Acting DG and managers
Leaders of our entities, IEC and Government Printing Works
Esteemed Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for attending this media briefing ahead of the Debate on the Home Affairs Budget, which is scheduled to take place this afternoon, 14h00, at Room E249 in the National Assembly.
This year we chose the theme, “Building a World Class Home Affairs”, as it speaks to current programmes, plans and priorities identified to take the DHA and South Africa forward.
We are committed to playing our part in contributing to economic growth through the easing of the visa regime while ensuring national security. Equally, we are just as committed to maintaining a credible population register.
Our major highlights, for this afternoon, include an update, by the Minister and me, on the commitments made in the last financial year and over the term of the fifth administration. We shall also unpack plans for the current financial year, and also speak on priorities of the sixth administration.
There is progress on the programme to modernise Home Affairs, with milestones like reduced service delivery turnaround times on enabling documents, mainly smart ID cards and modernised passports.
These notable improvements are possible due to the strides we are making in rolling out the live capture system. We now issue a smart ID card within a week and a passport in 13 working days. This is an improvement compared with previous waiting period of six months for an ID and four months for a passport.
However, we acknowledge that there are serious blockages in terms of service quality at offices as evidenced in our interactions with citizens while visiting various front offices since we assumed office.
One of our Ministerial priorities is to continue to intensify the fight on long queues and reducing long waiting periods at our front offices.
At 14:00 we shall also deal in detail with our priorities in the areas of identity (civics), immigration and asylum management.
We shall outline the work we are doing to clean the national population register by strengthening our early birth registration programme and fighting fraudulent marriages.
Notwithstanding current challenges, we have rolled out live capture at 193, out of our 412, offices. These offices are digitised and can take pictures of applicants and verify their fingerprints. We are extending our footprint to reach more citizens through the rollout of new modernised offices and through new platforms such as in the partnership with the banks.
Since we started digitising our application processes, we have issued over 13 million smart ID cards, and we continue setting tight deadlines to deliver on this critical task, of replacing the old, insecure, green-barcoded ID books. We urge our citizens who have applied for smart IDs to come and collect them.
Migrating people into smart IDs is a matter of critical importance in the quest to build a new national identification system for the country, which would be trusted, reliable and credible.
There is steady progress, as shall be outlined shortly in the House, on developing an Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), which was initiated in 2018.
The ABIS, when rolled out, will give us a single view of the client. We shall for instance have at our disposal a biometrics database showing citizens, permanent residents, asylum-seekers, refugees, visa applicants, visitors and deportees.
We shall reflect on the progress in repositioning Home Affairs as a modern, secure and professional department.
We shall also speak on developments around the transformation of South Africa’s international migration policy. A new White Paper in this regard is in place. We are working on new legislation.
Among our priorities, to be outlined this afternoon, is the establishment of a Border Management Authority which will serve as a single entity, under one command structure.
We continue to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to develop an implementation plan which will assist in reducing the backlog on asylum applications and appeals.
We shall also deal with the thorny issue of illegal migration. In this regard, work is being done to ensure people are documented, and their stay is regularised effectively to ascertain all people in the country are and feel safe. Last year our 731 Inspectorate officials undertook 24 266 deportations. They completed 2 880 undesirable appeals within 28 days, and conducted 221 inspections at business and hospitality industries where it was suspected undocumented nationals were employed.
This afternoon we shall also outline our plan on implementing the President’s call at SONA, to build a new world class visa regime – a call which had done much to shape our theme for this year – “Building a World Class Home Affairs!”
Building-blocks will include an e-Visa system, e-Gates, easing of movement for trusted frequent travelers to stimulate tourism and trade. We are stepping up the work we do to attract persons with critical skills, so as to support economic growth, job creation and economic development.
We invite all our partners and stakeholders, including the media, to walk this walk with us, of building a world class Department of Home Affairs; to grow South Africa together.