor of President Jacob Zuma who also has ... [Interjections.] Just listen! ... who also has previous business links with the former chairperson of the IEC, Pansy Tlakula, whom the Public Protector, ThuliMadonsela, found had broken procurement regulations in securing a R320 million lease for the IEC head office - what a shame - and had an unmanaged conflict of interest as a result of the separate and undisclosed business relationship with the ANC’sThabaMufamadi. Just imagine.
Mr Vuma will surely jeopardise the integrity, independence and the outcome of the local government elections next year in 2016 to make sure that the ANC remains in power by hook or by crook. Despite the billions of rand we are expected to approve today, over two financial years, the department achieved only 13 out of its 51 targets. Where is the good story to tell? Thirteen out of 51 targets! Oh, what a shame!
Over the same period, the department had R301 million unauthorised expenditure. Surely you owe the nation an explanation, please. With the current capacity of producing 2,2 million smart identity document cards per year in a population of 54 million, it means that it will take 25 years to produce for all South Africans - it is a shame - or even 11 years if the target to produce 5 million per year is reached,which I doubt very much.
The department must develop its own capacity to execute its own functions. It makes no sense that the visa andpermitfacilitation centres,VFS Global, gets millions when the state could develop infrastructure to perform this function and the money could be redirected elsewhere.
The massive fraud and corruption in that department is unprecedented, rendering the borders of the country porous and vulnerable to terrorism and illicit trade and drug trafficking. The fact that top ANC leaders like GwedeMantashe and Jessie Duarte express conflicting sentiments from platforms on the issue of xenophobia is a clear ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon Maxon, will you just take your seat, please? Hon member, why are you rising?
Mr J MMTHEMBU: Chair, can the member take a question on what is meant by “porous”?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Hon member, are you prepared to take a question?
Ms H C MAXON: Hon MphikwaMthembu, next time. [Laughter.] The fact that top ANC leaders like GwedeMantashe and Jessie Duarte express conflicting sentiments from public platforms on the issue of xenophobia is a clear indication that this current government does not have migration policies in place.And the latest xenophobic attacks on our African brothers and sisters can largely be attributed to this.
Gwede stands and pronounces that the solution to xenophobia is to build refugee camps for our fellow African brothers, while his deputy opposed this view. Oh, what a shame -a secretary and a deputy secretary with conflicting views. The lack of migration and immigration policies breeds hatred between South Africans and their fellow African brothers.
Given the manner in which this department relates to African migration and its unclear migration policy, which treats them like criminals, it is no surprise that xenophobic violence erupted in this country. The department must take full responsibility for not having intelligence capable of detecting such challenges. It simply means that this country does not have systems in place, such as early warning systems.The fact that the department’s solution to its migration policy failure, which has resulted in violence, was to deport African nationals back to their countries instead of addressing the real issues of the failed neoliberal economic policies of this governmentis a shame. This country needs skills, jobs and food on the table. [Interjections.] Thank you, Chair. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr C T Frolick): Order, hon members! Order! Hon members, I request that you just calm down a bit. There are still a number of speakers in this debate and you will need that energy. I now call on the hon Nkomo.
Ms S J NKOMO
Ms H C MAXON
Ms S J NKOMO: Hon Chairperson, let me state at the outset that the IFP supports this Budget Vote debate ... [Applause.] ... and we also support the hon Minister. This portfolio holds a special place in our hearts as the IFP, as it was for many years after 1994 the ministerial portfolio of our leader, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
This portfolio is not without its internal, regional, continental and international challenges, and it is these that we seek to identify and assist the department in overcoming,to the benefit of our country and all who live within its borders and all who travel to its shores.
The department is currently dealing with the fallout from the recent spate of xenophobic and Afrophobic attacks in the country as it attempts, among other measures, to deport especially the illegal foreign migrants arrested last week as part of Operation Fiela and who are currently being held at departmental detention facilities. The IFP calls on the people of the revolution of goodwill in our country to embrace foreign nationals in our country.
I think, at this point, I would like to address the matter of the distortion that has been presented to our country, especially by our media, pertaining to so-called statements made by His Excellency Uhlanga Lomhlabathi. It was extremely incorrect for the media to distort what the king said. The king called an imbizo, where I was also present. [Applause.] He actually explained what he had said. We would like to encourage all those who are busy distorting everything the king had said to come up with statements of what the king had said so that we can take the matter forward. The king also stated that he welcomed Baba Mushwana and his investigating team to investigate and come up with the reality of the matter. The issue of the king is that the people of the country have got to relax. He is His Majesty, whether we like it or not, just like the Queen of England. We would like them to be acknowledged. [Applause.]
The issue of illegal immigrants and the existing porosity of our borders remains a source of grave concern and adds literal fuel to the fire surrounding the proliferation of xenophobia in our country. Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni recently advised Parliament that the portfolio committee and its 700-member immigration unit was unable to cope with the thousands of illegal immigrants who enter South Africa every day.We do understand that, because they are illegal, but we need to come up with a system that will ensure that we address this matter head on.
The issues around visas remain another source of great contention for many who require them and our offices are often inundated with people who are at their wits’ end, seeking assistance after having failed to obtain visas from some of our offices.
South African passports and identity cards remain under international scrutiny. I think a case in point remains that travelling visas to the United Kingdom are given an extra eye so that things are done in a way that is correct. The issue of identity theft and fraud is also onethat we would like the department to really look at quite critically and to acknowledge that it is a problem.
