Dr Phophi Ramathuba – Limpopo MEC of Health;
Mr. Panyaza Lesufi – Gauteng MEC of Education;
Mr. Naeem Seedat – Transunion;
Mr. Luqmaan Omar – STATSSA;
Mr. Eric Dube – CSIR;
Dr John Carneson – DHA Repositioning Project Manager;
Mr. Jackson MacKay – Acting Director General of the Department of Home Affairs

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good Morning

Let me first take this opportunity to welcome you all to this vital gathering gesturing what we always refer to as participative democracy. Public participation is the foundation on which every successful democracy rests. Your contributions and input will assist us to give certainty to our resolve to repositioned Home Affairs.

Purpose for the Symposium

The objective of today’s symposium is to engage and obtain as many views and perspectives as possible. This will assist you to meaningfully contribute to our journey to reposition the Department of Home Affairs.

Some of you might be aware that the DHA was not established through an act of parliament, we do not have a Home Affairs Act. This lack of attention to policy is further evidence that the DHA has been positioned on the periphery of the state, as a routine administrative department that is not strategic. One consequence of this situation is that the full mandate and importance of the DHA is not generally understood and agreed on. The specific gaps in policy and legislation have also had a negative impact on the country and on people’s lives. 

A Look at the DHA’s Mandate

I am sure all of us here agree that we need a Department of Home Affairs that can serve a sovereign, democratic state in a rapidly changing world.  For any state to be safe, secure and well-managed, it must be able to identify all persons within its borders, know their civil and immigration status and control movement across borders. Only the DHA has the mandate and authority to manage identity and international migration, confirm your citizenship and record your birth, marriage and death. The first question we have to answer is: How well is the DHA performing these functions? 

Guiding Principles for Repositioning the Department of Home Affairs

There are five underlying principles that we have used to define the mandate of the DHA. These principles evolved during a process of reflection, experience, research and engagement, which included national and international partners. These are:
  1. Identity and migration are fundamental aspects of human society and history.
  2. The DHA is responsible for functions that support core constitutional principles.
  3. The DHA is a key element of national security, and must be located and protected within the security system of the state.
  4. The DHA is a critical enabler of empowered citizens, economic development and a capable state.
  5. The DHA as an organisation must have the capabilities required to enforce mandatory legislation; secure and manage its systems; and be strategic, professional and committed to service.

The Department of Home Affairs National Development Plan Targets

Over and above the guiding principles we have set for ourselves there are also NDP targets that we are aligned with to facilitate faster and more inclusive economic growth. The NDP accentuates the importance of immigration for domestic and regional economic development. The National Development Plan calls for a Southern African Development Community visa to boost tourism, and this required secure and well-managed borders. Furthermore the NDP points to the importance of role which the Department plays in the facilitation of immigration and the movement of persons across borders. Key actions to ensure that the department is fully aligned with the NDP include:
  • Improving data collection, coordination and analysis as a result easing the entry of skilled migrants;
  • Efficient and secure ports of entry are necessary to reduce the cost of doing business, encourage trade and enable regional development. This is one of the main goals of the Border Management Agency.
  • The modernisation programme of the Department provides for trusted traveller programmes to attract visitors and facilitate their secure entry and rapid exit.

DHA’s Contribution to Government Outcomes

The nature of the mandate for the Department of Home Affairs is such that it acts as a backbone to government services. It’s no surprise that our mandate cuts across all twelve outcomes of government. The outcomes approach system is designed to ensure that government is focused on achieving the expected real improvements in the life of all South Africans. This assists government in terms of what we expect to achieve, how we expect to achieve it and how we know whether we are achieving it.

