19 MAY 2021
Honourable House Chairperson
The Minister of Home Affairs Dr. Motsoaledi
Members of the Executive
The Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs
The Chairperson of the IEC
The Director-General and the management team of Home Affairs
Fellow country men and women,
We are slowly but surely emerging out of a difficult period in our country. We have operated in times that were unforeseen, even today we are still navigating our way. We are however not only hopeful but confident that the worse will soon be behind us as we move forward to a better future. We would not be where we are today had we not been able to stand together as a nation, caring for each other and making sacrifices for each other.
Today we pay homage to all those who have lost their loved ones, some of them who are our friends, family members and colleagues. A study by GCIS indicate that South Africans believe that government has managed the pandemic very well. Our focus chair is now on the economic reconstruction and recovery, and our collective efforts are beginning to yield positive results. We must however remain vigilant in our fight against Covid 19 as most signals point towards a third wave.
Chairperson, as Home Affairs we have embraced the challenges before us posed by the pandemic and we have continued to provide access to critical services whilst maintaining a delicate balance to the adherence of Covid-19 regulations.
As the Department of Home Affairs, we have ensured that we keep our offices open to continue to provide services, in particular, death registration for those bereaved. Our staff have weathered the storm as 1 048 were infected while 32 have passed on from Covid-19 as of the 13th of May 2021. The rate of infections represents almost a fifth of our front-line staff of 5 562.
The impact of this has been that in some provinces we had to close our offices more than once, impacting on service delivery. However, we have put in place measures to mitigate the infection rate such as:
- Procurement of PPEs for all our staff.
- Ensured social distancing in our offices to comply with Covid-19 protocols and regulations.
- Provided sanitizing stations at our offices.
- Trained our staff on adherence to Covid-19 protocols and regulations.
- And clearly marked areas outside and inside the offices for social distancing demarcation.
We are happy to report back on how we have performed as a department towards the realisation of our exclusive mandate which is to determine and affirm the official identity and status of all citizens and non-citizens who reside in our beautiful land.
Chairperson, we derive our mandate from the Constitution of the Republic, and we have to ensure that:
- “No citizen may be deprived of citizenship”
- “Every child has the right to a name and a nationality from birth”
- “Every citizen has the right to a passport”
By affirming citizenship, we essentially build a single reputable national identity and enable the State to provide access to and administer services efficiently and securely. This key role ensures that individuals are able to access all the rights set out in the Bill of Rights.
Citizens who cannot affirm their official identity cannot access social services, participate in an election, legally cross a border, open a bank account, travel by plane or sign a contract. They are also not added to the official statistics used to plan and provide services, and future generations will not know they existed as they are not recorded on the civil register.
Honourable chair, we have made good progress towards universal early birth registration, which is one of the key responsibilities of government and an essential component of security, good governance and sound administration.
The Department continues its venture to ensure that all births are timeously registered, and that no child’s birth is left not registered in South Africa. To optimise birth registration, the Department continues to improve connectivity at health centres through its increased footprint plan as per the Birth Optimisation Strategy.
During the 2020/21 financial year the department set a target of registering 750 000 births within 30 days. I am happy to report that the department managed to register 1 019 582 births, of which 751 087 were births registered within 30 calendar days. In this current financial year, the plan is to optimise birth registrations at 210 health facilities immediately, as births occur, to achieve 90% birth registrations within 30 days by 2024.
The optimisation of birth registration at health facilities will see an incremental increase of 182 additional health facilities in the financial year 2022/2023 and 1 012 in the financial year 2023/2024 leading to the target of a total of 1 445 health facilities countrywide. In achieving this strategy, the Department has begun with the project of a paperless automation of birth registration to embrace technological advancement with the view of eradicating statelessness and curbing fraudulent birth registrations.
This automation project is currently completing its pilot at 24 offices and will see a staggered roll-out with required updated infrastructure in the current financial period of 2021.
The 2020/21 financial year started out with an annual Smart ID card target of 3 million smart IDs issued to persons 16 years of age and above. However, with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Department was faced with a huge challenge in the way that we normally deliver our services.
During the National State of Disaster Alert Level 5, in which the movement of people was restricted, the Department too had to implement measures to adhere to the call to limit the spread of the pandemic whilst making sure that citizens in need of documents receive such services.
The Department has managed to issue 17 million smart ID cards, since inception in 2013. For the 2020/21 financial year alone, the performance stood at more than 1.2 million smart ID cards issued to citizens 16 years of age and above; which is an over achievement by 324 935 against the set target. Of this number, 622 539 smart IDs were issued to first time applicants comprising mainly of the youth and 611 144 were re-issues which is the replacement of the green ID Books or smart ID cards that have been lost by citizens.
