Interview by Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma with Lesedi FM
21 Jul 2009
Minister good evening and thank you for coming to Lesedi FM
Minister Dlamini Zuma
What motivated you to pay this unannounced visit to Beaufort West?
Well, I am visiting all the provincial offices. I have informed the provinces that when I have completed my visits to them I will undertake unannounced visits to other offices so that I can see what is happening on the ground on a day-today basis. I can see what challenges are being experienced by the employees and the clients (members of the public) because I cannot improve things unless I can see what is happening on the ground.
What are some of the challenges you have observed in your visits to these areas?
Minister Dlamini Zuma
There are various challenges. If I begin with Beaufort West what immediately comes to mind is that Beaufort West is servicing a very wide rural area so officials have to travel regularly to farms perhaps 200 to 300 kilometres away to render services. This means we must look at transportation and vehicles available for the outreach programmes like these.
Of course, they also have problems with people who do not register their children at birth and when these children are adults they want services to be rendered to them. This is not possible because these adults do not have any documentation that enables the provision of services to them. This is one area the public must pay attention to and register their children timeously.
Office space is also one area requiring attention looking at the situation in
Beaufort West, space is rather limited. So this is another sort of issue that requires attention.
There is also the case of members of the public not collecting their IDs and passports timeously because they are still used to the time when Home
Affairs took a long time to produce these documents. However, these documents are now produced rather quickly. Some applicants however still take a long time to collect their documents.
Can you say this challenge is unique to Beaufort West or does it occur across the spectrum?
Well, challenges differ from area to area.
In Beaufort West as I have said, the outreach programme needs to be strengthened because it reaches over a wide area. In Bloemfontein, there are different challenges to those which occur in Beaufort West.
One can ask this question: what would you be doing with the information collected during your various visits?
Not just after all the visits, after every visit we sit with the team; assess what we found, and devise ways of improving services. These visits assist us to formulate our programme, policies, and to improve delivery at the local level.
Minister, how will you know these problems have been solved?
As I say, I have to sit with the team at Head Office after the visit and ensure we follow up on the challenges and problems we found on every visit and even if we have not discovered only challenges in the offices we visit, we respond to challenges raised with us by members of the public we interact with. We follow up and ensure where possible we are able to resolve the challenges and problems.
Of course, we also have to train employees because we have to change the attitudes of employees. They must ensure they adhere to the principles of Batho Pele, they must treat people with dignity, they must be efficient. One of the things I do not like is when people visit an office and the proper services are not rendered timeously. If I visit the Home Affairs office once, I must receive all of the required information, fill in the required documents and on my next visit I should be able to collect my documentation. I do not think people should be sent from pillar to post.
What challenges are being experienced by staff in the offices you have visited?
Well, some of the offices have employees who conduct themselves in a very laissez-faire attitude, who don't care. In some areas the managers are not strong enough to manage their officials and ensure the employees work and deliver services as they should.
One of the things, for instance, we are enforcing now is that all employees should wear name tags. This should have been happening already but employees were not wearing their name tags. I would like the public to inform the department if officials in the office which they visit are not wearing name tags because it is very important to wear a name badge because you have an identity.
If you do something good, the public knows who to complement and if you do something bad people know to whom they should attribute the deed. It is not just Home Affairs, Home Affairs about whom they can complain. So, we would like the public to work with us in identifying those offices where they have experienced problems or to identify those who have rendered good service so we can encourage them to continue.
Minister, I believe you came to this department because it is one of the problematic ones. Did you assume your portfolio with pre-conceived ideas of how to correct the problems or are you proceeding on the basis of what you discover?
As a member of the South African public I was aware of some of the challenges. And because Home Affairs works with issues of people from cradle to grave, whatever they need for their lives from birth to death, I knew some of the challenges I would find.
This is why I have announced we are going to have a campaign that will end in 2011, a campaign to register all children from 0-14 years so that every child is registered. After 2011 we do not want late registrations. From 2012 we will be registering only newborns up until their first birthday so that we do away with late registrations.
