Address by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba MP, on the occasion of Budget Vote 5 at the Extended Public Committee on Home Affairs in Cape Town
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
It is with a profound sense of responsibility that I stand before you to table our Budget Vote for the 2016 / 2017 Financial Year.
We know the duty we owe to our people to lead them along a path that leads to a majestic but attainable future, to be tireless, ethical and innovative to deliver quality services in a manner that is convenient and enduring.
The notion that government is boring and how we deliver services is itself devoid of innovation and new ideas is being negated in practice in this Department that many people once resented visiting.
On Wednesday, I received a text from Mr. Tebalo Tshabalala on Instagram saying:
“Minister, I applied for my new smart ID last week Friday online and got it today (Wednesday, 20 April 2016). It took literally two to three working days for me to get my ID. [I] collected it at FNB branch in Sandton. Good Service. We congratulate you and your ministry for the hard and excellent work.”
Tebalo is one of the many young South Africans between 30 and 35 years that have sent us messages praising the ground-breaking eHomeAffairs.
There is no end to what we can achieve for our people if we place both our hands on the full spectrum of opportunity offered by science and technology the better to improve their lives by delivering our services better and more conveniently.
In this regard, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is investing tireless efforts conceiving a different package of services for the future so that when the children born this year turn 16 years old, they will most probably have no reason to even visit a Home Affairs office to apply for their first ID card.
Our department is evolving with the times, the better to be able innovatively to execute our important mandate. For far too long, Home Affairs has been perceived as a slow, moribund department offering low-value services in an inefficient and indifferent manner.
We are re-imagining Home Affairs, as a modern, digital, secure custodian of national identity, responding to the present and future needs and circumstances and run by professionals, operating in a highly secure environment to protect the precious records of the lives of our people.
With this in mind, it is appropriate that Cabinet decided last month to fully integrate Home Affairs into the security cluster and thus paved a way towards the pursuit of this new vision that will see the Department re-aligned and re-positioned within our governance system.
In line with the National Development Plan (NDP), and the Cabinet’s key outcomes, Home Affairs offers four critical contributions to the nation, that is:
- Enabling economic development,
- Contributing to national security,
- Enabling effective service delivery, and
- Supporting governance and administration.
Re-imagining Home Affairs means we must not only modernise the Department, but must re-package and position it firmly as a pivotal pillar for the pursuit of these four critical areas, and a reliable partner for ordinary people, government departments and the private sector in pursuit of these goals that are so central to our dreams as a nation.
This extensive view of Home Affairs will enable critical partners in the public and private sector to identify their needs and partner with us to fulfil them in the national interest. In this difficult economic climate, departments must demonstrate their value proposition and the savings they can realise.
A modern, secure Home Affairs will require a larger budget and by the end of this year, we will present a business case to Cabinet for approval.
Among others, it will show how a modern, secure Home Affairs will enable government and business to deliver services better, cheaper and faster, drastically reduce fraud and meet the above-mentioned four critical contributions.
There will be opportunities for Home Affairs to generate new revenue streams and hence the overall impact of this re-alignment on the fiscus should be positive.
In the interim, some of our targets will be affected by budget constraints, but we will strive to use existing resources creatively, and continue to make innovative use of public-private-partnerships (PPPs) such as our current partnership with the banks to expand our footprints, provide new and innovative channels of delivery, expedite the conversion of the Smart-ID Cards and reach out to more clients than we would have by solely relying on our offices.
Universal civil registration rests on two legs: early registration of all births within 30 days, and provision of identity documents to all adults. Safeguarding the identity and status of each new South African, and the accuracy of our National Population Register (NPR), depends on this.
We have made great strides on early birth registration in recent years. From registering 39% of all births within 30 days in 2010/11, we registered approximately 67% of all births within 30 days in 2015/16.
Through consistent information campaigns, stakeholder engagements and the provision of Home Affairs services at 389 health facilities nationwide, – most of which print full birth certificates on the spot – we are making measurable progress on entrenching this norm.
Without an accurate NPR we cannot secure our identities, there will be many kinds of fraud and planning for key services such as health and education will be compromised. We will continue working with the Department of Health, community stakeholders and the media to pursue 100% compliance with early birth registration.
As you are aware, Home Affairs manages immigration by balancing three overarching objectives: economic development, national security and the fulfilment of our international obligations.
We aim to contribute to economic development by facilitating the entry of visitors, tourists, skilled workers and investors into South Africa.
In 2015-16 we facilitated 16.1 million movements of foreign nationals entering the country. The number of tourists arriving in South Africa in January increased 15% year-on-year. We also issued 4 424 critical skills visas last year. We finalized 80% of these applications within our target turnaround time of 8 weeks.
We now have 25 visa applications centres in 9 high-volume tourism markets around the world, and will increase this to 36 in 12 countries by the end of the year.
The Chinese government has consented to us increasing our VFC footprint in that country from 4 to 9, which is unprecedented given China’s strict regulations on foreign visa issuance.
We are especially committed to contributing to regional integration in Africa and efforts to ease the movement of Africans on our continent.
It is in this context that we launched recent programmes such as the Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP), completed last year and the current Lesotho Special Permit (LSP), to regularise our SADC neighbours living in South Africa, and to enhance regional cooperation.
We also initiated the first ever community border crossing point between South Africa and Botswana at Tshidilamolomo in the North West province, with the aim to roll these out to other border crossings with selected other neighbouring countries.
This year, we will pay more attention to strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations with fellow African countries on migration matters. We have almost completed the implementation of the 2014 immigration regulations, including the long-term multiple-entry visa for business people, academics and frequent travellers to South Africa.
We started implementing biometric capture at OR Tambo, King Shaka, Cape Town and Lanseria international airports, which has enabled us to abolish the transit visa and allow prospective travellers – mainly from China – to apply for visas through accredited tourism operators.
This year, to further support tourism and inward investment, we will open 2 premium business visa facilitation centres in Port Elizabeth and Durban, with a third likely to be opened in Cape Town.
Furthermore, I have directed the department to explore ways to improve our management of international students.
International students constitute a key segment which is prioritized by governments globally, because of the economic and social benefits they offer host countries in terms of adding to the skills base, and contributing positively to society more broadly.
The first of these initiatives, to be formally launched in the coming weeks, is a special exemption to allow graduate international students in critical skills areas to qualify for permanent residence permits upon graduation.
This measure is to ensure that South Africa benefits from all of the skills produced by its universities, and to make it easier for international students who want to work or start business in South Africa after graduation to do so.
We should also note that last year, on Africa Day, we held our inaugural Mkhaya Migrant Awards, as a way to acknowledge and celebrate the positive contributions of immigrants in our society. In terms of the new White Paper being developed, issues of the integration of immigrants in our society will receive prominent attention.
Chairperson, in terms of the five priorities we outlined last year,
First, we are making steady progress to modernise and digitise Home Affairs in order to transfer the inconvenience of service delivery away from the client towards ourselves. The live capture system, which supports the Smart ID Card and the passport, offers South Africans a glimpse into the future of Home Affairs.
The modernisation programme seeks to answer the question we asked above about what type of Home Affairs services will today’s newly borns find when they turn 16 years old in future. In this regard, we have issued 4.1 million smart ID cards to date and have met our target of 2.2 million smart ID cards issued last year.
We aim to issue another 2.2 million cards this year. Over the next few years, we must replace 38 million ID books with smart ID cards. Live Capture offices have increased from 140 to 178 and all of them now accept payment by cash, credit and debit cards.
However, even with 178 modernised offices, getting to 38 million and beyond will pose an enormous challenge. To accomplish this we needed to be creative. Modernisation requires us to develop new channels to serve our clients more conveniently.
That is why we developed eHomeAffairs, a ground-breaking, innovative solution in partnership with the banking sector. It is an online platform where customers can apply and pay for smart ID cards and passports, which they can finalize and collect at their bank.
Last year, I told you that very soon a client, perhaps named Takalani, would be able to apply on the eHomeAffairs website for her smart ID card. Well, Takalani is here today having used eHomeAffairs to get her smart card without ever stepping foot into a Home Affairs office.
Thank you for joining us today Takalani, it was our pleasure to serve you. eHomeAffairs was launched on April 7th by President Jacob Zuma. Four banks have partnered with us to go live and the service is operational at 11 bank branches in Gauteng and one in Western Cape.
As of yesterday, close to 8 053 applicants had used eHomeAffairs to apply for smart ID cards and passports. To manage capacity, only applicants who are between 30 and 35 years old are able to apply through eHomeAffairs for now, but this will expand as we also expand the number of participating branches.
When we finalise the rollout plan for the eHomeAffairs as well as the conversion plan for the live capture and mobile units, we will review the cut-off date for the green ID book and announce new timelines.
However, we are grateful for the partnership and support we have received from the participating banks and industry bodies on this initiative.
Other initiatives taking place this year as part of Modernisation include:
- Spending R10 million to digitize 6 million birth paper records in order to improve efficiency and turnaround times by making these most used records electronically accessible at a click of a button,
- Automating birth, marriage and death processes like we do with the Smart ID card and the passport,
- Working with SITA and other service providers to improve system uptime, and
- Exploring options to refresh or upgrade our mobile units to serve remote communities.
As we ventured onto rendering our services online, we have strengthened our network and systems security and we will continue to strengthen our cybersecurity capabilities.
Secondly, a Business Case for the Border Management Agency (BMA) was submitted to National Treasury in 2015 and Cabinet subsequently approved the draft Border Management Agency (BMA) Bill in September 2015 for introduction to Parliament.
Between November 2015 and April 2016 engagements on the draft Bill have been taking place in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), which should be completed by the end of this month paving the way for the formal introduction of the Bill to Parliament.
We launched Operation Pyramid in 2015 aimed at improving our coordinated attempts to secure the borderline environment outside of the Ports of Entry. This year the focus is on change management and finalizing various other organizational establishment tasks for the BMA’s launch.
The 1st of April 2017 is the target date for the establishment of the BMA. A concurrent priority in 2016 is to finalize an Integrated Border Management (IBM) Strategy for the country.
Thirdly, we registered a PPP with National Treasury last year, and appointed KPMG as a transaction advisor in December 2015 to lead the process towards the revamp of the physical and systems infrastructure of 6 key land ports of entry.
Priorities for this year are the completion of the business case in order to apply for the first Treasury Approval by the end of the year. We expect that the final Treasury Approval will be obtained in 2018, paving the way for the commencement of bidding and actual construction by 2018/19.
Without a doubt, for such work and in line with the policies of the country, we will be expecting strong BEE, local supply and skills development indicators. Fourthly, we are in the final stages of a review which has been several years in the making of our international migration policy.
The Green Paper was finalised in March this year and will, after Cabinet consultation in May, be published for public comment by the end of June, setting in motion a process of extensive public engagement leading to a White Paper published by March 2017, which will form the basis of national policy and future legislation.
Fifthly, 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 2016/17 financial year, we are transferring R1.6 billion to the Independent Electoral Commission, and R134 million to the Represented Political Parties’ Fund. No funds are transferred to the Government Printing Works (GPW) as the organisation has been self-funding since 2012, with last year’s revenue exceeding R1 billion.
GPW is a key partner in the roll out of our modernisation programme, producing the Smart ID cards and passports at its World Class High-tech Production Facility.
The further to enhance its governance framework, I appointed members of the Ministerial Advisory Council that have wasted no time attending to the most urgent tasks I outlined for them when I appointed them.
Through its Asset Recapitalisation Programme, GPW will this year complete the construction of the Dispatch Centre for passports and smart ID cards, significantly improving security and efficiency and will also begin the final phase of construction and renovation of the Visagie Street site, which will bring all of GPW’s operations into one state of the art facility, for completion by 2020.
The legislation process for the conversion from a Government Component to a State-Owned Company is underway.
GPW will pursue its footprints expansion to our counterparts in the SADC and other regions as part of fostering the African agenda.
As we continue to re-imagine Home Affairs and deliver new channels of service delivery, we are making visible strides in meeting our performance targets, rising to about 80% in 2015/16, compared to close to 70% in 2014/15 and 50% in 2013/14.
Accordingly, we can conclude that this re-imagining of Home Affairs is both meeting the expectations of our clients and creating new levels of excitement for our officials that makes them work hard to pursue our performance targets.
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 and all our staff for their excellent support and continuously improving service to our nation and Government.
Because of them, we live in exciting times today at Home Affairs and are proud to be part of the massive changes our people are today experiencing as a result of this re-imagining effort.
I wish to thank the Chairperson and CEO of the IEC, the Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Council of GPW and the members of the Council, the CEO of GPW and entire IEC and GPW staff 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, Nomachule, children and family for their unwavering support as we continue to execute our mandate and serve our nation.
My daughter, Lerato, advised me not to procrastinate today, and I hope I have met her highest expectations and standards.
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!