Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
In the 60th year since the adoption of the Freedom Charter, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) remains committed to realising the historic aspirations of the people of South Africa.
We believe that our work is a critical enabler for all of the declarations in the Freedom Charter, for it is our department that ensures the status of each South African is recognised, enabling them fully to exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
If there was any doubt about the need the further to uphold and entrench the values and aspirations of the Freedom Charter, the recent despicable attacks on foreign nationals have been a grim reminder.
I want to be absolutely clear: No grievance justifies violence against any person, regardless of their nationality, or immigration status
After the 2008 incidents of violence against foreign nationals, Home Affairs joined other government departments in taking deliberate steps to ensure such tragic events would not happen again.
Through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration convened by the President, we are working with other departments to address the underlying issues leading to the tensions we have witnessed.
We believe that these efforts, along with the policy review process and initiatives on border management which I will outline today, will significantly improve our nation’s management of international migration.
Late registration of birth
Since 2005 when we began offering birth registration services at hospitals, we have explained why it is crucial to register the birth of all within the first 30 days.
We have also announced that we are taking steps to end late registration of birth as a widespread practice, as of 31 December 2015, due to the progress we have made in the National Population Registration campaign, and the ongoing risks associated with LRB.
From January 1, 2016, all births registered after 30 days will have to undergo a rigorous process to prove that the child really is a South African citizen.
The process will be designed to ensure that no genuine South African is at risk of losing their citizenship.
Five (5) Priorities
I have outlined five priorities for the Department of Home Affairs in 2015/16.
The first priority is to make progress on the current phase of the Modernisation programme, which is critical to improve services to citizens, as a digital/paperless back office environment will enable the Department the more efficiently to serve customers.
An example of this is the new live capture system used for both ID smart cards and passports, which is a quick and convenient process, with the documents produced in less than a week in most cases.
This clearly demonstrates the benefits to citizens of a Home Affairs that operates on digital, paperless systems.
Accordingly, our key objectives for the Modernisation programme in 2015/16 are as follows:
i). On the National Identity System (NIS),
we will issue more than 2.2 million ID smart cards to citizens;
procure hardware for the development of a new Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS); and
begin upgrading the Electronic Movement Control System (EMCS) at our ports of entry to capture biometric data of all foreign nationals entering the Republic beginning in January 2016; and
ii). On e-channels, we have entered into an exciting partnership with four major banks – FNB, Absa, Standard Bank and Nedbank) – which will allow us to accept applications for ID smart cards and passports at banks by the second quarter of this financial year.
It is essential that we establish an uninterruptible service network which will enable us to serve citizens irrespective of electrical and other faults.
None of the advances I have talked about will deliver better services unless we have access to reliable networks.
Recently, our clients have occasionally been frustrated by system disruptions and long queues at offices offering ID smart cards.
We have implemented several solutions to resolve these issues, including a new disaster recovery site, installing generators at offices, and developing an offline mode which will allow us to continue serving customers for a short duration.
Our e-channels strategy will also be helpful in this regard, in providing alternative channels for us to serve clients, thus expanding our footprint and minimizing queues.
Let us imagine a client called Takalani.
In September this year she will log on to DHA on an internet application to apply for a passport or an ID.
She will pay her fees by electronic funds transfer and then she will book an appointment on-line.
When Takalani comes for the appointment at her bank, she will go to the counter allocated to DHA officials who will verify her identity online and capture her biometrics digitally.
A few days later, she will receive a message to collect her document.
Going forward, the same system will be rolled out to specific digitised offices.
Next week, at our Edenvale office, we will begin piloting a payment system that will allow clients to pay for Home Affairs services with debit and credit cards, which we will roll out to all 140 ID smart card offices by March 2016.
Our second major priority this year is the establishment of an effective Border Management Agency (BMA) in the 2016/17 financial year.
We have developed a model, approved by Cabinet, for a specialised agency which will significantly improve the management of our ports of entry and borderline.
Enabling legislation is being drafted and will be introduced in Parliament by the third quarter of this financial year.
The DHA has assumed leadership for the Border Control Operational Coordinating Committee (BCOCC) and 93 officials have been seconded to the BMA Project Management Office.
Ports of entry which will serve as BMA Pilot sites have been identified for roll-out in 2015/16 to test the new integrated model; with all officials under one command structure.
In the coming weeks, as an interim measure, we will be launching a programme aimed at strengthening the control of the border environment, prior to the establishment of an integrated BMA.
A related and third priority is the revamp of the physical and systems infrastructure of the 6 key land ports of entry at Beit Bridge, Lebombo, Kopfontein, Oshoek, Ficksburg Bridge and Maseru Bridge.
We will work closely with National Treasury to develop viable funding and management models to address the serious infrastructure deficiencies at our key POEs.
To this end, we will be appointing a transaction advisor to undertake the technical studies required to support the proposals.
Our fourth priority is the comprehensive review of our International Migration policy.
Last year we began a total review of the out-dated 1999 White Paper on International Migration; this process is now at an advanced stage.
While it would be premature to outline specific policy positions, I can promise this house and the nation at large, that we will emerge with a modern, progressive and robust policy on International Migration which will take into account the enormous current and potential contribution of immigrants to our society, and our connectedness with the rest of the world, while minimizing associated risks and protecting our national interests.
The Green Paper will be finalised by March 2016, leading to a White paper and a comprehensive overhaul of legislation.
We are continuing to implement the Immigration Regulations of 2014, working closely with stakeholders to resolve any implementation issues as they arise.
The introduction of visa facilitation centres has improved customer service, realised significant efficiencies and has improved security.
In order to improve access to our visa system, 9 new centres have been opened in India, and an additional two will be opened in China.
The ten year, multiple-entry visa for BRICS businesspeople has been well received.
We will work with other departments on how and when to extend a similar visa to other countries.
This year, in partnership with the Gauteng Development Agency, we will launch an immigration business hub in Sandton that will provide one-stop advice and services.
I have established a panel of experts on immigration management practices to advise on innovative ways to improve our visa system.
We must never forget that many other countries are competing for the same skilled international migrants.
We are at the advanced stages of developing an initiative to make it easier for foreign students with critical skills to remain in the country after graduating from our universities.
Similarly, we are looking at ways to make it easier for holders of corporate visas to acquire critical skills visas.
South Africa receives among the highest numbers of asylum seekers in the world.
The Deputy Minister will update you on steps being taken to address challenges in this area.
Our final and fifth priority is to ensure a consistently high quality of customer experience in our front offices.
Our strategy, which we want to share with the public, is to challenge the leadership of the Department to establish model offices.
The vehicle for this programme is the Moetapele initiative, which the President is launching on the 12th of May 2015.
The Deputy Minister is charged with oversight of this project and will provide details in her speech.
The Government Printing Works is undertaking the following initiatives to achieve the objective of becoming Africa’s leading producer of security documents by 2017:
The Security Printer’s Bill to be introduced in 2015/16 will enable the transition from a Government Component to a State Owned Company within two years,
The R 600 million asset recapitalisation programme will continue in 2015/16, for completion by 2019. Amongst other benefits, this will enable the GPW to increase its production of ID smart cards,
A R1 billion development of the GPW headquarters is on track. This will be completed in 2019, bringing all GPW functions into one state of the art, highly secure facility, and
The construction of a high speed examination printing facility and dispatch centre for passports and smart ID cards will begin in 2015/16.
In the 2015/16 financial year, we are transferring 1.5 billion rand to the Independent Electoral Commission.
Home Affairs remains committed to becoming a modern, professional department offering critical services which will enable all South Africans to realise the aspirations of the Freedom Charter and the Constitution.
Finally, I would like to thank the Deputy Minister, Director-General, CEO of GPW, Deputy Directors-General, and all Home Affairs and GPW staff for their hard work, dedication and constructive support.
I further would like to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee as well as all the members of the Committee for their support and constructive criticism and guidance in the execution of our mandate.
Not least, I would like to thank my wife, Nomachule, children and family for their unwavering support as we continue to execute our mandate and serve our nation.
Chairperson, it is my privilege at this moment to table this, the Budget Vote 05 for the Department of Home Affairs before this august House.
I thank you.
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SOURCE: South African Official News