Interaction by Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Talk Radio 702
6 Aug 2009
I have been speaking to the Minister for a few months now but this is the first time we meet face to face. Of course, it is the first Thursday of the month and we again have the Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on our show. Welcome Minister.
Comments by Minister Dlamini Zuma
Thank you, good evening.
The first question I was going to ask the Minister was about her car because it has been so prominent in the news. I must say I was thoroughly impressed it is not anywhere close to a R1 million so let me congratulate you, I am very impressed.
Minister Dlamini Zuma
Thank you, and it is not new either, it is from the previous department.
Now we are talking, we know where the money is going to; it is actually going to the Department of Home Affairs that is good! This is a good way to start the show. We are welcoming your calls. We have the Minister here to engage with you on the ground. You don’t have to be entirely complementary, nor do you have to complain all the time. We just want to hear from you about your views regarding the department. The idea is to put you in touch with the Minister. The Minister has realised that the department cannot be turned around on its own. They do require suggestions from yourselves because you are the people interfacing with this department on the ground.
Minister, during our last discussion, a woman called in and said that she stood in the queue and when she reached the official at the end she was told she did not have the required and relevant documentation. A suggestion was made that a printout be available at the entrance of the Home Affairs office regarding various applications and the required documentation. That suggestion has been taken on board.
Yes Keno, it has been taken on board. We are going to produce a leaflet, maybe in two languages depending on the languages spoken in the province and it is will provide all the information you require for the service you require. When you come in, you look at the leaflet, and you say I need A, B, C and D and if you do not have it with you, you go and get it and return to complete the application expeditiously. We are going to also post this information to our website so that people with access to the internet know what is required even before they visit the office. That suggestion was an excellent one and we are taking it on board.
So it does work, it is not like we take your suggestions and file them away and never get to it. It does get acted upon. So let us know if you have any other good suggestions.
People also complained that you do not know with whom you are dealing in the offices. Have you dealt with this as well?
Well, we promised we will deal with that and now everyone at any Home Affairs office should have a name tag and if they don’t, let us know because we took that one and it has been implemented countrywide.
Another thing we spoke about was opening up a line in your office to which people could have direct access to you. That is up and running, I have the details here.
We thought there is a call centre that people are using but in our interactions on this programme we have heard from people who said they had called the call centre more than once and have not been helped. So, we have another line that will be acted on that will come through to my staff that will follow the issues up. But also if you want to make a suggestion, you want to complement a particular office or officer or if you want to complain about something, then this is the line you should use.
But if you simply want information, you can still call the call centre.
Now, the information to dial is 0800 204 476. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can access the Minister’s office in this way.
The Minister has also done some visits in the last month and I have also been reading about the blue lights going in and making arrests, dealing with corruption.
Caller: Minister, I have a problem regarding my son’s ID. I am wondering if I should dial the number I have just received because it is a very long story.
Minister: Just let the technical people have your number, we will call you tomorrow and see how we can assist you.
Caller: Minister, I would like to complement the Dpartment of Home Affairs (DHA) I was robbed in December and lost everything. I was a non-entity; I did not exist in any way. DHA was very good, in one day everything was sorted out, just two days before Christmas. So Minister, complements to the Centurion office, which is incidentally where I was married. My wife is a foreign national and I find if difficult to get sound advice. Firstly, she is married to me and that should entitle her to live in this country. Secondly, she has been offered a job at a University. Thirdly, she is registered as an academic as a post-graduate student. But, all we can do is queue at the DHA (we have been going to the Central office in Pretoria and a few others) but unfortunately I don’t think all officials at the counters have an in-depth understanding of issues related to immigration. I think there is a need for this so that good advice can be received.
Minister: Well, as your spouse, she is obviously entitled to live here in South Africa. So, if you want any further details, we will take your number and come back to you. But, she is definitely allowed to live here legally and can go to university.
Presenter: I think the other issue he is referring to, if I understand you correctly is one of communication ie. Encountering officials who are able to communicate to the people what they need to hear to make their lives easier.
