MEDIA STATEMENT ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A TASK TEAM TO REVIEW CERTAIN PERMITS ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OVER THE YEARS AND A COMMITTEE TO ADVISE ON THE AMENDMENT OF THE ELECTORAL ACT 73 OF 1998 BY THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS DR AARON MOTSOALEDI.
03 March 2021
My colleague, Deputy Minister, Mr Njabulo Nzuza
The Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs, Mr Tommy Makhode.
Members of the public listening through various platforms.
Members of the media.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for honouring our invitation to update you on the work the Department of Home Affairs is doing to ensure a more rigorous and consistent implementation of our immigration laws as we pursue our national interests, guided by our Constitution and international commitments.
Three weeks ago, in a meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, I announced my intention to set up a task team to review some permits that were issued by the Department over the years. I identified the need to review the permits after realising a trend emerging from the outcomes of cases involving prominent people investigated by the Department’s Counter Corruption Unit, which investigates wrongdoing by departmental officials.
Over the years, the Counter Corruption unit has established that 66 percent, or nearly two out of every three reported cases, involved permitting. The allegations are reported by different whistle-blowers using different avenues to reach the Counter Corruption unit.
In November 2020, during a high powered investigation, I was alarmed when 14 members of the permitting section signed a petition demanding that the Counter Corruption unit should stop investigating their errors. This admission strengthened my resolve to have a more transparent permit issuance regime.
As I announced last week, I hereby wish to inform the country that a Ministerial Committee has been established to review all permits and visas issued since 2004, in the following categories;
- Permanent Residence Permits (PRP), which are just a step away from citizenship
- Corporate visas, especially in the mining sector
- Business visa
- (Professional) Critical skills visa
- Retired persons visa
- Citizenship by naturalisation
- Study visa
We chose 2004 as the cut-off date because that is the year the Immigration Act, Act number 13 of 2002, came into operation.
This Committee is expected to present an interim report in three months. The three months period is not an indication of the lifespan of this Committee but this target communicates our desire for a speedy conclusion of the review because most of the information to be reviewed is already held within the Home Affairs Department.
We are undertaking this review to ensure that each permit has been issued to a qualifying person because our immigration laws have to be implemented in a manner that facilitates economic development and encourages social stability. The expeditious and accurate issuance of these permits can contribute to growing the economy as we emerge from the impact of Covid-19. The Committee will also identify loopholes in our system and recommend improvements.
We have already met the Committee, which has already started its work. We have agreed that the Committee will indicate to us how much time it will need to complete this task after taking into account various considerations.
Members of the Committee are;
- Dr Cassuis Lubisi – Chairperson, with extensive experience in governance as a Director General in Government
- Advocate Sesi Baloyi – A Senior Counsel who is the Chairperson of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates. Her specialisations include Administrative Law as well as Employment and Labour Law.
- Mr Peter Bishop – A forensic investigations specialist with vast experience in both the public and private sector locally and internationally. Also formerly with the Special Investigating Unit.
- Ms Kathleen Dlepu – Is the Chairperson of the Legal Services Council, formerly Law Society. She’s a lawyer with vast experience and expertise in Administrative Law.
- Prof Somadoda Fikeni – An academic with extensive experience at University level and a Commissioner at the Public Service Commission
Appointment of an advisory committee to advise on the Electoral Act, 73 of 1998 amendment
In July 2020, the Constitutional Court, in the application brought by New National Movement NPC in 2019, ruled that the Electoral Act (Act 73 of 1998) is unconstitutional to the extent that it requires that adult citizens may be elected to the National Assembly and Provincial Legislatures only through their political parties.
Several meetings and briefings were held by the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs in regard to this issue. In the meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs of 09 February 2021, a programme was set on how to take this matter forward.
As Minister of Home Affairs, I announced to the Portfolio Committee that I will be putting up a team of experts to advise me as we work towards complying with the Constitutional Court judgment.
This team includes lawyers, political scientists, social scientist, and architects of electoral systems who have extensive experience. We have also met this Committee and it too has started its work.
The Committee consists of;
- Mr Mohammed Valli Moosa – Chairperson. He is the former Minister of Provincial Affairs and Constitutional Development.
- Advocate Pansy Tlakula – the former Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission and the longest serving Chief Electoral Office.
- Advocate Vincent Maleka – a Senior Council with extensive experience in representing several clients up to the Constitutional Court.
- Dr Mike Sutcliffe – former member of the Demarcation Board and former Ethekwini Municipal Manager.
- Dr Sithembile Mbete – political scientist and senior lecturer at the University of Pretoria.
- Mr Norman du Plessis – former Deputy Chief Electoral Officer with extensive experience in electoral operations and electoral systems.
- Prof Daryl Glaser – political scientist and Head of Department: Political Studies at Wits University. He has extensive international experience on electoral systems and electoral reforms.
- Dr Nomsa Masuku – Commissioner of the Independent Electoral Commission, an academic and a champion of civic and democracy education. She is a former Deputy Chief Electoral Officer responsible for Outreach.
Two more nominations, one from the Minister of Finance and another one from the SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC), through the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, are still being awaited.
I am grateful to members of both Ministerial Committees for availing their collective skills and time as we build the South Africa we want.
Resumption of services at Home Affairs offices
Following the President’s announcement that the country has moved to Alert Level 1, we have decided that more services will be resumed tomorrow, Thursday, 04 March 2021. The Citizenship service remains temporarily unavailable.
Online services through eHome Affairs and our partner banks will be resumed on Monday, 08 March 2021.
The following services were offered during Adjusted Lock Level 3;
- Births Registration
- Re-issuance of Births Certificates
- Late Registration of Birth (LRB) for learners and pensioners only;
- Death registration
- Applications temporary Identity certificate (TIC)
- Collection of Identity cards or documents
- Applications and collection of passports for those who are exempted to travel
- Applications for identity (Smart ID) Cards or documents for matriculants only
In addition to those mentioned above, we are resuming the following services during Lock Level 1;
- Re-issues of Smart ID Cards and identity documents
- Registration and Solemnization of Marriages
- Amendments and rectifications
- Late Registration of Birth (LRB) for all categories
- Applications and collections of passports for all categories
I would like to remind South Africans that Covid-19 is still with us and we need to remain vigilant in our fight against its spread. We do not want our offices to be super spreader sites.
We urge everyone who visits our offices to observe social distancing, sanitise their hands regularly and to wear their masks properly, covering their noses and mouths.
Nobody will be allowed into our offices if they are not wearing their masks properly.
Thank you very much.