17 MAY 2023, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY.
House Chairperson of the National Assembly;
Members of the National Executive;
Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Mr Njabulo Nzuza;
Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Honourable Mr Mosa Chabane.
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs;
Honourable Members of the National Assembly;
Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mr Mosotho Moepya and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr Sy Mamabolo.
Director General of the Department of Home Affairs, Mr Tommy Makhode;
Commissioner of the Border Management Authority, Dr Mike Masiapato;
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Government Printing Works (GPW), Ms Alinah Fosi;
Journalists of various media platforms;
Ladies and gentlemen.
In the previous Budget Vote debates, we opted to start with Civic Services which by far is the largest unit within the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). This was simply because Civic Services regulates and facilitates participation of South African citizens in the economy, business, social services and overall political engagement. All of the said activities are impossible without proper identification issued by the DHA.
Today, however, I intend to deviate from this established practice and will first deal with others entities within the DHA which equally deserve recognition.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING WORKS (GPW)
Honourable Chairperson, the ultimate goal is to make GWP a secured printer of choice and a true model of financial sustainable organ of State. This should be the case not only in South Africa but for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and rest of the African continent.
It is with pleasure to announce that the GPW has concluded Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with some SADC countries which are being implemented.
As a result of the said MOUs, the GPW processed the first order to print 300 000 birth certificates for Namibia and 100 000 of which have already been delivered to the Government of Namibia in Windhoek. The GPW is now printing secured vocational certificates for the University of Eswatini and its affiliated vocational colleges.
The said foreign orders will add further impetus to the financial viability of the GPW and they also required the GPW to increase its delivery capacity.
To this end, the GPW has engaged the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to build additional factory space to house machinery. This project will cost R1.1billion.
COLLAPSE OF THE GPW’S IT SYSTEMS
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs will recall that I had to appoint an advisory panel to investigate, inter alia, the collapse of the IT systems within the GPW which led to the loss of sensitive information, including financial information. The management of the GPW is hard at work implementing the recommendations made by the panel. I am assured that no stone would be left unturned in the reconstruction process of the lost information.
BORDER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY (BMA)
The Border Management Authority (BMA) has attained its autonomous status as a schedule 3A entity of the Border Management Authority Act 2 of 2020 with effect from 1 April 2023.
The BMA has transferred 1 850 employees from the departments of health, agriculture, environment and Immigration services of the DHA as envisaged in terms of section 37 of the BMA Act.
In July 2022, the BMA introduced 200 trained border guards who have been issued with certificates as a third law enforcement unit of the country, with the task of monitoring ports of entry and exit.
The BMA is in the process of recruiting a further 400 border guards.
Honourable Chairperson, I am happy to announce that last week the Minister of Finance has made good on his promise.
He has officially granted the DHA permission to issue RFP’s (Request for Proposals) to start a massive redevelopment project of the six busiest ports of entry in the form of a huge infrastructural development and technology injection.
The project will cover:
- Beitbridge port of entry and exit (Zimbabwe);
- Lebombo port of entry and exit (Mozambique);
- Oshoek port of entry and exit (Eswatini);
- Maseru port of entry and exit (Lesotho);
- Ficksburg port of entry and exit (Lesotho); and
- Kopfontein port of entry and exit (Botswana)
This project will breathe into life the much vaunted African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The project is part of the One Stop Border Post (OSBP). It would be a multibillion rand project whose actual cost will be known after the bidding process has been completed.
PRESIDENTIAL INVESTMENT DRIVE AND THE E-VISA PROJECT
The DHA is an integral part of the President’s Investment Drive to kick start the economy. Operation Vulindlela Project has been established in the Office of the Presidency and Treasury to review and improve among others the visa regime of the country.
Operation Vulindlela Project produced a report with recommendations which we have accepted and we have posted on this on the website of the Department.
The Department has also rolled out the tourist e-visa system to an additional 20 countries.
Countries around the world fall into two categories. There are countries that enter South Africa visa-free but then the rest of the other countries that are not on visa-free entry can apply for tourist visas through the e-visa platform in the comfort of their homes.
In this financial year, we plan is to introduce the e-visa system for other areas such as business, study, general work and intra-company transfer visas. Ultimately all visas would be available on the e-visa system.
THE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION (IEC)
The IEC is also expanding its technical expertise beyond the borders of the country. In this regard, the IEC is engaged with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to help share its expertise and experience. A visit to the DRC by the IEC is imminent.
Honourable members, a democracy incapable of re-creating itself is destined to impermanence.
