- Published: 28 March 2017
I am happy to have this opportunity to address you this morning.
It is my sincerest wish that this meeting serves more than a mere talk-shop where we gather to listen to the Minister’s keynote address, the DG’s address and exchange opinions among ourselves.
I would like these meetings starting this year going-forward to become a platform for organisational development, where we always reinvent and renew ourselves and forge a stronger, united and developmental leadership.
You all know how much I believe in strong, committed, passionate, visionary and competent leadership.
By leadership I do not mean a leader but I mean that collective of people who collectively hold the reigns of the organisation and steer it towards a commonly-agreed destination.
This is very important for us in South Africa who have expressed our desire to build a democratic developmental state.
In his Introduction to the book he edited, Dr. Omano Edigheji, argues that “establishing the right institutions will be a sine qua non for developmental success. And such institutions need to enhance rather than undermine the capacity of the state to promote its developmental effort.” (Constructing a democratic developmental state in South Africa: Potentials and Challenges, p. 6).
He proceeds to say that:
“Bureaucratic competence is the hallmark of the most democratic developmental states… In addition, the ability to attract and retain the best and the brightest South Africans to the public service will be a factor for success.” (p.7)
In this regard, in his important book, My Vision: Challenges in the Race for Excellence, the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said:
“I consider the officials of the Government of Dubai as the leaders of our people because of their substantial responsibilities and their senior positions in the government… Together, we can establish the qualities of a leader at all levels, right to the top of the pyramid.” (p.47)
I want you all fully to understand why you are here and what you mean to me, the Deputy Minister, the Director General and his deputies, to our Government and people.
To remind you,
You are an important cog in the institutions of a democratic developmental state we are building; nothing we wish as a people will be achieved without your vision, passion, commitment and competency;
Your competence is the hallmark of our best ideals and the state and society we are trying to build,
To succeed in this effort, we need not only attract and retain the best and the brightest, we need to develop, forge and hone them ourselves from within the ranks of our public service, and
I consider you, and you in turn should consider yourselves, because of your substantial responsibilities and senior positions in our government, to be Leaders of our people!
We will stand or fall on our ability to build a public service that not only understands and shares our vision, but that is competent enough to help us pursue it successfully.
This is why Top 1000 must be regarded as a War Council that must every time it meets both frankly assess the state of our organisation and issue the new commands for the day!
These meetings must be regarded and remembered as a trailblazers out of which our officials must expect something new, to which those who are not yet members of this forum must aspire to belong and which those joining for the first time must feel privileged to be joining an eminent forum!
Do not take for granted what we are here about; to build the bureaucratic competency and developmental capacity our Department and state needs!
Out of these meetings, today and in the future, those who belong and participate here must walk out better people and public servants, better equipped and capacitated to meet their daily and future responsibilities with confidence.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Home Affairs has led several major transformations in government administration in the democratic period.
First, immediately post-1994, we inherited 11 separate bureaucracies and systems for civil registration, which identified and valued South Africans differently according to their race.
We overhauled and united these to stitch together a single, common citizenship for all South Africans.
In the 2000s we launched the National Population Registration campaign to register the birth of all of our people, to ensure all South Africans are officially recognised by their government.
We successfully drove the turnaround of Home Affairs, slashing the processing time for identity documents, among other major operational improvements, reducing corruption and improving our all-round competencies and efficiencies.
Now we stand in the midst of the next biggest transformation that the nation requires from us: re-imagining and modernising the Department of Home Affairs.
For far too long, Home Affairs has been perceived as a slow, moribund Department offering low-value services in an inefficient and indifferent manner.
This perception has led to our Department lacking a comprehensive and appropriate picture and sense of its role in the new South Africa, its officials having low morale and self-esteem, and being consistently underfunded, and lacking the resources to perform our role to the fullest.
Our officials have performed admirably amid difficult circumstances, and we have overachieved to accomplish what we have to date.
Now is the time for us to make the case to government and society as a whole, that a refocused and well-resourced Home Affairs is critical for the security, development and governance of our country.
We are re-imagining Home Affairs as a modern, digital, secure custodian of national identity, responding to the present and future needs and circumstances.
A re-imagined Home Affairs will be run by professionals, operating in a highly secure environment to protect the precious records of the lives of our people.
A re-imagined Home Affairs can make four critical contributions to the nation.
Firstly, we enable economic development.
Our nation’s top priority is radical economic transformation and inclusive growth.
All South Africans must participate in the economy and experience the dignity and stability of work and asset ownership.
