TSHEDIMOSETSO HOUSE: PRETORIA - 22 April 2018
Good morning. We thank you for making time for us on a Sunday. The purpose of this briefing is to announce the “war on queues”, a campaign of paramount importance for the Department of Home Affairs, and, I believe, for the Republic.
Rationale for campaign
This will be a critical component of concerted efforts to ensure citizens and other clients are served professionally when they seek access, in-person or digitally, to services we offer. How we serve is at the heart of building a capable, developmental state envisioned in the Republic’s framework for development – the National Development Plan: Vision 2030.
Home Affairs is a key enabler of the major elements of a developmental state together we strive to build. Serving a population of 56 million and millions of immigrants and tourists, it collects and manages data on identity and status of citizens and foreigners sojourning in the Republic. Thus, it is characterised as ‘a custodian of identity and status’.
While Home Affairs has had tremendous successes in reducing turnaround times for production of documents, the critical challenge for us now is to reduce the amount of time clients spend in our offices.
In discharging our mandatory duties, we were concerned by queries from members of the public and journalists unsettled by the time spent at our offices. We heard your cry.
And, accordingly, on 10 April 2018, we directed the Department to prepare an assessment report on how best to manage queues, to improve swiftly on the work we currently are doing. This task was prioritised, cognizant of the promise we made to provide services of a higher quality, better, faster and smarter.
I have received the Assessment Report I had directed the Department to prepare. The Department is currently finalising the action plans to deal with problem areas identified.
These would be rolled-out as short, medium and long term interventions. The Report has identified those areas we think are behind this formidable challenge of queues. In terms of the report, long queues emanate from high client volumes, possible discontinuation of Saturday working hours, leadership issues and front office space.
The report further lists as causes of long queues, unstable systems (networks and applications), inefficient work flow process and uncoordinated communication strategies that lead to unsatisfied clients.
The following factors further exacerbate the problem;
- Poor management in some offices
- Ineffective utilization of staff (over and under supply)
- Lack of an appointment system
- Inefficient management of queues
- Concurrent running of manual and automated systems
- Uneven distribution of offices based on demographics
- Misinformation on discontinuation of green barcoded IDs
- Poor signage at offices
Also provided by the Assessment Report is a List of Offices and manager’s level, that is, Deputy Director, Assistant Director and lower, respectively, influenced by office size. There is also a distribution plan for mobile units per Province.
At the moment, of the 411 Home Affairs offices nationally, only 184 are on Live Capture. Only these 184 offices are processing applications and collections of smart ID cards and passports while offering other services. In spite of these limitations and scarce resources and capacity, since the roll-out of smart ID cards in 2013, our offices have issued over 9 million cards. For example, the office here in Pretoria has produced 7000 cards in January as opposed to its operational capability of 3500 a month.
On the basis of the Department’s Assessment Report, I have called for implementation of actions in the short-term, some of which the Department is carrying-out already. These are:
- An Assessment Report on long queues. This I received on 20 April 2018.
- Segmentation of offices into green, yellow and red. This segmentation was based on the performance of offices. This was achieved.
- Performance ratings and performance management interventions of all red offices.
- An analysis of geographical footprint showing which areas of the population are underserved based on reasonable benchmarks of (1) distance to one of our offices, and (2) Front Line Officers in relation to surrounding population.
- A report on interventions to be taken immediately in the remaining red offices, to address long queues.
- Proposals on how to measure customer experience and waiting times in offices, and on how to deal with structural challenges of long waiting times.
- A report on immediate interventions in Orlando West, Wynberg in Alexandra, Pietermaritzburg, Centurion, East London and Umgeni offices, showing reductions in waiting times and what has been done in ensuring people are not waiting outside offices to be served.
- Visits to the 4 offices by Executive Committee members and Provincial Managers.
- Pilot of a one-stop workstation that takes fingerprints and photographs, to streamline processes and reduce time clients spend in Home Affairs offices.
- The 78 mobile units are currently being refurbished and we are confident that during the second half of this year they will be deployed across the country.
Some of the short-term actions are scheduled for roll-out from Monday, 23 April 2018.
Among other things, informed by the action plans the Department is finalising, we will commission a customer satisfaction survey, get the client contact centre working optimally, find a solution for unpredictable walk-in clients and for front office space, explore possibilities of a new shift system, attend to the unstable system, scale-up unannounced visits by senior managers to offices, improve workflow and beef-up communication with clients.
It is important to note these would not be quick fix interventions and thus plead for your patience while we implement these measures.
Ultimately, to be able to serve all South Africans efficiently, we need to expand our footprint. This will need to be addressed through the budget process. To complement our office footprint, we are in the advanced stages of establishing a public private partnership with the banking sector to roll out the ehomeaffairs service to branches of 4 major banks – Absa, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank – around the country over the next year.
We stand committed to do the best we can to win the all-out war on queues bedevilling our operations, in spite of structural constraints and other challenges. This is not going to be a quick fix. It will be a process, one that we are committed to despite budgetary constraints and capacity restrictions. We have chosen to intervene innovatively to further improve the services we render to the public.
I thank you.
For media enquiries contact Thabo Mokgola on 060 962 4982 or Mayihlome Tshwete on 072 869 2477
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS