State of Home Affairs in Northern Cape, Gauteng, KZN & Free State Provinces
HOME AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 May 2006
STATE OF HOME AFFAIRS IN NORTHERN CAPE, GAUTENG, KZN & FREE STATE PROVINCES
Chairperson: Mr H P Chauke (ANC)
Documents handed out:
PowerPoint presentation by the Northern Cape Province
PowerPoint presentation by the Gauteng Province
PowerPoint presentation by KwaZulu-Natal: State of the Province Report
KwaZulu-Natal venues visited during April 2006
PowerPoint presentation by Free State Province
PowerPoint presentation by the Eastern Cape Province
PowerPoint presentation by the Mpumalanga Province
PowerPoint presentation by the Northern West Province
MORNING SESSION SUMMARY
The Committee had invited the presentations to receive input as to the state of Home Affairs in each province, particularly to hear of any concerns and ways in which the Committee could assist. Each of the Provincial Managers or Directors gave summaries of the areas, populations and main focus of their province, summaries of the location of offices and the condition and operating systems of each office, a brief description of vehicles, including mobile units, and presented statistics relating to performance, numbers of applications dealt with, staffing, disciplinary issues, outreach programmes and future performance. The budgets were tabled briefly but not discussed in detail.
General questions asked by Members related to border control, staffing of entry ports, efforts to eliminate corruption and financial controls. Specific questions were also asked of each province. Northern Cape was asked to clarify the number of road accidents involving Department vehicles, border crossings with Botswana, and the turnaround time for documents, as well as to clarify the systems used. Gauteng was asked about staffing problems at Johannesburg International Airport, illegal printing of ID documents in Hillbrow, the recent hostage drama, the problem with office space and service in Soweto, working conditions and staff dissatisfaction. KwaZulu-Natal was asked to clarify the ports of entry offices, in particular whether these were linked to Head Office by computers, and the time frame within which all border posts would be manned by the Department.
Presentation by Northern Cape Province
Mr Y Simons, (Chief Director (Provincial Manager) for Northern Cape; Department of Home Affairs (DHA)) summarised the old and approved new structures for the Northern Cape that would double DHAs’ capacity. Northern Cape (NC) represented 2% of the population with only 2 persons per square kilometre, compared with 400 in Gauteng. It currently had 172 officials, which would rise to 494 in the new structure. 74 posts would be filled in the current financial year, and an amount of R5.7 million had been allocated. More than 90% of the new posts were at middle or senior management level, which should meet the province’s stated objective: "We are here to serve you". The management profile was displayed prominently in all offices with contact details. In respect of each of the offices, Mr Simons tabled lists and information relating to vehicles, office equipment and staff. He tabled lists of the various service points falling under each office.
Kimberley’s office was relocated in 2003, and had a number of good facilities. The Multi-Purpose Community Centres (MPCCs) were staffed full-time. De Aar had only averaged 1% growth over the past 5 years, and serviced an area where unemployment and poverty were serious problems. The staff component was very small, but the Assistant Director post would be filled during the year. Kuruman serviced a population of 190 000. Its office had relocated in 2004 to move closer to public transport. An Assistant Director would shortly be appointed. It included new areas that had previously been administered by North West. A Deputy Director would in the new structure, head Upington, and the offices would be upgraded to become disabled-friendly. Springbok’s offices were inadequate, having no public ablution facilities. It had a very small and female dominated staff. It would become a regional office headed by a Deputy Director.
NC had eleven inspectorate officials in the immigration branch, responsible for monitoring illegal movement. Their locations and brief details about the hours of opening and the staff were tabled. Statistics in regard to permits issued, in the different categories, the numbers of inspections, and the number of arrests and deportations, by nationality, were presented, with an indication of how the information had been obtained.
Training was an important part of the work, and a full database of all training undertaken by each staff member was kept. There were a substantial number of different courses, some of which counted as credits for a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree in project management, and they were registered with Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).