In 2014, we, the IFP, requested the Minister to appoint a task team to conduct a thorough investigation of all VEC 4 votes in the last election, to identify the weak spots in the process and make it impossible for fraud to occur via the VEC 4 voting format infuture elections. We still await feedback on this issue. Again, the IFP supports this Vote. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
Ms S J NKOMO
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIR: Chairperson, hon members, our officials and guests upstairs, good afternoon to all of you. Let us be absolutely clear that xenophobia is the hatred of foreigners for no reason other than that they are different from us. This is not different from racism. We have pledged - all of us - in 1994 to dispose entirely of all forms of racism. Yet from time to time there is an eruption of racist attacks of the sort that we have seen in the last few weeks.
While we are all shocked at the scenes of murder, mayhem and looting that are on our television screens, we are not the only country to suffer from this condition. Xenophobia has reared its head around Europe, Australia and elsewhere on our continent. We are no different in this regard -although some of us had hoped that we were, partly because millions of people around the globe supported us in our struggle against apartheid and racism. Wars and economic hardship on our continent continue to produce migrants and asylumseekers. As a result we face, like other countries, the challenge of low-skilled migration into our country as well as the challenge of illegal migration.
As a society we are too quick to turn to violence when faced with problems, whether we are engaged in service delivery protests, whether we are dissatisfied with the appointment of teachers and principals at our local schools, or when the trains are simply late and we are standing on the platform. This is at odds with our claim to be a democracy; a country steeped in the supremacy of the law,ensuring justice for all who abide here.
President Zuma asked a pivotal question recently: Why do so many arrive on our shores? Certainly, one reason that applies in too many cases is that people simply do not feel safe in their own countries because of violent conflict, arbitrary governance and, ultimately, the absence of the rule of law. Building a democracy is not an easy task, not in our case, and many have and will continue to make huge sacrifices for the sake of our freedom, but destroying a democracy is very simple. We have as a nation a choice to make, whether it is in breaking the small rules, like the Rules of Parliament, or the larger ones, like not paying our taxes. The choice is our own. Each of us has to decide today where we shall be tomorrow,collectively. The choice remains a very simple one. Upholding the rule of law is an investment in our future collective prosperity.
We have taken this message to many different stakeholders over the last few weeks, with all of us at the department disrupting our usual work programmes. Given direction by the President, and ably led by our Minister, we have met with people from all walks of life in various communities. The challenge we experience of many illegal foreign nationals in our country will confront us until all African countries are on a strong developmental trajectory. This inextricably requires reliable population registers and well-managed migration systems in each of our countries.
We are pleased to report today to the House that our refugee centres in Musina and Durban have in the last two years recorded massive improvements in both the accessibility and efficiency of processing applications. New applications are processed and adjudicated in less than a week. Just four years ago, when applicants arrived at our centres, they faced the prospect of having to wait years before their applications were finalised. In these reception offices, Durbanand Musina, genuine refugees are assisted swiftly and efficiently and can in a matter of days walk away with their refugee status. However, both Durban and Musina are underused, as the following figures show.
In Musina we have a total of 19 refugee status determination officers, RSDOs. Due to the low number of applicants, six of them have been reassigned to other functions, and the remaining 13 officials are able to process all new applications either on the same day or within two days, depending on the circumstances presented. Musina receives approximately 400 applications a week, which pegs productivity levels of those RSDOs at approximately six files per day per RSDO.Durban receives approximately 150 new applications per week and they have a contingent of 13 RSDOs, two of whom have been deployed to other functions. In both these centres there is no backlog at all.
In an environment of efficient and good management, corruption and other malpractices are eliminated. It is interesting that we have seen the number of applicants dwindle in these reception centres concomitant withthe increase in their productivity levels and efficiency.
Today I wish to take this opportunity to commend the work of our officials in these two centres and, in particular, to recognise the centre managers for their sterling leadership. Our gratitude is extended to Ms Naleen Balgobind, centre manager at the Durban refugee reception centre, and Mr Jimmy Malemela, centre manager at Musina,for their outstanding leadership and good governance in promoting the country’s humanitarian values. [Applause.]
As the numbers dwindled in Durban and Musina, we saw a rise in the percentage of applicants at Marabastad. Zimbabwean nationals are still the largest category of new asylum applicants. One of the objects of the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation was to remove from the asylum database the large number of economic migrants produced from Zimbabwe, who circumvented our immigration processes and used our refugee reception centres to regularise their work and stay in South Africa. One of the lessons we have learnt out of this special dispensation is that far from reducing the number of Zimbabwean nationals in the asylum system, the special dispensation has encouraged many new entrants from that country into our asylum system in the hope that South Africa would further extend special dispensations to them. This we would certainly factor into our new immigration policy as we develop it in the next while.
Marabastad continues to be a challenge, both in terms of productivity and the large number of complaints still being received relating to corruption and a bad service ethic. This centre still attracts the majority of new applicants, putting a large strain on our capacity but also on the Gauteng province as a whole, in particular the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros. Given that our largest capacity is deployed to this centre, there are still operational challenges that we are working hard to resolve.
We have agreed with the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Refugee Affairs that the issue of the quality of decisions taken bythe RSDOs must be enhanced. With their co-operation,the RSDOs will now be assessed and their decisions routinely quality-checked by the standing committee. We wish to thank the chairperson and members of the Standing Committee on Refugee Affairsfor their invaluable advice and support in our endeavour to turn around our asylum system.
I am also happy to report that together with theUnited Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, we are exploring options to deal with the just under 100 000 files awaiting RSDO decisions as part of our backlog. There are also backlogs that pertain to the Refugee Appeal Board. These are backlogs that have accumulated between 2006 and 2010.
In order to assist us in this backlog project, we will be approaching Parliament to effect some amendments to the Refugee Act in order to enable us to employ appropriately qualified RSDOs and Refugee Appeal Board members on a short-term contract basis in order to beef up our capacity for the limited period that it will take to finalise these backlogs. These amendments will also in future enable greater flexibility and adequate responses to contingencies in the asylum-seeker management regime as they occur.
Our offices that are currently dedicated to backlogs in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and at TIRROin Pretoria have reported a significant level of no-shows on the part of applicants, but have also reported rather significant numbers of dormant files.
Proposed amendmentson how to deal effectively with these matters will be tabled for the consideration of hon members. We are also looking at improving our ability to locate failed applicants who disappear into our communities and who then continue staying in the countryirregularly,adding to our socioeconomic challenges. In this regard we shall need the support of both Parliament and our courts to effectively enforce our laws and to deport such persons. We once again contend that migration is only effectively managed when we all collaborate to enforce the laws that Parliament has enacted.
Our Minister has mandated me to lead the Moetapele initiative. Moetapele means leadership and we aim to extract precisely this from our officials and thus improve the client experience at each of our front offices. As the Minister has indicated, the Moetapele project will be launched by the President next week. Following extensive engagement, we agreed that the Moetapele project will speak to everyone in Parliament, from the lowest-ranking official to the highest. Inter alia we hope to develop at the frontline offices expertise in each of the products we offer to our clients; provide operational tools that enable the collective leadership to manage and administer business processes in support of service delivery; and provide a professional environment for our clients to ultimately feel confident with the services they are receiving.
A very important part of this process will be to educate our citizens about the centrality of the Home Affairs products to unlock the opportunities that exist in our modern democracy. We also hope to forge respect for the complexity of our work and our products. This is all part of transforming the client experience at our offices. It really does not help for us to produce a world-class product but then people lose them, or when they apply for them they simply do not pitch up to collect them, or indeed when people just simply hand them over to loan sharks to obtain credit and other facilities. In this regard we have with us today some very important young people. They are Home Affairs ambassadors from local schools who have been selected to educate and empower their peers about the meaning of good citizenship. [Applause.] They are too many to mention by name right now. With the assistance of some of the stalwarts of our struggle, whom they have partnered with, they are going to explore the values of good citizenship and educate themselves about the relevance of our constitutional values in their young lives.
Moetapele is aimed at extracting the best from our people, refining our systems and developing secure products, which must be held in high regard by South Africans. It is a massive task but one that we tackle with zeal. Everyday we get closer to realising the full potential of our people, our moetapele, who show leadership in all that they do.
As I was writing this speech yesterday I was interrupted by an incoming e-mail. I have asked the sender permission to read it out to you today because, in essence, it captures what we hope to achieve with the Moetapele initiative. It reads as follows:
Dear Minister, my wife and I, this morning, went to the Johannesburg office of Home Affairs, which is situated on the corner of Harrison and Plein streets. It was an absolutely pleasant experience. Because of my age the staff went out of their way to facilitate my application for a passport. My wife, who is not a pensioner yet, was accorded service that was second to none. My congratulations to all the staff, but a special thank you, to Ms Alta Barnardt. She is the personal assistant to Ms LungileMkhulise. She not only explained the procedures involved, but also assisted us when we got there. The whole process took us less than an hour; from the front desk, to the cashier, to the photographers, to the lady who took our fingerprints and captured the application on the computer. Each and every person in this process that we had to deal with did so with a smile and efficiently.[Applause.]On reaching home I phoned Ms Mkhulise to congratulate her on running an extremely efficient and pleasant office. She and her staff deserve orchids! Warm regards, Ahmed and ZarinaSuliman
This, in short, is what we aim for with the Moetapele leadership initiative as we are of the view that every Department of Home Affairs official is capable of professional and dedicated service. With your help, ladies and gentlemen, and your support, we shall certainly realise these goals. Thank you. [Applause.]
Ms D D RAPHUTI
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
Ms D DRAPHUTI: My greetings to the hon Chairperson of the House; the portfolio committee; NtateMashile; the Whip of the committee, hon NtateGumede; the hon Minister, NtateGigaba;the hon Deputy Minister, Mme Chohan; the director-general, NtateAthlene; the senior officials of the Department of Home Affairs and our honourable guests.
In his state of the nation address in 2015, His Excellency President Zuma said, “Our economy needs a major push forward.” He outlined the 9-point plan to ignite growth, create jobs and attract foreign skills. And here in the Home Affairs, we emphasise foreign critical skills.
As part of the global world, South Africa cannot be against foreign nationals. Some people are misleading the people of South Africa. We want to extend our sincere apology for what has happened during the attacks on foreign nationals. [Applause.]
Let me remind this august House that the Freedom Charter of the ANC was adopted in Kliptown, Soweto, in the Gauteng province, in 1955. This policy document will be 60 years old on 26 June 2015. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa draws its foundations from the Freedom Charter.
It has a clause that states the following: “All persons living in South Africa shall enjoy equal human rights.” It further states that all shall be free to travel without restriction, from countryside to towns, from province to province and from South Africa abroad, something that was restricted during the apartheid era. [Applause.] I am talking about freedom of movement, which is still restricted in some of the exclusive suburbs here in Cape Town. [Interjections.]
The Cabinet Lekgotla of 2010 adopted the 12 outcomes of the Freedom Charter and the Department for Home Affairs contributes to the third outcome, which states, “All South Africans are and should feel safe.” I am talking about the safety of the person and the safety of our documents. To carry out these responsibilities is the work of two branches of Home Affairs, namelyCivic Services and Immigration Services. The chairperson of the committee has already outlined the responsibility of the Civic Services branch of the department.
During the 53rd ANC National Conference in Mangaung in 2012, regarding the Peace and Stability cluster, resolutions were taken that are crucial to Home Affairs on issues relating to safety and security. The ANC is very clear on what the government should do regarding the said resolutions. [Applause.] Kindly revisit theme and read them.