We will also be proactively issuing IDs to 16 year olds from 2012, upon turning 16 you will receive an ID. This is the campaign we will be running so that we are not under pressure at various times. We must ensure we do our work properly and conscientiously so that people receive the services they require at the proper time. This is also to ensure that adults are not able to cheat the system saying it is a late registration when they are not South African. We want to ensure we clean up our population register so that people get onto the register at a very early age.
There has also been an improvement in the turn-around times of the production of IDs and passports. Now, you can also check and it is now possible to track at what stage your application/production of documentation is. You will receive an SMS when the document has arrived saying, you can collect your documentation at the office of application. So, these are some of the things we plan to do, some of which we have already begun but we need to accelerate and improve upon them
Minister, let me congratulate you on your appointment to this portfolio. I was very pleased when I heard of your appointment because I know how effective you are. I also want to congratulate Mr Mamoepa.
We have been struggling to receive a death certificate since 1998 but after I spoke to Mr Mamoepa last week, the death certificate was issued in four days. The other thing is the late registrations. You see, when you go to the Department of Home Affairs, they will direct you to the church or to the school for late registrations. But some people do not have access to this because they are coming from the farms. There is sometimes no correlation between the new location in which the person is living and the church that has verified their identity. A person can do the Home Affairs office for up to five times without being helped.
(Translation by presenter) Minister here the caller is explaining he was given the incorrect date of birth despite visiting the Home Affairs office many times.
Can the second caller give you his full name and ID number as well as what should be corrected and we will follow this matter up. The other matter is quite a complex one. This is what happens with late registrations and this is why I want to do away with it. This is why I want children to be registered at birth so that by 2012 we can do away with late registrations. With late registrations, there are genuine South Africans who apply for late registrations.
There are also those who are not South Africans who apply for late registrations in this window of opportunity and they bribe people to lie for them. They are then included in our population register. This is why South African documents are no longer credible and this is why we are even experiencing problems in other countries. This is why we want to do away with this.
For now though, we have had lots of complaints like this where genuine South
Africans are experiencing problems so we are going to be looking at how to simplify some of these processes for late registration. However, people must understand that the problem is those who are not South African who apply for late registration in exactly the same way as those who are South Africans apply for late registration. We are going to try and simplify this process and also to develop criteria for those we believe to be South African and criteria for those we believe to be applying fraudulently in an attempt to control corruption. But nonetheless this is a complex matter and the one that is creating many many problems for us.
Good evening Minister. I want to ask if I can read and write why should I stand in a queue to receive documents?
Minister Dlamini Zuma you mentioned the challenges in your department, one of which is managers who cannot control their staff. I want some clarity on this because I do not believe strength is required to manage staff. Secondly Minister, what are you doing nationally because apparently South Africa is vulnerable to influx of people from other countries?
Firstly, regarding the forms, if you can read and write and if you go to a Home
Affairs office, you should be able to ask for the forms. We are working towards having the forms available electronically so that people can download it from the Home Affairs website, fill it in and bring in when you have completed it.
In terms of the question about strengths, I did not mean physical strength. I meant that their management skills are not strong enough to manage the workers under them because if you are a manager, if people do not work properly you should be able to call them to order, to manage them. And if the employee's behaviour persists, you should be able to act. This is what I meant by strength.
And, in terms of national interventions, basically our responsibility as Home
Affairs are control of movement of people through the legal ports of entry. If people come into South Africa illegally, this is the responsibility of the police.
We are only responsible for the legal ports of entry through which people enter with legitimate documentation, passports, visas, etc. I am saying my first priority is to clean up the population register because this situation where people bribe others and obtain fraudulent South African document is a very big one. If we have a clean population register, people who are not South Africans should not be on it. That is why I am saying we must register children at birth because it is not easy to cheat when all the children are registered at birth because you know who is South African from birth. People do not come to Home Affairs when they are 20, 30, 40 saying they are South African and they want IDs. How do you tell the difference between a South African who is 40 and was never registered and a foreigner who is seeking South African documentation illegally?
Thank you Minister that is all we have time for.
Cell: 082 990 4853
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
21 July 2009
Source: Department of Home Affairs (http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/)
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
21 Jul 2009
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