ISSUE 02 | 2015

 

Dear Colleagues,

First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all, wherever you are in the machinery of our Department, all of the very best during the New Year, 2015. May we continue to build on the achievements of 2014 as we persist along our journey towards making the Department of Home Affairs a model Department in government.

In the future, this Department must be known for the exceptional and efficient quality of its service towards its clients, the unmatched professional attitude of its people, the impeccable leadership of its managers as well as its no-nonsense attitude towards corruption.

Accordingly, I wish to make it very clear that there is only one ingredient or precondition towards the achievement of these lofty goals, and that is YOU, each one of the thousands of the employees of our Department.

Consequently, this letter, our very first at the beginning of the year, is addressed not to all our employees as a collective, but to each individual Home Affairs employee. I want each one of you to take a moment to reflect on the responsibility you carry as an individual as well as the role you shall play in pursuit of these goals I have outlined above.

What makes the pursuit of our vision particularly important is the fact that our country shall this year observe the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter, a document whose significance derives not only from the vision it espoused for our country, but above all else from the principles it cherished which eventually found expression in the very Constitution of our Republic. Both the Preamble as well as the Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution have their first origins in the Freedom Charter.

As well as declaring that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of all the people”, the Freedom Charter, on a matter relevant to the Department of Home Affairs, proclaimed that:

  • “All shall be free to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province to province, and from South Africa abroad; and that,
  • Pass Laws, permits and all other laws restricting these freedoms shall be abolished.”

It is accordingly our foremost obligation to ensure that through the services we render, we do not negate the injunctions of the Freedom Charter which enjoined us to serve our people in a manner not to restrict their freedoms – the freedom “to travel without restriction from countryside to town, from province to province, and from South Africa abroad...

The Department of Home Affairs finds itself at the nexus of three critical and inter-related issues: national security, administration and service delivery. We have to fulfil these three obligations in an equal manner.

During the past six months, we have visited six of the nine provinces in the country, during which visits we have also made surprise visits to some of our offices. We have also met with our managers to discuss the “State of the Province” with them. Needless to say, we have had uneven results and came out of the process with not only distinct opinions of the “state of the provinces” but also with an impression of how uneven our provinces and provincial management teams are.

We wanted to see for ourselves the quality of the services our people are getting; if offices are clean, neat and well organized; if queues are well managed, and if people are being served quickly; as well as to see if staff are knowledgeable and able to resolve queries.

These seem basic, but they are at the very heart of the impressions people have of our department as well as the services we deliver. They are at the heart of our front-office improvement project, about which we said in our Budget Vote Policy Debate in the NCOP on 15 July 2014, that:

“This will entail drastically enhancing our front-office operations, the leadership and managerial competencies of our managers, the professionalism of our officials as well as establishing a performance dashboard robustly to measure and closely monitor the performance of our offices, including standardising operating procedures between and within all of our offices. We remain committed to improve our operations to ensure that we have a safe and secure South Africa where all of our people are proud of, and value, their identity and citizenship.”

We have also sought to gauge the leadership competencies and managerial capabilities of our managers. This we cannot glean from fancy reports written on glossy papers, but from direct physical interaction and observation of people on the ground, where and when they operate.

Your work is of enormous importance to the country. Again, during our Budget Vote Policy Debate in the NCOP, we made the firm and correct statement that:

“The DHA contributes to economic development in several ways and our contribution as an enabler of tourism is irrefutable. Our Identity Documents help create the platform of trust and accountability which underpins our competitive and sophisticated financial system. Our ability efficiently to facilitate large numbers of international visitors across ports of entry has enabled our positioning as a trusted host for major international events. Our immigration management enables us to bring in workers and investors who contribute to economic growth. Our staff have done well to eliminate visa and permit backlogs, and proactively assist businesses with immigration issues. The new immigration regulations will make it easier to source critical skills from overseas.”

Furthermore,

...The reputation of Home Affairs is at stake in every single interaction. But fear of criticism is not what should drive us. We should be driven by the pride in serving South Africans at critical points in their lives: birth, adulthood, travel, marriage, death. We should be driven by the desire to one day be the benchmark for government service. 5 years from now, I want Home Affairs to be the benchmark. People should in the near future say of the Department of Home Affairs – “Have you been to Home Affairs lately? They’ve really turned that place around. It is a pleasure to go there now.”

Of course, I know that this depends on our network suppliers providing us a reliable and predictable service so that we can provide an uninterrupted and uninterruptible service to our clients. During the past three months or more, this has been our major headache and we hope to fix this as soon as possible.

However, we must ensure that both our officials as well as South Africans at large value, cherish and defend their citizenship. That is why we have been making the point that, all of us, Departmental officials and broader South Africans alike must,

  • prize South African citizenship and not contribute, wittingly or unwittingly, towards extending citizenship to people who do not deserve it;

  • register the birth of all children before you leave the hospital, or within 30 days of birth, in order to help us secure our National Population Register;

  • apply for your identity document at 16 years of age to ensure your ability to access government services:

  • safeguard your documents to help combat identity theft and fraud; and

  • register death immediately, to prevent theft of the deceased’s identity.

Our service is inconsistent. A majority of our customers are satisfied with our service, according to our customer satisfaction research surveys. But in a minority of cases, customers have horrible experiences. Unfortunately, it is those cases which make or break our reputation.

We have visited offices where we found clients with long-standing problems which, however, we resolved as soon as we enquired. The question arises: Why did this require our intervention as Ministers? If the queries could be resolved with us there, why could it not have been done without us there!

One of the foremost corporate leaders, Brand Pretorius, who held top executive positions at Toyota South Africa, McCarthy Motor Holdings and Bidvest Group Limited, wrote in his book, Ïn the Driving Seat: Lessons in Leadership”, that there are four requirements for strong and lasting relationships in any business; namely, respect for all the people; trust, which has to be earned; sincerity, which must come from the heart and courtesy under all circumstances. 

He then makes the fundamentally important statement that we must bear in mind all the time that:

“People will forget what you said, also what you did, but never how you made them feel. Positive feelings form the basis of good relationships, which make the world a better place, also in business.”

This must be our motto – to make our clients feel good and positive about their interaction with our department and its people.

We must always instil in ourselves, whether in leadership or not, those values of respect for all the people, trust, sincerity as well as courtesy under all circumstances.

We must respect our clients and our organisation’s promise to them, and embody and live the values of the Department of Home Affairs as well as our government.

What I expect from you is leadership. Your leadership is the difference between the success and failure of this department. Funding and technology are but enablers, but ultimately, it comes down to you, how you perform your duties and how you exercise your leadership.

The Deputy Minister and I have said that we will hold you accountable for demonstrating these qualities. Those who exercise leadership will have a bright future in DHA. Those who do not will find it difficult.

We have, on our turn, pledged that you must expect from us innovation, recognition, and support. We will support the modernization project and other efforts to make the department more efficient and your jobs easier over time.

We will recognize your contributions, and support initiatives to recognize and reward excellence. We will support you. We will take collective responsibility for honest mistakes; but transgressions based on bad faith or corruption will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

We have it within ourselves to contribute decisively towards the national effort together to move South Africa forward. Home Affairs is crucial in enabling that better life. It is time for all of us to deliver.

We are, consequently, determined as this Department that we should make a decisive contribution towards both the restoration of the dignity and humanity of the majority. Our programmes today create the real possibility that we can comprehensively make our contribution towards expanding the frontiers of discourse as to what and who constitutes the New South Africa, occupying as we do an important nexus between national security, service delivery as well as administration.

As we have said it above, it is now 60 years since the Congress of the People drew the Freedom Charter on the pages of which eternally are etched the cornerstones of our principles of freedom, democracy and a common nationhood. We have thus, in the

Department, sought to act in a manner consistent with this vision, determined that we should play our part in creating a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and united South Africa as envisioned in the Freedom Charter and our Constitution.

It is, accordingly, of enormous significance that since 1994, Home Affairs has issued all South Africans with a single identity document, confirming the single, common citizenship which binds us together, with respect and dignity for all. This issue of “a single identity document, confirming the single, common citizenship which binds us together, with respect and dignity for all” speaks to the very core of our mandate, which is, determining and safeguarding the identity and status of all citizens.

To discharge our mandate, Home Affairs must walk a journey with every South African through critical events in their lives: from birth, marriage and death and the birth of our children. The single most important step in this journey is that of accurately recording the birth of each South African child.

Citizens are responding positively to this change, and our priority is to reach universal early registration of birth in the coming years, including for children not born at hospitals or those born outside the Republic but to South African parents.

Years of public information campaigns, stakeholder engagement and deployment of mobile offices in remote areas around the country, have ensured that we have spread public awareness of civil registration practices to every community in South Africa. This has prepared us to be able to end late registration of birth as a common practice on December 31, 2015.

At the same time, we encourage every South African at 16 years of age to apply for an identity document. In this regard, we are ramping up from 1.6 million Smart-ID Cards issued this financial year, to 3 million and then 8 million per annum in the next several years.

Special preference is also given to all elderly persons – 60 years and above – who are still not in possession of Smart-ID Cards to hurry up and apply for their re-issue during this month.

Managing immigration effectively, in a way which promotes national development and security is the second core aspect of our mandate.

In the coming years we look forward to more efficiently and securely:

  • facilitating the entry into South Africa of people of goodwill from around the world; of businesspeople, investors, and skilled workers; as well as the free movement of people within SADC and the continent more broadly in line with the vision of the African Union; and

  • proactively identifying and preventing those travellers who present a risk to our country from entering it with minimal disruption to legitimate travellers.

 

In this regard, it is critical to emphasise the following points,

  1. International migration is a very critical aspect of our work and we seek to manage it fairly, efficiently, in the national interest in a manner that ensures that, as a country, we benefit from the process as well as from immigrants;

  2. Immigrants play a very important role in the South African economy and we are open to immigrants who have the genuine interest to contribute towards the growth and security of South Africa;

  3. Africans, in particular, are welcome to visit South Africa and to enter our country through our regular ports of entry so that we can know and regulate their entry and exit easily and protect them whilst in South Africa;

  4. Asylum-seekers are even more welcome and our country is continuously improving its asylum-seeker management processes in order to facilitate their entry, documentation and safety whilst in the country;

  5. We are continuing to improve our focus on border management and curbing of irregular migration into the country, through improved cooperation with fellow departments and sister-countries through international cooperation at bilateral and multilateral levels; and

  6. The South African government will continue to take whatever steps as are necessary to minimise immigration risks, particularly to the security of our country, our neighbours, our people and immigrants.

What cannot be disputed is that immigrants play a critical role in the on-going search for a common South African nationhood and social cohesion. Accordingly, the discourse on the national question can no longer neglect the presence in our society of immigrants, who are not simply white or black, but who possess other identities new to the New South Africa, but critical in its foundation and self-definition.

Going forward, the DHA is committed to achieving its vision of being 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. It will be driven by a cadre of professional, humane and patriotic officials who will be known for serving and protecting all persons living in South Africa. A modern, professional DHA will be at the heart of a capable state that can lead development.

Secure, integrated and efficient identity and immigration systems will reduce corruption and the cost of doing business, improve services and attract investors. It will play a key role in supporting nation building and social cohesion, and a South Africa whose people are proud of, and value their citizenship.

The dream is to play a decisive part in securing a bright future for all our children. We have a central role in the formation of the New South African Nation.

Thank you all for your kind attention.

 

Regards,

Minister M. Gigaba