19 MAY 2020, 14H00
Honourable House Chairperson
My colleague, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Honourable Njabulo Nzuza
Honourable members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs
Honourable members of the National Assembly.
The Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mr Glenn Mashinini, the entire commission and Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Sy Mamabolo
The Director General of the Department, Mr Tommy Makhode, who is attending his maiden Home Affairs Budget Vote, and his team
Acting Commissioner of the Border Management Authority, Mr Gene Ravele, who is also attending his maiden budget speech
The Acting CEO of the Government Printing Works (GPW), Ms Alinah Fosi and her team
Country Director of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in SA, Mr Leonard Zulu
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good afternoon to you all and thank you for your contribution in making the Department of Home Affairs the robust and responsive institution it is.
It is noteworthy that we meet today in a year when we are celebrating the life and the indomitable spirit of Mama Charlotte Maxeke whose pioneering life was punctuated by encounters with the Home Affairs incarnation of her times – from her birth, to acquiring a passport to travel abroad, to registering her marriage and to recording her death.
It is worth remembering that Mama Maxeke was a political and social activist who championed women’s rights, culminating in her crucial role in the formation of organisations which ultimately delivered political freedom to South Africans.
That there are no records of her birth registration is an indication of a long distance we have travelled since then. In its archives, the Department Home Affairs has amassed an impressive 287 million records going as far back as 1895. But many a black person would not be found in such records. This means that our work as Home Affairs, to eradicate the scandal of invisibility and impose non racism, needs to be expedited.
In celebrating Mama Maxeke’s legacy, we are determined to increase our efforts in building an all-inclusive, caring, compassionate and enabling Home Affairs.
In this regard, the Department has many initiatives in the pipeline – some are legislative and policy initiatives which will soon arrive in this Parliament for processing and enactment into laws. Among these is the recently released Green Paper on Marriages in South Africa.
It is an incontestable fact that this country needs a new Marriage Policy based on three of the pillars of our Constitution – i.e. equality, non-discrimination and human dignity. At the present moment, to get married in South Africa, you have to choose between three acts of Parliament:
- Marriage act no. 25 of 1961
- Recognition of Customary Marriage Act, Act no. 120 of 1998
- Civil Union Act, Act 17 of 2006, which provides for same sex marriages
These three Acts have many gaps, omissions and weaknesses.
The three Acts do not cater or give recognition to Muslim marriages, Hindu marriages and marriages conducted according to Jewish rites.
Despite the enactment of Recognition of Customary Marriage Act by this very Parliament, traditional marriages taking place in many royal families, in terms of their traditions and rituals, are still not in the statute books.
None of the existing laws prevent minor children from getting married, hence a girl below the age of 18 and a boy below the age of 17 can legally get married as long as their parents are prepared to send them off to such ill-conceived marriages by signing a consent.
Today, as I speak we have many teenage widows and many teenage divorcees. This, of course, has many unwanted social repercussions.
Out of every 10 marriages, four end in divorce before the 10th anniversary. It is disheartening that most of these divorces involve minors. This reality goes against the commitment we have made as a country through the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development which calls for an end to child marriages.
Today, 27 years after democracy, if you want your marriage solemnised, you have to either go to a minister of religion or an official working in the Department of Home Affairs who have been certified for such purposes. I am not against these, but what about other social groups? Why can’t a person in a far rural area go to Moshate or Musanda to have their marriage officially solemnised by a traditional leader, king or queen or any member of the royal family who is trained and certified by Home Affairs for such purposes? Why should we remain with a situation where other religious leaders cannot perform marriages according to their religious rituals?
Honourable House Chair, the current marriage statute doesn’t recognise certain customary marriages that are conducted in some African communities, including royal families.
Honourable House Chair, it is because of the realities I have outlined above, which by the way are by no means exhaustive, that the Department was prompted into action to start a discussion about new marriage policy for the country.
