ISSUE 17 | 2015

 

Dear Colleagues,

All the best this festive season!

To be a Home Affairs official is a very unique vocation, even in public service. You perform a critical function– as custodian of identity in the country, and the arbiter of citizenship status– that most people do not think much about most of the time. It is a vocation that is underappreciated and frequently unpopular. Because of the importance of our civic services, any delay, error or disruption is felt acutely. Because so many people have a stake in who enters, visits and resides in our country, our immigration services are under constant scrutiny, and always likely to displease someone.

It is in this context that we should look back at 2015, a year in which our services and area of responsibility was often in the spotlight, and look forward to next year.

This year, our work drew public attention for several reasons. Incidents of violence and looting against people from other countries ignited public debate about our immigration policy and how it ties in with issues of nation-building and social cohesion, and affirmed the role of immigrants in our society. There was also debate around the implementation of two aspects of the new immigration regulations: requirements for travelling children and in- person application for visas. On the Civics side, many clients expressed frustration at disruptions to our Live Capture system, which happened most frequently during load shedding, and long queues to apply for and collect Smart ID Cards at some offices.

Some might see these things as negative, but I would encourage you to see the positive side of these developments. The attention and debate we saw reaffirmed how important our work is to all sectors of society. Where others may see problems or bad headlines, we should see challenges to overcome, and opportunities to improve and to lead.

In fact, the above merely reaffirms for me that the five priorities I’ve articulated for the Department during this term of government are more relevant and necessary than ever:

  • Completion of the Modernisation Programme with the main deliverables being uninterruptible, integrated digital systems, re-engineered processes and introduction of services via eChannels;

  • Establishing an effective Border Management Agency (BMA) with founding legislation, model and basic structures, people, processes and systems in place;

  • Upgrading of key ports of entry focusing on the piloting of a new model with significant improvements in respect of infrastructure, processes and leadership;

  • Comprehensive review of Immigration Policy culminating in the approval of a Green Paper and White Paper and new comprehensive legislation drafted;

  • Improving client experience through leadership – the Moetapele programme.

The Modernization programme is absolutely critical. We should be heartened by the demand for our flagship Live Capture-based products, the Smart ID Card and passport. They are absolutely world-class, and it is a pleasure to see citizens’ delight when they receive these documents, and their surprise at receiving them in a few business days, rather than the weeks and months of the past. While we are aware some of our offices are straining to cope with demand for applications, we are addressing this in part through our new eChannel.

Our exciting and innovative partnership with the banks– which we started piloting for bank employees in August and bank customers in November– will allow us in 2016 to process Smart ID Card and passport applications in many banks, opening a new channel to deliver Home Affairs services to clients.

As the BMA Bill is considered by Parliament, I must commend the excellent technical work done to date by the BMA Project Management Office. The coordination and cooperation we’re seeing with SARS, SANDF and SAPS – including through Operation Pyramid – augurs well for the future BMA.

Our commitment to regional integration and intra-African trade requires that our land POEs be efficient and pleasant. We are currently investigating the feasibility of a public-private- partnership (PPP) to fund the overhaul of the physical layout and systems infrastructure at key POEs. PPPs will be an important option for departments to fund capital expenditure given the budget constraints in the medium term.

The Draft Green Paper on International Migration is at an advanced stage. As it is completed and released for public comment in early 2016, we will lead a national conversation on how best to manage international migration such that it contributes positively towards national development, security, fulfilment of international obligations, nation-building and social cohesion.

The ethos of Moetapele– a Sesotho word translating as ‘a leader’, which was provided to us by Mr. Ephraim Magagane from the Itsoseng Office in North West– has really resonated with Exco and many of the colleagues I’ve interacted with around the country. Myself and the Deputy Minister fully support it, and I’m excited to see the possibilities for our client service as the Moetapele programme continues to gather momentum.

We are at a pivotal time in the history of Home Affairs and South Africa as a whole. Our citizens are clear that they appreciate the great strides we have taken collectively as a democracy, but political freedom must be accompanied by economic opportunity and prosperity. These are among the aims of Vision 2030, central to which is the capable and developmental state of which Home Affairs is a critical building block.

Home Affairs is no longer a department of mere clerks. We are transitioning towards a modern, professional Home Affairs offering critical services in a highly secure environment. This Home Affairs will make indispensable contributions to service delivery, economic development and national security. Doing so requires a cadre of professional, capable, ethical and patriotic Home Affairs officials.

With this vision in mind, I wish all officials a fruitful festive period. For those who will be working, represent us well as you cater to the many students and others using their holidays to apply for Smart ID Cards and passports, and as you efficiently and vigilantly facilitate regular entry and exit from the Republic at our ports of entry. To those of you who will take leave, please enjoy quality time with family and friends, and do so safely and responsibly. I wish you all the best this festive season, and in the New Year.

 

Sincerely,

Malusi Gigaba, MP

Minister of Home Affairs