I am now going to talk about the Immigrations Services branch and their responsibilities. The department determines the status and identity of foreigners, regulates immigration through permitting and movement control systems and provides consular services abroad. Immigration officers are present at ports of entries and at regional offices in provinces.
The branch has an inspectorate, whose function and responsibility it is to enforce the Immigration Act, Act 13 of 2002. The Immigration Services branch provides immigration services in foreign countries, deports illegal immigrants in terms of the Immigration Act, Act 13 of 2002; and conducts investigations with other law enforcement bodies.
As lawmakers, we are fully aware that immigration is an international phenomenon. Uncontrolled migration can raise tension in communities and can be exploited by crime syndicates. In our midst today we have the Inspectorate of the department. I think this august House will be able to see what they look like. [Applause.]
The other function of Immigration Services is border management, and this is also part of the responsibility of the national Department of Home Affairs, which is leading the establishment of the Border Management Agency. The relevant Bill will be introduced in the 2015-16 financial year.
It is a prerequisite that all South Africans are and should feel safe. I want to emphasise this: It is a prerequisite that South Africans are and should feel safe. The Department of Home Affairs should know and protect the identity and the status of every citizen and every foreigner who enters South Africa legally through identified systems that are secure.
The department should putin place systems that could identify potential risks and threats from domestic crime and international terrorism. To realise this third outcome, it is important that South African borders need to be effectively defended, protected and secured. This House should note that,at present, our government has deployed soldiers to the border posts.
On 28 April 2015, a report was presented to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs by the National Joint Operational Intelligence Structure. They reported that between the year 2010 and 2015, Immigration Affairs recorded about 333 874 overstayed visitors. It could be that they stayed in South Africa because it is a safe place to live in. [Applause.]
We, the ANC, support this Budget Vote. During the ANC January 8 Statement event here in Cape Town, the stadium was painted black, green and gold because the ANC was celebrating 103 years of existence. That is a sign of wisdom and maturity, with a think-tank of intellectual capabilities. The hon President Jacob Zuma made a clarion call when he said, ”It is the ANC cadres who must be involved in the ongoing challenges that our people face in our neighbourhoods, community safety forums ...”
So, the ANC cadres cannot be xenophobic. I thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr M L W FILTANE
Ms D D RAPHUTI
Mr M L W FILTANE: Hon Chair, hon Minister and Deputy Minister, members and our guests, it is an honour for me to participate in this debate. I am not a member of this committee - I had to read up about it all. However, my sister worked for the Department of Home Affairs for many years. [Laughter.]
The fact that we are no longer talking about corruption but aboutthe improved management of the department is something that we really appreciate from the Minister and his team. This is welcome news. This is a department that partly defines the state that South Africa is.
The two major components of a state are the people and the land, and this is where the seniority of this department comes in. By extension, it is the same department, through the IEC, that defines our legislative institutions. The poor implementation of immigration laws opened us up to unlawful immigrants and some lawful ones staying longer unlawfully. That needs to be attended to.
I recommend that those allowed in on the basis of critical skills needed by our country should have to impart those skills to South African citizens.
Bring back the soldiers to guard our borders – we need that.
The involvement of banks in the issuing of IDs remains a contentious issue, given the number of scams that are bank related that we are still getting. Minister, we are a little bit scared. This is not to say that your department should reverse on this but please note that some citizens are extremely concerned.
Another recommendation is that you do a skills audit of all the foreign nationals in our country. That will help you to have a clear picture of who is actually here and can actually benefit us as citizens. I am saying this for a reason: I would like to remind the House that prior to 1994 what used to happen is that a lot of people from poor European countries, like Poland and others, were brought into the country by the apartheid regime and Africans did not get the opportunity of being trained. Other African countries were getting these tools of the trade much earlier than we did. Some countries were liberated in the 1960s and so on.
When Africans come in to our countries, they bring those skills with them, so tread carefully in the way you handle them. However, a parting shot that may not be so pleasant to everybody in the House is this: Do not overcompensate for the pleasures and the security that our guerrillas enjoyed on foreign soil. Thank you.
Mr W M MADISHA
Mr M L W FILTANE
Mr W M MADISHA: Hon Chairperson, the most important objectives of Home Affairs are to regulate immigration, to ensure security, to promote development and to fulfil South Africa's international obligations.
Our borders, unfortunately, are very porous. Our registration process is far too tedious and cumbersome. It takes months for the registration process to reach a conclusion. Things hang in the air endlessly. Minister, we welcome your declared commitment to use an automated application process to normalise the stay of foreign nationals who were in the country illegally for quite some time – and, of course, in the future let us look into that.
There are a number of problems. The R2 billion Gijima/Who am I project went nowhere but to the courts in eight years. The department, therefore, did not have the ability to use technology to speed up the registration processes. We therefore say that we have to look into that.
The Department of Home Affairs now wants to assure us that it is replacing outdated systems with new, secure and cutting-edge technologies, with 110 of the 403 offices being equipped with the live-capture system for the processing of ID smart cards and new passports.At present, as we know, 38 million citizenswith green ID books are waiting to convert to the smart ID cards. People truly want to see us moving forward and succeeding.
Another matter that is of great importance to us as the nation is the millions of rand that are lost because of futile legal battles and challenges. How much did Home Affairs spend on legal fees and costs awarded against it by the courts? Has the Department learnt any lessons?
Will the Minister also shed light on why the Department has reserved R23,4 million for consultants this year?Although this figure is 18,2% less than last year, it is still a significant amount. What do they do, and why has the department not built up its capacity over 21 years? We need to look into that positively. The department has 242 officials who are on salary grades 11 to 16. Can they not do the job? Are consultants indispensable? What hourly rates do they attract?
Another matter of concern is the travel and subsistence budget. This year the department proposes to spend R168,9 million. Is Home Affairs implementing the curtailment ordered by the Minister of Finance? We agree that we should go on and implement. However, these are some of the things that we need to look into.
