Statement by the DG of Home Affairs, Mkuseli Apleni at the media briefing on the department’s modernisation programme, Kempton Park
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome and thank you for attending our first media briefing of 2015. We felt it important to provide progress on the roll-out of the Smart-ID card and the implementation of the broader Home Affairs’ modernisation programme.
Home Affairs modernisation
We started the current process of modernising our systems in 2013, to improve efficiencies and turnaround times for producing and issuing enabling documents to our clients. This meant transforming work processes in our back offices and front offices.
As a fundamental departure from the old manual system and its inefficiencies, we initiated the Live Capture system for the Smart-ID cards and the new passports. We embarked on the modernisation programme chiefly to enhance the services we offer to South Africa’s citizens and other nationals in the country.
The intention was to replace all outdated systems of the old Home Affairs with new, secure, cutting-edge technologies. This also informed our department’s radical migration from paper-based processes to the creation of a paperless environment.
The modernisation programme should culminate in a complete overhaul of the manner in which we render public services in all our offices, including at the ports of entry.
The department identified the introduction of the Smart-ID card and the new passport as the leading elements of the modernisation programme. To date, of the 403 Home Affairs offices we have, 110 are equipped with the Live Capture system, for the processing of Smart-ID cards and new passports. By March 2015 we will have reached 140 offices.
Our task is to ensure progressively that the over 38 million citizens with Green-ID books convert to the Smart-ID card by the time this process concludes; that is, in our lifetime.
Our strategy is to issue Smart-ID cards, free of charge, to 16 year olds as well as those who are 60 years old and above.
To date we have issued over 1 million Smart-ID cards, in less than a year, and we are confident of reaching the target of 1.6 million cards by the end of 2014/15 financial year. We are really moving, considering this process only started in 2013.
The results are clear for all to see. In the past, literally our network used to be a courier service. It used to take 54 days for you to get an ID book. Now with the new Smart-ID card it takes less than 10 days. In fact the new cards are printed immediately at Government Printing Works. That is why we are able to send you text messages promptly informing you your cards are ready for collection. Do collect them.
Also with the Dispensation for Zimbabwean Permits through which we are normalising the stay of Zimbabwean nationals who were in the country illegally we have used an automated application process. That is why people were able to apply and finish in time; this is a part of the efficiencies we are talking about.
While we are well on course to achieving our goals, it is important to acknowledge also current challenges. The first of which is that the Smart-ID cards can only be issued at offices where we have rolled out the Live Capture system. Naturally, with the advent of the new ID card and its multiple advantages, many would opt to apply for it rather than the Green-ID book. People are therefore coming in numbers to apply for the smart card.
The result has been long queues in some offices. It is not only the 16 year olds and the elderly who go to our offices to receive the new cards; thus the high numbers we are contending with. Many prefer to go to where there is Live Capture, not to offices where they are still issuing the Green-ID book.
For now the Green-ID is valid and is still offered in offices with no Live Capture.
Whereas the old system depended on paper forms and manual fingerprinting, the new Live Capture system is online. This means that even the size of the bandwidth poses another challenge.
We needed to look at the architecture of our networks. Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will soon announce the process of sorting out current network challenges.
I would like to reiterate the statement that our offices have the capacity to render services even when they are offline. In the design of the system we have the offline mode so that our offices should still be operational even when power is down, although as a temporary measure. Load shedding may impact on client service, but we have made provision for such eventualities.
We conduct scheduled systems upgrades and make provision for sufficient capacity generators best to ensure systems are able to function even when there are power outages around the country.
We are engaged in discussions through the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services with SITA and Telkom to explore ways of facilitating office bandwidth upgrades, making provision of optic fibre cables for high speed connectivity and mitigating cable theft in metropolitan areas.
Our Minister will in due course announce other key delivery mechanisms. We are committed to rendering high-quality service to every client while doing all in our power to minimise service interruptions.
Lastly, our vision is to build a professional department, offering critical, world-class services, in a highly secure environment.
I thank you.
SOURCE: South African Official News