Honourable Chairperson, indeed I am honoured to present the Budget Policy Statement of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), for 2017/18.
The Values of OR Tambo
It is fitting that we dedicate this Budget Policy Statement to a radical, visionary and resilient servant of the people of South Africa, Oliver Reginald Tambo. He was an outstanding internationalist and humanist of great courage, strength and integrity.
He showed us that if you live by correct values you can mobilise others and overcome huge difficulties. He freely moved in and out of different countries, small and big cities but was never stopped because of his compliance with the laws and was never doubted or seen as a security risk.
As Tambo said, we cannot but “assert the dignity of all men and women across the oceans, on all the continents, permanently and unequivocally”.
Commemoration of World Refugee Day
Today is World Refugee Day as recognised by the United Nations. Given the circumstances that we find ourselves in and witness on different media platforms where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, it is especially critical for us to show the global public that we stand with refugees. This day is meant to remind all member states to evaluate their programmes towards addressing the plight of refugees, and also concientising citizens about the importance of welcoming strangers into our shores living with them according to our values of Ubuntu.
Executive Summary – Achievements of Last Year
Last year there were commitments made to this august Council by my predecessor. You voted the department a total of R8.1 billion for operations and projects.
In the past year the department continued to modernise itself to fully replace outdated systems that are not secure, or efficient. The eHomeAffairs online application platform for smart ID cards and passports was improved to speed up replacement of green-barcoded IDs with smart ID cards. We replaced over 2.6 million green-barcoded ID books with secured smart ID cards over five years.
We hope to strengthen our partnership with the four participating banks, namely: Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank. In the pilot phase of eHomeAffairs, focus was in Gauteng. Thus, 13 bank branches in this partnership are in that province, with one Standard Bank branch in the Western Cape. The intention is to expand the number of participating branches going forward.
We invite citizens, especially the youth and first time applicants who are in Matric, to apply online, or at their nearest Home Affairs offices, for smart ID cards and passports.
We also committed to upgrade six of the largest land ports of entry, namely: Lebombo in Mpumalanga, Oshoek in Mpumalanga, Beitbridge in Limpopo, Maseru Bridge in the Free State, Ficksburg in the Free State and Kopfontein in North West.
Another major achievement was that the Border Management Authority Bill was completed after extensive engagements within government, NEDLAC and broader society.
The Bill was approved by Cabinet, and was recently passed by the National Assembly. I trust that as we implement the BMA Act we will continue to receive your support.
Honourable Members, “Thank you!” for supporting the campaign to register every new citizen within 30 days of birth, as prescribed by law. Let’s remember, always, that pre-1994, no SA government recorded, systematically, the births and deaths of African people.
This historical injustice renders fundamental the DHA’s mandate to secure and confirm the identity and status of all citizens. Securing the identity and status of every citizen constitutes an important pillar of the noble struggle for socio-economic transformation. This task speaks also to the restoration of dignity of each citizen, without regard to race, gender or class, in line with the 1994 Constitution.
We can agree, that our most urgent priority is to deliver a secure and efficient service, enabled by technologies and innovation, as well as by a capable public service.
We also continue to make use of our accredited Learning Academy where our officials receive dedicated training programmes, like the comprehensive National Certificate: Home Affairs Services.
Other good examples, in this regard, include the innovative, in-house, Client Service Centre that has replaced the Call Centre we used to outsource. Many calls are about problems of identity that are a legacy of the colonial migrant labour system and its destruction of families.
As stated in the NDP Vision 2030, the department directly contributes to economic restructuring, growth and job creation. Appropriately, we have set strategic targets, against an Annual Performance Plan and a realistic budget. We trust the targets for 2017/18 will contribute to achieving our strategic objectives aligned to national priorities.
For 2017/18 the total vote allocated is R7.1 billion, of which R1.2 billion was transferred to the IEC and R141 million to the Represented Political Parties Fund.
Building a New Home Affairs
The Department’s key strategic areas are those of civic and immigration services. We are making inroads on the Modernisation Programme which was launched to develop secure integrated digital systems managed strategically by professionals. Our work is highly dependent on information technology. Therefore, this critical component is voted R834 million to maintain transversal systems.
Much has been done to improve the DHA as an organisation, to modernize its systems, to combat corruption and to deliver better services. For the 2017/18 financial year, we have a total allocation of R519 million earmarked for the Modernisation Programme.
We firmly believe that the movement of Home Affairs into the Security Cluster will enable the Department to deliver against its full mandate as a critical enabler of inclusive economic development, national security, effective service delivery and efficient administration.
A Discussion Paper on the Repositioning of Home Affairs, based on the Business Case, was published in the Government Gazette on 19 May 2017. Substantive comments can be submitted until 30 September 2017. We will engage stakeholders including at provincial level. We look forward to contributions from Honourable Members.
Building a new National Identity System
We commit to finalize the design of a National Identity System (NIS) that will replace the National Population Register, which dates back to the 1980s. The new National Identity System will be a secure, integrated system recording identities and status of all persons who visit or reside in South Africa. All systems of the DHA will be automated and connected to the NIS. In this regard, one of the new targets for 2017/18 is piloting of the full scope of biometrics at a ports of entry.
This entails improving the movement control system and digitizing citizenship and amendment processes. As part of this process, the department has discontinued the manual processing of passports. Therefore passports can only be acquired through the 179 live capture offices across the country.
Digitisation of Records
Over the years, among the factors impacting on proficient provision of public services to all our people has been a lack of efficient records management. Therefore, we will step-up the phased digitization of records using the earmarked R10 million per annum received from Treasury. The process commenced in the previous financial year through a partnership with Statistics South Africa.
South Africa has the capacity to modernise. For example, using technology as an enabler, we transformed our office in Marabastad which was notorious for being overcrowded into the world class Desmond Tutu Refugee Reception Centre, launched by President Jacob Zuma early this year.
Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Work on civic services is voted R2.4 billion. A key target is registration of 750 000 births within 30 days. This represents about 74% of estimated births; anything less than 100% carries risks and compromises the population register. Currently, we have more than 300 health institutions with network hospital connectivity with an additional 80 lines to be upgraded this year.
This year we will connect a further 26 offices with live capture functionality for Births, Marriages and Deaths. Identified sites are to be announced.
National Study on Challenges in Early Birth Registration
On this matter of early birth registration, compliance is a challenge. With help from the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, a national study is being conducted, to understand the causes of late registration of birth. We are exploring viable solutions also with Department of Health, which is cooperating with the study.
Intensifying smart ID card roll-out
The target for issuing smart ID cards was increased from 2.2 million of 2016/17 to 3 million in 2017/18. This is based on the number of counters in the 179 offices fitted with the new digital system. The number of offices will be increased by a further 14 offices with paperless, automated issuance of smart ID cards and passports.
Expanding our Mobile Footprint
As we rollout the live capture system in existing offices, we will continue to explore ways of expanding our office footprint to reach out to communities in the rural and remote areas. As an interim measure, the department has deployed 115 mobile units countrywide.
We have started a tender process for a mobile solution which will capacitate mobile units to receive applications for smart ID cards and passports.
Immigration Services: Permitting
We have in this financial year put aside R1.2 billion for immigration services. The turnaround standard set last year of 85% of permits delivered within 8 months will be maintained. The target for adjudicating temporary residence visas increased to 90% within 8 weeks for business and general work visas. We commit to improving the target for critical skills visas by 5% to 80% adjudicated within 4 weeks.
Continued Work on Land Ports
The project to upgrade our six largest land ports of entry will continue, with DHA engaging National Treasury on securing service providers.
Border Management Authority
The Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill, 2016 represents a radical shift from the colonial and apartheid systems that were based largely on inhuman exploitation of subjugated peoples. The goal of the BMA will be to secure and protect South Africa’s borders in the national interest while meeting the country’s regional, African and global developmental commitments.
While completing the legislative process, the BMA Project Management Office will continue with the development of a detailed roadmap and blueprint. The plan is to have the BMA operational in the current financial year. Already, an integrated border management strategy is in place, and will be implemented in phases.
The period 2017 to 2021 will consist of the foundation and realignment phase. This will be followed by the consolidation and ongoing roll-out phase in 2021 to 2031. The resilience and adaptation phase of the BMA will happen beyond 2031.
International Migration Policy
The transformation of South Africa’s international migration policy is among the major priorities of the department.
Our focus is now on implementing the White Paper, approved by Cabinet in March 2017. This is an important milestone for South Africa, and a critical step towards promoting national security and development while minimising risks to the country.
The policy development process will result in a comprehensive overhaul of immigration and refugees legislation. In the shorter term, urgent amendments to the immigration and refugees acts are needed to address immediate challenges. The Refugees Amendment Bill, 2016 seeks to improve on operational efficiencies at both the refugee reception offices and the two statutory bodies, namely, the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs and the Refugee Appeals Board.
It is in this way that we can address several operational challenges, such as the chronic backlog at the Refugee Appeals Board. The reduction of abusive applications at our refugee reception centres from approximately 100 000 in 2010 to 36 000 in 2016 reflects a positive trajectory that will assist refugees and asylum seekers.
The Immigration Amendment Act, 2016, (Act 8 of 2016), assented to and signed by the President on 27 September 2016, empowers us to provide for adequate sanction for foreigners who overstay beyond the expiry date of their visas. These policies and legislative interventions will advance our priority to resolve the abuse of the asylum system, largely by economic migrants. There is evidence that around 90% of requests for asylum are not genuine, thus this high-level of rejections.
Nonetheless, while improving on legislation, policies and implementation, much work was done to ease travel for investors and businesses so as to promote economic development in our country and region. Recent amendments to immigration legislation require investors who establish businesses here to make sure 60% or more of their employees are citizens and that skills are transferred.
Uprooting Systematic Corruption
We are intensifying our all-out fight against corruption in all its manifestations. IDs, passports and birth certificates have high value and the DHA is under constant attack by local and international criminal syndicates. Cybercrime is also on the rise.
We will strengthen the work of our Counter Corruption unit, of uprooting fraud, bribery and corruption inside and outside the system. This work we will do through Operation Bvisa Masina – cleaning the rot – which was launched in 2015.
Since its launch, there were 166 arrests for fraud and other crimes, with 85 officials arrested and 81 members of the public, either working alone or for syndicates. This work we will fast-track and develop in line with the National Anti-Corruption Strategy.
We urge Honourable members to report each and every incident of fraud and corruption they encounter, to Home Affairs and the police.
Government Printing Works
Government Printing Works (GPW) is a success story for the country. It is a highly-efficient, self-funded organisation producing your new secure passports and smart ID cards. GPW is positioning itself as a high-security printer of official documents. Going-forward, it will require approval of two bills. The GPW State Owned Company Bill will be tabled this year and the Security Printers Bill in 2018/19.
Moving South Africa forward
For a breakthrough on our strategic objectives, we need strong partnerships across a range of stakeholders, made up of community representatives, non-governmental organisations, faith based organisations, traditional leadership, business, organised labour, UN-based organisations and broader society.
Focus is required on the most vulnerable – women and children. It’s important to combat gender-based violence and abuse, including human trafficking, abductions and marriages of convenience.
In conclusion, I thank my predecessor, Minister Malusi Gigaba, Deputy Minister Chohan, DG Mkuseli Apleni and officials, for substantial progress made against the 2016/17 budget and plan.
We are indebted to the Select Committee on Social Services, led by Honourable Dlamini, for guidance and support at all times. The NCOP has shown a clear understanding of the fact that Home Affairs is a strategic resource for enabling the empowerment of citizens, the inclusive socio-economic development of our economy, and for attaining efficient and accountable government. It is these noble commitments that spurred us on this year to adopt as the theme for the budget debate – “Secure and Efficient Service to the People!”
I thank you!
Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize
Minister of Home Affairs