Our starting point was to convene Ministerial Dialogues throughout the country, starting in August 2019. I personally attended and listened to:
- Religious leaders of various denominations
- Traditional leaders
- Khoisan communities
- LGBTQI+ communities
- Gender activists
- Social activists and many more
We recorded everything that stakeholders told us at the Ministerial Dialogues. We put out these proposals in the form of Green Paper to enable society to start a national dialogue even before this is brought to Parliament.
It was with very deep disappointment that the envisage national dialogue descended into a war of words and cynicism about one and only one issue raised from the Ministerial Dialogue – the issue of polyandry, which, like all others I have outlined above, was raised by some of the participants at the Ministerial Dialogues.
My deepest disappointment was when even media houses I respect, or worse still, Honourable Members of this Parliament, entered this dialogue in a completely destructive and misleading way. One respected media outlet even spoke of a Bill having been placed in Parliament.
From the debates I listened to, it became clear to me that many of such commentators did not even bother to read a copy of the Green Paper we provided. Right at the beginning of the Green Paper the following words are written:
“The Green Paper is not the official policy position of government. It only articulates possible policy options or proposals that are based on inputs received from stakeholders during Ministerial Dialogues. These proposals will be subjected to public scrutiny.”
We started with this preamble because that is the actual meaning of a Green Paper. The whole idea of a Green Paper is a British Westminster concept that we inherited through colonialism.
Hence I will give you the Oxford English dictionary definition of a Green Paper. It is defined as a “Preliminary report of Government proposals published to stimulate discussion. Crucially, a Green Paper contains no commitment to action, it is more a tool of stimulating discussion, but it is often the first step towards changing the law.”
On the other hand, a white paper is issued by government as a statement of policy, and often set out proposals for legislative changes or the introduction of new laws. Proposals often emerge from a Green Paper process.
In short, Green Paper is for consultation and White Paper is for proposals and should be nothing confusing about that.
I am pleading that the national dialogue on this Green Paper be conducted responsibly and in the true spirit of nation building. Please let us lower the excitement and deal with the very important issues mentioned by our people who experience serious hardships in their everyday existence in their endeavor to build viable families – which every nation on earth strives for - for there is no nation without families.
We are eagerly waiting for your written and constructive inputs by the deadline of 30 June by this year.
BORDER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY
The cornerstone of our efforts to improve security at our land Ports of Entry and the borderline is the progressive implementation of the Border Management Authority. We have already appointed the acting commissioner and we are working with the Presidency on a Presidential Minute to appoint a permanent Commissioner together with two deputies.
We are also finalizing a Presidential Proclamation in terms of Section 97 of the Constitution of the Republic that will start the process of transferring relevant border law enforcement functions and staff to the Border Management Authority.
We are intending that by the end of this financial year BMA will be operational at 11 Ports of Entry as well as five out of 10 segments of the borderline. The 11 Ports of Entry will be;
- Maseru Bridge,
- Nakop and
The five segments will be the borderline between South Africa and Zimbabwe, the 76 km borderline at eManguzi in KZN, around Skukuza, between KZN and Eswatini and between Mpumalanga and eSwatini.
While we have suffered the well-known massive budget cuts, I am happy to mention that he initial budget to implementation of BMA has been from R28 million to R120 million.
ONE-STOP-BORDER POST (OSBP)
As Honourable Members may remember, in December 2020 we gazetted the policy for implementation of the OSBP Act. The OSBP will be a public-private partnership (PPP) and it has now been registered as part of the Presidential Infrastructure Project. We are hoping to finalise by this year, all the contractual and financial arrangements for this model of a PPP.
We are able to pilot the roll-out of the Biometric Movement Control System at OR Tambo International airport. The Department is working in collaboration with the Department of Transport and the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA) to implement immigration e-Gates at three major international airports. Ten eGates are currently installed at Cape Town International Airport with testing taking place on South African travelers entering and departing the country. The e-Gates project is aimed at improving passenger processing times and experience whilst maintaining the security and integrity of the borders
We have already piloted the e-Visa system in Kenya. We then added China, India and Nigeria because these three alone account for one third of the world’s population. We have now added 10 more countries for roll-out. These are;
- Democratic Republic of Congo,
- Saudi Arabia,
- Philippines and
Please remember that most of the countries not mentioned here have a Visa-free status to our country and hence don’t need the e-Visa system. These will include the whole of SADC, most of Western Europe, North America, Brazil in South America and Russia. Add to these the seven visa-free countries I mentioned in last budget speech.
