ISSUE 03 | 2015
[Last month Minister Gigaba addressed young leaders of the Department’s Youth Development Forum, on the critical role of youth in forging a modern Department of Home Affairs. The issues he raised with them are relevant to us all, and so we reprint the speech in its entirety below]
THE ROLE OF YOUTH IN FORGING A MODERN DHA
It is with a tremendous sense of purpose and privilege that I stand in front of you this morning to address your National Conference.
From the outset, I take it that you are all well aware of this important fact that 2015 is the year of the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, a document on whose pages are eternally etched the fundamental aspirations of the majority of our people as well as the foundation stones of our collective future as a people.
It is accordingly imperative for all South Africans, particularly all government departments as well as public servants to ask themselves the question this year if we have fully understood the full gamut of the injunctions of the Freedom Charter and if we are implementing them, making the necessary progress it directed us to make in pursuit of a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it, black and white!
The Freedom Charter enjoined us to ensure, amongst others, that,
“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white and that no government shall justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people”,
“The people shall govern”,
“All national groups shall have equal rights”,
“The people shall share in the country's wealth”,
“All shall be equal before the law”,
“All shall enjoy human rights”,
“There shall be work and security”,
“The doors of learning and culture shall be opened”,
“There shall be houses, security and comfort”,
- “There shall be peace and friendship”.
In conclusion, the Charter made the clarion call to all of us that:
“Let all who love their people and country now say, as we say here: these freedoms we will fight for, side by side, throughout our lives until we have won liberty.”
It is consequently very clear that the Department of Home Affairs is pivotal to the successful pursuit of the Freedom Charter in all its facets.
The Charter captures in clear terms the mandate of our Department in relation not only to service delivery, but at the very heart of economic development, national security as well as the pursuit of a capable developmental state.
There can be no doubt that the services we have to offer speak to the very fundamental aspirations of the majority of the peoples of South Africa.
We have to understand this!
Yet another significant point about today’s conference is that we are addressing young public servants, themselves a significant portion of the youth stratum, charged broadly with the historical task to build and to live in the future society we are creating, but in the most immediate sense, as young public servants, you have the duty to kick away habit, reject stereotypes, trample on dogma and think outside the box about the ways the best to serve South Africans and all government clients.
In all your areas of service, you must interpret the Freedom Charter and give new life and meaning in everything you do.
The responsibility of young public servants cannot be undermined and, yet at the same time, it must not be treated as the same as that of those that have been in the public service for long.
Youth are not the future of South Africa, they are the present and future of South Africa. This is true, now more than ever in the history of our country, for a number of reasons.
The less interesting reason is that fully two-thirds of our population is under the age of 35. According to the latest population estimates from Stats SA, thirty-six million (36mn) of our fifty-four million (54mn) citizens, are young people. This means, that by sheer weight of numbers, if you seek to impact South Africa positively, you must impact young people positively.
A nation’s young people are quite literally, its lifeblood. They power its industries, consume its products, and add vibrancy and dynamism to its cities. Throughout history, nations which have been able to productively engage their young people have experienced dramatic increases in economic growth and levels of development. Nations which do not productively engage youth experience instability and stagnation as they frustrate and waste the potential of some of their most dynamic citizens.
Thus for South Africa to become a winning nation, one which dramatically increases its level of development by 2030 – reducing inequality, increasing employment and eliminating poverty – it is absolutely critical that we empower young people.
The more interesting reason for why youth are the present and future of our country is that society needs the particular attributes of young people, especially a society such as ours which requires radical transformation.
The best qualities of youth are critical to this transformation. Fearlessness, impatience, enthusiasm, even recklessness. Now, I am not advising you to go out and be reckless, and certainly do not go out and do something poorly considered and say, ‘Malusi Gigaba told me to do this’. But radical social and economic transformation requires that we challenge conventional wisdom, challenge standard practice, challenge the power structures of our society.
Perhaps the most important quality of youth is imagination. Young people are not wedded to the world as it is. Young people have not yet accepted that the way things are is the only way things can or should be. So the most critical thing that I think you should do as young South Africans, as young employees of the Department, at this critical juncture in our history, is to reimagine South Africa, to reimagine public service, and to reimagine Home Affairs.
Young people have been at the forefront of positive political and social change in this country. Youth helped tear down the unjust, undemocratic system of racial oppression, and ushered in the democratic era. Where before youth employed their bravery, audacity and hope to resist domination, in the 60th year since the adoption of the Freedom Charter, you are now required to employ your fearlessness, hopefulness, sense of justice, and imagination to fight for and create economic opportunity for all citizens.
This will necessarily involve tension with the older generations. Tension can be healthy, or unhealthy. A healthy tension exists where the youth agitate for positive change, for an ambitious and idealistic agenda, and older generations exercise a moderating influence on the youth. An unhealthy tension exists where the youth exercise a wholesale disregard for the wisdom and experience of older generations, or where the older generations seek to conserve the past at all costs, refusing to accept the contribution of youth, or give them space to lead.
We are committed to realizing a vision of a Home Affairs that is a professional department, offering world-class services in a highly secure environment. This will require building a platform of integrated identity and immigration systems and creating a highly-secure paperless environment. A modern, professional DHA will be at the heart of the capable state envisioned by the National Development Plan, that can lead development. Secure, integrated and efficient identity and immigration systems will reduce corruption and the cost of doing business, ease legitimate travel, improve services and attract investors. We will play a key role in supporting nation building and social cohesion, and a South Africa whose people are united and inclusive, who are proud of, and who value, their citizenship.
These are our aspirations for Home Affairs.
To realize this vision, Home Affairs requires a special cadre of official, who are professional, humane, patriotic, customer centric, and who have integrity.
Youth must not be the beneficiaries of a future they did not create, and did not conceptualise.
Therefore the youth of Home Affairs, particularly through the Youth Development Forum, must interrogate this vision, challenge it and reject its assumptions if necessary, enrich it with your contributions, and ultimately, own it.
As stated above, you must not seek to become the beneficiaries of a future and future Department you neither participated in its conceptualisation nor its creation.
Your Department needs you.
Home Affairs needs you to help us ensure our services respond to the needs and realities of young people in this country; to help us ensure that our messages resonate with young people as well as to concern yourselves with the core objectives of our Department in 2015, and going forward into the future.
How do we register the birth of every South African child before they leave the hospital, or within thirty (30) days?
We currently only register around sixty percent (60%) of births within the first thirty (30) days, which means that we are failing to recognize and safeguard the identity and status of forty percent (40%) of our citizens.
Accordingly, we are putting our National Population Register at risk by creating the loophole, through the late registration of birth, for tens of thousands of people to come to us at twenty- six (26), saying they are South Africans but do not have a birth certificate, and many of these are fraudulent and making false claims.
How will you, as the youth cadre of Home Affairs, help us create a cultural change in our society, where parents go to the hospital with their ID documents, with two sets of names – in case of a girl or a boy – and the expectation that they will register their child’s birth with a Home Affairs official before they leave the hospital?
How will you, as the youth cadre of Home Affairs, help us ensure that every young adult applies for an ID immediately upon turning sixteen (16), that every citizen collects the document they applied for from our offices, and keep that document safe?
How will you, as the youth cadre of Home Affairs, ensure that we efficiently and humanely welcome every legitimate traveller to our country, and proactively and vigilantly deny entry to every illegitimate would-be traveller to our country?
How will you help us manage international migration in a way which enhances our development, our national security, and which fulfils our constitutional and international obligations?
How must we re-imagine our products and services?
How must we change the way we communicate to our people?
How must we re-invent the channels through which we service our customers?
These are but some of the critical areas of our work where the youth of DHA must apply their minds and expend their energies.
What type of young person does the Department of Home Affairs need in order to realize our vision for the Department?
How must they differ from the DHA of the past?
Home Affairs needs young people who will take ownership of this Department and who will take ownership of the work of their unit, their branch, and the Department as a whole.
We need young people who never cease to think about the new ways, processes and programmes the more better, efficiently and conveniently to serve our people, young people whose energies are a perennial reservoir of freshness and young people who never cease to learn!
The Home Affairs of today, much as it is radically changing, had its foundations laid out solidly in the era of the “mabhalanes” – the unthinking, paper-pushing and intransigent clerks.
You – the ever-learning, thinking, innovative and energetic, proactive public servants, who reject all stereotypes and dogma about the public service – must become the foundation of the public service of the future national democratic society, loyal above all else to your people and determined to serve them to the last drop of your energies, regardless of who they are, but particularly if they are poor and those who are vulnerable.
You must not simply push targets because that would make you to be indistinguishable from the unthinking paper-pushers of yesterday and today.
In the same way, that when you are a member of a football team, when asked what was the result of your game, you cannot say ‘I won, but my team lost’, you cannot be professionally- fulfilled when your unit, your branch, and your Department as a whole are not achieving their targets.
Home Affairs needs young people, who are hungry to learn, who will consistently develop their skills and expertise, who will take advantage of learning opportunities provided by the Department in order to enhance their all-round competencies.
Building a 21st Century Home Affairs which contributes to the developmental state, a secured citizenship and identity, economic development and national security requires a cadre of youth who is at the forefront of their areas of specialization.
Home Affairs needs youth who are innovative; who bring their creativity to bear on their work.
We need youth who are constantly thinking of ways to deepen our impact in society.
Make proposals to management, write business cases that shock us with their boldness, ideas so radical and cutting edge that we would feel uncomfortable and say: ‘This is impossible!’
I want you to be the ones to redefine what is possible at Home Affairs.
Home Affairs needs youth who will help the Department contribute to nation building and social cohesion and, accordingly, re-write the role of our Department in our society as well as its position in government.
For a long time, Home Affairs has been seen as responsible ‘merely’ for the printing of identity documents and facilitation of movement into and out of the country.
As custodians of our common citizenship, and of immigration, we hold a unique responsibility to help forge a nation which is dynamic and united-in-its-diversity.
The ‘national question’ which has vexed our country for so long, must now be expanded to include the millions of new South Africans and permanent residents who have immigrated to our country from elsewhere in Africa and abroad, since the beginning of the democratic period.
Where do we locate them in the national imagination, and in our communities?
Have they been successfully integrated into our society?
While the pernicious legacy of racial discrimination regrettably lingers on, your generation, more than any other, should be able to overcome the fault lines of the past, to shed and unlearn the prejudices and hatred which has poisoned our body politic for too long and to forge along a new path and direction for our country.
It is incumbent upon you, to create a new, cohesive and inclusive South Africanness, of which we can all be proud.
Home Affairs is at the centre of the developmental state which seeks to radically transform society now, and in the coming years.
To transform society we must positively impact the youth of this country, but at the same time we must be impacted by that same youth.
You, as members of the DHA Youth Development Forum, must be at the forefront of this transformation.
I hope, by the end of this conference, you will have elected a leadership which will lead you effectively in reimagining Home Affairs to better serve the people of South Africa.
In conclusion, let me remind you what an eminent leader of the youth of our country who died in 1947 once said about your role and responsibilities, that:
"We are not called to peace, comfort and enjoyment, but to hard work, struggle and sweat. We need young men and women of high moral stamina and integrity; of courage and vision. In short, we need warriors."
We need warriors!
The question is, are you prepared to become these warriors Anton Lembede so eloquently spoke about?
Do you have it in you to be of high moral stamina and integrity, to be of courage and vision?
Can you draw from within yourselves all the energies and ideas required to re-imagine our society, our government and our department?
The resolutions of this conference will tell us all we need to know about whether we can rely on you, like the generations of youth preceding you, in order to propel our nation forward and build us the future we want!
Minister of Home Affairs