DR AARON MOTSOALEDI, MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS
22 JULY 2020, 16H15
Honourable House Chairperson
My colleague, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Honourable Mr Njabulo Nzuza
Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Honourable Advocate Bongani Bongo
Honourable members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs
Honourable members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces
The Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mr Glenn Mashinini and his colleagues in the Commission
The Acting Director General of the Department, Mr Jackson McKay and his team
The Acting CEO of the Government Printing Works (GPW), Ms Alinah Fosi and her team
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Good afternoon to you all and thank you for your interest in the work of the Department of Home Affairs. We are meeting, virtually, on Mandela Month, a month which has been recognised by the United Nations to emphasise the importance of social solidarity.
Social solidarity has taken a greater importance this year as we fight diligently to stop the spread of Covid 19, a pandemic which continues to change our lives adversely.
We have been forced to return to our humanity values of caring for ourselves and others, albeit in a new way - a new normal.
In this period, we practice Ubuntu by, amongst others, wearing masks when we are in public spaces and by not undertaking unnecessary travel around the country.
At the Department of Home Affairs, despite all the difficulties, we have been working hard assisting the country to navigate these uncertain times.
We have continued to offer access to essential enabling documents to our people in their time of need. We are also providing back end ID number authentication to help the State pay the Social Relief of Distress grant and Unemployment Insurance Fund payments to the correct people.
As you are by now aware, the budget allocated to us early this year by the Minister of Finance had to be reworked. This is because the Treasury asked us, as they did with other Departments, to surrender R562 million back to the fiscus to fund the fight against COVID-19pandemic.
Hence our plans had to be reconfigured as we presented to the Portfolio Committee some weeks back.
The Department of Home Affairs has two entities that report to it. These are entities so important that without them, democracy, social and economic lives would not have been what they are in South Africa today.
I am referring here to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Government Printing Works.
In past budget speeches, the practice was to start the speech about the Civics and Immigration arms of Home Affairs and somewhere towards the end start mentioning IEC and Government Printing Works. This afternoon I would like to deviate from those past practices.
I wish to start this budget speech with the IEC and Government Printing Works.
INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION
The Independent Electoral Commission has commented preparations for 2021 Local Government elections. A partnership with the Municipal Demarcation Board will culminate in the handover of the final demarcation of wards at the end of November this year. The Commission will then earnestly engage in preparation work. Furthermore, the IEC has taken note of calls to harmonise elections across the three spheres. That means to have all elections, local, provincial and national, on the same day.
This is a matter of national policy and is hence in the purview of the National Legislature and not the IEC. The political parties must make a decision on this matter, the sooner the better.
Last year in the national elections, there were allegations of double voting, which of course, could not be verified. However, in removing the possibility of the allegations being made again, the IEC is in the process of procuring new devices for use in the registration process as well as on elections day.
This equipment has got nothing to do with electronic voting as some people may think. The equipment will only serve to verify the voters roll on elections day.
Given the ongoing pandemic, the Commission is working out modalities of possible electronic registration of voters. This is a necessary development to minimise the number of people at the registration stations while increasing the number of registered voters. Once the exploratory work is complete the Commission will provide the details to the country.
The country has not yet forgotten the Constitutional Court order about the issue of addresses of voters. This led to anxieties over the possibility of disenfranchising poor citizens of our country who have no addresses to talk about.
I wish to report to you that the Commission has worked very hard around the clock. Out of the 26.5 million registered voters, 24 million now have complete addresses on the voters roll. This translates into 90.5% of all registered voters. This is a phenomenal improvement given that in 2016 the Commission only had 8.6 million complete addresses.
There are currently 1.2 million people (9.5% of registered voters) for whom the Commission still does not have addresses. I can assure you that these voters won’t be deprived of their right to vote.
I will bring to this House proposed amendments to the electoral prescripts which will amongst others provide a varied voting mechanism for these voters. This will entail providing an address at the voting station just before voting.
Last night the IEC held a very important brief which resembled a workshop on electoral systems around the world to the members of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs. This was as a result of the Constitutional Court ruling that instructs Parliament to amend the Electoral Act to accommodate independent candidates in provincial and national elections.
There are rumours swirling around that some parties in Parliament are not willing to make this amendment or to make it in time for the next elections.
I wish to reassure the nation that this is not the case as far as the party I represent is concerned. I will challenge other parties to talk for themselves and place on the table the positions of their various parties on this matter.
The ruling party is committed to making the necessary arrangement for the Constitutional Court ruling to be honoured. Actually it is clear from the discussions last night that these changes will afford an opportunity to cure all the ills we have in our electoral regime.
Preparatory work is taking place in the Department to make sure that we don’t miss this opportunity.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING WORKS
The GPW is one of the shining stars among Government entities. It is generally not known beyond Government circles and yet without it political, social and economic life will be next to impossible to manage.
The Government Printing Works is where high security documents identifying each and every one of us within the borders of the country are printed.
