Transcript copy: Briefing to the media by Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseleni Apleni following presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee
23 Aug 2011
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we have just briefed the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on our progress towards meeting the targets we had set for ourselves. This is a new system of regularly presenting reports on our progress to the Portfolio Committee.
Before we would only present a report annually following the production of our annual report. So this system is going to prove very beneficial to the department since we will receive regular feedback from the Committee that will assist us with our delivery on our mandate.
As you know, government has 12 outcomes and in terms of this, the department directly contributes to the achievement of outcomes 3, 5 and 12 all people in South Africa are and feel safe, a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path, an efficient, effective and development oriented public service and an empowered, fair and inclusive citizenship.
Our Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has signed a performance agreement with the President which includes:
- Completion of all strategic information and identification projects within already defined budgets and time frames.
- Effective and efficient refugee management strategies and systems.
- Contributing to the level of skills and general economic development in South Africa targets by realising a positive skills migration trend of around 50 000 migrants annually. The focus should be on critical skills shortages, supportive of the medium term strategies and government’s outcomes.
- The registration of every child birth within 30 days of delivery.
- The issuing of identity documents to every South African 16 years and above.
- Improving the turnaround times for all services, queuing times and unit costs per service.
We also have three outcomes aligned to our key priority areas:
Outcome 1: Secured South African citizenship and identity
Outcome 2: Immigration managed effectively and securely in the national interest including economic, social and cultural development
Outcome 3: A service that is efficient, accessible and corruption free
Let me take you through some of our key priorities:
Strategic objective: To ensure that registration at birth is the only entry point for South Africans to the National Population Register.
Hundred and twenty six (126) additional health facilities operational for online births registrations, 9 hospitals were connected during the review period and three are fully operational namely, Letaba Hospital (Limpopo), Pampierstad Community Health Centre (Northern Cape) and Postmasburg (Northern Cape).
In terms of the registration of children, the target was 12% to ensure we are able to register children. The target was 159 500 for this quarter but we have achieved 133 262, which is 12% of estimated births of 1,1 million.
Also on the issue of the late registration of birth with which we are still sitting, if we have received the application for the late registration of birth, we have committed to finalising these within six months. We were reporting today to say that we had managed to meet 97% of this target.
Another target we must push is the issuance of identity documents (IDs) to those who are 16 years old and above. We have prioritised visiting schools to ensure we are able to meet this target. We targeted visiting 49% of schools, this is 1 915 out of 5 498. We have managed to visit 1 667 high schools. The reason we had not achieved the 35% was because of our focus on the local government elections.
Another strategy we also wanted to use was to ensure that those who are writing matriculants must have their IDs before they begin to write examinations. For this quarter we have been able to collect 31 795 ID applications, of which 10 758 IDs were issued to matriculants.
After we had settled the issue of Gijima, we have decided to roll out and go forward with these issues. So really we wanted to close this settlement with Gijima which is now done. Our business case is now finalised. So we would want that by the end of this year live capture must be rolled out to 167 offices throughout the country. We will be dealing with this in the following quarter.
We also reported to the committee that we have submitted to Cabinet a proposal to roll out the smart card. We have already designed a specimen. We will begin the process of implementing the pilot.
In terms of ensuring we contribute to the security of the country, as you know, an ID is used to access all sorts of social benefits in particular, old age and child support grants. We therefore had to have a link with South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to ensure we have an interface so if want to verify if someone is on our database that the child is linked to the parents, they could do so. We were able in this quarter to activate 328 users from SASSA to have access to the National Population Register.
With regard to managing immigration effectively and securely in the national interest including economic, social and cultural development – as you know, before the World Cup we implemented in 34 priority ports of entry the enhanced Movement Control System (eMCS). For this year, we want to continue with that process. In the first quarter we therefore looked at prioritising the remaining ports of entry at assess at which one we would implement the eMCS.
We do not only operate as the Department of Home Affairs at the ports of entry. We operate together with South African Revenue Service (SARS), South African Police Service (SAPS), the Defence Force. We therefore had to look at which ports we would prioritise for the implementation of this system. We will finalise this matter before the end of the second quarter to ensure we implement this system by the end of the year.
We also had to look at which systems were problematic – this was the lack of integration between the National Immigration Information System (NIIS) – on which we record all asylum seekers and refugees and the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) to ensure that if a refugee or asylum seeker goes to one centre, we have control if they go to other centres. This has been done but NIIS remains to be upgraded.
In 2010 we also submitted amendments to the Immigration Act. What is now awaited is promulgation into law by the President. We are in the process of finalising the regulations. In terms of this we must implement an appeals authority as well as adjudication committees at each refugee centre. These processes are finalised through a capacity analysis and the drafting of an implementation plan. Once these Amendments have assented into law we will be able to implement these regulations.
You will remember that as country we have been raising the fact that we do not have a coherent policy on asylum seekers and economic migrants. We have now developed such a policy and are in the process of finalising this.
The other important issue is that of the Trusted Traveller programme. We had said there were countries from where citizens travel to South Africa quite frequently and they are contributing to the long queues at our borders. We therefore came up with the Trusted Traveller programme. We have identified a service provider to implement this and we are looking forward to this in the next financial year.
Also in the Minister’s performance agreement is the issue of attracting 50 000 scarce skills. However looking at ourselves as the department we decided to set our target at 18 000 for this financial year. We want to grow to this 50 000 over a period of time. For the first quarter we had committed to issuing 3 000 scarce skills but we have, in the first quarter, managed to issue 1 234 which is 41% of the target we had set ourselves.
At the moment we are waiting for people to apply but we have not yet gone out to market the country as a destination. But as you know, this issue is not solely that of the Department of Home Affairs. Other departments also have a responsibility, the Department of Labour, Economic Development, Higher Education.
On the third area which is to have a department that is efficient, accessible and corruption free – as you know, we are a service department so we really want to professionalise the staff within the department to ensure we are able to deliver such a service. We therefore want to implement coaching clinics to ensure our staff have the required management capability. The tender for a service provider has been issued.
In terms of recruitment, in the budget for 2011/12, we have targeted the filling of 1 076 posts. In the first quarter we wanted to come up with a clear recruitment process and our budget was available from the 1 July. We met the target of developing a comprehensive recruitment plan in place and by 1 July we had been able to appoint about 558 diplomats and graduates particularly in civic services to be deployed to the front offices.
On the issue of corruption, we had said we wanted a zero tolerance towards corruption. I am sure the media is aware that in the last month alone, at OR Tambo International Airport we arrested 10 immigration officers and a further four. This is a direct result of us working as members of the security cluster. We were reporting to the Portfolio Committee that we had 720 cases for the quarter of which we were able to investigate and finalise 54 cases.
The issue is really the matter of the complexity of these cases. As a department, together with other sister departments we are working hard to address this issue. The issue of misconduct cases are also very worrying. But in the department we have a clear target to finalise the cases within 50 days. But due to the complexities associated with these, of the 78 cases, we have managed to finalise 54 cases.
On the issue of financial management in the department, as you know, the Minister had committed the department to achieving an unqualified audit in 2010/11 and 2011/12 moving towards a clean audit in 2012/13. For now, we are awaiting the finalisation of the audit for 2010/11 and we could not report to the Committee on this matter. We are really confident we will be able to meet our target especially through the processes we have put in place. However, we are really dependent on the report of the Auditor-General.
We have also refurbished some of our offices, we would like one day to have a Home Affairs office that looks the same wherever you are in the country. We have designed our corporate image and we had targeted six offices in the first quarter but we have managed to do nine which has surpassed our target.
Then the issue that is in the Minister’s performance agreement is that of the maximum distance citizens must travel to obtain services. This is still a challenge that we are working on. As soon as we have this norm we will be advised of where offices must be opened to have access to Home Affairs services.
This is a new process and we are pleased we are able to report on our performance on a quarterly basis so we are able to receive some guidance as we received during our interaction with the Portfolio Committee. We will be able to take these suggestions on board going forward.
As for the budget, we should have spent a total of 25% for this quarter although we have spent 28% which is a little more than we should have. This is not a problem however.
We are really pleased with our performance for the first quarter. It may not be what we would like it to be but we are pleased with where we are as well as the fact that we have processes through which to report.
Questions and answers:
Question: Director-General, the smart card issue has been going on for over 10 years. How much money has been budgeted for this? When will the pilot begin? Who will be used to test the pilot? Will State Information Technology Agency (SITA) be involved in this?
Answer: (Director-General) On the issue of the smart card – a smart card in our view is the end of the process and it links with the live capture. What we realised is that if we do not have a proper structure in the department first, if you do not have a clean National Population Register, the smart card will still be problematic – as are the IDs. You will recall issues like the duplicate IDs which are problematic in our National Population Register.
Hence the approach was to first ensure we put the infrastructure in place. Therefore in the 2011/12 financial year we do not have a big budget for the smart card because we will only be running a pilot. We currently have 280 offices across the country – 40 of which have the live capture technology. What this means is that you do not go to an office to apply for a passport and submit photos, etc. All processes are electronised and there is no human intervention. The product is printed at Government Printing Works.
This then eliminates all opportunities for fraud because there is no human intervention. We have therefore decided to implement the live capture technology in 167 of our offices throughout the country. We will increase this number to 207 and in the following year we will implement in the remaining offices.
Therefore in this year, what we have prioritised on the smart card is the issue of the chip on which information will be stored. We must decide what chip we want to have in the product. The card will therefore be very secure.
Although the Department of Home Affairs is the custodian of this card in terms of production, it is used by other stakeholders including banks, SASSA, Department of Health, and others. We must ensure this infrastructure is in place. We already have agreements with SASSA and South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC). We must also have the readers in place before the card is produced.
In terms of when we roll this out, you will know that one of the issues we were arguing when we introduced new tariffs for IDs – we wanted people to understand that IDs must be treated carefully because once we have the smart card its going to be very expensive.
We also need to submit to Cabinet a proposal on how we will be introducing the smart card.
Question: Director-General, when do you think the amendments to the immigration act might be assented? In terms of the Trusted Traveller programme – will the port of entry be Lesotho? Will you consider including Swaziland and Mozambique? You also said it is a challenge to assess the optimal distance citizens should travel for services – what do you find the average to be now?
Answer (Director-General): The amendment has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and is presently en-route to the President. We hope this will assent into law in this quarter. Once this has been done we can move forward on this.
On the issue of the Trusted Traveller programme – we will pilot it at Maseru Bridge. We will therefore roll it out at the high volume ports of entry.
On the issue of distances to be travelled – if you look at Northern Cape at the moment, distances are very vast. You also find that if you go to previously disadvantaged areas, offices are mainly in towns and not in the rural areas. We cannot therefore assess the average.
However, the Department of Health has a model they use to assess optimal distances to travel, as does the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). We are benchmarking against this so we can come up with an optimal distance.
We do not only want to build new offices – we want to look at other ways of expanding our footprint. You know that in the department we presently utilise mobile offices which are helping to increase our footprint.
Question: Director-General, you say there are 40 offices with live capture functionality – what is this? What is the enhanced Movement Control System at Ports of Entry? The strategic objective to manage economic migration, the department aimed to issue 50 000 critical skills permits could you explain why the department failed to achieve this target?
Answer (Director-General): I have already explained what live capture functionality – I hope the explanation is sufficient.
The enhanced Movement Control System is that system which we implemented during the World Cup which assists us to manage movement into and out of the country. It is also a system that is linked to other law enforcement agencies in the country to assist with the fight against fraud and corruption. We want to roll this system out to other ports of entry now.
On the issue of scarce skills – though the target is 50 000, we realise that where we are in the country presently, this target may be too high. We have therefore revised it for the current financial year 2011/12 to 18 000.
At the moment, in any country, you must compete in the skills marketplace. And you must be able to offer incentives as a way of attracting the skills you really require.
The Department of Economic Development has been able to put together a list of skills that is required in the country because we must recruit scarce skills, not those we already have in the country. The responsibility of the Department of Labour must say what we want to do to retain these skills. The Department of Home Affairs serves as a gateway to processing the entry of such skills.
Question: Director-General, when do you expect the roll out of the smart card? Who designed the sample? What is the status of the Zimbabwe Documentation Project? Can you please explain your findings in the 50% of the disciplinary cases you had finalised?
Answer (Director-General): On the issue of the roll out, as I have already said, we for this year want to put in place the mechanisms that are required to ensure this is a success. We will then be able to look at the roll out.
In terms of the Zimbabwe Documentation Project we have reported in the media that the adjudication process is complete and we are currently ensuring the dispatch of permits and submission of outstanding documents. A report will then be submitted to Minister for her consideration.
We have said we arrested about 11 people at OR Tambo International. We cannot fight or claim successes over corruption on our own. We are really pleased with the collaboration with our sister departments on this issue of corruption.
The smart card was designed by Government Printing Works. As we have said, if we have capacity within government to do this, we should use it.
In terms of the Zimbabwe Documentation Project we have reported in the media that the adjudication process is complete and we are currently ensuring the dispatch of permits and submission of outstanding documents.
Question: Director-General, you spoke about corruption. When you were speaking about it, were you speaking about internal or external corruption? What does finalised mean regarding disciplinary cases in the department?
Answer (Director-General): I was talking about both.What we mean by finalised is that the presiding officer has issued his or her judgment.
Question: Director-General, has Who Am I Online been done away with and replaced with Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS)? Which IT company is providing your information technology (IT) requirements?
Answer (Director-General): HANIS can never replace Who Am I Online.We had to ensure our civic services as well as immigration services are automated. The current system like the NPR is now integrated within the Who Am I Online. So one does not replace another. It must be integrated with each other.
On the settlement, we did indicate that Gijima is still part of the process although the responsibilities have changed.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
23 Aug 2011
[ Top ]