ATC230614: Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on the 2023/24 Budget Vote 5, Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Home Affairs, dated 14 June 2023
Policy Assessment and Recommendations Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on the 2023/24 Budget Vote 5, Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department of Home Affairs, dated 14 June 2023.
The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) carries out its mission in line with its commitment to citizen empowerment and inclusivity, economic development and national security, by:
- Being an efficient and secure custodian of citizenship and civil registration;
- Securely and strategically managing international migration;
- Efficiently managing asylum seekers and refugees; and
- Efficiently determining and safeguarding the official identity and status of persons.
The DHA’s services are divided into two broad categories: civic services and immigration services.
On 7 June 2023, the Select Committee on Security and Justice met with the Department on Home Affairs to receive a briefing on the Department’s Annual Performance Plan and budget, through a virtual platform. The report represents an overview of the Department of Home Affairs annual performance plans and budget.
- Strategic Focus and National Development Plan
2.1 Strategic Focus 2020-2025
The DHA carries out its mission in line with its commitment to citizen empowerment and inclusivity, economic development and national security, by:
- Being an efficient and secure custodian of citizenship and civil registration;
- Securely and strategically managing international migration;
- Efficiently managing asylum seekers and refugees; and
- Efficiently determining and safeguarding the official identity and status of persons.
The DHA has identified the following outcomes for the 2020 to 2025 period:
- Secure management of international migration resulting in South Africa’s interests being served and fulfilling international commitments;
- Secure and efficient management of citizenship and civil registration to fulfil constitutional and international obligations;
- Efficient asylum seeker and refugee system in compliance with domestic and international obligations;
- Secure population register to empower citizens, enable inclusivity, economic development and national security; and
- DHA positioned to contribute positively to a capable and developmental state.
The following departmental priorities will form an integral part of the DHA strategic planning process going forward:
- The DHA will continue to support the Border Management Authority (BMA) as a public entity through systems, legislation, policies and standard operating procedures that form part of the broader approach to managing migration within the RSA.
- The Digitization Programme to modernise civic services as announced by the President in the 2022 SONA has commenced and the 2023/24 financial year will digitise around 36 million birth records.
- The Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) went live in November 2022. The DHA is in the process of implementing phase 2 which will include additional functionalities such as Iris, infant footprint and palm-print backend recognition capability.
- The Biometric Movement Control system (BMCS) rollout to 72 ports of entry will be completed in the 2023/24 financial year.
- The DHA has developed an implementation plan to deal with the Vulindlela Task Team policy and process recommendations.
- A multi-disciplinary task team has been appointed to deal with the Lubisi Report recommendations.
- The implementation of the DHA Repositioning Programme is underway and around 30 projects form part of the Programme Management Office.
To deal with long queues:
- The DHA Menlyn office in the Menlyn Shopping Mall in Pretoria was opened in March 2023 with more malls to follow.
- The Branch Appointment Booking System (BABS) has been rolled out to all 200 modernised offices.
- DHA is in the process of procuring an additional 100 mobile offices to cover the 778 visiting points to augment the DHA access model and strategy.
- The procurement process for the Passenger Name Record (PNR) has started. The bid specification process is underway. The PNR system data elements include passenger data from airline reservation systems like payment details, travel itinerary and baggage information. The PNR is a key component of a risk-based approach to immigration.
- DHA has made significant progress with the implementation of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA).
- DHA will continue with the implementation of the DHA Plan to promote gender-based violence and femicide (GBV&F) as well as gender, youth and persons with disability issues. Specific focus to be placed on:
- Increase awareness on issues of harassment through the launch of women’s forums across the DHA.
- Undertake a survey on different issues related to GBV&F.
- Strengthen the DHA Sexual Harassment Policy.
- Host sessions aimed at empowering employees on issues of harassment, especially lower level employees.
- Create a dedicated email for reporting cases of harassment.
- Central to the DHA improving its organisational performance and quality of service delivery, is the issue of capacity. The funding received from National Treasury as part of the Capacitation Business Case has already shown a positive impact on target-setting for 2023/24. The DHA will strive to improve its HR capacity from 46% to at least 55% over the medium term in conjunction with National Treasury.
- The DHA will continue in its endeavours to find durable solutions for long lasting systemic challenges such as system downtime through working closely with SITA and other service providers.
2.3 Contribution to the National Development Plan (NDP)
A major focus on the NDP is to confront the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment by achieving higher growth rates. The DHA’s contribution is to ensure that the inclusion of all citizens in democracy and development is enabled by providing them with a status and an identity that gives them access to rights and services. This must be done in an efficient, effective, professional and secure manner.
In both the 2022 and 2023 SONA’s, the President affirmed that one of the key ingredients for economic growth and competitiveness is the ability to attract skills which the economy needs.
An additional priority for the DHA is to facilitate the acquisition of the critical skills needed for economic growth as determined by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in order to build South Africa’s skills base. While Chapter 3 of the NDP generally envisages a relatively positive role regarding South Africa’s constructive participation within the region, a more nuanced impression emerges in Chapter 7, dealing specifically with positioning South Africa in the world. The DHA‘s role in enabling regional development and integration, is to work with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to establish efficient, secure and managed migration.
The DHA is also central to harnessing the 4th Industrial Revolution and building a capable state. Its modernisation programme can reduce fraud and the cost of doing business by enabling e-government, and thus attract more investment. This involves progress in streamlining and modernising the visa application process to make it easier to travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work. To date, the eVisa system was launched in 14 countries, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria. Therefore, it will be critical for Parliament to monitor the implementation and expansion of this programme.
- Annual Performance Plans 2023/24 per Programme
The Annual Performance Plan for 2023/24 covers the following:
- DHA contribution to the National Development Plan;
- Apex Priorities and MTSF related commitments;
- DHA contribution to the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP);
- State of the Nation (SONA) commitments;
- Ministerial priorities;
- ICT Modernisation Programme;
- Contribution to the National Strategic Plan (NSP) on Gender-based Violence and Femicide;
- Contribution to the District Development Model (DDM); and
- White Paper on Home Affairs (DHA Repositioning Programme).
3.1 Programme 1: Administration
The Administration programme covers all functions of the DHA that support its core business, such as policy, governance, finance, human resources (HR) management and security. It is also responsible for the provision of Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure, accommodation, transport and the keeping of records.
Programme 1 has 18 annual targets, but only four key annual targets and performance indicators were selected for analysis.
The DHA indicates that a complete BMCS system enables the capturing of fingerprint and facial biometric data of all travellers who enter or exit South Africa will be built onto the live capture platform and be rolled out to all ports of entry. The new system will interface with the e-Visa system to confirm visa compliance. In addition, it will further identify undesirable travellers and confirm citizens against the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS)
The Asylum Seeker Management and Refugee System is intended to replace the outdated National Immigration Information System (NIIS). The system will administer the asylum process from registration to deportation or asylum recognition, including processes at statutory bodies (Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs (SCRA) and Refugee Appeals Authority of South Africa (RAASA)) in a predominantly paperless environment. The system will be implemented in the following refugee reception centres: Cape Town, Gqeberha, Durban, Musina and Desmond Tutu. The system will also be rolled out to RAASA and SCRA.
The 2023/24 financial year will be used to finalise preparatory work for the scanning of the 340 million records which commenced in the 2022/23 financial year and for the digitisation of around 36 million paper-based records (births). One physical record (for births, marriages, deaths and amendments) contains on average 5 pieces of paper which means that an estimated 1.7 billion pieces of paper need to be digitised.
3.2 Programme 2: Citizen Affairs
This programme aims to provide secure, efficient and accessible services and documentation for the citizens and lawful residents. Citizen Affairs covers the activities of the Civic Affairs Branch at the national and provincial level. This involves providing and managing identity and status services for citizens, permanent residents, and persons accorded refugee status.
