Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
First and foremost, I would like to say Ramadan Mubarak to Muslims, who are beginning their observation of the holy month of Ramadan.
Secondly, we wish to join the international community in condemning with absolute horror and disgust the brutal violence inflicted on Palestinians protesting in Gaza; we feel their anguish and suffering.
I also wish to offer our condolences to the family of Mr. Sedick Mia who died tragically at our Barrack Street office on Monday.
We are grateful to our office supervisor, Mr. Regan Winter, who tried to assist Mr. Mia as he succumbed to illness and stood by his family’s side until his remains were finally taken away.
In early April, I announced a war on excessively long queues.
I directed the Department to develop urgent interventions, in the short and medium term to reduce and better manage queues, but in the long term to eradicate them altogether through innovative solutions.
In response, the Department has developed a strategy which focuses, among others, on re-opening our offices on Saturdays; addressing IT system failures; better managing fluctuations in client demand; improving management of offices; and introducing additional service channels.
I have also requested a thorough performance audit of front line office managers which will be acted upon through management support, training interventions or redeployments.
Among others, the Western Cape has developed a detailed monitoring system that analyses queue patterns at different times of the day, at all offices in the region and enables swift responses where for instance large numbers of people have turned up at a particular office, which allows for effective remedial actions to be taken.
It is hoped that we will be able to broadcast a home affairs trafficking report on different radio stations with the assistance of GCIS and direct clients to underutilized offices in the metro.
Best practices like those must be identified and rolled out to other provinces.
We have signed an agreement with SITA and Dimension Data to improve our network reliability, which is a huge source of frustration to clients and officials when our systems go offline and services can no longer be delivered.
Through this partnership, we aim to achieve 99% network availability by 2019.
In 2015 we outlined five key tasks that would be our priorities during this term of office; that is:
Accelerating the modernisation programme to use technology to deliver more efficient, convenient and secure services,
Accelerating the finalisation of the Border Management Authority,
Revamping the physical and systems infrastructure of six major commercial land ports of entry,
Adopting a new and more comprehensive international migration policy framework, and
Improving frontline service.
These priorities build on our core services of civil registration and immigration services.
Today, most of our clients apply for identity documents through a live, paperless process, with photographs taken in our offices, and receive technologically advanced and secure smart ID cards and passports, which are available for collection within 1 to 2 weeks of the date of application in most cases.
We are proud to announce that we have issued 10 million smart ID cards to South Africans over the last five years.
In fact, the recipient of the 10 millionth card, Ms. Nomthandazo Maweni, is here as our guest in the gallery.
We have introduced innovation in many areas of our work, and yet much more still remains to be done.
Our 184 digitised Home Affairs offices around the country take card payments.
Many of our clients even utilise the ehomeaffairs service launched in 2016, allowing them to pay online, schedule an appointment, and apply for smart ID cards and passports at 14 participating bank branches currently.
Thus far, approximately 212,101 Smart ID Cards and more than 222,406 passports have been obtained through the existing 14 pilot branches, which is a huge success.
We intend finalising a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the banking sector and National Treasury, to roll this out across the country before the end of this financial year.
Meanwhile, we have agreed with our banking partners – Standard Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank and ABSA – to extend ehomeaffairs to 20 additional branches immediately.
Areas to be prioritised include Durban, Pietermaritzburg, East London, Nelspruit and Polokwane.
We will announce further details on these expansion plans in the next few weeks.
We have made great strides towards universal early birth registration, which is the foundation of effective civil registration.
We have a presence at 391 hospitals and clinics, of which 67 have permanent staff.
This has helped us increase the percentage of births registered within 30 days from 59% in 2013/14, to 74% to date.
Currently 46% of births are registered at health facilities, rather than our offices.
It is imperative that we build on our partnership with the Department of Health to get this number to 100%.
All of this makes us a fitting host for ID4Africa 2018, a movement to ensure all Africans have legal identity, promote the responsible adoption of digital identity systems, ensure all our people can participate in democracy and the economy, and access government services.
A few years ago, we faced questions over whether our systems were up to the task of managing immigration, both to support the economy and minimise security risks.
Through our Advanced Passenger Processing system, we are able to conduct risk assessments to identify, and if necessary deny entry to high risk persons.
Through our Enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS), which has been rolled out to all major ports of entry and linked to our permitting system, we are able to track each movement in and out of our borders.
We can identify bona fide frequent travellers which will be helpful for our future Trusted Traveller system, as well as those who have transgressed our law.
We have added biometric capability at 4 airports and 6 land ports, which has allowed us to store the photographs and fingerprints of people entering our country.
This improves our security while enabling efficient entry for visitors.
In this financial year, we will pilot e-permitting functionality which will allow visitors to South Africa to apply for visas online, receive an electronic visa within hours or days, and be able to proceed directly to South Africa.
This will improve ease of access to South Africa, and help grow tourism.
We have introduced a visa exemption for Russia, which has increased tourist travel from Russia by 51% in 2017, year on year.