This is a self-funding entity and receives not a single cent from Treasury to run its affairs. On the contrary, the entity sends back money to Treasury in the form of profits every year. Over the previous three financial years, GPW sent to Treasury R600 million in the form of profits.
The GPW has however not escaped the effects of COVID-19 on its operations. Revenue had to be adjusted downwards by 50% of the original estimates of national expenditure budgeted figure. This will result in a projected net loss of R83.4 million for the 2020/21 financial year. This is unprecedented considering that in the 2017/18 financial year, it made a profit of R591.9 million, 525.2 million in 2018/19 and R528.2 million in 2019/20 financial years. This is the stark reality laid bare by the effects of COVID-19 on the operations of GPW. The loss is induced mainly by the drastic reduction in the issuing of smart IDs and passports as has happened due to the lockdown.
However, I am happy to report that our projections show that over the next three financial years, the GPW will still be able to hold its own and will not need any money from the Treasury, unless something drastic happens beyond Covid 19.
GPW recruits 100 young graduates, woman and people living with disabilities over a period of five years to train them into skilled artisans who will compete for artisanal jobs at the printing works. Unfortunately this important work has been interfered with this year because of COVID-19.
Over this period of lockdown, GPW has printed 111 Provincial Gazettes and 318 National Gazettes without which there would be dearth of information and lack of regulatory capacity of the state.
One of the evils that the Department of Home Affairs spends sleepless night over is the scourge of bribery, fraud and corruption. These are the terrible triplets which we have to fight each and every single day.
Acts of bribery, fraud and corruption bedevil the Department. One of the instances that made me fight more than ever before was the discovery that our first Secretary for Civics and Immigration Services based in South Africa’s mission in Windhoek in Namibia was found to be selling visas to non-qualifying people in Pakistan and Bangladesh. The scheme was so simple for them that fraudsters did not even have to travel to Namibia to get these documents. They were just couriered to them and delivered on a silver platter.
This official has not only been fired, but we have handed over the files to the Hawks to pursue prosecution for fraud and corruption. The Department has revoked 100 visas obtained in this manner.
I cannot claim in this House that these are all the visas that were defrauded because we do not know. Hence we are busy auditing all the visas this official issued since being deployed to our mission in Namibia from 17 October 2018.
I am elevating this matter this way because I wish to take this opportunity to talk to our labour unions. We accept and understand that unions have an obligation to defend their members. But the manner in which the union which this lady belonged tried to stifle our disciplinary process lives a lot to be desired.
I don’t believe that union membership is bigger than patriotism. What this lady was doing is tantamount to high treason, selling the sovereignty of our country to the highest bidder!!!
Let your country come first and unionism will become a pleasant experience. The police have arrested several other officials for fraudulent activities in the Department of Home Affairs.
BORDER MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY
I am happy to announce that the President has assented to Border Management Authority Act. We will now start the odious work of implementation.
SUPPORT FOR ECONOMIC RECOVERY
We all know the economic hardship that Covid 19 has imposed upon humanity at the global level. Our plans for e-Visas to enable the economy to run smoothly have been scuppered by this virus. The Department has tried to aid the economy by granting permission to persons who are coming to assist in high impact special economic projects, to come to the country despite our closed borders.
Presently we are busy processing visas under special provisions of our lockdown Regulations to allow highly valued rare skills to enter the country to help kick start the economy.
This include the following:
- People who are coming to help in the maintenance of Eskom’s Koeberg Nuclear Power Station.
- Mercedes Benz SA’s R10 billion C-Class manufacturing plant in the Eastern Cape
- Total Exploration and Production SA’s R8 billion discovery of gas condensate in the Outeniqua Basin and its deep sea drilling venture
- The construction of Bidvest Tank Terminals R1 billion Mounded Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in Richards Bay.
Very strict health protocols are observed and this is done in collaboration with the Department of Health, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition as well as the Department of Public Enterprise.
EXTENSION OF VALIDITY OF LEGAL PERMITS
At the beginning of the lockdown we announced that all permits and visas that expire intra-lockdown will be deemed to have been extended up to the 31 July 2020.
I am happy to announce that the Department will review this extension from 31st July 2020 to 31st October 2020. I will be signing a Government Gazette to amend the Regulations to provide for this in a short while but definitely before the 31st July 2020.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank my colleague, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Hon. Njabulo Nzuza for a good working relationship.
My thanks also go to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee Hon. Adv. Bongani Bongo and his team in the Portfolio Committee for a very good and productive working relationship even during the harsh conditions imported by COVID-19.
Let me also thank the Departmental team led by Acting DG Mr Jackson McKay, the IEC team led by the Chairperson Mr Glen Mashinini and CEO Mr Sy Mamabolo as well as the GPW team led by Acting CEO Ms Alinah Fosi.
Honourable Chair, I wish to present a budget of R8 467 629 000 for the consideration of this house.
I thank you