Caller: Minister, yes that is a big problem. I can understand that to train every official, and there are hundreds of officials in DHA and to train everyone as experts is not feasible. I don’t think we get enough professional advice although there is a list of requirements for particular applications. My wife is a Russian national and because of these websites, it has been made very difficult for Russian ladies to live in South Africa. She is an academic and a well known writer but it is difficult for her to live and work here.
Minister: Just give us your details and we will assist you. One of things that may assist, although you may have a leaflet it may not contain all the information you require, is to ask for the office manager. If they are not sure, they can call head office to clarify matters.
It will be very difficult for everyone to know everything because most of the staff has perhaps only a matric qualification. There is always an office manager. If you cannot get help please ask for the manager.
Caller: Good evening, I was recently at the Randburg Home Affairs office. When you arrive at this office you are confronted by a mob of people offering you the option of a short queue for the rate of R500. I declined and said I would take my chances. I went to stand in the queue and I realised I was going backwards because basically everyone else had paid R500 and they had (inaudible) in the queue who suddenly appear in front of you from all directions. They are seen to immediately. In other words the people at the counters are in collusion with this and are also receiving a share of the money. I also noticed the guy taking fingerprints looks after the information desk. He usually sits at the information desk and does not move but when he is prompted by the queues he immediately gets up, takes the fingerprints and you receive very good service. I don’t have any problem with the elderly and the infirmed but I do have issues with the racketeering. If everyone has their chance in the queue we will all get there in the same time anyway and the queue will not be that long.
Minister: I think we will have to follow this up. I have incidentally, heard about this earlier today when someone called and said they had been in front of the queue when somebody called and said no they must go and talk to someone who could help them quickly. That someone said they could be helped for R1500 which this person refused and called us. So, it looks like all is not well in the Randburg office.
Caller: I was also told if you pay an extra amount you can have your passport renewed in 10 days whereas I was told it would take 6 weeks.
Minister: No, all is clearly not well and we have to look at this.
Presenter: If this was all legal I would resign from my job and work in Randburg. The Minister is also not here alone; she is joined by her team.
Caller: How are you? I want to ask about the languages on the ID documents. We are now 15 years into our democracy but we still get IDs in Afrikaans and English.
Minister: I understand what you are saying. There are 11 official languages in this country. I think part of the problem is that English is the working language. I think it also has financial implications. But, I take your point maybe we should just have one language English. But it will take a lot of resources to print every ID according to the person’s language.
Caller: But, could you cancel Afrikaans, because some of us do not understand Afrikaans. I also do not accept it.
Minister: Ok, we will look at this.
Presenter: If we printed an ID with all 11 languages it will look like a bible, so maybe one language?
Minister: It may even save us some money.
Presenter: Well Minister, being on the eve of Women’s Day what can you say about the rights of women and access to documentation?
Minister: Well in 1966, we were treated as minors, so that we are now treated as equal citizens. We now have our own IDs which are the same as those provided to men, that we can do the same work and get the same salary .I am a doctor but in the past, if I was working pre-1994 I would have earned the lowest salary because I am black therefore would earn less than whites, am a woman so would earn less than men even if I were in the same class with the same skills as men. That is really something that has liberated us .that we are now equal. In fact, in KwaZulu-Natal you could not even get an overdraft without a male, you could not get a hire-purchase agreement without a male, even if that male were to be your son, you needed a male to sign for you.
Of course, things have gone even further. We now have our own IDs, our own passports, we are free. Of course, women, particularly in the rural areas still struggle because if you look at Home Affairs offices most of the offices are located where white South Africa was and maybe in the headquarters of the Bantustans. So we are trying to increase our footprints in the rural areas and that is why we have mobile trucks that go out and also to empower women in the rural areas so they can have the services of Home Affairs and other services. So, in way, women are in government, in business but there is still a long way to go to deliver good services particularly to the rural women.
Presenter: Well, in my experience, women are much better managers. They tend to get along with staff better than some of the males with whom I have worked. I am trying to think where this economy and others would have been had we allowed women to run them much earlier.
Minister: It would have been much better. I can tell you, women are multi-skilled, can do more things at the same time, they can pay attention to more things at the same time and generally they bring different interpersonal skills to the job so, I think any company that does not have sufficient woman managers are losing out on a valuable resource. They are missing a lot of talent that would be useful to them and I think the country itself would not reach its full potential unless women are part of every aspect of life and decision making.
Presenter: I think women should also stand up and take on women who are in leadership positions and who do not deliver. I think that is very important because we have had times where women have not led effectively. It is even more effective when other women stand up and say, you know what, those are our children, husbands, sons and daughters and you have to deliver for them, whether it is in corporate South Africa, politics, women need to stand up and take a much stronger stance against other women.
Minister: I agree but they must take a strong stance with both men and women who do not do their work properly. Women must stand up, they must make suggestions, they must participate in development fora, they must participate in school governing bodies, hospital committees, their voices must be heard everywhere.
Caller: These commercial companies that queue for you once you have paid them what is the legality of this because they advertise their services openly.
Minister: My view is that really we should not have other people coming in DHA offices and trying to do Home Affairs work because they are the ones the other lady was speaking about they push other people backwards in the queue because you have given them money and this cannot be right. So I am not in favour of such companies. They are also the ones who to some extent corrupt Home Affairs officials because they have to collude with them in order to get things expedited because they have received payment for services to be rendered. So, I am really not in favour of this.
Caller: I am just thinking that it must be so much easier to find these guys and take them to task because they are not hanging around a Home Affairs office, they are advertising their services.
Minister: We are planning to do this.
Caller: The Home Affairs office moved to a new office. I am in Benoni but this office was the best even though they did not have the best accommodation. We also cannot insist documents are issued to us when we do not produce the relevant documentation. We put those officials into a difficult position.
Presenter: So, are you saying we also have a role to play in receiving services.
Caller: Yes, definitely.
Minister: That is good to know.
Caller: Are we going to have an amnesty for foreigners living in this country again soon?
Minister: You see, if you are a foreigner and if you come to South Africa to work you get a permit and after five years you can get a permanent residence permit and thereafter if you still want to live in South Africa, you can apply for citizenship. This is not necessarily amnesty. I know what you are talking about because in the past particularly black people were never given citizenship although they may have been in this country for 30 years or more. So, the government decided on a once off application for citizenship for people who had been in the country for many years. Otherwise, there is an ongoing process for people who want to receive citizenship to reside in South Africa.
Caller: I am married to a Zimbabwean. My wife is a medical doctor who has been unemployed for more than a year because the Department of Health says they are waiting for the Department of Home Affairs who is currently doing an investigation on people who are married and therefore they cannot employ anyone pending the outcome of this investigation.
Minister: I am not aware of this but give us your number and we will sort it out. I do not know why they are saying this because if she is married she has to live here and secondly, she a scarce skill that we require. We are busy importing doctors from outside because this is a scarce skill.
Caller: I have a serious problem. I got a permit last year. This year I got another job so I had to go and change the details at the DHA. It has taken me five months and I have not received the sticker because I am told they are waiting for my file from the other regional office.
Minister: Which office is that?
Minister: Give us your details and we will deal with this. Part of the problem is that some people frustrate others so that they can bribe them. Sometimes it is part of corruption to not give people what they deserve and what they should get. So, in the end you will offer them a bribe. We will ensure you get your sticker.
Presenter: If you have been following the news you will realise there have been many raids and we will be talking to the Minister about this.
Caller: Minister, this is to commend the DHA. Last year, a very dear comrade from Zimbabwe died and as you know, some people wanting to travel to his funeral did not have passports and had never been beyond the borders of South Africa. But, just a call to the Director-General, all 55 were issued with temporary passports immediately. However, when they got to the border, the border was closed on the other side and they were asked to produce a burial order on the Zimbabwean side. There was no photocopy at the office; they had to wait for the shop close by to open. When it did the photocopy machine did not work. They had to walk back to the South African side for an hour until they were helped and then the body went across the border eventually. All in all Minister it went very well and we really appreciated the assistance and support of the DG.
Minister: I will let him know you called and he will be very happy. Everyone should receive assistance as you have explained.
Presenter: Minister since we last met you has visited a few officers. Tell me a little about that.
Minister: Keno, as you know I have to visit all the provinces. This time I went to Bloemfontein. Bloemfontein is one of those offices that work very well. I was very impressed. But generally, even the work that comes through to Head Office from Bloemfontein is very impressive.
But I also visited Beaufort West because some of the small rural offices really get forgotten. So I decided I was not only going to visit big provincial offices. I would also visit smaller ones. It was interesting because the office itself did not have many challenges it is a small office, not many people come there but the biggest challenge is that they have to travel to farms, sometimes 200km away to service the community and they have one big mobile truck that does that. So, they requested perhaps a smaller car to assist because they have to visit lots of farms to do outreach work. So that was interesting.
The last one was Umzimkulu. Umzimkulu was interesting in that I was asked by the people there to come and visit them. When I got there the chiefs of the area, AmaKhosi were there, counsellors were there, the mayor was there. Almost all the sectors were represented and I thought we would use it as a pilot to foster community and government work around DHA issues so we are going to have a workshop with them because there are issues like these late birth registration which is quite difficult for adults. So, we have decided to work with them to pilot new simplified procedures to see who they will work and then roll them out throughout the country. So, we were very happy because we are going to have quite a good partnership. But it will not end there because one has consolidated this project, we will use it as a model for working with other areas. That was quite interesting and was an initiative that came from the community itself.
Presenter: The late registration of births goes hand in hand with the identification of children. We have 1200 children who are missing and have not been found. One of the biggest things that can help is if children are registered at an early age. I think you have alluded to this.
Minister: Yes, it is something we would like to do. We would like to have at least some biometric identification for children, like fingerprints so they are in our population register and can be identified and when they need IDs they do not have to go through long procedures. It is something we would like to do but does require some consultation.
Presenter: I can imagine some people would have a problem with this but I cannot imagine why because it is not like you are inserting a chip into the child’s finger, it is just fingerprinting. Does it involve consent from parents? What sorts of issues do you envisage?
Minister: I think parents will not have a problem with this once it has been explained properly. Because it is just happening a bit earlier, it happens at 16 anyway. We also want to ensure we link it to the application of the ID because when the child comes to apply for an ID it some remains for the child to be verified through the fingerprint as being on our population register.
Presenter: And when a child goes missing, you can identify him or her through the fingerprint already on the register.
Minister: Yes, it will certainly help with this.
Presenter: I have a seven year old, you can definitely finger print him not has him, but finger print him.
There also seems to have been a wave of undercover operations recently that have resulted in arrests. Tell us a bit about this.
Minister: Well, Keno, the department even before my time has been trying to get people who are honest and hardworking. But there is still a lot of corruption in the department. So, this programme was started but we are really taking it up and working with the police to ensure we can root out corrupt officials but as I said, it is not just about rooting our corrupt officials, it is also about facilitating our systems so that people can be assisted.
But sometimes, as I said people frustrate people so an environment that enables corruption is enabled. We want to ensure if someone if found, we will act, because it is not right for people to defraud the population they are meant to serve.
Presenter: Is this an ongoing thing?
Minister: Yes, it is an ongoing thing.
Presenter: Minister, a few words from you in closing
Minister: Just to say to the public that so far we are working together very well. It is going to take time but we are going to fix DHA together. And one of the things you must know is that everyone has an identity at Home Affairs. If they are not displaying this, let us know in which office you encountered this. Give us your suggestions; we will implement them if they are applicable and viable to facilitating our work. But thank you very much.
Presenter: As I have said the Minister joins us the first Thursday of every month.
Cell: 082 990 4853
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
6 August 2009
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
6 Aug 2009
[ Top ]