Transcript copy: Interaction with media by Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni on the department’s permitting regime
21 Feb 2011
Comments by Director-General Mkuseli Apleni
Over the past few weeks there has been a number of questions raised regarding the ability of the Department of Home Affairs to deal with the backlog on the adjudication and issuance of work, study, business, temporary and permanent residence permits.
In addition several court applications against the Department are pending and are expected to be heard later in the year with a view to forcing the department to issue outstanding permits.The Department will defend these actions.
In this regard, the Department of Home Affairs reiterates its commitment to ensuring that the permitting system makes it easy for genuine business, critically skilled people, students and tourists to be issued with relevant permits timeously.
Acknowledging the challenges that existed in the permitting system before which created a backlog of approximately 48 000 applications, Minister Dlamini Zuma directed the Department to institute urgent measures to centralise the adjudication of all permits in Pretoria.
In this regard, Minister Dlamini Zuma said last week, “We do have a backlog which initially originated from the local offices.But we are dealing with this in two ways – we have a team that deals just with the backlog … and another that deals with current applications so we do not continue adding to the backlog of permits.We are going to clear the backlog.”
“We have now set up quite a good system because we have decided this will be a permanent arrangement and we will be processing applications centrally in Pretoria,” said Minister Dlamini Zuma.
What has been achieved through centralisation?
- Through centralisation, the Department has assumed full control and accountability over all permit applications that are submitted at all our regional offices across the country.In this regard we also have implemented a filing system where all permits are held according to provinces, offices, category and date of application.
- The centralisation has contributed to the security of all permits issued since we know to whom permits are being issued and for what reason.
- Through the centralisation process, permit renewals of all categories are issued within 48 hours.
- The centralisation system has facilitated the electronisation of permits.In this regard, the issuance of permits is now fully integrated with the Movement Control System which facilitates the entry into South Africa of visitors.Clients are able to check the status of their applications on the Department’s website through the Track & Trace functionality.
- The Department has improved service delivery and efficiency at the call centre. Officials responsible for the 24 hour call centre are now able to handle all public enquiries related to permit applications.
- The Department has also posted on the Departmental website, a list of all requirements and other information related to permit applications.
- The management of stakeholder relations has also improved.An in-house courier service has been established for receipt and dispatch of all permits.
- The centralisation process has also helped the Department to make a determination about the required resources to adjudicate and issue permits and we now have dedicated, well trained staff adjudicating applications.
What impact has centralisation had on the permit backlog?
As at November 2010, the backlog on all permit applications, excluding applications by Zimbabweans, stood at approximately 38 039 (thirty eight thousand and thirty nine).What has been done to reduce this backlog?
Through systems and measures that were put in place and referred to above,
- The Department has, as at 18 February reduced the backlog by 24 323 (twenty four thousand three hundred and twenty three).
- The balance of permit applications currently receiving attention is therefore 13 677 ( thirteen thousand six hundred and seventy seven).
How does the department plan to completely eliminate this backlog?
- The Department has increased its capacity to deal with all permit applications.
- This capacity, created as a consequence of the centralisation process has enabled the department to attend to 1600 (one thousand six hundred) permit applications per day.
- This means the Department is now able to attend to 8 000 (eight thousand) applications per week.
- Accordingly, with everything remaining the same, the backlog should probably have substantially been reduced and/or eradicated by end March 2011.
The reduction of the backlog on permit applications must be seen within the context of the overall commitment of the Department of Home Affairs to deliver quality service to the people as part of the fulfillment of its constitutional mandate.
In this regard, we will do everything in our power to ensure that all permit applications are attended to expeditiously to enable applicants to lead normal lives without the constant fear of arrest and deportation. We recognise that most of these applicants contribute meaningfully to the growth and development of our economy and country. We have to do everything to ensure that such skills are retained in the country.
Questions and answers
Question: DG, what is the number of the current backlog in permits?
Answer: 13 677
Question: DG, what is the current number of outstanding Zimbabwean applications awaiting finalisation?
Answer (Jacob Mamabolo): The total number of applications for Zimbabweans that we have thus far adjudicated stands at approximately 66 000 of 275 762.
We have announced that the remaining applications will be adjudicated by 30 June 2011.This will include the adjudication and dispatch to regional offices of issued permits.We have committed ourselves to concluding the Documentation of Zimbabweans project by 30 June 2011.
Question: DG, are you still receiving applications from Zimbabweans?Can any Zimbabwean apply for a permit tomorrow?
Answer: Yes, the permitting regime in South Africa has not closed.We only closed the process for Zimbabwean nationals to apply for study, work and business permits on the relaxed conditions.Any Zimbabwean nationals coming in can still apply for study, work and business permits although they will be subjected to and must comply with the normal requirements.It is only the special dispensation for Zimbabwean nationals that has closed.
Question: DG, you say you have a special team dealing only with the backlogs?When did this team become operational?
Answer: We implemented the system in December 2010 to work on this backlog as we were collecting applications from regional offices.The team was fully operational from January 2011.
Question: DG, why does the centralised system work better than the regional system?
Answer: What is important is to understand where this backlog is coming from – the decentralised process.Therefore, with the centralised process, we at head office have control over these processes.
I think the Minister is on record to ask, how, as a country we can leave the decision on whether to grant permits to any official at any office at any level?
But if you bring this process to Head Office, you are able to deal with issues of naturalisation and giving people citizenship at the highest level.This system is going to work better in terms of the security of the country.
Question: DG, how long will it take for a foreign national who arrives in South Africa to be issued with a work permit?
Answer (Jacob Mamabolo): The turnaround time for temporary residence permits (TRP) is four weeks or one month, that is an applicant should be issued with a temporary residence permit in one month or four weeks.
The turnaround time for permanent residence permits (PRP) is six months.However, because of the enhancements in the system, we can expect to make improvements on this time frame.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
21 Feb 2011
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