Outreach programmes were undertaken; these ranged from joining in activities such as "taking parliament to the people", home visits, contributions to national projects and activities co-ordinated by other Government departments, schools and "helpmekaar" projects, cultural events and outreach programmes in the San communities. Seven mobile units, fully equipped with computers and online facilities, operated to set plans and were accompanied by senior officials. Public relations was fairly well developed, with much reliance on local newspapers and community relations. Partnerships had been developed with other stakeholders to synchronise programmes.
Finance remained a challenge. There had been an increase of 31% in the allocation to R28 million, and priorities for spending had been drawn up. Risk management was being addressed in a number of different ways. Security remained a problem; particularly as service providers were unwilling to operate in certain areas. NC had identified the ways in which fraud could occur and had drawn up plans to try to eliminate the opportunities for fraud. A full list of disciplinary measures was tabled, and it was noted that disciplinary action would be taken not only for fraud, but also for other behaviour, including poor dealing with the public, mishandling and failure to perform. NC had a zero tolerance policy and set stringent target dates to be met by staff.
Challenges in the new year included the new demarcation of Kuruman, which was developing well, the running costs of the mobile units, and the operational costs linked to appointments. Achievements included training on telephone etiquette, drawing up a roster of all management meetings, the setting up of seven mobile trucks, the awarding of a high number of performance bonuses to staff, fingerprint devices and fraud prevention plans, the drawing up of a Provincial Improvement Plan, and the opening of new service points.
A full list of systems and control measures implemented during 2006 was tabled and briefly discussed. These included checklists for management inspection, control sheets for vehicles, track and trace manuals, Head Office receipt documentation, monitoring tool instructions and South African Post Office (SAPO) acknowledgment of receipt for ID documents.
The Chairperson noted the system of zero tolerance and asked whether there had yet been feedback from the public. This question was not addressed, other than to be supplemented by comments from Members of the Committee concerning reported instances of poor service.
The Chairperson asked whether the office facilities needing upgrade would be addressed within the current financial year, and whether there were timeframes set. This question was not specifically addressed.
Mr M Swart (DA) asked whether all offices were linked by computer to Head Office and if there was any indication of the turnaround time for documents.
Mr Simons replied that an electronic track and trace system had been implemented and that NC was able to monitor proactively where the application was in the process, and to maintain open contact with the applicant, in order to limit his or her frustrations with the process. He reported that a dedicated official was needed to sustain the system and the development of closer co-operation between civic services and provinces to monitor more effectively.
Mr W Skhosana (ANC) asked for a report back on the number of road accidents involving DHA vehicles, which was probably due to the vast distances driven.
Mr Simons reported that there had been three accidents in 2006; one involving a mobile unit which overturned on a sand road, without any injuries; the second involving a head office vehicle near De Aar, where loose stones had caused the car to skid and overturn, and the third involving damage to a vehicle caused by a guinea fowl, again involving no injury. Distance did pose a problem – for instance Springbok was some 800 kms from Kimberley – and there was always risk on the road, but his office arranged meetings to start only at 10 am and finish well in time for people to drive during the day and avoid any night driving, when animals and night conditions caused greater risks. Staff needing to attend meetings from far away always came through the previous day and stayed overnight. All vehicles were in good condition, and none were more than about four years old.
Mr I Mfundisi (UCDP) asked whether there had been an improvement in controlling crossings at Enkulunkwane, and whether there was any improvement in controlling border crossings between South Africa and Botswana.
Mr Simons replied that although there were "informal" crossings, inspections had taken place in Botswana with BCLCC and a joint operation had been launched to try to limit these crossings. One immigration officer had been dismissed for abetting illegal immigrants.
Mr P Sibande (ANC) asked if the offices were managing to operate with the limited equipment listed. The Chairman asked who was responsible for purchasing that equipment.
Mr Simons replied that only R5000 had been allocated for current and more than R5000 for capital equipment. Each office prioritised what it needed and the figures given represented equipment requested by the office managers. It was true that more equipment was needed but the budget was carefully prioritised.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on financial training and internal controls.
