Programme Director, ADG Thulani Mavuso
My colleague Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor
My colleague, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Njabulo Nzuza
Executive Chairman of ID4Africa, Dr Joseph Atick
African government officials
Representatives of international agencies and development organisations,
Members of the media
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am honoured to be addressing the 5th Annual Meeting of the ID4Africa Movement. Thank you all for coming to this important gathering which provides an opportunity to share our experiences and learn from others about how to tackle and resolve challenges in civil registration.
Our guests would have experienced our registration systems first hand as they entered through our ports of entry. South Africans have identity documents which enable them to access many services. Some of these are Smart ID cards which are digital and have more security features. We have a monopoly in the services we provide because no other institution does what we do. Hence we have to do them with diligence.
We issue documents which enable people to access other essential services. For an example, they can use them to access social grants and education, open bank accounts and purchase homes and cars. Others use these documents to open businesses. Quite clearly, these documents have a huge impact on socio-economic inclusion of our people.
We are gathering here a few weeks after we, in South Africa, used the identity system to successfully usher in a new democratic government through the ballot. We used our enabling documents to strengthen our democracy.
Here in South Africa, we register people shortly after they are born, when they travel, when they get married and when they pass on into the afterlife. To this end, we have already registered 85% of our estimated 57 million people. To ensure that we include the remaining 15%, we have embarked on a process of Late Registration of Birth. This process caters for people who were not registered within 30 days of birth. They need to visit our offices for assistance where the process and requirements for each individual can be explained. In the main, you need to come with a parent or a relative who is documented, a letter from your traditional leader or local councilor outlining that they know you and you are who you say you are. Those who attended school, we need a copy of the record which shows the year in which they were registered.
It is quite alarming that in this era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution we still have citizens on this continent of ours who are born, get married and die without it ever being recorded anywhere. In essence, they never existed. It is mind boggling to imagine how people go on their everyday lives and receive essential services that each citizens of each county are entitled to without proper registration. How then do we as countries offer such services if we don’t know whom are we offering them to? In South Africa our prime statistics institution, Statistics SA, always reminds us that what gets measured, gets done. Civic registration and statistics of the country go together to measure the amount of work a country is still faced with.
I understand that the purpose of the ID4Africa Movement is to make sure that every human being that arrives on this planet through the African continent is registered, known and recorded. I hope with a few years to come, this goal would have been achieved for all the billion people living on this continent. Today, countries on this continent differ greatly on the amount of work that still needs to be done to achieve this goal. I am made to understand that while some countries are at 85% registration, others are at 5%. ID4Africa exists so that together, in tandem, and where possible we accelerate our efforts to reach full registration for each and every citizens of the African continent.
The higher registration rate in some governments has helped them to plan better for their citizens. Governments continue to rely on these statistics to plan.
One of the priorities of the new Administration, which was elected on 08 May 2019, is the creation of jobs. The Department is tasked with modernising our Visa Requirements to attract highly skilled foreign nationals. As a country, we welcome the safe and orderly of migration of people. The National Development Plan, the prime vision of our country which we are implementing, talks about the contribution a relatively unrestricted movement of labour across the region and the continent can make in a building an inclusive economy. This, in part, is a recognition of the important role that migrants have played in our economic development and regional integration since the late 19th century.
We are determined to ensure that we play our part in growing the economy to increase the State’s capacity to fight poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.
While we are doing this, we are mindful of the need to ensure that we register and document everyone who is in the country and to know for what purposes.
The Department of Home Affairs is a learning institution. It has to continuously evolve to meet the changing needs of citizens. The Department is embarking on a modernisation programme. This programme includes looking at what services can delivered online.
Conferences such as ID4Africa will help us to expand our horizons and to create progressive and beneficial partnerships.
I urge the delegates who are visitors to take time to enjoy our beautiful country and the spirit of Ubuntu in our hospitality space. Please enjoy your stay and have a successful conference.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS