Home Affairs fix continues under Pandor

Address by Naledi Pandor MP, Minister of Home Affairs, opening the Department of Home Affair’s Budget Vote debate
9 May 2013

 Honourable Speaker,

Honourable Chairperson of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee Maggie Maunye

Honourable members of the National Assembly

Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Fatima Chohan

Ministers who are new to a portfolio are often tempted to develop new policy, amend legislation and create a personal history. This is hazardous especially in the third year of a term of government. The policies and objectives of the department are our mandate and our focus.

Our priorities are the following.

·         To register all births within 30 days of birth.

·         Ensure all 16 year olds apply for and receive IDs.

·         Enhance security by creating a reliable National Population Register that is supported by modern technology and effective administration.

·         Ensuring we have ports of entry that are modern, secure, efficient and reliable.

·         Administering our immigration policy in a manner that supports national priorities of skills acquisition, job creation and inclusive growth.

·         Meeting our international obligations with respect to asylum seekers and refugees and thus promoting human dignity and respect for all persons.

·         Supporting our national security in collaboration with the security cluster.

The budget speech takes place against the backdrop of the 19th celebration of the dawn of peace, freedom and democracy and the 50th anniversary of the formation of the OAU.

Whenever we debate our progress, we should remember that the freedom we celebrate is a consequence of the sacrifice and heroism of the many millions who contributed to ending the scourge of apartheid. Our work today responds to both the legacy of apartheid and the opportunities that result from freedom.

Since 1994 our ANC government has worked hard to ensure Home Affairs restores dignity to all, creates systems for a secure identity, and promotes international friendships. We have also played a full role in supporting government to achieve the outcomes and policies adopted in 2009.

I turn now to our budget. The budget of the Department of Home Affairs is set at R6,7 billion for 2013/14.

·         Departmental programmes receive R4,8 billion.

·         The Film and Publication Board will receive R82 million.

·         The Electoral Commission will receive R1,6 billion.

·         the Government Printing Works R134 million

National Population Registration Campaign

The NPR campaign is directed at creating a secure South African citizenship database and secure identity. We will have succeeded when we have birth registration as the only point of entry to our NPR.

Our priority is to register children within 30 days of birth. We have connected hospitals and other health care centres to our database so babies can be registered at the place of birth. We registered 602 530 births in 2012 and intend to expand this number by at least 8% each year.

We will intensify our outreach campaigns to reach families in our most marginal communities and will work closely with all our stakeholder forums to popularise registration of births.

There are many who continue to be unregistered. We will continue to offer late registration of birth, but I am proposing that we stop this service in 2015.

We introduced the on-the-spot unabridged birth certificates this year, another advance in our objective of a trustworthy NPR. The certificate is secure and reliable. It carries the names and ID numbers of both parents. It will help us to eliminate fraud, multiple visits to our offices, the pain of not being able to trace your family tree and the piling up of paper documents in the department.

Some challenges have emerged from early practice – the registration of children born to foreign nationals and at times the reluctance of fathers to be registered. We will intensify communication and education and improve our systems.

The ID registration campaign, to issue IDs to all 16 year olds, will continue. Working together with the Ministry of Basic Education, stakeholder forums, the National Youth Development Agency and all youth formations we will continue to mobilise youth of 16 years and over to apply for identity documents.

We have been trying to eliminate duplicate IDs since 2009. We had over 500,000 when we began our campaign. We now believe we have just over 20,000 in circulation. We have tried to encourage holders to come forward to resolve duplicates. I intend to invalidate all duplicate IDs in December this year. All holders of duplicate IDs should approach our offices to seek assistance. We are working closely with the financial sector to smooth the inconvenience that may result from invalidation.

We are making progress with creating a paperless environment in Home Affairs. More offices use modern technology. Modernisation includes: live data capture, e-visa and permitting, the Trusted Traveller Programme, the Enhanced Electronic Movement Control System, the National Identification System (NIS) with biometric features, and the smart ID card. In 2012/13 we allocated R214 million to IT modernisation; this year over R348 million will be invested in the work.