This year we will simplify visa requirements for Chinese and Indian visitors.
We will also ease the entry of people with valid visas from countries with stringent criteria such as the US and UK.
In the medium term, we will introduce trusted traveller e-gates at our airports to fast track entry of South African citizens and other low risk travellers.
This year we will work closely with stakeholders including the Departments of Tourism and Transport, ACSA, the tourism industry and others to develop and implement a strategy to grow South Africa as an attractive and efficient transit hub and destination for tourists and businesspeople.
Effective management of international migration also entails enforcing laws which bar the employment of undocumented immigrants and those without work visas.
Our laws also require that South African companies ensure that South Africans constitute at least 60% of their workforce.
To enforce our laws, we are shifting our focus to employers – business owners and managers – rather than only individual immigrants working illegally and we will charge them for contravening the Immigration Act.
We will continue engagements with business groups in sectors such as hospitality, construction, retail and others with high rates of non-compliance to improve adherence.
In terms of the five priorities we outlined in 2015,
First, we have made steady progress in modernising and digitising Home Affairs in order to make our services efficient and seamless.
During this financial year, we will automate and digitise additional services for our clients’ benefit, including Birth, Marriage and Death registration, Amendments of names and Citizenship.
This will enable quicker applications and shorter turnaround times.
This morning we launched the Automated Biometric Identification System, that will enable advanced identification and verification through finger prints, palm prints, iris, facial recognition, and DNA.
The ABIS will form the backbone of the future National Identity System (NIS), which will replace the National Population Register, EMCS and the National Immigration Identification System NIIS).
The successful implementation of the NIS will substantially improve data management, reduce fraudulent transactions and enable e-Government and e-Commerce services.
This year, 78 mobile units will be equipped with live capture functionality for the issuance of smart ID cards and passports and this will contribute significantly to the expanding the DHA footprint, especially in rural and marginalised areas.
Secondly, the Border Management Authority (BMA) is close to being finalised by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) this year.
From September 2018, the Department will be rolling-out the BMA Pilot Project at Oshoek, OR Tambo International Airport, and the Port of Entry Control Centre (PECC) in Cape Town.
The project will pilot and establish an integrated border management approach between key operational border law enforcement organs of state deployed within identified Ports of Entry, test and document lessons and best practices, among other objectives.
Thirdly, we have plans finalise the public-private partnership to redevelop 6 key land ports of entry this year to fund their total design, redevelopment, finance, construction, operation and maintenance as well as the provision of broadband connectivity.
Fourthly, we are working to implement and institutionalize South Africa’s new international migration policy, adopted in 2017.
We have already started implementing elements of the White Paper such as long-term multiple entry visas for African academics, businesspeople and frequent travellers.
However, those elements that require major changes will be implemented pending the finalisation of a new legislation, which is at an advanced stage.
In support of the AU policy regarding free movement of persons, the Department continues to identify African countries to be exempted from visa requirements.
Last year, we extended visa exemptions to the Republic of Angola and Madagascar, which means that citizens of 14 out of 15 SADC countries are able to visit South Africa visa-free.
The current visa waiver process is a roadmap to the progressive visa removal for all African citizens, that is expected to be finalised by 2023, to facilitate free trade, movement of people, goods and services.
Fifth, the Deputy Minister will outline in detail the measures we are taking to improve frontline service, including our key initiative in this area, the Moetapele programme.
In the 2018/19 financial year, we are transferring R1.97 billion to the Independent Electoral Commission, and R149 million to the Represented Political Parties Fund.
Preparations for next year’s National and Provincial elections are already well underway by the Electoral Commission.
These preparations include a number of proposed legislative amendments aimed at enhancing various aspects of the election process which will be tabled soon.
GPW has a 5 year plan to reposition itself to be the state mandated security printer of choice.
As part of the plan, GPW is vigorously marketing itself to SADC and other African countries for production of identity documents, passports and other high security documents.
We are making visible strides in meeting our performance targets, rising to an expected 90% in 2018/19, compared to 89% in 2017/18 and 53% in 2013/14.
We have worked diligently to improve the Department’s financial management and governance, achieving our first unqualified financial audit in several years in 2016/17.
In this regard, I would like to thank the Deputy Minister for her tireless work, sterling support and counsel all the time.
I also thank the Director-General, his deputies for their excellent support.
I wish to particularly single out the staff of Home Affairs who have continued diligently to deliver much needed services to our people at increasing volumes, without increased resources.
I wish to thank the Chairperson, Commissioners and CEO of the IEC, the CEO of GPW, and the entire staff of these entities for their hard work, dedication and constructive support.
I further would like to thank the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee as well as all the members of the Committee for their support and constructive criticism and guidance in the execution of our mandate.
Not least, I would like to thank my wife, children and family for their unwavering support as we continue to execute our mandate and serve our nation.
Chairperson, it is my privilege at this moment to table this, the Budget Vote 5 for the Department of Home Affairs, before this august House.
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