Mr Simons responded that all provinces experienced some problems with obtaining competent staff, and where there was limited staff they were not necessarily experienced in financial matters, although they handled large sums. A State Accountant was a level 7 post, instead of a Deputy Director-General level post. Training attempted to address all issues and particular training related to document processes, which required a checklist to be completed that minimised the risk of fraud as well as act as a tool to measure and control how the money was being spent. Offices were inspected and reconciliations performed monthly and Deputy Director level internal auditors were to be appointed in provinces.
Presentation by Gauteng Province
Mr R Ndema (Chief Director, Provincial Manager Gauteng Province, DHA) reported that although Gauteng was the smallest province it was the economic hub of South Africa, with the three main cities of Johannesburg, Ekhurhuleni and Tshwane. It had a predominantly urban population, and a well-developed transport network giving good access to services. It contributed about 38% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and showed 20% growth in the period 1996-2001, accounted for by migration as well as the natural birth rate. 72% of its population was economically active, and there was a 26% unemployment rate. There were skills shortages and about 30% of the population of age to attend learning institutions (schools or colleges) did not do so.
The Portfolio Committee had raised a number of issues during 2005, and Mr Ndema described what had been done to address the concerns. The vacant civic services posts had been filled. The DHA had now taken a far more active role in the 15 MPCCs to ensure their success although it still did not have sufficient capacity to keep them staffed full time. Suggestion boxes had been put in place, and would now be opened more than once a month. Offices in Soweto remained a huge problem, as the Department of Public Works had not been supportive and had not managed even to acquire land for new offices. Johannesburg International Airport (JIA) was on track, with all cubicles computerised, and sufficient officials now employed. New staff had been trained and old staff was undergoing retraining. R1.8 million had been allocated for furniture and equipment.
Gauteng had experienced high levels of corruption but DHA was addressing the problem quite aggressively. A number of officials, including a Deputy Director, had been charged and dismissed. Fifteen officials had been dismissed already and five cases were still pending. There were 238 staff members, with 139 at JIA, and there was a shortage inland. There were 286 vacant posts needing to be filled, and around 126 should be filled during the year. There were 212 vacant civic services posts, and 120 should be filled during the year.
Gauteng DHA still faced a number of challenges. These included the payment of overtime, as a result of opening offices on Saturdays, which had meant that certain posts could not be filled because of overspending on current posts. There was still insufficient staff at JIA, with loss of trained staff. Security of the offices remained a challenge. Although a new contract had resulted in access control and safeguarding of assets it was expensive. The Department had implemented a biometric system of thumbprints required in order to access data, but only some offices had been linked. The inspectorate section still needed additional capacity, and management was being strengthened in the area. A 24-hour inspectorate, and 24-hour IT standby service, would be introduced at JIA. Delivery of ID documents by the SAPO remained a challenge.
All offices had now been computerised, and some of the older equipment was being upgraded. There were only three mobile units, and these were hampered further since few staff had a Code 14 driving licence. The mobile units had been deployed at the Rand Show and the Pretoria Show but were mostly used to visit farms.
Accommodation remained a problem, with most of the offices old and not well suited. Public Works were attempting to assist with some premises and the Repairs and Maintenance Programme (RAMP) was being applied to others. A list of premises and their current state was tabled.
The budget allocated for the previous year had been R130 million, but this had been overspent, with expenditure at R133 million. There had been under spending on filling vacant posts, but overspending on capital assets due to non-approval of the rollover from the previous year, on unplanned projects, including medical reasons, and salaries, because of overtime.
The budget for 2006/7 was R181 million, but the challenges to this would include the need for greater security, delays in filling immigration posts (although this would from now on be done by the province), the turnaround time for payments on the Basic Accounting System (BAS) of Head Office, delays in reconciliations by other Departments such as the Government Garage and Government Printer. An operational plan would be finalised at the end of May 2006 when new plans would be adopted. The business plan "Lekgotla" would focus on making manuals available to all staff to ensure uniformity; liaison with other departments to ensure a uniform approach; liaison with ward councillors in informal settlements, daily staffing of the MPCCs; "bundling" of applications received; working closer with the Department to fast-track problem IDs, including those with clerical mistakes; better public relations and involvement of management in all PR programmes and providing stakeholders with training on DHA legislation.
Ms N Mathibela (ANC) asked for clarity on press reports about illegal printing of ID documents in Hillbrow.
Mr Ndema replied that the media reports were correct, but that all the ID documents produced had been recovered and handed over to Head Office so that the anti-corruption unit could investigate the issue fully. His office was still working with the SA Police Services (SAPS) to identify all those involved and the modus operandi. In answer to the Chair’s question for more clarity, Mr Ndema said that Head Office was also investigating the control measures relating to the time between printing and distribution.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on reports that a dissatisfied client had taken staff hostage.
Mr Ndema confirmed that this was true (except that the ID document was actually driven by SAPS from Pretoria), that it involved an amendment to an ID document and that clearly the office had been at fault, and had also not communicated properly with the applicant, who had become frustrated because he could not obtain sufficient information. Steps had now been put in place to train staff better and in particular to make them aware that instead of simply asking the applicant to come back at a later stage, they must take the time to ascertain where the document was and to check the details.
Ms I Mars (IFP) asked whether the employment of the additional personnel at JIA had been prioritised, since she had heard complaints from German tourists that they had missed connecting flights because of delays in immigration.
Mr Ndema responded that the province was now able to fill posts from levels 1-8 and therefore his office was presently advertising to fill posts in those categories, and hoped to do so by the end of July. JIA posts had been dealt with, but problems had certainly occurred over the period when new staff was still in training, as they were obviously slower than experienced staff. He confirmed that there were no longer problems.
Mr Skhosana asked for clarity on the extremely bad working conditions in the offices in Soweto. He asked whether it was intended that new offices be built. He referred to the fact that there were 15 MPCCs without adequate capacity and computer facilities. He asked how Gauteng could possibly serve such a large population with only three mobile units and asked exactly what steps were being taken to improve all these difficulties.
Mr Ndema confirmed that this was a continuing problem. In his capacity as Provincial Manager he had met with the Department of Public Works (DPW), and had also met with the Mayor and with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Council, who had tried to assist. The problem appeared to be insurmountable since there simply was not any suitable accommodation to rent, to buy in order to rebuild, or any vacant land in Soweto. He was desperate as to what to do next. The Chairperson asked that copies of the correspondence be forwarded to the Portfolio Committee by Monday 22 May, so that the Committee could take up the matter as part of its interaction with DPW, and also at Ministerial level with the National Office.
Mr Skhosana asked how the office worked with CIDA regarded distribution of the ID documents, and whether the previously reported backlog of 80 000 documents had been cleared, since it did not appear in the current report.
Mr Ndema confirmed that he had not included all the statistics in the report but would certainly send a complete statistical breakdown through to the Committee.
Mr Skhosana referred to the theft of passports during 2000, and asked if security measures were properly in place.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on financial training and internal controls.
Mr Ndema replied that financial training was given and an Assistant Director was responsible for looking at procurement, budgets and the BAS system. Reconciliations were performed on money prior to banking, and two signatories were required. Head Office financial officers were invited to monthly management meetings and there was a system of internal audit.
Mr Skhosana referred to the list of statistics to be provided by Mr Ndema and asked that it include details of the misconduct investigations, and, if possible, statistics similar to those identified by Northern Cape, in regard to numbers and nationality of illegal immigrants, and those involved in crimes such as drug smuggling.
The Chairperson asked for a follow up on problems previously identified at cargo areas.
The Chairperson asked that a full report on staffing problems and unhappiness be sent through. He requested that the presenters be as open as possible in their dealings with the Committee so that the Committee were made fully aware of the problems, in order to exercise their oversight functions more effectively and with full knowledge of the underlying circumstances.