Trustworthy identity is crucial to a sophisticated economy, enabling countless different transactions to take place daily, because individuals and organisations know who they are dealing with.
We enable tourism and facilitate the entry and residency of skilled workers, investors and entrepreneurs who improve our economic competitiveness.
Secondly, we contribute to national security.
Keeping citizens safe is the primary responsibility of government.
Unfortunately today’s world has many transnational risks, such as organized crime, human trafficking, terrorism, and infectious diseases, among others.
We must be vigilant in ensuring that we protect South Africans against these.
A secure, stable country and a thriving economy go hand in hand.
People want to visit South Africa and do business here because it is safe and stable.
The vast majority of visitors to South Africa do so in good faith and are law-abiding.
Our job is to admit these visitors as efficiently as possible, while scrutinising high risk visitors, and detecting and preventing entry of dangerous and malicious persons.
Thirdly, we facilitate the creation of a capable state envisioned by the National Development Plan (NDP).
The NDP envisions a capable and developmental state, which provides the institutions and infrastructure necessary for the economy and society to operate.
To provide effective governance and administration, this capable state must plan proactively and make intelligent use of technology.
The NDP stresses the need for government to have accurate demographic data and this, among others, places our Department at the very core of government services and capability and further makes us a reliable partner for business in the execution of their own interests and mandates.
Excellent civil registration, underpinned by universal early birth registration, is a critical tool for government to have accurate, real-time data on the total number of citizens and their age profile.
This is of enormous importance to government planning, particularly in resource-intensive areas such as education and health; but it is equally important for private sector institutions such as the financial and insurance industry and others.
E-Governance – for which the Smart ID Card is an important enabler and platform – enables simpler and more convenient interaction between citizens, business and government.
We would like to see the smart ID card, and eventually also your fingerprint, become the universal passport for interacting with other government Departments and the private sector.
Fourthly, the Department of Home Affairs contributes to nation-building and social cohesion.
Our first and primary contribution to nation-building and social cohesion is through our custodianship of a single citizenship for all South Africans.
Of course another major area where we contribute to nation-building and social cohesion is in the management of international migration.
The White Paper on International Migration, which will soon be presented to Cabinet for adoption, will provide the country with a new vision for managing international migration as a largely positive phenomenon.
It will form the basis of a new national dialogue on our connectedness with our region and continent and integration of foreign nationals.
We must reframe our discourse on nationhood, from one which seeks to unite Africans, Coloureds, Indians and Whites, to one which expands to include those new South Africans from all over the African continent and world.
Accordingly, when we think about our work as a Department, I do not want us to think only in terms of the specific products and services we provide on a daily basis.
I want us to think about why we provide those services.
Everything we do has a broader significance, which we must keep in mind.
Our work is at the centre of the developmental state project.
I have articulated five priorities for the Department for this term of government.
First, we are making steady progress to modernise and digitise Home Affairs in order to transfer the inconvenience of service delivery away from the client towards ourselves.
The live capture system, which supports the Smart ID Card and the passport, offers South Africans a glimpse into the future of Home Affairs.
It is about moving from slow, inefficient, insecure, paper-based processes, to fast, efficient and secure, digital processes.
It is about developing new channels to serve our clients more conveniently.
eHomeAffairs has been a big success, but it is just the beginning.
As we re-imagine Home Affairs, we must continue to innovate in developing more convenient channels to serve our customers.
In the future, clients must be able to access Home Affairs through mobile apps, kiosks in communities and malls, or even Skype.
This requires us not only to envision the future, but to bring the future nearer and be known as this generation of Home Affairs leaders as a generation that lived in the future.
Secondly, we are launching the Border Management Authority (BMA).
We have moved steadily to implement Cabinet’s decision to consolidate all border management functions into a single agency which will manage our ports of entry and borderline.
The BMA Bill is in Parliament, to be adopted this year, and the Integrated Border Management Strategy is almost finalised.
Recent events in our country have underlined the utmost significance of the BMA.
An exciting chapter is about to commence with the establishment of the Authority.
Thirdly, we are working hard to establish public-private-partnerships to revamp the physical and systems infrastructure at 6 key land ports of entry.
This is an ambitious, difficult, but critical undertaking.
It really is a practical example of our commitment to regional economic integration and development and intra-African trade.
We simply must redevelop these key ports of entry to enable quick and efficient movement of people and goods.
In line with our government’s focus on radical economic transformation we are also determined to ensure that the project execution includes significant participation by black people, women and youth.
This should create much-needed jobs in the outlying border towns such as Musina, Ficksburg and others and will create a hive of activity and other opportunities in these areas which will lead to much-welcome economic participation by the marginalised.
Fourthly, we are on the verge of a new international migration policy.
After years of extensive policy development work and public engagement, we will be submitting a draft White Paper on International Migration to Cabinet for approval tomorrow.
It will form the basis of national policy and future legislation.
The policy argues and demonstrates how international migration can benefit our development and society if managed well.
I firmly believe that while international migration does come with challenges, it is however largely a positive phenomenon, if managed well according to a ‘whole of government, whole of society’ approach.
Fifthly, we are committed to improving frontline service through the Moetapele Programme.
Moetapele is about developing an ethos of customer-centric leadership in our frontline staff, as well as reorienting our office operations and layout to improve client experience.
Moetapele is asking all of us to lead, regardless of our rank or position.
Lead yourself, lead your environment, lead by example.
Ask yourself, every day in every situation, ‘What can I do to improve the service we give to our customers?’
Leadership is about taking pride in bringing a smile to a client’s face with friendly, efficient, professional service.
Leadership is about taking responsibility for a client’s issue, and not merely sending them away for someone else to deal with.
Leadership is about getting on the floor and communicating to customers when systems are down, not retreating to back offices while they grow impatient and frustrated.
Leadership is about rejecting and reporting corrupt practices.
Leadership is about taking ownership of your professional development by seeking out training, academic study, new skills, and mentorship.
A re-imagined Home Affairs needs professionals skilled in information technology, information security, service operations, statistics, law, public administration, public policy, and many other fields.
Grow your skills and capabilities, to increase your impact and to take advantage of career growth opportunities as the Department transforms.
In this regard, our Learning Academy must play a vital role both in honing the skills of the current leaders of the Department as well as in assisting us develop new leadership from the ranks of our youth, interns, learners and cadets.
Again, speaking of the United Arab Emirates youth, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said that they are “our most precious asset and the key to our future success.” (p.17)
For this reason, he said that investing in them is important because:
“The success of our younger generation is not a success for the UAE alone, but a success for Arabs everywhere. They are the prime target of any economic vision and every development effort. Any development vision must therefore aim at preparing the younger generation not only to keep pace with the new economy, but to also take the initiative and lead.”
In the above quote, UAE can be replaced for South Africa, for government as a whole and the Department of Home Affairs in particular; and we too must hold the view that the youth are the prime target of our entire vision and programmes, and any development must seek to prepare them not only to keep pace with the transformation of our public service and creation of a developmental state, but must empower them to take the initiative and lead.
Through our efforts, we must unleash the fearless and zestful potential of our youth and empower them in ways unknown yet in the public service.
With further regard to the question of the leadership of the Department, I wish to raise with you an issue I am deeply concerned about.
First, our leadership generally seems to lack the courage to take strong and stern action against wrong-doing.
For example, I have complained many times about the lethargy I see at the back-office, the Head Office, which provides shoddy support to the front-office and most importantly to our clients.
Long ago, I asked for a plan to capacitate the back office to significantly reform and perform better, but to this date I have not received it.
Many of the troubles we face at the coal-face emanate precisely from a lethargic, uncaring and indifferent back office.
But no action has been taken in this regard; it is business as usual.
Secondly, our leadership at the coal-face is equally generally lethargic and out of touch with the goings-on at their offices.
For example, most of our offices shut their doors to our clients early, always lie about down time and chase our clients away on the false pretext that the systems are off-line and yet this seems to be a money-making scheme for officials, the security companies and criminal syndicates from outside our Department.
Managers are either ignorant of this, or oblivious or plain complicit in it.
I cannot understand how I, sitting so far away from the action, would know about this and you at the coalface do not!
There must therefore be something grossly amiss in our leadership that such wrongs would happen and you take no action about and not a single one of you has reported this to us at Head Office.
This disappoints me because it threatens to reverses the significant progress we have made to be where we are.
When the systems improve and become more efficient, the processes seem to be regressing as we allow lethargy and corruption still to thrive.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that everything I have said, rests on your shoulders.
The only way we can realize our collective aspirations for our Department’s service to the nation is for you to embrace your role in delivering it.
South Africa needs a cadre of Home Affairs official that embodies Batho Pele, that is professional, and that is ethical.
I continue to believe you are the Home Affairs official that South Africa needs you to be.
I still continue to believe in you that you are the future leaders our Department, Government and society as a whole need!
I thank you.