22 JULY 2020
Honourable House Chairperson
The Minister of Home Affairs Dr Motsoaledi
Members of the Executive
Chairperson of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee Adv Bongani Bongo
Fellow South Africans
House Chairperson a great crisis is upon us. It is overwhelming; it might just be the greatest threat against humanity we might ever have to face in recent times. It is an invisible enemy that has undermined powerful weapons of war. It has hit the entire world like a powerful storm that no one was ever ready for. COVID 19 has brought a crisis that does not just test our smarts but our character and resolve.
This is not a time for triumphalism and staging a popularity gala, it is not a time to seek relevance. We have no option but to rise to the occasion, as much as we could never be adequately prepared for what was unknown, but we could surely control how we respond. The budget we are presenting here is our response to maintaining and advancing a new way of life for the better whilst we are still faced with great adversity.
House Chairperson, the Department of Home Affairs responded to this and did not crumble at the face of great adversity. We have responded by making sure that critical parts of our way of life are preserved under these difficult times. The services offered by Home Affairs are inescapable and cannot be duplicated anywhere else; and so, we made sure that despite this crisis we rose to the occasion in service of the millions of South Africans and foreign nationals who depend on us.
During the lockdown period between the 27 March to the 13 July 2020 we waged a formidable war against the scandal of invisibility by registered 267 835 new births that occurred just before and during lockdown covering the backlog. We issued 150 141 Temporary Identity Certificates ensuring that those who lost their identity documents could continue with their lives.
We facilitated the collection of 139 061 Smart ID Cards. We took 2 661 passport applications for cross border essential service workers ensuring that those who move cross border goods essential for our survival are able to do so. We issued 135 384 death certificates ensuring that our loved ones are buried with dignity and ensuring access to policy benefits of those who had departed. These are consistent with the figures register last year during the same period.
Chairperson we responded and adapted our working hours from 10h00 to 14h00 and went back to our normal working hours. We went back to our presence in Health Centres to register births. This chairperson we achieved through the dedication and resolve of our front line dedicated civil servants who braved uncertainty. They answered their call of duty and kept our country working.
This budget will go to great lengths in ensuring that citizens and residents are issued with enabling documents that gives them access to all that our great nation has on offer. In the previous financial year, we reached a milestone of 845 253 births registered within 30 days surpassing the 810 000 target of early birth registration.
The early birth registration programme has resulted into a decline of 27.8% in late birth registration with those of children above 14 years declining by 59.8%. This powerful programme ensures that our children get their identity early in life and thereby ensuring that no South African child becomes stateless.
We have established presence in 391 health facilities across the country for the registration of births and deaths, of which 322 are public and 69 are private health facilities. In 2019 we embarked on a high scale project to roll out online birth registration in all 1445 public health facilities with maternity wards by 2020/2023 financial year, including strengthening birth registration systems in already established 391 health facilities. This budget will bring us closer towards the roll out of online birth registration system in all public health facilities.
We say this with confidence because we have optimized online birth registration in 41 historically high birth occurrence centers in the 2019/2020 financial year. To advance this program further this budget invests further resources for hospital connectivity and foot print development in order to secure a better future for the unborn children who will get their identities before they leave Health Facilities.
We are stepping up our initiatives for the first-time issue on Smart ID cards. We have allocated mobile units to schools in partnership with the Department of Education. This strategy of going to our youth directly in schools will in the medium term ensure that no learner losses a school day because they must apply for their Identity Documents within the branch network.
We have successfully implemented a special volunteer program dedicated to learners. The department has dedicated certain holidays and certain weekends as special days dedicated to learners. These special days have helped us reach leaners on holidays and weekends thus saving them school hours. Honourable chair let me take this opportunity to salute the dedicated youth of the department who have selflessly given time to service other young people their dedication is inspiring. These initiatives have helped us come closer to our target in issuing of new smart Identity Cards.
The achievements that have been made do not in any way make us forget the challenges that lie ahead of us. That is why we plead with the people of South Africa to collect their Identity Documents from Home Affairs. The department is currently sitting with 305 829 uncollected identity documents.
Even though this figure went down from 412 686 at the end of the 19/20 financial year which is a good achievement, more still needs to be done in this regard. We will continue with our awareness campaigns to urge the public to collect their Identity Documents in order for the country to continue towards its smart and secure identity regime.
The budget we are presenting here today will advance the departments plans to continue issuing world class passports that are secure and credible. The South African passport is rated amongst the most secure passport in the world. We are proud that out of 782 049 adult passports issued 98.86% were issued within 13 days. Only 36 716 of these were issued beyond 13 days as such surpassing our targets. We went further and issued 162 340 passports for minors within 18 working days and 1 877 were issued beyond 18 working days.
This budget allows the department to resolve some of the Government’s core network issues that if not resolved will become a stumbling block towards building an uninterrupted network connectivity. These interventions are currently in progress and should be completed with 24 months.
These interventions will improve our systems availability. The improvement on systems availability will go a long way in ensuring that citizens are assisted with speed. This will in turn reduce long queues and time spent by clients in our offices. We must keep in mind that this is an extraordinary budget vote. This has resulted into just above half a billion-budget cuts for the department. The department in response has adopted the revolutionary targeted approach in the preparation of this budget.
The targeted approach allows us to keep the department intact and also gives us the ability to meet our contractual obligations. This strategy has allowed us to buffer the impact of budget cuts caused by COVID 19. We have used the savings made on the travel allocation to our advantage by re-allocating those funds to critical parts of our units. The targeted approach allows us to embrace and support the critical role played by our human capital in the front-end service of our citizens. The targeted approach means we will continue to fill critical positions. We have directed resources towards securing guarantees that we do not lose any more human capital by filling all posts that will become vacant during the financial year. This resolves our long-standing problem of the permanent erosion of our human capital.
Times are tough House Chair. We are walking in unchartered territory. This however should not make us stumble and never stand up again; we will stumble but we will rise again, again and again till we achieve our goals. Today chairperson we pay tribute to our staff members who have not been spared by COVID 19 we say to them your contributions will always be remembered.
We were trained to never mourn but to mobilize. We have mobilized chair and lined up all our resources we are like a sharp spear ready for battle. Now more than ever the words by President Thabo Mbeki hold true that “Gloom and despondency has never defeated adversity. Trying times need courage and resilience. Our strength as the people is not tested during the best of times. As we said before we should never become despondent because the weather is bad nor should we turn triumphalist because the sun shines”.
I thank you House Chair.