The annual target for 2023/24 was increased from 750 000 to 800 000 births to be registered within 30 calendar days, the appointment of additional front office staff in 2022/23, and the potential increase in the number of mobile offices in the 2023/24 financial year. The ultimate aim is to ensure that all births are registered within 30 calendar days and thereby ensuring that early birth registration is the only entry point to the national population register.
With regard to the issuance of Smart ID cards to eligible citizen, the annual target for the 2023/24 will be increased to 2.5 million, while the appointment of additional front office staff in 2022/23 and potential increase in the number of mobile offices in the 2023/24 financial year. The output is central to the secure and efficient management of citizenship and civil registration to fulfil constitutional and international obligations.
The issuance of passports to undeserving applicants could lead to reputational damage for the country. The output supports the APEX priority dealing with a capable, ethical and developmental state. The target of 90% of machine readable adult passports to be issued within 13 working days is projected to remain the same over the medium term. This is mainly due to dependencies on service providers such as Government Printing Works.
The issuance of children passports was included in the annual performance plan with effect from the 2022/23 financial year. The turnaround time in terms of number of working days to issue children passports is different from the adult target due to a different business process followed with the printing of children passports by the Government Printing Works (inclusion of details of parents in passports).
3.3 Programme 3: Immigration Affairs
This programme aims to facilitate and regulate the secure movement of people through the ports of entry into and out of the Republic of South Africa. The programme is also responsible for determining the status of asylum and regulate refugee affairs.
Law Enforcement: The output provides a safe environment as it ensures that everyone in South Africa is correctly documented and placed on a system with their personal information. It also provides stability in ensuring that there is enforcement that is visible and attending to matters that are of concern to members of the public.
Permanent Residence Permits: The output deals mainly with the developmental aspect of immigration but with due consideration to national security imperatives. The focus is on permanent residence permits that will facilitate economic growth and employment. The output plays a critical role in support of the APEX priority dealing with economic transformation and job creation.
Critical Skills Visas: The output and DHA outcome contribute to the proactive attraction, recruitment and retention of critical skills needed for economic growth and development. The output makes an important contribution to the economy in infrastructure, manufacturing, energy, retail, professional and financial services as well as research and development in order to grow the economy. This is in line with the 2023 SONA imperative announced by the President.
3.4 Programme 4: Institutional Support and Transfers
The Institutional Support and Transfers appears for the first time as a stand-alone programme. Funding of the BMA was budgeted for in programme 1 while the Electoral Commission and Represented Political Parties fund was previously planned and budgeted for in Programme 2, Institutional Support sub-programme. The purpose of this new programme is to transfer funds to the Electoral Commission and Represented Political Parties Fund, which manages national, provincial and local government elections to ensure those elections are free and fair. The programme will also transfer funds to the Border Management Authority to ensure south Africa’s borders are effectively defended, protected, secured, and well-managed.
Border Management Authority: It is reported that processes are under way to establish the Authority as a schedule 3A public entity from 1 April 2023, and the entity is set to be fully operational by 2025/26. Transitional arrangements for this include transferring the frontline immigration function and personnel at ports of entry to the authority, seconding personnel to the authority from other organs of state, and conducting physical verification and asset inventories. The entity has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department to share corporate services.
3.5 Assessment of Service Delivery
The Department reported that the main problems included: Lack of efficiency/slow service (customers), inappropriate staff conduct and lack of customer engagement (customers).
These were attributed to lack of proper queue management (customers), outdated inefficient systems (officials), lack of infrastructure (customers) in tandem with internal work environment, understaffing (officials/customers), lack of skills development (officials), lack of proper internal and external signage at DHA offices (customers), lack of resources (officials), and lack of clear communication on interventions aimed at service delivery.
Corruption was one of the major issues highlighted by immigrants.
- Budget Allocation
The Department receives an allocation of R10.9 billion for 2023/24. This represent a nominal decrease of R232.8 million (or -2.1 per cent) from the 2022/23 adjusted budget. Once inflation is taken into account, this represents a marginal decrease of R740.2 million or 6.67% in real terms.
The Administration programme receives R2.71 billion for 2023/24 compared to an adjusted appropriation of R2.80 previously. The current allocation translates into a decrease of R82.9 million (or -3.0 per cent) in nominal terms, and R209.9 million (or -7.49 per cent) in real terms.
The Citizen Affairs branch budget declines from R3.75 billion in 2022/23 to R3.36 billion in 2023/24. This is a reduction of R396.9 million (or -10.6 per cent) in nominal terms and R553.9 million (or -14.74 per cent) in real terms.
The Immigration Affairs budget receives R858.6 million for 2023/24. An examination of the budget by programme reveals that Programme 3: Immigration Affairs’ budget for 2023/24 has been significantly reduced. Its budget shows a nominal reduction of R643.2 million (or 42.8 per cent) from the adjusted budget allocation for 2022/23. When the inflation is considered, the programme’s budget shows a further reduction of R683.3 million (or -45.5 per cent) in real terms from the previous financial year.
Institutional Support and Transfers Programme: There is a notable budget increase in this programme from R3.03 billion in 2022/23 financial year, to R3.92 billion in 2023/24. This represent a nominal increase of R890.0 million (or 29.3 per cent) in compared to the previous financial years’ budget. In real terms, the programme’s budget increases by R706.7 million (or 23.29 per cent). The Electoral Commission receives the largest portion of the transfers to the value of R2.23 billion in 2023/24, up by R8.5 million (or 0.38 per cent) in nominal terms. However, when inflation is factored, the Electoral Commission’s budget shows a real percent change decrease of -4.31 per cent compared to the previous financial year.
The Border Management Authority Act (No. 2 of 2020) was signed into law in July 2020, and became effective 1 January 2021. It is encouraging to note that the Border Management Authority’s (BMA) budget increases both in nominal and in real terms. The BMA’s transfer shows a nominal increase of R1.17 billion (or 698.81 per cent) from R167.9 million in 2022/23 financial year, to R1.17 billion in 2023/24. However, when the inflation is factored, the BMA’s budget increases by R1.11 billion (or 661.5 per cent) in 2023/24.
4.1 Financial Assessment
Financial outlook and guidance provided by National Treasury as per MTEC Guidelines guided the planning process. The DHA must plan with available funding.
- Risks to the fiscal framework:
- Slowing global and domestic economic growth;
- Pressure from the public service wage bill; and
- Continued requests for financial support from financially distressed state-owned entities.
- Contractual commitments, especially on contracts with a forex component, must be honoured. If not, services could be disrupted and litigation ensued.
- Payment of suppliers within 30 days becomes difficult towards financial year end in particular.
- Maintenance and support are compromised. Vehicles are not repaired as the budget for fleet hardly covers the running costs of fuel.
- Tech refreshes are delayed. This contributes to downtime and system instability and ultimately customer frustration.
- Security services are underfunded. This has already led to the withdrawal of certain shifts and compromise the asset base of the DHA and the safety of its officials and clients.
- Office accommodation – private lease rentals – DHA is not in a position to move to alternative accommodation or open new offices.
4.1.1 Wasteful and Irregular Expenditure
The Department informed the Committee that the Department has not incurred any unauthorised expenditure in the last 10 financial years. The irregular expenditure balance is a cumulative figure and includes the following contracts:
- Security services – R199 million; awaiting condonation;
- ABIS – R477 million contract / R308 million paid to date; awaiting condonation;
- IT firewalls – R119 million contract / R52 million paid to date; contract cancelled.