More visibly the Department of Home Affairs contributes directly to the following outcomes:
  • Outcome 3
  • Outcomes 4
  • Outcome 12 

The Argument for a Repositioned Department of Home Affairs 

Over the past ten years we have greatly improved the delivery of most of our services. However, we are not in a position to fully modernise and secure our systems, enforce our laws or operate effectively within the security system of the state. In the Business Case we took to Cabinet, we argued that we cannot continue trying to transform a department that historically was designed to serve colonial administrations in terms of its structure, operating model andbudgets. Our conclusion was that the DHA needs to be repositioned as a modern, secure department that is situated within the security system and is managed strategically by professionals. Once this is achieved, we will be able to use our systems to empower citizens, secure our country and support inclusive development. 

The Journey towards a Repositioned Department of Home Affairs

The first step will be to develop a sound policy platform in the form of a White Paper on Repositioning the DHA and then draft anchor legislation in the form of a Home Affairs Bill in 2019.  Over the next five years, a programme will be rolled out to modernise systems and implement new operational, organisational and funding models. Another critical project will be to secure the DHA at the level of people, infrastructure and systems. Once secured, Home Affairs will enable all citizens to have access to relevant information, efficient services and economic opportunities. In a globalised, digital world there is no other way in which nations and regions can thrive, survive and compete. The DHA would thus be a key element in the building of a capable state that can take advantage of the 4th Industrials revolution and lead development.

A Good Investment for a Better Service Delivery and a Secured State

We have no choice but to invest in a DHA that will be the backbone of digital economy and e-government and the nerve centre of national security. In broad terms, national security is about maintaining the integrity of a state and society and keeping the nation safe and provided for. A safe and secure country with an efficient public service will compete successfully for investment. You will see from the programme that we will give participants a chance to discuss how a repositioned DHA will impact on three broad areas: citizen empowerment, inclusive development and national security. Our argument is that a secure, modern DHA will be decisive in meeting a number of the 14 outcomes that must be achieved if we are to realise the National Development Plan as set out in Vision 2030.  I think it will be helpful to read out a summary of these 14 outcomes for us to keep in mind today. 

These are:
  • Quality basic education
  • A long and healthy life for all
  • All people in South Africa are and feel safe
  • Decent employment through inclusive economic growth
  • Skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path
  • An efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network 
  • Vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities contributing to food security for all
  • Sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life
  • Responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system
  • Protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources
  • Create a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world
  • An efficient, effective and development oriented public service
  • Social protection
  • Nation building and social cohesion

My team will expand on our vision for a DHA that can support the achievement of all 14 outcomes I have mentioned.  In our discussions today I look forward to creative ideas on how the modernised systems and professional staff systems can enable the achievement of inclusive development and other critical national goals. In a globalised, digital world we cannot appreciate the importance of Home Affairs if we only look within our borders.  Efficiently managed identity and international migration will play a key role in sweeping away the legacy of colonialism that has been holding back development by allowing stable and secure flows of skills, capital and goods. This will attract investment, support industrialisation, assist planning, encourage the building of infrastructure and grow intra-African trade. Our children must be empowered as citizens of South Africa, Africa and the world. Over the past three months we have had many engagements on the repositioning of the Home Affairs with stakeholders at national and provincial levels. The great majority of inputs have been positive, but we have to date received a relatively small number of formal comments. As part of the reporting of this event we would like the media to announce that the deadline for written submissions has been extended until 31 October 2017.  This should open the way for each one of you to submit your own comments and to ensure your organisations make formal comments on the discussion paper.

The inputs will be taken into account in the drafting of a White Paper on the Repositioning of Home Affairs which must be completed by the end of March 2018. The White Paper that will form the policy basis for the drafting of a Home Affairs Act, which will define the DHA in terms of its mandate, conditions of service and other matters.


In conclusion, I would like to remind you that as you make your inputs here today, keep in your mind the contribution made by the one of the forefathers of our democracy, Oliver Reginald Tambo.

I will quote what he said on 29 April 1983 at the fourth congress of Frelimo:
"We conceive of our country as a single united, democratic and non-racial state, belonging to all who live in it, in which all shall enjoy equal rights, and in which sovereignty will come from the people as a whole, and not from a collection of Bantustans and racial and tribal groupings organized to perpetuate minority power".

I wish you all fruitful deliberations for the day.

I thank you!