Honourable Ministers and Deputy Minister
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Freedom Charter, National Development Plan and Agenda 2063
The introduction of the Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill, 2016 represents a radical shift from the colonial and apartheid systems that were informed by a desire and a mission to create and sustain racism, hostilities and hatred rather than dignified migration.
The vision and the mission of the BMA is embedded within the democratic values and deep respect for a culture of human rights. The Freedom Charter correctly asserts that no government can justly claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people and the people share in the country’s wealth, ensure that peace and friendship prevails and South Africa is a fully independent state.
The National Development Plan, Vision 2030 reminds us that today’s South Africa looks completely different from the South Africa before 1994. The NDP states that,
“in the next few decades the world will experience unprecedented change. These include an explosion of urbanisation, which will create wealth and sharpen strains on the ecosystem; revolutionary developments in science and technology that will transform opportunities, introduce new risks, drive wider social integration; and a rebalancing of economic power from the developed to developing countries that will potentially lift another billion people out of poverty. The cumulative effect of these trends are uncertain.”
We firmly believe that the BMA’s vision is in line with Africa’s development vision, Agenda 2063; which asserts:
“Africa shall be a continent where the free movement of people, capital, goods and services will result in significant increases in trade and investments amongst African countries rising to unprecedented levels, and strengthen Africa’s place in global trade..”
The BMA will play an important role in supporting the creation of an inclusive and growing economy at the frontline of our country’s borders by facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods in line with our socio-economic objectives. We will focus on building the right set of skills for Border Guard officials and on establishing modern and secure infrastructure, information and communication technology platforms that meet the universal standards based on the rule of law.
The BMA must fully embrace the digital revolution that we are currently undergoing globally and this evolving digitised society must promote prosperity for all and balance it with our national development and security priorities as a country.
Current global context: challenges of international migration
Today over 40 million people enter and depart our country on an annual basis. People come to South Africa for different reasons including those seeking asylum, economic migrants, those seeking education and training opportunities, as well as for tourism and leisure. However, border management poses formidable challenges not only for South Africa, but also for receiving countries in other parts of the world.
Rationale for the Border Management Authority
The BMA Bill before the House today is underpinned by a number of imperatives, including:
- a new policy paradigm of integrated border management, and
- a determination to facilitate the legal and secure movement of people and goods across our borders,
Our imperatives are further driven by national interest which includes the establishment of a National Identity System for all people who reside in South Africa.
Current challenges necessitating an integrated border authority
We must be frank about some of the key problems characterising the border environment in our country. Our fundamental challenge is that at our 72 Ports of Entry there are still challenges of government departments and state agencies operating in a fragmented and incoherent manner with conflicting policy positions, non-aligned implementation and varied interpretation of the Border Management regulatory regime.
The consequences of this inefficient and ineffective border management approach often leads to poor services being rendered to traders and travellers at Ports of Entry. This impacts negatively on travellers and traders whilst also creating a breeding ground for corruption.
A new vision of border management
Government has undergone an extensive consultative process with affected government departments seeking consensus on creating a single command and control Border Management Authority under the Department of Home Affairs. His Excellency President Jacob Zuma made the commitment in 2009 that we will be establishing a Border Management Agency. Cabinet formally resolved to establish the BMA in June 2013 and consequently endorsed a vision for the BMA in 2014.
This vision constitutes the guiding framework that informed the architecture and substance of the BMA Bill, 2016 before the House today.
Between November 2015 and May 2016, government spent an intensive six (6) months deliberating on the BMA Bill within the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) with its three social partners. The result of these fruitful discussions was that only three areas of disagreement were formally registered.
Firstly, the concern was about the BMA being established outside of the public service, however as government we have maintained that the BMA will be an organ of state fully governed by the Public Finance Management Act, 1999 (Act No. 1 of 1999) and directly accountable to the Minister of Home Affairs.
Secondly, Labour and Business have a long standing concern regarding the delays in our vetting systems. We remain committed to resolving this concern.
Thirdly, is the concern about the nature of the powers given to the Border Guard officials to conduct routine searches.
It should be highlighted that through constant engagement with all stakeholders concerned, government has gone out of its way to make compromises, which includes the incremental establishment of the BMA.
In conclusion, we are submitting the BMA Bill, 2016 for adoption by this House. This journey is not yet complete. As a Section 75 Bill, it will also need to be submitted to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for their input before it is returned to this House for final consideration and enactment.
I wish to thank the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs for diligently discharging its constitutional mandate in processing the BMA Bill, 2016.
I thank you.
For more information, please call:
Mpume Madlala (MLO for the Minister): 081 282 7799