21 November 2017
Programme Director, Mr Lesego Mothupi,
National Chairperson of the Youth Forum,
Outgoing Members of the NEC,
Provincial Representatives of the Forum,
All Managers and Officials present,
Good day Baetapele. Programme Director, indeed I am very glad to be a part of this important gathering, the National Youth Forum Elective Conference, in the year of Cde. OR Tambo.
The decision to establish the Youth Forum, which was taken at the department’s Youth Summit in 2008, was both strategic and very timely. It spoke to the historian’s conviction that “peace is a time to prepare for war”. The 2008 Youth Summit laid the foundation for this instrument which now must bring the voice of the youth to bear on our efforts to reimagine Home Affairs.
Efforts to build a strong DHA Youth Forum with which to define the role of young Cadres of Home Affairs, gained impetus in 2011 when the department convened the Youth Empowerment Seminar in March 2011, under the theme, “a good employee attitude can change home affairs”.
From its formative years, the strategy of the National Youth Forum was two-pronged.
- Internally, the Forum provided a vehicle with which to mainstream youth empowerment across the department. It thus serves as the voice of young DHA employees.
- Externally, the Forum provided a tool with which to link departmental youth programmes with inter-departmental and national youth initiatives. And thus through the Youth Forum, you have been able to contribute in driving national youth policies and programmes of the National Youth Development Agency.
This work has not been and must not begin to be about ticking boxes. That we cannot afford. South Africa’s population is largely made up of young people. Accordingly, as young people you have a critical role to play in shaping the direction this department and the country must take.
Strategic as our being here is, equally important is the decision on the part of the National Youth Forum to adopt as the main theme for this National Elective Conference, the role of DHA youth in building a repositioned, future-fit Department of Home Affairs. This would be a department capable of delivering fully on its mandate.
You’ll be happy to know that we are making inroads. This year, in March, Cabinet approved a new Business Case for Home Affairs. The repositioning of Home affairs in large measure will fulfil the vision and aspirations of the struggling masses of our people – aspirations historically shaped and nurtured in the face of brutal repression and oppression.
From OR Tambo’s description of the agony our people endured under previous administrations, it becomes quite apparent why we must necessarily invest more energy in transforming government institutions.
Oliver Tambo wrote in 1966 (Oliver Tambo Speaks, 1987: 56) that:
“Laws enacted by previous governments were reinforced with vicious amendments and were vigorously enforced by officials who, for sheer brutality, seemed to have been specially recruited from some prehistoric bush where cruelty was a highly prized virtue.”
The creation of a new Home Affairs, run by caring officials, has been a very long journey. We can best honour OR Tambo by properly positioning this department in the service of the people.
We inherited a fragmented civil registration system, hitherto used to deny citizenship to the black majority, on grounds of race and ethnicity. Only 4.5 million people, classified as “whites”, enjoyed access to acceptable levels of civic services. A political imperative for the democratic government was thus to build a single, non-racial population register and expand services to all.
From 1994, the 1st phase our journey, we began forging a new, common, national identity to begin to undo inequalities of the past. A defining feature of this historic change was the issuance of one identity document for all citizens. We extended the use of the green-barcoded ID book to all people, though it presented serious security limitations.
We focused on overhauling systems, legislation and policy framework. Among major achievements at the time were the incorporation of the infamous “black” homelands into new 9 provinces of the Republic and the establishment of a single national Department of Home Affairs.
Between 2006 and 2009, which is the 2nd phase in our journey to build a new Home Affairs, we focused on a turnaround strategy to improve service delivery and reengineer Home Affairs into a citizen-oriented department. In this period, among other things, we implemented outcomes of a robust business process reengineering. We improved turnaround times in the production cycle of documents, and upgraded IT systems. But we still needed to improve on identity management.
It was in this period that serious efforts were being made to centre the youth in this department.
In the 3rd phase of our journey, between 2011 and 2016, we initiated a system-wide Modernization Programme, to develop secure, integrated, digital systems managed strategically by professionals. This meant significant changes in how the department was operating, developing systems and processes and prioritising change management. It was in this context that we launched the Moetapele Leadership Initiative, to improve leadership among our officials.
We started issuing smart ID cards in July 2013, to begin to replace corruptible green ID books. To date, we have issued over 7 million smart ID cards. But clearly, there is much to be done to replace all the green-barcoded ID books for around 35 million citizens. We would want to see for instance how your Plan of Action for 2017/18 would assist us in achieving targets in this regard.