Presentation by KwaZulu-Natal
Mr T Dlamini (Provincial Manager KwaZulu-Natal, DHA) reported that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) accounted for 21% of the total population of South Africa, with three million people residing in the Durban metro. He tabled a list of District Municipalities, and a graph showing the population split by age group, with the largest groups in the 10-21 year age groups. The new provincial structures had provincial management and area managers. More regional offices were to be established, particularly in traditionally black-occupied areas. Mr Dlamini tabled a list of all offices, showing which were computerised, how many days per week they were open and what percentage population they serviced.
The budget allocation for 2006/7 was R89 million, divided between the area managers North and South. He reported that funds were allocated according to population figures in the area, and he tabled the budget by region. Some offices dealt with refugee reception, and some were also ports of entry containing port control. The representivity in those offices was good, with 53,7% staff being female, 76.8% black and 2% disabled. There were some vacant posts and he explained that some of the offices listed were new offices needing to have a full complement of staff appointed.
Problems had occurred with online registrations because this had resulted in insufficient staff for the front line posts. The Department had now approved 31 new posts for online registration at hospitals, and the province itself was now in control of filling certain posts. Misconduct had resulted in 19 cases under investigation, two suspensions and three appeals against sanctions imposed. Staff training was important and front line workers were trained in a number of areas, including customer care frontline training. Staff would all be trained, and if necessary required to redo a course, but corrective action could also be taken if they failed to perform properly. A security company had been awarded the tender for security and the services rendered included cash in transit, access control and alarm systems. Funding remained inadequate to address all areas and there was a need to reprioritise.
There were nine mobile trucks delivering services every day across the whole region. Accommodation presented a challenge in some areas and three offices were under the RAMP. Delays had occurred where buildings were owned by Public Works, and DHA were negotiating to take over ownership. The offices in Dundee had burnt down, and Portnet was in the process of vacating the premises in Durban Harbour.
75 areas and 12 schools were visited each month, and visits were also arranged to correctional centres; 15 prisons would be included as from May 2006. DHA in the province had strengthened community involvement and outreach, taking part in seven imbizos during the past year, and two jamborees in partnership with NGOs focusing on particular topics. Public service work and prison projects also assisted in public relations and outreach.
Filling of vacant posts between levels 1 and 8 was now the responsibility of the province. Head Office would still fill the posts from Level 9 upwards. HR issues at senior management and representivity at those levels would therefore need to be dealt with by Head Office.
The number of ID documents issued was tabled and Mr Dlamini pointed out that the figures were so large because of the large population. The KZN office partnered with SAPO to deliver ID documents and this partnership had been well marketed, and systems were in place to return documents that could not be delivered. SAPO had delivered 146 218 documents between February and May 2006. Mobile trucks dealt with thousands of applications, and generally worked well although it was a problem to capacitate and maintain them. Nine hospitals were on line, and MPCCs were also included in the programmes.
Previous issues raised by the Portfolio Committee had related to traditional leaders and Mr Dlamini assured the Committee that there was in fact no rift; on the contrary DHA co-operated well with amakhosi, who were included in the forum of stakeholders, invited to functions and undertook some signatory powers on certain forms. DHA had merely stopped operating from the traditional centres. Human trafficking had been of concern, and was still, with South Africa unfortunately being one of the targets. DHA was in partnership with other security agencies. There was no proof of trafficking being confined to certain points. Many people were lured by false promises of jobs, and included immigrants from Thailand, the Far East, and Pakistan. The transport situation, which had been isolated as a problem, had improved, with 82 vehicles and 9 mobile trucks now being available. Border control and combating of cross border crime had previously been a problem and DHA was actively involved with other stakeholders. It had identified the major threats, and held quarterly meetings and a number of collaborative efforts, targeting identified areas. The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) would no longer be in charge of border maintenance, and some teething problems might occur when SAPS took over. Demarcation of municipal boundaries had posed difficulty in the past but Umzimkulu now fell under KZN and Matatiele under the Eastern Cape and the handover would take place on 1 July 2006. Immigration was being controlled in respect of all foreigners, not just black persons, and there was a project with Westville Correctional Services relating to this. Accommodation issues had been largely finalised, and the improvements to various offices were tabled.
A list of venues visited in April 2006 was also tabled, as an indication of the outreach programmes.
The Chairperson asked for clarity on financial training and internal controls.
Mr Dlamini reported that order numbers were required before any documentation could be processed. Most offices banked daily and those who could not required a special dispensation from Head Office, and were instructed when they must bank. More than one person was involved in the process and different people undertook the banking and the reconciliations. Monthly returns were made and the books were checked on a monthly basis. Fund registers were kept as control measures, and all people involved in financial matters were screened, signatures sent to head office and other controls instituted.
The Chairperson noted that the fees paid to security companies were only identified as a problem in KZN and not in the other provinces.
Mr Sibande asked for comment on the ports of entry within the province that did not appear to have offices or staff.
Mr Dlamini referred to a table in his presentation showing which of the points of entry had immigration officials. The responsibility of filling those posts had previously lain with Head Office, but since decentralisation the province intended to fill them soon.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) asked how many of the border control offices were not linked to Head Office.
Mr Dlamini referred to one of the slides showing the offices that were computerised. Some of those situated on a rural path were not computerised, but the ports of entry certainly were. All points of entry would in future be manned by DHA. The process of advertising for staff would begin in June and it was hoped that before the end of the year all border posts would be manned by DHA and would have their full staff complement.
Mr Skhosana asked whether there were regular meetings to ensure border control was operating effectively.
Mr Dlamini responded that these took place on a quarterly basis, at Head Office, and border control was being properly monitored on an ongoing basis.
Presentation by Free State Province
Mr F Mayekiso (Chief Director and Provincial Manager, Free State, DHA) reported that the Free State aimed to render world-class service to all South African citizens and visitors, and therefore had as its mission to determine and confirm the status of parties to promote and protect national integrity.
The Free State had 2.7 million inhabitants, 6% of the total population. Because of the broad geographical spread it needed more offices to operate at full efficiency. There were currently three regional offices, in Bloemfontein, Welkom and Phuthditjhaba, although they covered five district municipalities. The business plan hoped to achieve representation in all district municipalities. There were three district offices, with a further six, which already operated as service points, intended to run as district offices. There were eleven permanent service points, and ten online hospitals were serviced. There were already four MPCCs and two new MPCCs would be added in the current year. Mr Mayekiso tabled the provincial office structure.
In regard to security, the bio matrix systems had been installed at all internal offices, although it was not operational in all. Close circuit TV was being installed at the three regional offices.
A list of training provided was tabled, which showed training across the region in a number of subject areas. A total of 668 officers had been trained. Priority areas for training included whistle blowing, corruption and customer care. Employment equity statistics were tabled, showing 45% black male and 34% black female employees. There were no disabled employees.
Outreach programmes were held at schools, imbizos and farms. Thirteen mobile units were in operation; six trucks and seven vehicles, and they serviced 70 towns, on average around 150 km apart. Vehicles used were in a mixed condition and it was hoped that those in poor condition would be replaced with 25 new vehicles during the year. Provision had been made in the budget for maintenance and service of the new vehicles.
A list of office equipment was tabled showing that all were quite well equipped and the equipment was fairly up to date. Accommodation posed some problems, particularly the Provincial Manager’s office, which was far too small, with 11 staff occupying five offices. Problems had been raised with DPW who had identified a building with better space. Other offices were either already being renovated or awaited the award of tenders. Service delivery was sometimes hindered by office space and it was preferable to try to achieve open plan offices.
There were currently 239 vacant posts, of which 72 would be filled in 2006.
The budget for the 2005/6 financial year had been R46 million, and there had been overspending on compensation of employees for overtime (4.9% overspend), goods and services and Capital Assets and Equipment (due to quick wins projects), and transfers and subsidies (159% overspend due to various deaths and pension benefits). The Medium-term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation for 2006/7 was R59 million, of which R49 million was allocated to compensation, R8 million to goods and services, R154 000 to transfers and R1 million to capital assets. This was an increase on 44%, but the percentage increase was set to fall in the 2007/8 and 2008/9 years as there was a lower allocation on capital assets.
The Free State participated in three clusters: Justice, Crime Prevention and Security; Social and Human Development and Economic and Investment. It also dealt extensively with NGOs, traditional authorities, district municipalities and SAPO.
Challenges for the new year included the distribution of offices – it was hoped to relocate to try to make DHA more visible and easily accessible. The filling of immigration and security posts was a priority. Corruption, the position of street agents in Ficksburg, and human resource issues were also identified. A list of possible solutions to the challenges was tabled. Achievements for the year included the appointment of the Provincial Manager, the outreach programmes and the opening of two new service points. Action had been taken and dismissals given to twelve officials involved in corruption. Two offices had been renovated, and computer facilities were now installed in most of the offices. The province enjoyed good relationships with other government structures. There were now eight ports of entry bordering Lesotho that were manned by DHA, and another four were manned by SAPS, who would hand over with effect from January 2007.
A list of traffic statistics across the borders, immigrations, investigations and deportations was tabled. Deportations over the last year totalled 3 453, of whom 95% were from Lesotho, 2% from China, 2% from Pakistan and 1% from Zimbabwe. A number of temporary residence permits had been issued.
The concerns raised by the Portfolio Committee during the previous year were tabled, with a brief report on progress. The Free State had worked with the SAPS to identify suspects in cross-country border issues, and had held bilateral meetings. Roadblocks and other investigations had helped to identify those taking money from Lesotho.
The legislature was assisting DHA with distributing ID documents, informing the public of their obligations and the location of the offices. The Premier and DHA had a good relationship and DHA were invited to participate in events and to engage in joint public relations campaigns. Outreach programmes were scheduled regularly, and included radio phone-in programmes, disseminating pamphlets to all service points, schools, universities, churches and municipal offices. A transformation programme was in place, based on the vision of providing a world-class service and "champions" were being trained to supervise front line staff. In regard to concerns about illegal grants being provided to Basotho citizens, DHA in the Free State had a joint programme with the Department of Social Development and SAPS, so that on the social grant day there were sufficient personnel to check that ID documents were legal and correct. Marriage verification campaigns were addressing the problems of illegal marriages.
The questions stood over until the afternoon session.
General questions and comments about the operation of DHA offices
Mr M Swart stated that the Auditor General had commented, during a report, that the incidence of sick leave was particularly high in DHA offices, and he requested that statistics such as this be made available.
Ms T Cele (Deputy Director General, Department of Home Affairs, Head Office) commented in general on the issues raised on financial controls and financial training. Financial affairs were not only the responsibility of the offices, as management training was also important. The Corporate Services branch of the Department had embarked upon a programme of training on "Finance for Non-Financial Managers", so that there was both a bottom-up and top-down approach.
With regard to statistics, Ms Cele followed up on Mr Simon’s list, and reported that there was a workshop that was a precursor to a course to be rolled out. The workshop would request those in provincial offices to give input into what was needed, what their priority areas were, and what statistics were likely to be required, so a uniform approach and programme could be adopted.
In regard to infrastructure, all provinces had been requested to set out their infrastructural needs for the MTEF period, so that each provincial manager could specify which of the needs was most urgent, which was sufficient for the moment, and also to identify where the mobile units needed to be deployed. Each province had also been asked to identify a model office that would be funded according to its needs.
The Chairperson asked each province to compile and forward to the Portfolio Committee a list of all quarterly meetings, as the Committee wished to become more involved in attending as many meetings as possible, with a particular focus on immigration and border entry points. He requested that dates, venues, issues to be addressed and names of Chairpersons of those meetings be made available as soon as possible.
The Chairperson and Ms S Kalyan (DA) each referred to instances where DHA officials had been extremely obstructive and discourteous, and raised the question whether the training was really addressing such issues, and stressing that DHA was supposed to provide excellent service to the public.
The meeting was adjourned.