Ms T E KENYE
Mr W M MADISHA
Ms T E KENYE: Hon Chairperson, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members of this House and guests in the gallery, the ANC supports the Budget Vote for the Department of Home Affairs. [Applause.]
We celebrated Freedom Day just a week ago. It is therefore apt to mention the fact that the Department of Home Affairs is central to promoting a sense of belonging - that is, social cohesion - to this country’s citizens through its delivery of civil services. The delivery of these services cannot be taken for granted, as it was the backbone of the struggle for freedom. The majority of our citizens were blatantly denied these rights conferred on them as a birthright.On the day of the adoption of the Freedom Charter in Kliptown in 1955, delegatesmade this commitment: “These freedoms we will fight for, side by side, throughout our lives, until we have won our liberty.” [Applause.]
Sihlalo, idabilenkululekosilifezile. Iziqhamozaloziyazingcamla. Singumbuthowesizwei-ANC, sisatshoukuthiinyamazanazangeyala. Siyakusolokosiqinisaixakathoukuzisaiinkonzoeluntwini. Yiyo loo ntonamhlanjendisithimasiyixhase le ndlelaihanjwaleliSebeyeMicimbiyezeKhayangezinkonzwanaiPalamemteiziphumezayonamhlanje.
Given that the President of the Republic has declared 2015 “The Year of the Freedom Charter and Unity in Action to Advance Economic Freedom”, it is appropriate to support the Department of Home Affairs in ensuring that all citizens are documented and the necessary essential services, such as extending the registration of births to all health facilities, are delivered. This ensures that they fully enjoy their rights of citizenship and access to services provided by the state. To ensure that the identity of all persons in South Africa is known and secured, the department has committed to ensure that registration at birth is the only entry point into the new national identity system.
It is therefore quite encouraging to see the department at the forefront of driving innovation to ensure that all citizens are properly documented. This allows them to participate meaningfully in our democracy and have access to and enjoy all the attendant rights as South Africans.
The department has also committed to developing a system to capture the biometric data of all travellers who enter or exit South Africa at least by 2018-19; and that the Network Information Service,NIS, will be the backbone of e-government. The broad modernization programme of replacing outdated, fragmented systems with an integrated platform of digital systems will prevent fraud and corruption in identity and passport documents, thus creating a high-security environment.
The struggle for our democracy was, among other things, premised on serving all citizens of this country equally to make their lives better. As was aptly captured in the Freedom Charter’s preamble, the ANC, through the guidance of its brave and gallant leaders and the mobilisation of the masses, ensured that all South Africans enjoy these rights, as we believe that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it.
The Department of Home Affairs, through its Civic Affairs division, provides vital civic services ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Order, hon members!
Ms T E KENYE: ... that enables all citizens to access, enjoy and practice their rights as citizens. In this regard, the Department of Home Affairs moved heaven and earth to ensure that turnaround times for IDs, passports and others matters are drastically improved. It is very encouraging to see that the department has prioritised turnaround times on document issuing in their annual plans. The improved turnaround times have been widely acknowledged, as indicated by positive responses from the public. These turnaround times have been achieved through hard work and innovation. Such innovation has included the extension of office hours and days to include Saturdays and the maximisation of current available human resources to deliver services to the people. The ANC supports the Minister of Home Affairs and his director-general for this innovation, as the actual hours of work for the concerned employees are not affected but fall within what is allowed by the Labour Relations Act.
The Department of Home Affairs is mainlyresponsible for, among other matters, ensuring that all persons in South Africa are known and secure. The department’s innovation drive has extended to partnerships with different banks to allow citizens to apply for their ID smart cards while attending to their banking needs. These smart cards will replace the 38 million green IDs books. This partnership with banks will allow the department to increase its service access points and thus improve service delivery to the public. This will also allow a quicker phasing-out period of the green ID book as it is replaced by the more secure ID smart cards.
These initiatives provide an efficient, effective and development-orientated public service. They are geared towards an increased responsiveness to public needs and ensuring that the department is accountable to what the public expect of it. All these initiatives by the department will improve its clients’ frontline experience through better service and reduced waiting periods when applying for documentation.
In conclusion, this department needs greater encouragement and support as it takes its giant steps in innovation to enable the inclusion of all citizens in democracy and development by providing them with status and an identity that givesthem rights and services. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART
Ms T E KENYE
Mr S N SWART: Hon House Chairperson, hon Minister and hon Deputy Minister, hon members, from the ACDP’s side we have most definitely seen an improvement in the Department of Home Affairs and we urge you to continue with the improvement. [Applause.]
I just want to relate a personal experience. How many of you have got children? My daughter was at O R Tambo International Airport. She went to immigration and her passport was blocked. It was not her problem but that of the Department of Home Affairs, and I was able to contact the director-general. I want to thank the director-general and his staff for their assistance - within 24 hours a new passport was granted. I trust that the service that we as MPs receive is received by members of the public as well. [Applause.]
Officials from the department who are here will know that the ACDP had many queries that we raised with the department. I want to thank them for the courteous way in which they deal with us from the ACDP and assist wherever necessary. Well done in that regard.
I want to just touch on the issue of xenophobia, which many of us have spoken about. Hon Deputy Minister, we miss you in the Justice Committee, but you are doing a good job. Today we met with the SA Human Rights Commission and they alluded to the 2010 report, which followed the xenophobic violence of 2008. The question I raised with them today was this: To what degree were your recommendations in that report implemented by government? And again, as a speculative issue, should all those recommendations have been implemented, would we have avoided what we saw recently?