As of the 30th of April 2021, we had a total of 429 994 uncollected IDs that are currently in our offices nationwide. We therefore urge applicants to visit their local Departments of Home Affairs offices immediately upon receiving notification that their documents are ready for collection.
During the month of June 2020, all Home Affairs offices across all provinces embarked on a campaign to assist learners in obtaining smart ID cards to ensure that they remain eligible to sit for the final matric exams without the need to disrupt their learning programme.
This initiative coincided with the important milestone in our history, June 16, which led to the dedication of the month of June 2020 to the youth. As a build-up to the National Youth Day, each province identified schools with learners that were without identity documents and who were eligible. These learners were assisted with applications for smart ID cards.
On Youth Day, we then officially launched the learner smart ID programme in Mpumalanga, with each of our provincial offices around the country, assisting learners without IDs to obtain their smart ID cards. This led to the overall issuance of 622 539 smart IDs to first time applicants which were predominantly the youth.
Concerted efforts were made to ensure that mobile offices have all the necessary equipment to ensure functionality. In October 2020, this programme was intensified and became focussed on those individual learners who registered for the 2020 National Senior Certificate exams (NSC). Out of 15 551 learners, 8 187 learners were SA citizens who had no IDs whilst 7 364 were found to be non-SA citizens.
During this financial year, the DHA will continue with this programme in partnership with the DBE to ensure that every qualifying learner in Grade 12 learner is not without an ID and those who are foreign nationals are provided with study visas.
Honourable chair, the pandemic has emphasised the need to fast track innovation in respect to how we render services as well as revolutionising our back-office functions.
Many of our clients are already using the e-home affairs service channel launched in 2016, allowing them to pay online, schedule an appointment, and apply for smart ID cards and passports at 25 participating bank branches.
Thus far, approximately 212 101 smart ID cards and more than 222 406 passports have been obtained through the existing participating branches and to a smaller extent at online offices, which is a huge success.
The DHA will finalise the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the banking sector and National Treasury to roll this out across the country before the end of this financial year.
In the current financial year, we will conclude an MoU with participating banks including Standard Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank, ABSA, Discovery Bank, Capitec and UBank – to extend e-HomeAffairs to 20 additional bank branches prioritising Durban, Pietermaritzburg, East London, Nelspruit and Polokwane. We are expanding the footprint when it comes to partnering with banks.
Chairperson, we are steadily making positive progress in implementing the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS), that will enable advanced identification and verification through finger prints, palm prints, iris, facial recognition, and DNA.
As of the 1st of April 2021, the project has been reactivated through a new service provider, and the first phase is expected to be completed by no later than November this year. The ABIS will form the backbone of the future National Identity System (NIS), which will replace the currently disintegrated systems which are the National Population Register, the Enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS) and the National Immigration Identification System (NIIS). When it comes to information technology, we must not just talk and complain. We have set up systems to improve our current IT infrastructure.
Chairperson, as we work towards improving our operational efficiencies, the department has partnered with Stats SA with the aim to digitize the most crucial records. Thus far, more than three million records have been digitized through this partnership.
In 2013, DHA embarked on a modernisation programme for the production of smart ID cards and passports, in which front offices were gradually equipped with a Live Capture System that is needed to perform these services.
Thus far, 195 out of 412 DHA offices were equipped with the Live Capture System. Furthermore, the system was rolled out to 26 Banks. This brings the total number of live capture offices to 221, which is an increase of six additional service locations compared to the previous financial year.
In addition to this, 96 mobile units were deployed to provinces to increase accessibility for the citizens in order to fast track the replacement of green ID books with smart ID cards.
Furthermore, a network enhancement project between the DHA and SITA is ongoing, to ensure that network connectivity within the mobile units is addressed and resolved. We have already started with the implementation of the backhaul upgrade for the mobile units.
Officials have the responsibility to serve their clients with pride and distinction, they must be dedicated and committed to the cause, must implement Batho Pele principles, must be ethical, free from corruption and malfeasance, security conscious and able to handle all different types of clients.
Despite the declaration of the State of Disaster Regulations in the financial year 2020/21, the Learning Academy has managed to train 385 DHA officials on the professionalisation programme and we intend to increase these numbers in the new financial year, 2021/22.
In conclusion Chair, working together, we can ensure that all our people have access to our services fully in order to participate in democracy and the economy, and access government services. We all have to work hard and in unison to achieve this.
Let us remember today the teachings by President Thabo Mbeki when he teaches us that. “Those who complete the course will do so only because they do not as fatigue sets in, convince themselves that the road ahead is still too long, the inclines too steep the loneliness impossible to bear and the prize itself of doubtful value”.
Chair we dare not tire nor give up. Let us hold strong and focus on delivering on the task at hand.