Transcript copy: Speaking notes for Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma for briefing to media on the arrival of Cuban trainers in South Africa
14 Oct 2011
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media. This is a very short briefing and is a follow up to the one we had last week when we introduced the programme of training and the pilot we are running of training the people we have recruited from the Defence Force as immigration officers. It is a pilot we are running but the programme will unfold after that pilot.
We thought we should brief you that this programme has started - we have 30 South African trainers - these are professional trainers so there is just a short programme that is going to be done by the Cubans where they will be training them on some specific immigration issues.
So these are professional trainers already but the training that the Cubans are doing is very specific to immigration. I just wanted to clarify this because it is not that they are going to be trained to be trainers. It is not like that.
They are professional trainers coming from parts of government and the private sector – they have been recruited across the board – and they are going to be part of our Learning Academy and they are now going to be working with the Cubans.
They are receiving their own training from the Cubans specifically on immigration issues and after this, they will together, train the 350 recruits that will be coming from the Defence Force who will be trained as immigration officers. And this is the first lot that will be trained and this lot will be deployed at Oliver Tambo International Airport once they have been trained. We will be reskilling the immigration officers who are currently at Oliver Tambo International Airport.
We thought this would be a good opportunity for you to see the trainers so you know this is not a phantom exercise - it is real and it is proceeding so the trainers are here – 30 of them – they have already started their work. But they will be proceeding to the Northern Cape where the 350 Defence Force recruits will be trained before they come over to Oliver Tambo International Airport. The reason we have gone to the Northern Cape is to get a big enough venue that is able to take 350 trainees as well as the trainers. This is why we chose the Northern Cape – there is no other reason.
As I said this is a very short briefing and you are now welcome to ask questions.
Questions and Answers:
Question: Minister, which areas of immigration will you be focusing on – what are the gaps you want to address?
Answer: (Minister Dlamini Zuma) Well, the recruits who are coming from the Defence Force have to be trained in all immigration relations issues. They will not be trained on specific issues because they are not immigration officers. They are going to be immigration officers after the training so they will be trained in everything related to immigration affairs.
Question: Minister, what necessitated this programme? What are the reasons behind the implementation of this programme?
Answer: (Minister Dlamini Zuma) There are two main reasons why we decided to implement this training programme. The first is that we are orientating our department properly. Our Department was for a long time seen as a service delivery department although it is actually a security department. In many ways it forms the background of our security because it deals with who is in the country and who is in South Africa and how do people become South African, how do they come into and exit South Africa, what are they coming to South Africa to do and so on.
So, this aspect was to some extent not included so our department, as a whole is being orientated to both being a security department with a service component. This was the first challenge - we were not properly orientated – our mindset was not correct. We were just seeing ourselves as a service delivery department and losing a very important component of what we are. Now we are bringing this element so that we are indeed what we should be. This was the first challenge.
On the second challenge, we had identified gaps in the training that the immigration officers were getting and we also felt that we needed to have an international partner and we decided we are going to partner with Cuba because we think they have a very good programme from which we can benefit. This is why some parts of the training will be done by the Cubans. We have confidence in them - we have worked with them in difficult times - even before democracy so we want our training to be training that can withstand scrutiny from any quarter.
So these were the two challenges we faced – the orientation of the department as well as the gaps we had identified in terms of the training of immigration officers.
This training is not just going to be for immigration officers. This part is going to be for immigration officers but as I said last week, the people who are going to be coming out of Oliver Tambo International Airport will be receiving training.
We have developed a course that is recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) which will train a Home Affairs official. We want people who work at Home Affairs to be conversant with what Home Affairs is about so when you say you are a Home Affairs official and you are asked about civics, immigration or refugee affairs, you are able to understand the department as a whole especially because what we do is interlinked so it is important to have a rounded officer. We will also then be able to deploy officials where they are required.
So the Learning Academy will be broader than just about immigration training and training immigration officers. It will be training new people coming into Home Affairs in any area while also reskilling some of the people who are currently in the Department.
Question: Minister, how long will the course take?
Answer: (Minister Dlamini Zuma) The course for the Defence Force recruits will be on 24 October and conclude on the 15 December 2011.
You will understand these are people who are already in government since they are coming from the Defence Force. They have some training, although it may not be specific to the Department of Home Affairs. But because they are coming from government, they have some experience and are not coming in cold from the public.
Question: Minister, is this course going to assist with the fight against corruption?
Answer: (Minister Dlamini Zuma) Yes, but you also cannot fight corruption through one aspect. Fighting corruption is much broader but yes, it will assist because it will help to train officials and make them understand what it means to be an immigration officer to take care of the security of the country.
And what it means even for the civics - when we retrain them it will help them to understand what it means when you sell a South African identity, what the security implications are - once people understand and internalise these issues they will begin to realise it is much more important to secure the country than to get the few rands that they get from the people who bribe them or who buy or documents.
But there are also other measures - we are looking at revamping our Information Technology (IT) - eventually budget permitting and in place of ideal conditions, we want to become a paperless department where all applications will be done online and no applications can be brought to the back offices, behind the scenes.
We also have a unit that is looking at counter-corruption which is a counter-corruption unit that is looking at analysis, investigations, vetting and such related matters.
Anti-corruption measures cannot be limited to only one thing - there is a whole basket of measures - but this will also assist.
Department of Home Affairs
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Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
14 Oct 2011
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