Naledi Pandor (A speech)
President Mandela’s lifelong struggle for freedom and human rights for South Africans and oppressed people all over the world was – at one level – dedicated to acknowledging the fundamental worth of each and every human being.
At the heart of that dignity and human worth are the attributes of identity, citizenship and dignity which affirm the status of every citizen in every nation and allow us as individuals to move around our countries or the world, knowing that we have been effectively documented.
Today we are here to introduce the first stages of the implementation of a Smart ID Card for South Africa. By adopting this system, South Africa joins but a handful of attitudinally and technologically progressive countries around the world that have similar solutions.
With this system we are consolidating the process that our democratic dispensation launched in 1994 to restore the identity, citizenship and dignity of all South Africans.
The Smart ID Card puts paid to the indignity, humiliation and marginalisation to which the majority of South Africans were subjected over centuries of colonial and apartheid rule when various iterations of authorities sought to subjugate and strip indigenous people of their identity.
The pass laws are indeed past laws as we use technology and the imperatives of our Constitution to restore the dignity of all South Africans.
This will add to the pride we feel as South Africans and will add to the confidence the world will have in the integrity of South African citizenship documentation.
As a piece of nation-building, the Smart ID Card is already impressive.
It is equally impressive technologically, with our own Government Printing Works taking on the exciting assignment of producing this on government’s behalf.
The card body is secure and durable, made of quality polycarbonate materials which will prevent tampering.
It also has two forms of security features:
• The first is physical security features on the card body such as holograms, laser engraving and personal details which will provide visual verification of the card and easily identify tampered cards;
• Then, there are logical security features which include fingerprint biometrics and biographic data which is embedded on the 80 kilobytes card chip.
Personalisation with laser engraving of demographic details and photographs makes the new card extremely difficult to forge or tamper with.
This is indeed service and technological innovation of which we should all be proud.
In terms of service, the new card will take less time to produce than paper documents and the security features are, as I have said, almost impenetrable.
One of the phases for us to work through is that of ensuring that businesses, banks, the insurance industry and other partners have the necessary uipment to verify Smart ID Cards. This means that the private sector itself will benefit from knowing exactly who they are transacting with.
In a globalised world and economy, this system builds confidence at home and abroad.
We are in the process of preparing 27 regional offices which will be the first to issue the new card. We will announce further details in due course.
Meanwhile, I am pleased to announce today that we will officially introduce the Smart ID Card on Madiba’s birthday – July 18 – with the handing over of Smart ID Cards to President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, former Presidents of Republic of South Africa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Winnie Madikizela Mandela, Sophie de Bruyn, Andrew Mlangeni, Dennis Goldberg and Ahmed Kathrada and a few senior citizens of 80-90 years of age, who we have termed the “Mandela Generation”.
In the next few days, as part of the process of introducing the Smart ID Card, we will be recording the biometric details and photographs of the following eminent South Africans:
• President Jacob Zuma
• Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe
• Former President Thabo Mbeki
• Former President FW de Klerk
• Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
• Ms Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, and fellow Struggle veterans:
• Sophie de Bruyn
• Andrew Mlangeni
• Ahmed Kathrada, and
• Dennis Goldberg.
We are prioritising the Mandela Generation – those veterans in their 80s and 90s – whom we wish to honour while they are with us in person and while they can reflect with us on the roles they played in opposing the various apartheid measures that denied South Africans their rightful place in our society.
On Women’s Day – August 9 – we will commission four machines that will produce the Smart ID Cards and will name them Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi, Sophie de Bruyn and Rahima Moosa in honour of the brave and selfless women who led the Women’s March on the Union Buildings on August 9 1957.
In terms of delivery to the broader public, we will announce our plans soon. We will start with young South Africans as first-time applicants for identity documents, as well as senior citizens. In order to avoid a rush, applicants will be invited to our offices in stages, according to their dates of birth.
We must stress that it will take between six and eight years before all South Africans have Smart ID Cards. We appeal to everyone to be patient and to allow us to phase in this change efficiently. We will work hard to expand the number of offices able to process applications for the Smart-ID-Card.
We hope all South Africans will work with us to ensure we succeed in this significant national project.
Smart ID card gives us yet another reason to be proud as South Africans and to appreciate the progress we are making as a society and economy.
I thank you.
Naledi Pandor is Home Affairs Minister