Vibrant democracies are those capable of re-defining the terms of political engagements and re-formulating processes of political representation.
Such re-definition moments are also about responding to the pulse of the nation. The amended electoral system is not merely about the rules and formula for translating votes into seats in our legislative chambers. The revised electoral system is essentially about a nation re-defining processes of political mandates and accountability.
Fellow citizens who do not have an affinity towards political parties now have a window of opportunity for contesting elections as independent candidates, as they have for provincial legislatures.
The forthcoming elections in 2024 will serve as a litmus test for the new electoral system.
The DHA is concerned about long queues at its offices. The causes are many and varied, including the system “downtime” and load-shedding. Relentless efforts are being made to address these difficulties. The DHA cannot afford to throw its arms up in despair.
The DHA has engaged the services of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to devise both short and long term solutions, including the DHA connecting to a different IT system.
DEPLOYMENT OF DHA MOBILE SERVICES TRUCKS
Honourable Chairperson as reported before in this House and other public platforms, the DHA has deployed 120 DHA Mobile Services Trucks and an additional 100 trucks have been ordered.
The number would be gradually increased every year until reaching 1 000. The purpose of the mobile trucks is to:
- Ease congestion at the DHA offices;
- Render services such as issuing and printing birth certificates, identity documents, passports, death certificates and related services, especially in remote rural areas where the DHA offices do not have such capacity and capability;
- Render various services at a much more faster rate; and
- Make DHA services accessible to the most remote rural areas.
Honourable members, the President in his State of the Nation Address announced, the digitization of the more than 350 million paper records of birth, marriage, death, IDs and passports that stretch back from 1895 in possession of the DHA. The digitization project will employ 10 000 unemployed graduates in the fields of IT and Documentation Management.
The first group of 2000 unemployed graduates, which had been trained earlier this year, have already take up positions and are already working. Currently, an additional 4000 candidates are undergoing an interview process. Advertisements for the last 4000 will be published by the end of May 2023.
This project will cost R2.4 billion.
High volume scanners have already been purchased and delivered and are capable of scanning over 100 000 pages per day.
INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION, CITIZENSHIP AND REFUGEE PROTECTION
Members of the Portfolio Committee are aware that I appointed the Ministerial Committee on the Issuance of Permits and Visas led by Dr Cassius Lubisi covering the period between 2014 and 31 December 2020.
The committee recommended a multi-disciplinary team which has already been appointed. That team is to go deeper into the findings in the form of forensic investigations such that after this we expect arrests, deportations and cancellation of visas, permits and passports irregularly and fraudulently obtained. That will unfold very soon.
Honourable members, the issue of migration remains a burning issue in South Africa and within the global community.
The issue has been debated by the Portfolio Committee and the House on several occasions. The strength of the South African economy in the continent becomes a pull-factor for international migration. The number of illegal foreigners in South Africa is very high.
The DHA has completed its work on the Immigration, Citizenship and Refugee Protection policy framework. This policy framework will be gazetted for public comments soon.
The three pieces of legislation namely, the Immigration Act of 2002, the South African Citizenship Act of 1995 and the Refugees Act of 1998 are obsolete and would be completely repealed.
This applies to related legislation such as, the Identification Act of 1997 and the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1992. A new single legislation dealing with immigration, citizenship and refugee protection will be introduced as is now the international trend.
The new legislation will strengthen and set the standard high for appointment of persons occupying bodies dealing with immigration and refugee protection. Procedures dealing with immigration and refugee protection would be tightened to ensure speedy decision-making processes, including appeals arising thereto.
The periods within which decisions are taken regarding asylum and immigration (granting of visas) applications are unacceptably high. The defects in this regard lie in the said three pieces of legislation. The new single legislation will address all these difficulties, including establishment of specialized immigration courts.
The current practice of migrants challenging the unfavourable decisions in long-drawn court processed would be discouraged.
Finally, I make use of this opportunity to thank the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Honourable Njabulo Nzuza, the DG of Department of Home Affairs, Mr Tommy Makhode, the CEO of Government Printing Works, Mrs Alina Fosi, the Commissioner of Border Management Authority, Dr Mike Masiapato and the
Chairperson of the IEC Mr Mosotho Moepya and its CEO Mr Mamabolo for their unwavering support.
I also wish to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Home Affairs, Mr Mosa Chabane, and Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee for their effective oversight roles.
Honourable Chairperson, I hereby table for the consideration of this Honourable House an amount of R10.863 billion for Budget Vote Number 5 of the Department of Home Affairs.
I thank you.