Beyond 2017, we want to see the smart ID card being a multi-purpose ID for the whole of government, to improve efficiencies while enhancing security. Work is apace to introduce an e-Passport. In the last week, the Deputy Minister launched an improved refugee travel document.
Among other innovations, we are developing a mobile solution to beef-up the live capture system. We have also initiated a project to modernise processes for Births, Marriages, Deaths, Personal Amendments, Permitting, Asylum seeker and Refugee management.
Our end-product should be a new, credible, reliable and efficient National Identity System through which to deliver mandatory services to citizens, through which to support economic development, through which to promote safety and security for all persons.
I believe, digital transformation will enable the state to promote trusted documents, safer borders and stronger control processes while creating a highly competitive environment for growing the economy and for attracting foreign direct investment.
Programme Director, we had a singular honour early this year to be invited to the ID4Africa 3rd Annual Meeting in Namibia. There we had a unique opportunity to share this vision of a future-fit Department of Home Affairs. Accordingly, our policy development process benefitted from feedback and wealth of ideas there received. An important development is that Cabinet has now approved the request for South Africa to host the 2019 ID4Africa Annual Meeting.
Our engagement in regional, continental and international fora is critical if we are to contribute meaningfully to achieving South Africa’s objectives on economic development, economic growth, trade and development.
With this in mind, we have recently undertaken, and completed, a comprehensive review of the 1999 White Paper on International Migration. The old policy exposed South Africa to diverse risks in a volatile world. Like the pre-1994 policies, the 1999 White Paper strengthened, by default, colonial patterns of labour, production and trade. Pre-1994, South Africa promoted migration for Europeans, at the exclusion of the African people.
The new White Paper was approved by Cabinet on 29 March 2017 and subsequently gazetted on 28 July 2017 for public notification. It introduced a new paradigm in the management of international migration – a paradigm with which to manage international migration for development while safeguarding sovereignty, peace and security.
It contends that it is neither desirable nor possible to stop or slow down international migration. It further argues that international migration in general is beneficial if it is managed in a way that is efficient, secure and respectful of human rights. This is the vision OR Tambo espoused when he mobilised international solidarity for our people with the people of the world. He understood clearly that “A Person is a Person through other Persons.”
The process of amending legislation in line with the 2017 White Paper has begun. All things constant, it will be concluded in the first half of 2019 with the submission of amended legislation to Parliament for public consultation and approval.
In this regard, a fundamental question I would like to pose for this Conference is this:
“What role can young employees of Home Affairs play in implementing the new policy framework set out in the 2017 White Paper on International Migration?”
As young cadres of Home Affairs, I’m certain all these innovative ideas we have alluded to, do excite you. The Home Affairs of 2017 cannot be the same as that of 1948 when the National Party came into power.
If we operate as if we are the old department, our people will never see why we want to transform.
We cannot treat today’s clients as if they were clients of old, who were assumed, in light of their race, to be illiterate, and unlearned, and thus treated as such.
Of course we should run into problems if we want to use archaic solutions to solve today’s problems. It has been very hard to even convince our officials to stop filling forms for our clients, some of whom are school principals and university professors. No wonder we had so many amendments to make, with names and surnames grossly misspelt.
My challenge to you is that you must think carefully of how we should run a new DHA, not undaba zabantu. We are long past the stage when the computer was feared, as it was seen to be a machine that knew people’s secrets.
We have yet to change our processes and systems, to think innovatively, to create multiple channels and platforms for people to access our services, at their own convenience.
In the next ten years or so, it shouldn’t be difficult for parents to register births conveniently; otherwise we are going to be sitting with this problem of late registration of birth forever.
In the next ten years or so, it should be possible to better equip hospitals such that parents do not have to leave before registering births.
And so I challenge this Elective Conference to help us map a way forward for this department, and, importantly, for those that it serves. With young and versatile minds like yours, ours should not and will not be a dream deferred.
These issues we should interrogate further in discussions to be anchored by Siyanda on the repositioning of Home Affairs. The session on the role of youth in repositioning Home Affairs, to be guided by Change Management, is also of importance. I trust that Nischal will enrich Conference work on the Youth Forum’s Programme of Action and Policy.
In closing, allow me once more to reiterate Cde Oliver Tambo’s 1971 New Year Address to the ANC External Mission. And I quote: “We who are free to eat and sleep at will, to write, to speak, to travel as we please; we who are free to make or break a revolution, let us use our comparative freedom, not to perpetuate the misery of those who suffer, not to give indirect aid to the enemy they fight by withholding our own contribution” (Cited in Oliver Tambo Speaks, 1987: 157).
I wish you a successful Elective Conference. And I thank you!