Transcript: Interactions with media by Minister of Home Affairs, N Dlamini Zuma, following visit to government printers
11 Aug 2009
Questions and answers
Question: Minister, when you assumed the position of Minister of Home Affairs you presented a list that would, amongst other things, ensure the integrity of South African identity documents. From what you have said, are you confident that this is being achieved?
Answer: From the printing side, yes. From the document side itself, yes. But we still have to take measures from the front line side because we need data that is collected on-line, pictures and signatures captured online. We are not there at the moment. There are some offices that have this equipment but it is still being rolled out. Not all offices have this equipment. Until this happens, I cannot say for sure, because if you do not capture this information online you cannot be sure that the information given is that which is connected to the photo presented, because this information is captured separately.
This is why we would like to have the details, signature and photos captured online. We are in the process of rolling this out. I think there are about 19 offices that have this equipment, but we have to continue with the roll out. Until all offices have this equipment and all information is captured and processed in this way, I cannot say for sure. But if the information coming in is correct, from the printing and distribution side I am confident.
Question: Minister, at your briefing to the Pretoria Press Club you said you would like children at schools to be registered to clear up those backlogs related to applications for identity documents at the age of 16. How is that process going?
Answer: This process has begun but it is not full blown. There are some places where registrations are beginning. Also, if you remember, I also said we want to change the format of the birth certificate itself. So this is in progress. I would like to ensure that as many of the children as possible, do receive birth certificates in the new format. Yes, this is ongoing. And of course, we want this to happen in a finite time, so we have advertised for a project manager. Although this is happening without a project manager we want someone dedicated to this project once it is fully operational.
Question: Minister, earlier we asked the deputy minister how much the roll out of the new equipment for identity documents is costing?
Answer: I would be lying if I said we know the exact figure. Perhaps the deputy minister knows? We do not have the exact figures; the 40 pilot stations are already there. The equipment just needs to be installed. The next phase will be to get more equipment to be installed into all the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) offices.
Question: Minister, when you spoke about registering and fingerprinting children before they apply for identity documents, you mentioned you had to check the age at which this could be done. Have you managed to agree on an age?
Answer: I think we should separate the two; birth registration is straightforward, from zero to 14 years of age. Then there was the question of finger printing children. This is a separate issue and is not necessarily linked to the zero to 14 years registration matter. Now, we haven’t decided on the age but we are looking at between seven to 10 years. There are still consultations taking place. Once we have completed these we will introduce this system. However, the registration of children is continuing.
Question: Minister, I remember you speaking of an identity document card, similar to the driver’s licence? What has happened to this?
Answer: As you know government had decided that all information communication technology tenders are given to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) who then makes the appropriate recommendations. The process was taken to SITA. Something went wrong at SITA in their processes and at the moment the smart card processes have been stopped and there are investigations that are going on at SITA. I am not sure when this will be completed. We are at the moment looking at alternatives to this process. And perhaps one of the alternatives we were looking at is whether Government Printers could produce the smart cards because I do not think this was considered when the matter was given to SITA for tender processes. We are now looking at this possibility.
Question: Minister, (inaudible)
Answer: I think the challenge is really that there equipment generally in Government Printing Works (GPW) is old. I am not talking about what we saw today, that is new equipment. The rest of the equipment for printing purposes is old. So, we would like, in the end to have a similar modern operation for all our processes and documentation because the old equipment creates problems in terms of speed, quality and even price because they increase the costs of production. It also affects the morale of staff because if they are working with old equipment they will have a different morale.
So, we would like to keep improving our technology so in the end all our documents are produced on modern equipment. That is the biggest challenge. The other challenge is the question of capacity within GPW although we are discussing how to resolve this. We lose some of the staff to better paying company but we are discussing how to recruit and retain skilled staff. This will not serve only Department of Home Affairs but all of government. It is therefore important to modernise GPW so that all products for government can be of a good quality.
Question: Minister, there are concerns at the centre close to me that it is becoming like the one in Marabastad including people who sleep overnight not to lose their places in the queue. However, when the centre started to operate people were served well. Perhaps the centre is now receiving far more people than it can accommodate. Are you aware of this situation?
Answer: Yes, I am aware and the deputy minister is taking charge of this because we also agreed it needs some kind of focused attention and as you know, he was in Messina last week. He is visiting some of the centres to advise us on what he thinks needs to be done and followed up. But of course, habits die hard. You cannot change everything overnight. Sometimes you also cannot predict how many people are going to arrive in a day. I am saying however that it is receiving much focused attention. The Deputy Minister is paying attention to all these issues and he is here is you would like to follow up on anything.
Question: Minister, would you consider setting up shelters?
Answer: That is not a Department of Home Affairs brief. Our mandate is the movement of people through our legal borders, to document South Africans and non-South Africans who are in South Africa but in terms of shelter and other services, other government departments are responsible for these, not Department of home Affairs.
Question: Minister, we have seen many DHA officials arrested recently. You have spoken about a clamp down in corruption. Do you think the situation is improving?
Answer: Well, corruption is not something you can stamp out overnight, it does not disappear overnight. The important thing is to deal with corruption wherever you find it and in so far as that is concerned, dealing with corruption wherever we find it, I am convinced that is happening. But as I said right from the beginning, it has to be a national effort because we would not know what is happening on every corner.
But, when we are informed by the public we are able to investigate and see what is happening. It has to be a national effort. But also, people should not be tempted to pay bribes. And also, we should also look at corruption in the country because Department of Home Affairs cannot be an enclave of non-corruption if the rest of the country has high levels of corruption. So, it has to be a national effort. Department of Home Affairs, the public and the rest of government must play its part.
Question: Minister, do you know when the equipment will be replaced?
Answer: We will replace the equipment as we have funds available. We know how much they cost but we must wait for the necessary funding.
Cell: 082 990 4853
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
11 August 2009
Source: Department of Home Affairs (http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/)
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
11 Aug 2009
[ Top ]