Clearly, I think that had some of the recommendations, in particular those relating to an early-warning system and an annual indaba to assist progress in tackling xenophobia, as well as other issues that they raised in the report, been implemented more vigorously, we might have been able to reduce the scale of xenophobic violence. Then again,it was not on the scale of 2008. However, every life lost is regretted, and we are all on record as saying that.
It is also an issue that in April this year the SAHRC noted that most of the recommendations that they made in their report - and again it is not only the Department of Home Affairs – are on incidents related to the Department of Constitutional Development and Justice, the SA Police Service, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Education and Human Settlements.
One of the interesting recommendations that they made was for the Department of Home Affairs and the departments of Education to work together to improve the curriculum in schools so that teachers can start teaching learners about the dangers of xenophobia. These are some of the very positive aspects that are contained in this very comprehensive report, and it is something that the ACDP would urge government to look at again so that we can avoid the xenophobia that we have seen. The ACDP will support this Budget Vote. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr L R MBINDA
Mr S N SWART
Mr L R MBINDA: Hon House Chairperson, hon Minister Gigaba, hon members, this Bill proposes that the department be allocated 0,95% of the total Budget.[Interjections.]No, this Budget Vote ... [Interjections.] Looking at the mandate of this department, this amount is not sufficient. As much as there have been improvements in the delivery of citizens’ documents in terms of their sophistication and supporting technology, the fundamental mandate remains a distant dream.
The Department of Home Affairs is supposed to be the custodian, the protector and the verifier of the identity and status of citizens and other persons residing in South Africa. It has not been a custodian, as other government departments still have to collect their own data in this technologically advanced world.
The PAC proposes, firstly, that the Department of Health should be connected to the population register in order to access data. Secondly, the SA Police Service should be able to access the biometric information in the population register. Thirdly, the biometric information of immigrants should have been collected from the point of entry and held in custody by Home Affairs.
Home Affairs still remains in the old paradigm. The use of ID smart cards - if you look at what countries like Bolivia, Nigeria and India are using - is something to admire. The e-government advancement in Estonia depicts the possibilities in the custodianship, protection and verification of identity.Home Affairs remains a big security gap in the clamping down on crime and being a platform for proper intelligence work.
The PAC is not happy with the time Home Affairs takes to approve asylum seekers and applications for refugee status, and it allows nonqualifying individuals with unknown intentions to roam around our country. This is creating a security risk to the country and potential animosity with other countries of the world.
Regarding outsourcing, the PAC is calling for Home Affairs to use the state-owned companies before exploring the domestic private sector and handing over the taxpayers’ money to foreign companies.The money must rotate within the state many times before it exits our system.
In light of the above-mentioned observations, the PAC is in support of the Budget Vote. Let me also congratulate the PAC of Azania for educating the charterists, because today they understand that they are Africans. [Interjections.]
Mr N T GODI
Mr L R MBINDA
Mr N T GODI: Hon House Chairperson, comrades, hon members, the APC supports this Budget Vote. [Applause.] We do so with our eyes wide open to the challenges facing the department. It is expected, Comrade Minister, that these challenges must be overcome so that, as Parliament passes this budget, we do so with the confidence and guarantee that there will be full and proper financial accountability 12 months down the line.
As the APC we expect that set targets or predetermined objectives must be met. It serves no purpose to set targets and they are not met, yet we have expenditure of 99,97% of the budget. The level of expenditure must correspond with the level of achievement in terms of planned targets.
The last report of the Auditor-General on the levels of accountability for financial management and expenditure does not make for good reading. The fundamental flaw was the status of accounting records and the lack of adequate systems of internal control for recording and reconciling transactions and events with the financial statements.
The department must have standard operating procedures whose implementation is properly monitored and reviewed with sufficient time to address internal audit findings. In the last financial year the Auditor-General had 12 qualification issues. Of these, predetermined objectives have been a finding for the last four years while compliance with legislation has been a finding for the last five years. Three other findings were not there before, while 10 of the 12 are repeat findings.
This shows a lack of improvement and, in some instances, regression. We need better cohesion between head office and regional offices. Regional heads must understand and appreciate the importance of proper record management and reporting, while management must do effective monitoring.
The transactions between the Department of Home Affairs and the Department of International Relations and Co-operation need to be properly regulated. This issue is long outstanding and has always been a negative finding by the Auditor-General.
With the local government elections next year, the APC appreciates the filling of vacancies in the Independent Electoral Commission. We congratulate Commissioner V G Mashinini on his appointment and hope the last one will be filled soon. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr D M GUMEDE
Mr N T GODI
Mr D M GUMEDE: Hon Chairperson, hon Minister Gigaba and your predecessor, hon Pandor, hon Deputy Ministers and all hon members and esteemed guests, the ANC proposes the adoption of this Budget Vote because we are satisfied that it is managerially sound, it is financially affordable and it is located within the fiscal and monetary policy paradigm of the ANC government.
I shall focus on the strategic objectives of the department, one after the other. The first one is to ensure a secured South African citizenship and identity. All eligible citizens should be issued with enabling documents relating to identity and status.
Okuwukuthi kumele sazi ngaphandle kokungabaza ukuthi umuntu ungubani, wakuphi, ushadile, akashadanga, uyimpohlo ... [Uhleko.] [Ihlombe.] ... uyaphila noma uphambene nemvula, izincwadi zokuthi uzelwe zifanele, uma esezelwe ungumfana noma uyintombazane, ubani uyise, ubani unina, uzalwe nini futhi wazalwa kuphi.
In the days of apartheid and colonialism, an identity document was a tool of oppression for the majority but now it is a liberating instrument of empowerment, freedom and liberation. It is an instrument that underpins the right to vote, which is a right to a voice in your governance. That empowerment starts with a right to the same birth certificate for all citizens. The target is that it should be issued within 30 days of birth everywhere and we believe that we will prevent the fraudulent issuing of birth certificates and fraudulent IDs. The department is engaging a number of stakeholders in order to achieve that.