We are working hard to ensure we are able to issue the smart ID card in a phased implementation from the third quarter (July-September).

We will begin issuing the Smart Card from 27 Home Affairs regional offices that have been provided with the capacity for live capture. Over the next three years, we will install live capture in all our offices. This will enable the department to issue smart ID cards to all South African citizens over the next five to seven years and to finally get rid of the green ID book. This will be a major step towards creating a reliable National Population Register.

Managing immigration competently

 Immigration is one of our expanding service areas. According to the World Bank migration and remittances unit, in 2010 there were 1.9 million immigrants living in South Africa – about 3.7% of the population, notably from Zimbabwe (859,000), Mozambique (455,000) and Lesotho (351,000). At the same time 878,000 South Africans lived overseas, particularly in the UK (226,000), Mozambique (155,000) and Australia (133,000). Immigrants remitted $720 million out of SA, while SA emigrants remitted $1,2 billion back into South Africa (2010). Census 2011 provides an update and estimates that around 2,7 million or 5.7% of South Africa’s 51.7 million people are foreign born.

I think it’s important to remember that global migration is not simply about people moving from one country to another. It’s also about money being transferred backwards to the country of origin. According to the World Bank, migrant remittances have tripled in volume in the last decade. A measure of its size is that remittances now dwarf global aid budgets.

I believe unreservedly that immigration needs to be administered effectively, but also that immigration into South Africa should be encouraged. We have to compete in a global market place for skills. It’s something we have not addressed as yet, but the National Development Plan has indicated that we need to do so.

As part of our strategy to attract skills we made 50,000 permits available for scarce skills, but only 20, 673 work permits were issued in 2011 (Documented immigrants in South Africa 2011 | Statistics SA) This means we have not filled our quota. We’ll be asking the Immigration Advisory Board to look into this whole area again and to reconsider whether the limit is set at the right level.

I think that we should provide clearer guidance about the numbers and the skills we need. SA is one of the most open economies in the world and we want those with the right skills to come here: the investors and the entrepreneurs who will create the businesses and the jobs of tomorrow and the scientists who will help keep SA at the heart of the great advances in medicine, biotech, advanced manufacturing and communications. They merit a permit policy that shows we are ready to compete with other countries for global talent.

It is generally acknowledged that South Africa suffers a shortage of high-level research skills, that is, individuals with doctoral degrees and several years’ research experience.

We are considering a system of four- to five-year work permits for foreigners who graduate from our universities in critical skills areas, as a means of contributing to development in our country. We also need maths and science teachers. They should be given work permits that allow schools and teachers to function in a stable environment.

We are finalising the regulations for the 2011 Immigration Amendment Act. They will streamline the process of scientists applying for work permits. The DST and the DHET will assist us in reducing the bottlenecks being experienced in evaluating visa and permit requests for scientists and researchers. The process will be similar to the ‘corporate account status’ enjoyed by some businesses.

In regard to business, we’ve increased the opportunities for foreign investors and entrepreneurs. 1,346 visas were issued to entrepreneurs in 2011. We are on track to issue more than we did last year. In future, we’ll make it easier for venture capitalists to back entrepreneurs, people who are starting small scale but may end up running the blue-chip businesses of tomorrow.

We also plan to increase efficiency in issuing permits to investors in South Africa. Currently we issue waivers for employees of many multinational corporations. We have had many complaints about delays in issuing permits – we are addressing these concerns. I’m aware that some companies prefer to use staff from their overseas headquarters in their South African branches. I wish to indicate that government has an obligation to promote job creation and skills development for South Africans. Our immigration system must help us to respond to this challenge while also welcoming investment. We will be appointing more adjudicators for our temporary and permanent residence units to ensure speedier processing of applications.