The Department has not disclosed material losses through criminal conduct in its financial statements. Disciplinary steps are taken against officials held accountable for incurring irregular expenditure. Fruitless and wasteful expenditure are recovered from officials found liable in law for the loss. This relates mostly to ’no shows’, interest paid, and traffic fines. Where fraud or corruption is suspected, criminal cases are opened.
- Discussions / Responses by Department
5.1 Protection of whistle blowers: Members wanted to know, in the fight against corruption, what steps are being utilised to protect whistle blowers. The Department responded that they fight corruption through counter corruption services and they work with law enforcement agencies to protect whistle blowers.
5.2 Friendliness of staff and staff morale. Members wanted to know what is being done to address the friendliness of frontline workers within the Department to ensure effective service delivery. Members also wanted to know what is being done to ensure that staff morale is good. The Department responded that work is ongoing and HR is working on improving the culture and training of frontline staff.
5.3 Vehicle and Infrastructure challenges: Members wanted to know what measures were being put in place to mitigate the challenges in relation to vehicles and infrastructure. The Department responded that they have a mechanism called self-financing to generate revenue through the sale of passports and identity documents and they buy vehicles and service their generators and do general maintenance work on their fleet of vehicles. If they improve the revenue collection then the self-financing will improve and the fleet will be maintained.
5.4 Difference in budgeted amounts: Members wanted to know why there was a differences in the MTEF allocation and baseline budget of the Department. The Department responded that the MTEF allocation letter dated 22 February 2023, for the 2023/24 baseline amount of R10 863 billion. The Department also received money through the adjustment estimates which was R500 more for digitisation as well as R798 million in self-financing. Those two figures affected the baseline. In addition, in March 2023, the Second Appropriation Act received an additional R300 million for the Representative Political Party’s Fund which affected the initial allocations, hence the increase.
5.5 Target decrease for Smart ID Cards: Members wanted to know what the reasons were for the decrease in the targets for smart card identity cards from pre Covid to now. The Department responded that Covid had impacted the Department as they had lost staff and they are trying to get back to normal levels. There has been an incremental improvement in Smart ID cards and they are working with other stakeholders eg IEC in raising awareness prior to the elections next year.
5.6 Rollout of DHA services in shopping malls on Saturdays: Members wanted to know why the Department could not rollout its services on Saturdays in shopping malls as this would increase trading hours and assist in reducing queues. The Department responded that they do not have the legal instruments in place for the DHA to operate on Saturdays. There are currently issues related to overtime payments for Saturday work, however the Department of Home Affairs Bill (DHA Bill) will address these matters.
5.7 Long Queues: Members were very concerned about the unacceptable long queues and wanted to know what measures the Department has in place to address the queues as well as accommodation of offices. The Department responded that they were working with DPWI to improve the accommodation and that they have introduced a booking system. The uptake has been huge with over 1.3 million people using the booking system. There is a particularly huge uptake in Gauteng, however, the uptake has been a bit slower in other Provinces. In respect of the office space, the Department acknowledged that they do not have adequate halls but do their utmost to provide sufficient chairs for people to sit on when they are in the queues.
5.8 Digitisation: Members wanted to know about the recruitment of young people and what the Department’s plans were. The Department responded that they need to ensure that the machinery is there so that they can house the graduates and have the required facilities. The Department advertised for the first 2000 last year and currently have 1405 graduates so far in the programme.
5.9 Rollout of Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS): Members wanted to know whether the BMCS has been rolled out effectively and in how many ports. The Department responded that the BMCS would be rolled out at 72 ports this year. The Department informed the Committee that a complete BMCS system enables the capturing of fingerprint and facial biometric data of all travellers who enter or exit South Africa which will be built onto the live capture platform and be rolled out to all ports of entry.
5.10 Chinese business owners employing Malawians for minimum wage: Members wanted to know what the Department is doing to address the situation of the Chinese business owners employing Malawian’s at minimum wage and if ‘Operation Dudula’ forms part of the Department of Home Affairs. The Department responded that they continuously address these matters through their Inspectorate. The Minister met with the Chinese Business Forum and expressed concern regarding the employment of undocumented foreigners. Over the last year, the Department has appointed additional inspectorate officials and they will be more focused in their operations. The Department informed the Committee that ‘Operation Dudula’ is not part of the Department, however they work together and receive information which the Department follows up on in their investigations.
5.11 Verification of persons through naturalisation certificates: Members wanted to understand what the delays were in the issuing of these certificates. The Department responded that they follow directives in terms of legislation. The Department receives applications with supporting documentation, delays are caused due to manual documentation. Upon completion of the entire process, the people are invited to come for induction then the certificate for naturalisation is given to the persons.
5.12 Border Management Authority: Members wanted to know why the BMA is not a stand-alone Department with its own Budget and APP. Members also wanted to understand what challenges remain in respect of the integration of officials into the BMA. The Commissioner of the BMA responded that indeed the BMA has been a stand-alone legally from 1 April 2023. The BMA will share the service level agreement entered into with the Department of Home Affairs, with the Select Committee. The BMA is bleeding financially along with other Departments and the work which the BMA does is very important in respect of amongst others; immigration and trade facilitation. In respect of the integration of staff, there are a number of challenges due to the creation of a new organisation and when you have to move so many people out. There were many administrative issues in April and May and they are hopeful that moving forward, the administrative issues will be dealt with. The BMA is dealing with organised labour units. There is also the issue of constrained budgets and issues of access control. The BMA has a signed implementation protocol between the BMA and SAPS to continue doing access control in ports and this function will be handed over when they are fully capacitated.
Members made the following observations and recommendations to the Department:
- The Department should ensure that they tackle corruption and fraud and protect whistle blowers in the fight against corruption.
- The Department must generate sufficient revenue to rollout sufficient vehicles and obtain the necessary accommodation to provide efficient services to communities.
- The Department must make every effort to speedily introduce legislation aimed at extending trading hours to Saturdays to address the long queues and deliver efficient services to communities.
- The Department should ensure that it conducts effective training for frontline staff to enhance the friendliness of staff and thereby improve service delivery. In addition, the Department must improve the implementation of measures to improve the overall morale of staff within the Department.
- The Department must continue to conduct the necessary inspections and investigations to address the employment of undocumented foreigners at minimum wage within the country.
- The Department should speed up its recruitment of young people and put the necessary mechanisms in place to obtain the equipment needed to digitise its services. The digitisation of services will improve efficient service delivery significantly.
- The Department should ensure the effective rollout of the Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS) as this will enhance the Department’s effective capturing of data.
- The Border Management Authority should within 30 days of adoption of this report, submit the Service Level Agreement between the BMA and the Department of Home Affairs to the Committee.
- The Border Management Authority should work effectively to integrate staff with minimal disruption to ensure the effective implementation of the Border Management Authority. The Border Management Authority should also move with speed to ensure the synchronization of departments in order for the BMA to be a stand-alone Department with its own APP and budget. The Border Management Authority plays an important role in protecting our borders, addressing illegal migration and facilitating trade. Therefore, by becoming independent and resolving the current challenges, this will improve the effectiveness of the BMA and the citizens of South Africa.
- The Department, should within 30 days of adoption of this report, submit the following reports to the Committee:
- The Gender Based Violence Plan of the Department; and
- The list of selected offices where the IMS Case Management system will be rolled out.
The Committee encouraged the Department, particularly in respect of the constant challenges related to long queues and the budgetary challenges to work effectively and efficiently to ensure that service delivery is improved and that the Department works hard to integrate the comments made by citizens to improve their services. The Committee further wished the Department well in mitigating the challenges in the implementation of the Border Management Authority (BMA).
The Select Committee on Security and Justice supports Budget Vote 5.
Report to be considered.