Good morning and thank you for joining us to discuss today’s budget vote for Home Affairs.
In my speech this afternoon, I will elaborate on the five priorities I have outlined for the Department in this financial year.
These are as follows:
Making progress on the current phase of the Modernisation programme, towards a modern, digital Home Affairs;
Establishing an effective Border Management Agency (BMA) to significantly improve management of our ports of entry and border line;
Revamping our land ports of entry to better facilitate regional travel, tourism and trade;
Comprehensively reviewing our International Migration policy to better guide us in a complex and evolving migration landscape;
Ensuring a consistently high quality customer experience at our front offices.
As you know, we have acted decisively to deal with the unacceptable attacks against foreign nationals in January and April of this year, as we did in 2008.
Our ongoing work with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on International Migration, the establishment of a BMA and the policy review process will substantially improve our country’s management of international migration and address the underlying issues driving tensions on the issue of immigration.
Moving towards Civic Services, we will reiterate our announcement that we are ending late registration of birth (LRB) as a widespread practice on December 31, 2015.
We believe widespread LRB is no longer justified given the success of our National Population Registration campaign to entrench early birth registration, 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.
There are a number of exciting advances we will be making this financial year, during which Home Affairs will:
Issue 2.2 million ID smart cards;
Expand our footprint by placing Home Affairs kiosks at banks, which will enable application for ID smart cards and passports by appointment;
Roll out payment for Home Affairs services by debit or credit card to 140 ID smart card-capable offices;
Begin upgrading the Electronic Movement Control System (EMCS) at our ports of entry to capture biometric data of all foreign nationals entering the Republic;
Introduce enabling legislation for the BMA, and piloting aspects of the BMA operating model at selected ports of entry;
Work with National Treasury to develop an innovative funding model to revamp six key land ports of entry;
Finalize a Green Paper on International Migration for public comment;
Expand access to our visa system by opening 2 new centres in China, to join the 9 new centres we have already opened in India;
Make it easier for foreign students with critical skills to remain in South Africa after graduation
As excited as we are about these innovative initiatives, we remain focused on our core business: providing critical services to South Africans, to enable them to exercise their rights and access government services.
That is why President Zuma is launching the Moetapele initiative next week on May 12th, as the centrepiece of our efforts to ensure a consistently high-quality customer experience at all Home Affairs offices.
Without giving too much away, Moetapele involves the development of ‘model offices’ as incubators of best practice.
Through this initiative, we are challenging the leadership of the Department to turn some of our most troublesome offices into model offices, and Edenvale, which has been the subject of many customer complaints, will be the first.
This initiative is led by the Deputy Minister, Fatima Chohan, who will be directing ceremonies at the launch next week, where we hope to see all of you.
The Deputy Minister is also responsible for overseeing asylum seeker management, where we have made many strides in recent years.
Before 2010, applications for asylum took years to finalize.
We have now brought this under our benchmark of 3 months, with refugee reception centers in Durban and Musina leading the way by finalizing applications in days, rather than months.
In fact these offices now have excess capacity, which is a testament to the efficiency they have achieved in processing asylum seekers’ applications.
We are working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to implement an initiative to clear the backlog of applications for asylum which are held over from before we reduced the processing time.
The Deputy Minister and I look forward to the debate this afternoon.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss how Home Affairs will continue its transition to a modern and professional department offering critical services to the people of South Africa in a highly secure environment.
Thank you for your attention.
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SOURCE: South African Official News