If we manage immigration competently, we can attract critical skills to expand the economy and promote trade and investment for job creation and development. We have to compete globally to attract the best and the brightest to work with us in building a better South Africa in a better Africa.

Yet globalisation also brings the risks of transnational crime and terrorism that can undermine the gains we have made under democracy. Competent management of immigration is vital for our security. We have to do more to protect our borders and our ports of entry.

I am pleased to announce that government has agreed to the phased establishment of a Border Management Agency (BMA). The Agency will ensure coordination of and co-operation among the departments operating at our points of entry and along our borders. The BMA will be led by the Department of Home Affairs and will involve SARS, SANDF, SAPS, Health and Agriculture.

Focused attention is being paid to improving the management, capacity, and infrastructure at our ports of entry. Last year over R110 million was allocated to ports of entry infrastructure via the Public Works budget. This year over R130 million is made available in the DHA budget. We have equipped a number of our ports of entry with the enhanced movement control system (EMCS) while introducing the advanced passenger processing system (APP) for airlines. These are positive developments, but we still need to do much more to ensure they work efficiently.

The changes have improved the movement of persons and goods through our ports of entry. We are now able to process millions of visitors annually.

South Africa has become a prime tourist destination and a venue of choice for hosting large international events. We are proud to have contributed to the hosting of the AU / UN African Ministers Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics, the Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament, as well as the recent BRICS Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Durban. The support provided by Home Affairs was excellent.

As part of building our capacity, greater attention will be paid to asylum seekers, the recruitment of migrants with critical skills, and the flow of economic migrants from other SADC countries.

We have begun to address gaps at the level of policy and operations. The Honourable Deputy Minister, Fatima Chohan, will elaborate on our work in the processing and management of asylum seekers and refugees.

Another urgent immigration challenge is the need to recognise and efficiently regularise the flow of economic migrants, particularly from our neighbouring countries of SADC. We are working on an immigration policy paper that will set out our proposals and policy perspectives. We intend to provide for a work-seeker visa (or a similar instrument) for SADC citizens.

We also intend to work closely with the SADC countries to address the phenomenon of illegal migration into our country and region. The security risk this poses to the political and economic stability of our country and region cannot be ignored.

However, we must implement policy within the ambit of the law and the Constitution with due regard to human dignity, development and human security.

One of the priorities of the government is to act against crime, fraud and corruption. We are acting in Home Affairs. Just two days ago nine officials were arrested on suspicion of corruption. We support all efforts directed at eradicating corruption.

The departmental enforcement units, the Inspectorate and Counter Corruption, are combining efforts more effectively and working closely with other law enforcement agencies within the security cluster to act effectively against crime, fraud and corruption.

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to meet with the top management and other officials of the department, paid visits to variousHome Affairs offices across the country including some ports of entry.

As we stand on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the advent of democracy in South Africa, I believe my predecessors have laid a firm foundation for the department to make a meaningful contribution to the socio-economic development of our country while ensuring a safer and more secure management of our borders and ports of entry.

I am sure that the majority of Home Affairs officials are keen to contribute meaningfully towards the achievement of the five national priorities of our government, the mandate of Home Affairs and the objectives of the National Development Plan.

Speaker, I have not referred to the inadequacies that concern me – the poor responsiveness of our call centre, the delays in effecting changes as requested by clients, the backlogs in asylum management, permanent and temporary resident applications, and many other problems we will address as we work with the DG and his team to create a fully responsive and efficient DHA.

In closing, I wish to thank the Deputy Minister for the always comradely support, intelligent counsel and lots of sms text. Thanks to our DG for his hard work and support. Thank you for the assistance you have given to me. And thanks to the executive team. I am grateful for the advice and gentle guidance of the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Honourable Maggie Maunye, and members of the Committee for their commitment and hard work. I hope all members will support our budget for the 2013/2014 financial year. Working together we can do more to contribute to the creation of a better life for all South Africans.

I thank you.

 

 

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