UMnyango uphokophele ukuthi mayingapheli inyanga ingane ingenaso isitifiketi sokuzalwa. [Ihlombe.] Kulokho ubambisene nalabo abathintekayo, njengezibhedlela, amakhosi kanye nabanye ukuze lokhu kufezeke kube yimpumelelo.
Coming to the roll-out of ID smart cards, the department wants to increase its production of smart cards issued and it is in partnership with some banks, as the Minister has mentioned, and the SA Post Office. The latter is still a pilot project, we have learnt. The portfolio committee, however, is concerned about the involvement of the SA Post Office, particularly with the unrest that is becoming a feature of the post office. We are concerned about the security of these important documents in an environment where there is no co-operation between major stakeholders, that is, employees and the employer, as this may compromise security features and the secure issuing of the document.
Ikomiti liyakuxhasa ukusebenza namabange kodwa likhathazekile ngokuphepha kolwazi oluyimfihlo ngabantu ikakhulukazi ngoba abamaposi bahlala bebaneziteleka eziphazamisa ukusebenza kwabo.
The ANC has resolved that sentences for ID theft and fraud should be much harsher as it regards this as a severe crime deserving a severe sentence. In this programme, 2,2 million ID smart cards are projected to be rolled out in 2015-16, which would increase to 3 million in 2016-17 and to 5 million in 2017-18.
Unyaka wokuphela kwezincwajana eziluhlaza asikwazanga ukuthi siwuthole emnyangweni. Sibheke ukuthi lokhu kusheshe kucace.
In line with modernisation and security upgrades, the department produces machine-readable passports that have the same security features as the ID smart cards to combat the fraudulent issuing of these documents. To further improve the security of all documents, records will be managed electronically, using an audited security mechanism. The fight against corruption and fraud continues. Siyaqhuba [We are going forward.]. [Applause.]
The next pillar of the strategy will be immigration control. Movements of persons in and out of the country will be managed according to a risk-based approach. The border management agency will be established soon and be given the necessary resources and capacities to operate optimally together with other relevant stakeholders. In addition, the department intends to improve infrastructure at ports of entry in order to be more effective against organised crime, illegal entry, drug trafficking, child trafficking and so forth. The department will do this together with other stakeholders like the SAPS, SANDF, Customs and state security agencies, among others. [Time expired.]
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
Mr D M GUMEDE
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Hon Chairperson, I want to thank the hon members for their contributions to the debate, particularly those who have supported our budget vote. I would also like to comment on a few issues.
Regarding the consultancy fees, this is the provision of IT services as the department moves to a paperless environment. Therefore the department is incrementally increasing its capacity. During the current financial year, we will recruit for an additional 58 posts for the maintenance of our system.
Regarding the issues of subsistence and travelling, this is really to address the fact that the department has operations abroad, to provide consular services, and therefore there are staff members who are posted abroad. Currently, we are represented in 35 countries, and we need to service the needs of our citizens abroad, hence the travelling costs.
I want to thank the hon members who were focused on the programme the department is implementing and the progress we are making. Earlier today, I received two messages on Instagram. One was from NkosiGugushe, saying he applied for new passports on 24 April and received them on 27 April – three days later. [Applause.] And then he says ...
... hayiurhulumenteakamanga, siyaqhuba.”
MayenzekeBaza also says, “I got my passport in three days; I am super impressed! This is what I call efficiency.” I want to thank the staff of our department, who have continued to work inchallenging times, particularly when we recently faced system and network interruptions, yet wecontinued to serve our people.
I want to come back to the issues raised by the hon Godi and assure him that we are working around the clock to improve our financial accountability. In our next interaction with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Scopa - maybe not soon but when we next meet - you will be calling us to praise us for the progress we will have made in that regard.
With regard to our e-channel, in order to address the concerns about whether the data at the banks will be safe, the data goes into the Home Affairs and Government Printing Works systems. It does not stay with the banks. I think that the South African banks are overall overwhelmingly trustworthy in terms of maintaining and keeping data. I do notthink we should cast aspersions on them. They are going to assist us to expand our footprint and we appreciate that act of generosity and patriotism on their part.
Our borders are also not really as porous as we make them out to be. We have soldiers there. It is not that we only recently placed soldiers at the borders. We have actually had soldiers at our borders for a long time, and very few people have been arrested for crossing the border illegally. Yes, the margin of error could be there, but overall the soldiers are doing their work. Most people who enter South Africa do so as documented migrants, carrying documents, and therefore they are what we would term “legal immigrants”.
So, the perception we continue to peddle without challenging it - that most immigrants in our country, particularly African, are undocumented and therefore illegal - actually makes them vulnerable and exposes them to all manner of risk that there may be in a society when somebody is perceived to be an illegal immigrant.
I would like to come back to what the hon Hoosen raised. Firstly, let me say that I am not going to talk about the hon member and attack him personally. I will not sink down to his level. I will keep the decorum of the debate at the level where it should be. Let me address you, sir. The hon member exposes precisely the modus operandi of the DA: blame, criticise, destroy, no solution.[Interjections.] We saw this even when they were campaigning for the elections. They know everything that is wrong with everyone else, but they do not know how to solve it. They know why people should not vote for anybody else, but they cannot tell us why we should vote for them. You hope that by so doing you will hoodwink us into supporting you without knowing what you have to offer this country, because you know yourselves that you have nothing to offer. [Applause.]
The hon Hoosen first argues that there is no justification for the violence against foreign nationals and then goes ahead to proffer a miserable justification for it. He says that we must not engage in a blame game, but goes ahead to ...
Mr P G ATKINSON: Chair, on a point of order: I am not sure if people in the gallery are meant to be participating in this debate by clapping. [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Thank you very much, hon member, for raising that. Hon members, please, let us request our invited guests not to participate in the debate. Please, invited guests, do not do that. Hon members, hon Thandi, please. We can proceed, hon Minister. The guests are there and they have heard our request.
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: The hon Hoosen says that we must not play the blame game but goes right ahead and does it. He offers absolutely no solution for any of the things he considers to be wrong, but he is able to blame us for all the imaginary things he has in his mind. He goes even further to make the unfounded allegation that I blamed His Majesty, King Zwelithini. Not once did I do that, sir. Not once! I am even on record saying that no leader in our country, whether political, religious, or otherwise – and I included community leaders - must make a statement that will expose ...
Mr M H HOOSEN: Hon Chair, does the hon Minister have the courage to take a question? [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon members, let us allow the hon Minister himself to answer. [Interjections.] No, no, no, hon members, please! Let us allow the Minister to answer. Hon Minister, are you prepared to take a question?
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: No, hon Chairperson. An hon member cannot mislead the House and then hope that he can run away from that fact by seeking to ask a question just to obfuscate matters. The fact of the matter is that we, Minister Mahlobo and I, met with His Majesty to discuss the issue. We knew what we were discussing with His Majesty, and not once did His Majesty raise the question that anyone among us had attacked him, because nobody had. We sounded a word of caution to all leaders in our country at a moment when violence was erupting, saying that we all needed to be circumspect with what we were going to say.
The hon Hoosen even went further and accused Mr Mashinini of being an ANC functionary, forgetting that until recently Ms Taljaardwas on the IEC and that she is a former DA member. [Interjections.]No chair has been appointed. She is a former DA member and sympathiser, and you conveniently forget that.
You fuss about the immigration regulations, yet your own MEC in the Western Cape has claimed that regardless of everything, tourism in the Western Cape has improved. It is therefore ignorant to blame the regulations for a decline in tourism in a period when there was a widespread Ebola outbreak in Africa and all African countries experienced a drop in tourism numbers as a result. But, it is also disingenuous of the hon member not to praise the regulations for improving our national security and addressing our economic concerns.
The hon member has a very deep misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of immigration. We will get a chance to assist and bring him up to a level where he can speak with eloquence and understanding of what international migration is. [Applause.]
The influx of undocumented migrants is not a phenomenon that is confined to South Africa alone. All the countries in the world, including those with large borders, countries with electric fences around them, or countries separated by oceans, experience undocumented migrants. People brave these waters, vicious as they are, in order to get to the countries where they wish to go.
The hon member, while noting that countries around the world are dealing with the complex challenge of mixed migration flows, undermines that very same statement by pointing out that Europe is a paragon of virtue on the subject. No, sir, it is not. Be better informed; do your research properly. Limitingundocumented immigration or irregular migration is not merely a matter of border security. It is also a matter of constructive partnerships with other countries in the region. It cannot be the responsibility of South Africa alone to manage irregular migration. We need to partner with our neighbouring countries to share responsibilities and burdens in that regard.
Now, clearly the hon member would be better advised to know that increasing inspections is not about ending irregular migration through deportation. It is about addressing the pull factors which bring people here. Undocumented migrants will be less likely to come to South Africa if they believe they will not be able to find work without an appropriate visa. The only way to ensure they are unable to work illegally is to impose consequences on the employers who hire them. [Applause.] That is what the inspectors are here for - none of the things that the hon member was going on and on about.
Let me turn to the hon Maxon, who loves talking about corruption, fraud and so on. I would like us to perhaps talk about tax evasion. I would like us to talk about the allegations made by the former chief financial officer of your party. [Interjections.]
Ms H O MAXON: Hon Chair, on a point of order: Is the Minister prepared to take a question? [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Minister, are you prepared to take a question?
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: No.
Ms H O MAXON: Is the Minister a coward? [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: Perhaps smarter.[Interjections.] We have set our targets against our current capacity, but we are expanding our footprint, which will increase the numbers. So to argue that the targets we have set will take too long for us to finally convert the green ID documents into ID smart cards neglects the fact that we have announced that we are using e-channels to provide our services and that this is ultimately going to increase our delivery targets.
I want to also state clearly that VFS does not get a cent from the Department of Home Affairs. They claim their money against their clients. ANC members and leaders have a right to debate in public about immigration issues, and I invite even you, hon Maxon – through you, Chair – to also make your views known. Clearly you have no views on the issue; you don’t know anything about it. [Interjections.]You probably ...
Ms H O MAXON: Chair!
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: The hon member will probably argue that ...
Ms H O MAXON: Chair, this is unfair! I asked whether the Minister would take a question, but he continues to engage me because he knows that I cannot answer back. Minister, can you please address your members, who are very keen to listen to you?[Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Maxon … [Interjections.] Hon members, let us allow the Minister to continue.
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: The hon member will get a chance to respond in the committee, and I will be very happy to engage her, brave as she is and smart as I am. [Laughter.][Interjections.]
Mr K Z MORAPELA: Chair, on a point of order!
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Please hon members, we are left with only a few seconds. Do you have a point of order, hon member?
Mr K Z MORAPELA: Yes, hon Chair. Is the hon Minister prepared to take a question? [Interjections.]
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Minister, will you take a question?
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: No. The final point, hon Chair ...
The TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (Mr M R Mdakane): Hon Minister, please conclude.
The MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS: The final point is that it is also inaccurate to say that we deport only African immigrants. In actual fact, many people who have been victims of the new regulations are not African immigrants. Secondly, there are many non-African immigrants who have been deported. This includes those who were deported voluntarily by the department over the years. I therefore think that we need to correct that fact and state clearly that the department of Home Affairs ...
Thank you, hon Chair. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 19:37.
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