THE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION (IEC)
In the previous budget speech, I announced that the IEC was planning to increase the reliability and integrity of the elections by using more advanced technology. This was in the aftermath of the infamous allegation of double voting which nearly rocked the 2019 National and Provincial elections. I am very pleased to announce that to prevent such allegations be made in future, the IEC has recently concluded the process to procure 40 000 new VMD’s or Voter Management Devices to replace the outdated zip-zap machine.
These new devices will be a game-changer for the management of the registration process and more importantly the election itself.
This device will in real-time reflect in all the voting stations whenever you have cast your vote at any one voting station in the country. This will preclude any voter trying to take any chances by trying to vote again elsewhere. Even if anything happened to the ink as it was alleged in 2019 the VMD will make sure that there is no voting twice.
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING ON INDEPENDANTS
Contrary to the believe that parties participating in the present Parliament are not keen to implement the Constitutional Court ruling of 20 June 2020, Parliament is aware that I have setup a Ministerial Team comprising of experienced multidisciplinary professionals to help the country to come up with a robust electoral system. This team is led by former government Minister Mr Valli Moosa and has already held consultations with political parties and organisations representing non-political youths. They have already started the work of drafting a Bill. They intend to present a draft Bill to me early next quarter.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING WORKS (GPW)
Government Printing Works is one to state entity which is self-financing and is able to have surpluses despite not getting a cent from National Treasury.
Despite Covid-19, the GPW is still able to financially hold on and despite the numerous problems, which the Portfolio Committee is aware of, the Government Printing Works was still able to, with their surpluses, finance the IEC’s new Voter Management Devices I spoke about earlier on.
It is now extending its footprint into SADC countries in the way of performing printing work for them.
The GPW artisan and graduate skills development programme has up to now produced and offered employment to 30 graduates. We are specifically targeting youth and woman.
Earlier this year I was perturbed when GPW experienced a system down-time where the data center was hit by a power surge that damaged critical hardware. These service interruptions and data loss affected the auditing process at the GPW, frustrated the legal system of the country in that gazettes were delayed and interfered with the social and economic system of the country.
I have already taken steps to get to the bottom of this problem because the facts we have point to the direction that it might not have been just an accident.
Honourable House Chairperson, in February this year, I put up a Ministerial Committee headed by the former Director-General in the Presidency, Dr Cassius Lubisi, the review all the permits issued since 2004 – the year in which the immigration out came into effect. To be reviewed are:
- All the Permanent Residence Permits
- Corporate visas
- Business visas
- Professionals visa
- Retired persons visa
- Citizenship by naturalization
- Study visa
We have cause to believe that not all was well in that area, what with all the prominent people who seems to have got their permits in a questionable way.
I am eagerly waiting for the first preliminary report at the end of May because we agreed right from the onset that I will expert a first report after three months.
UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSION FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR) PARTNERSHIP
In March this year, we announced a partnership with the UNHCR, deal with the backlog in the asylum seeker appeals process. The UNHCR is providing R147 million over the next four years. Presently the Refugees Appeal Authority operates with only five members. With this money we are going to add 36 extra lawyers to deal with the backlog over the next four years.
We have already completed the job of interviewing 48 legal professionals to get 36 of the best among them. We identified 34 of them and we are busy with the appointment process. We are appointing a mixture of youth, female, experienced attorneys and advocates, retired magistrates and prosecutors.
They are all united by a common denominator - to assist our country to address the asylum seeker challenges. We need to thank the UNHCR for this partnership. The UNHCR is also helping with the protesting migrants who were in the Central Methodist Church but are now at Paint City in Bellville and Wingfield.
In conclusion Honourable House Chair, I would like to thank my colleague, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Njabulo Nzuza, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs and all the relevant stakeholders that worked with us.
I wish to present a budget of R8.6 billion for the consideration of this house.
I thank you
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS