Speech Presented on the 21 March 2016 by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Fatima Chohan, MP on the occasion of the Department of Home Affairs’Budget Vote Debate.
The word “organisation” when used as a noun, is defined "as a group of people who work together in a structured fashion, for a shared purpose". A public organisation such as ours consists of over 10 000 people who span the length and breadth of our country, running such an entity is far more complicated as it forms a part of a larger organisation of government which in turn is located as an entity of the State.
There is no shortage of books and writings on the experiences of large and successful companies and corporations.
The stories of the formidable brands such as Apple, Hyundai, Google and MacDonalds amongst many others are replete with how their employees are key drivers to their success. When the Minister asked me to lead the Moetapele initiative understanding as he does, the importance of developing a professional outfit of employees to complement the technological advances the department is leading, it is to these and other learnings that we turned.
My task is to develop a world-class level of professional in the organisation and to thereby improve the client experience in our front offices.
Barring certain location specific trends, people in the work place behave similarly. There some material differences though, in that public service employees enjoy more benefits and more job security, but unlike an iPad or a burger, our products are personalized to each of our clients. No modern economy can exist without a credible means of differentiating individuals for each other. We are in the business of providing a unique identity profile to each of our clients who present with every wonderful diversity known to the human species. These are challenges no other organisation faces. There are people who have names that are too long to print onto the ID or passport and we have to make accommodation for that. There are people who wish to change their names not once but sometimes up to three times, there are people who alter their sex profiles, there are people whose finger prints can't be captured to a proper standard because their finger prints have been worn out due to their being in the construction or agricultural sectors. There are people who have children they adopt informally and whose biological parents cannot be found. There is no person that doesn't present with something unique to him or her, hus rendering our operations far more complex and challenging and organic, than merely replicating the exact same burger 1000 times a day.
Thus the Moetapele initiative was born, to gear our workforce to simply becoming the best performers in the public sector.
An organisation is not unlike a human body, with different organs, a brain, a heart, a set of lungs, digestive and reproductive organs all of which fulfill decidedly different functions, but simply have to function optimally for the host to live, to act, to develop and flourish. When one organ fails, it renders the whole body dysfunctional.
We designed Moetapele with a single premise:
Everyone without fail, will be touched by this program, that we have collectively decided to call Moetapele or the leader initiative. During the last quarter for instance, the focus was on the role of our cleaners at the front offices. Their role in advancing the self-respecting and proud attitude intrinsic to the Moetapele initiative is without parallel.
As part of our striving for excellence, this year 300 managers throughout the length and breadth of our organisation will be taken through advanced management training courses and our frontline staff will be be attending high impact leadership workshops, in all nine provinces. This focus of Moetapele on development of our people will yield superlative dividends into the future.
This year in our learning academy, we will train 100 young cadets, combining frontline work experience with classroom learning and upon completion of their exams, they will have achieved, NQF level 5 qualifications, and the coveted National Certificate in Home Affairs Services. In the future every single core function officer will have this qualification, and further still eventually, no person shall be qualified to be employed at Home Affairs unless they hold this qualification, which will be open to anyone who aspires to join our organisation, which we intend will become an employer of first choice.
A Moetapele look and feel has been developed and since the launch of the first Moetapele office in Edenvale early in 2015, the Moetapele team has transformed 36 more offices into Moetapele standard offices. In transforming these offices the following categories are attended to by the able Moetapele Team:
1. Location, layout, maintenance and cleanliness of offices
2. Adequate signage and public information
3. Client Flow - which entails responsiveness including standardized responses when dealing with queues and bottlenecks
4. Consistency of business processes
5. Management with a purpose - managers are equipped with tools to drive the vision and mission of the organisation and affirm and inspire their colleagues
6. Measured Admin outcomes such as asset and staff registers
7. More dynamic customer engagement
Moetapele Flagship Offices
This year the Moetapele team which is based in the DG's office, will convert a further 38 offices in compliance with the Moetapele standard. In addition a Moetapele standard has been developed for Refugee Reception Centres. The team is now poised to implement this at the Marabastad refugee reception center.
Affirming Excellence and Loyal Service
Affirmation of employees is a very important aspect that sets great organisations apart from just good ones. Recognition of employees was advanced through, among other initiatives, the annual Excellence awards, which recognized outstanding individuals, offices as well as our longest serving employees. Today we want to give recognition to two employees in the gallery that have been with the organisation for 40 years, and we would like to ask them to please rise.
We are hard at work upgrading our call centre services thus enhancing our ability to more effectively communicate with our clients. Within four or five weeks we will launch a brand new call centre replete with 120 call-center operators who will field client queries. It is envisaged that this new call centre will more meaningfully assist clients than was the case previously, as the operators will be able to have access to a system that will give them insight into all our digital platforms and they will be able to see where an application is at any given moment in real time.
In line with the participation of everyone in Moetapele, we have made it compulsory for all our Senior Managers to spend 5 days in our local offices at the coal face of service delivery. This experience allows managers to gain deep insight into the challenges visited upon our officials who interact with our clients on a day to day basis. Our senior managers have already completed their coal face experiences this year, and they could be found at DHA offices around the country, ports of entry, and refugee reception centres, where they assisted clients, interacted and spent quality time with some of the frontline officials and in a real sense walked in their shoes for a week.
This exercise is hopefully entrenched into our operations into the future as it spans the communication gap that usually exists in massive organisations such as ours. It results in insightful policy, and decision-making on the part of senior managers.
A great lesson for any manager to learn is never to ask your employees to do something you are unwilling to do yourself. Their random deployment to the frontline allows our senior managers to appreciate the challenges on the ground, but also puts a human face to Head Office for officials who are based in frontline services. It enables them to get first hand information on issues that underpin certain compliance directives and improves their understanding of the issues facing the organisation beyond their offices.
This exercise also enables senior managers to identify good practices adopted by frontline offices and capture these in operations throughout the organisation. Our senior managers are also able to spot the up and coming talent in our midst.
This year our senior managers were also able to experience and assess first hand the positive outcomes that came with the roll-out of the 38 Moetapele offices country wide.
The DDG, who was randomly deployed to one of the Moetapele offices in Pinetown in Kwa-Zulu Natal reports partly as follows:
"The systematic way in which the office is managed left many clients happy because of a well-defined workflow process. This demonstrates the early success of our Moetapele Leadership programme which we launched last year with the aim of improving client experience in our offices. The quality of service resonates in the minds of the clients (more than) a beautiful office (would) with terrible staff. We however still do have challenges in certain key areas of our operations which needs urgent attention and these include critical posts that must be funded to ensure that we always have adequate staff in our (ports of entry and) front offices."
With the cuts in budgets and the moratorium on filling of any posts in the public sector, announced by the Minister of Finance, Home Affairs faces tough decisions in relation to the continued existence of some of our smaller offices, particularly those smaller offices where we have a presence of a maximum of three officials. If any of them retire or resign, the department would not be able to replace them by recruiting new employees. Given that we have been historically underfunded, we may have to face the possibility of having to consider shutting down some of these offices, unless alternate solutions present themselves.
Let me reiterate that an organisation is not unlike a human being. Not only is this analogy true of its construction and functions, but like a human being an organisation has a character, an attitude, a culture, belief system, and aspirations.
Mothers amongst us will appreciate that what we are developing here is an organisation that is not just well functioning, but just like a child, is being nurtured into a self-contained, self-respecting, smart, caring learning organisation, with a bright future ahead of it.
Finally let me relate this to the House as one of my proudest moments this year. When visiting our front office in Paarl, in the Western Cape, I was engaging with people who were queuing outside of our office there. I met a young gay couple who were with their baby, who was conceived through surrogacy. Their journey to this point had obviously been quite an emotional one. I was told that at the hospital where baby Milan was born, the staff and volunteers took a while to acclimatize to their unique family set up. When applying for their child's birth certificate they confessed that they were fraught with apprehension that they would be expected to indicate a mother and a father of the child. They were pleasantly surprised that they were both able to register as fathers without a hassle.
It struck me that this was a department not so long ago whose task was to exclude people, which made it almost impossible for people of colour to enter its offices and leave with their dignity unscathed, whose designation with the notorious pencil test determined whether you were deserving of citizenship in the first class.
That day in Paarl told me that this organisation has been completely transformed to meet the challenge of our creed that all of humanity is deserving of dignity and shall be equal. That those happy and obviously besotted parents are able to marry at our offices, and the only thing that baby Milan will feel as he grows up, is lucky - that he has two fathers and lives in a country where everybody is valued. This is why, my mentors and role models, Mrs Jaffer, Mrs Tinto, Mrs Omar and Mrs Asmal who are here today, I am so Proud of this Organisation, and this country.
These are the small but significant victories we should celebrate as a country and as a nation, these are not the stories you will see in the headlines but this is real, this is the reality we struggled for. These are the abiding things that our people should cherish above all,
And when there are political leaders amongst us, who stand in these Precincts, and call themselves the champions of the Constitution, yet preach in their churches that all Muslims and homosexuals are sinners, let us not hail them as heroes, and let us not believe them when they claim to be the real champions of the Constitution. They are no Mandelas.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS