Home Affairs Policy Proposals

Home Affairs Policy Proposals

1. Introduction

1.1. Current duties of the Department of Home Affairs
The Department of Home Affairs has regulatory, compliance and service delivery functions. It has a vast client and user base. The total South African population and all foreigners who visit South Africa are clients of the Department. Government Departments and institutions that require essential information about the population and migration are all users of the Department of Home Affairs.

The policies and services of the Department are linked to the growth and development of the country and ability of other institutions to perform.

The outputs of the Department include:
• Provision of passports and travel documents,
• Determination, granting and withdrawal of South African citizenship,
• Granting of residence facilities,
• Provision of identification documents,
• Maintenance of the population register for citizens and permanent residence,
• The safekeeping of records,
• Tracing and repatriation of illegal immigrants,
• Processing and care of refugees,
• Establishment of an Electoral Commission and an Electoral Court to manage elections,
• The printing of government publications,
• Classification of films and publications, and
• Administration of public holidays.

1.2. Current problems in home affairs
The Department of Home Affairs is the administrative backbone of government. However, the following problems exist:

1.2.1. Funding
The Department of Home Affairs has constantly been under- funded. This has resulted in the Department under-performing and not providing the most basic services expected of it. Many of its current systems are outdated and are on the verge of collapse and will negatively impact upon service delivery of other Departments.

1.2.2. Population register
Current unreliable population register information negatively impact on other Departments such as:
• Social Development: for the identification of pensioners before they are registered for payments of social grants and verification at the point of payment.
• Labour: verification before monthly payments from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
• Health: the identification of claimants eligible for compensation for occupational diseases.
• Transport: the verification of identification of driver’s licences.
• Housing: verification of benefit recipient’s identities.
• Education: the long term planning of building of schools, determination of teacher to pupil ratio requirements.

1.2.3. ID documents
Delivery of identity documents is delayed and many examples of faulty documents occur. Applicants for passports, visas, permanent residence and migration take months longer than it is suppose to.

1.2.4. Rural areas

Many South Africans, especially those in rural areas have no access to the Department of Home Affairs or its services. These people sometimes have to travel as much as 400 kilometres (Northern Cape) to reach a Home Affairs office in order to register a birth or a death. Their quality of life is consequently negatively influenced by delayed access to the social grants they are constitutionally entitled to.

1.2.5. Border control

Border post and Port of entry access control is almost non-existing and will deteriorate even further. The inevitable collapse of the Movement Control System will force the Department to resort to manual labour in controlling the entry and exit traffic at border and port controls. Understaffing and inadequate infrastructure at border posts and ports make proper border control impossible. As a result South Africa is increasingly being targeted by international criminal syndicates, causing untold social and economic damage.

The lack of border control leads to uncertainty about the true size of South Africa’s population, which undermines the ability of Government to budget and plan for the needs of the country properly.

1.2.6. Illegal immigrants

The Department has very little to no control over illegal immigrants entering into South Africa. The role of the Department has become one of patriation rather than prevention. Estimates for illegal immigrants range between 2.5 million and 8 million. The Department of Home Affairs failed to complete its transformation process. The Department’s history of enforcing Apartheid laws is still part of the perceptions surrounding it.

1.2.7. Human resources

The Department of Home Affairs is understaffed. Apart from the obvious impact that such a serious staff shortage has, the morale of the staff in general is very low. The Department recorded the highest sick leave per member for any Department during 1999/2000. Staff is poorly trained and in most cases is not multi-skilled. This has the effect that when one staff member is absent, another will not be able or capable to fill in for that person.

2. Mission statement

To protect and regulate the interests of the inhabitants of the Republic of South Africa, in respect of their individual status, identity and specific rights and powers on an equal basis. The Department should provide other Government Departments and Institutions with reliable and relevant strategic information, required for service delivery and infrastructure development.

3. Objectives

3.1. To provide equal, accessible and quality citizenship services to the inhabitants of South Africa in respect of their individual status, identity and specific rights and powers.
3.2. To deliver services speedily and accurately.
3.3. To facilitate a network of offices throughout all nine provinces and to bring the services of the Department of Home Affairs as close as possible to the people.
3.4. To maintain reliable, relevant, vital strategic information required to do proper planning and to facilitate the rendering of services by other Government Departments and Institutions.
3.5. To maintain reliable and relevant vital strategic information that will be required for the development of infrastructure in both the public and private sector.
3.6. To play a conducive and productive role in facilitating foreign investments and attracting required skills into our country.
3.7. To control our borders and ports of entry from illegal immigrants entering our country.

4. UDM solutions

4.1. Funding

A UDM Government will ensure that the importance of the Department of Home Affairs is realised and understood. It will ensure adequate funding backed by proper process development and training of staff so that they can become multi-skilled and that services are delivered timeously and accurately.

4.2. Accessibility of services

A UDM Government will ensure that all South African citizens especially those in rural areas have fair access to the Department of Home Affairs. This will be achieved through the increase and rotation of the number of mobile units of the Department of Home Affairs. Negotiations with Local Governments and local authorities enabling the sharing of facilities and accommodation of these institutions with the Department of Home Affairs.

4.3. Partnerships

Partnerships with Magistrates Offices, the Post Office, SAPS, schools and financial institutions will also be sought in order to provide some of the very basic services of the Department from these premises. The registration of birth and deaths are some of the most basic and most needed services that can be provided, from these institutions in partnerships with the Department. The UDM will strive to ensure an overall presence and access by citizens to the Department of Home Affairs and its services.

4.4. Population register

A UDM Government will develop a technologically advanced population register which will not only be adequate for the estimated 43 to 48 million South Africans, but that will also be able to deal with future population development.

A special campaign, well publicised and well resourced will be embarked upon as a matter of urgency, to update the current population register, which was last updated in 1982. This will be a priority since the information is considered vital for proper planning by Government and service delivery by Government Departments.

Since an accurate and up to date population register is also of importance to Government, other institutions and the Private Sector, partnership with these organisations will be sought in this operation.

The UDM believes that without an accurate Population Register any planning by Government is based on estimations and guessing and will not enhance service delivery.

4.5. Border posts and port of entry control

A UDM Government will ensure that the security, infrastructure and working conditions at these points of entry are improved dramatically. The cost of illegal immigrants entering South Africa and their subsequent deportation far outweighs the budgetary requirements to properly staff and provide infrastructure at these points of entry. At identified points of entry 24-hour service will be implemented to deal with heavy traffic especially during holiday seasons. Under a UDM Government there will be effective cooperation and coordination between Home Affairs and the security agencies of Government.

4.6. Transformation

A UDM Government will embark upon a reengineering of the Department, its processes and functions. The focus of the Department will be shifted to service delivery in a professional and effective manner. Current systems and processes that are both time consuming and uneconomical will be redeveloped to ensure the turnover time and output of the Department of Home Affairs improve dramatically. The Department of Home Affairs affects the life of every citizen and its service standard and quality needs to reflect its commitment.

4.7. Illegal immigrants

It is estimated that an average of 180 000 illegal immigrants are repatriated every year. This is very few if it is measured against an estimated 8 million illegal immigrants in South Africa. The Sting operations by the South African Police Services and the Department of Home Affairs have very little impact and only highlight the problem.

A UDM Government will tackle the problem where it originates. Border control needs to be improved and South Africa’s porous Borders needs to be tightened. Properly trained and equipped Special Units will address Border Patrol at known routes of illegal entry. These Units will operate in close cooperation with Home Affairs and security agencies of Government.

The focus would also shift more towards those employees who make use of illegal immigrants. Stiff fines and sentences will be introduced where employers are found guilty of employing illegal immigrants.

Agreements and cooperation between South Africa and the countries from where this problem originates will be sought. Human trafficking has become a lucrative activity and is well organised. In order to address it effectively co-operation with neighbouring countries will have to be sought. Fraudulent activities by some officials within the Department of Home Affairs will have to be focussed on and rooted out. The syndicates involved in aiding illegal immigrants need to be exposed.

4.8. Immigration policy

A UDM Government will develop an Immigration policy, which will compliment the policies of the Department of Trade and Industry and build the economy of the country. Policy will be needs driven and the Department will simply implement the process agreed upon. It will be up to the different Government Departments to indicate their requirements and capacity. The Department of Home Affairs will not involve itself in active recruitment; it will simply manage the administrative processes. The Immigration Policy will be determined by the various Government Departments’ identified skills needs. For instance the Department of Trade and Industry will indicate what kind of investors and what numbers of investors in a particular field they need. The Department of Home Affairs will then process those applications that qualify until the quota has been reached. Similarly the Department of Education will indicate to the Department of Home Affairs its capacity for foreign students in specific education fields. The Department will process these applications measured against the provided guidelines. A UDM policy on Migration will be a closely cooperative one between the different Departments involved and the Department of Home Affairs. Inter-Departmental liaison, also with the Department of Labour, will determine the direction and success of the policy.

5. Action plan

In order to implement the above UDM solutions, a UDM Government will initiate an Action Plan that will focus on the three basic functions within the Department of Home Affairs:

5.1. Administration

The UDM will ensure that the Administration of the Department of Home Affairs is reengineered so that the functions and structure support the processes rather than functions and structures determining the processes.

Clear ownership or managers of processes will also be identified and empowered. The UDM will design processes and manage it in such a way that it supports service delivery arrangements adequately.

The UDM will retrain staff to improve their knowledge and understanding of departmental processes and put mechanisms in place to manage them. Staff focus should be moved from internal towards adding value to the processes and the needs of the users. Where, necessary existing processes need to be redesigned and information about output, staffing trends, budget costs and time frames must be maintained.

Management at all levels of the Department of Home Affairs needs to be improved. Current management need to be retrained and future management trained in the use of current data in future planning. This will also result in the Department becoming less reactive and enable it to do proper advance planning. Available management information should adequately be carried through into strategic planning. This would be the only way to develop management information that can be feedback and inform the policy making process.

The growing gap between available resources and demands for services can to a very limited extent be met through better planning and utilisation of existing resources. However, the gap is growing at such a rate that a comprehensive review and redesign of the Department of Home Affairs is necessary.

The understaffing issue at the Department of Home Affairs need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. A UDM Government will immediately identify where vacant positions are and fill them with competent and well-trained officials.

New information technology, new systems, computers and terminals are desperately needed. A substantial capital outlay to address the infrastructure shortcomings is of the utmost importance and failure to do so will result in the collapse of this basic function of the Department of Home Affairs.

The physical conditions under which staff are expected to work is close to unbearable. The general working environment needs to be improved. The Department of Public Works must give urgent attention to the state of offices where leakages due to rain occur; there is no fresh air and some offices lack air-conditioning. If the general working environment and conditions improve, the morale and output of the Department should improve accordingly.

5.2. Civic services

Civic services includes: maintaining the population register, granting of citizenship, record safekeeping, issuing of travel documents and the issuing of identity documents.

A UDM government will embark upon a special operation that will at a specific date eliminate the backlog of millions of South Africans who still are not in possession of the bar-coded ID book. A communication programme to support this operation will be necessary since these millions of South Africans are disenfranchised from their most basic rights because they are not in possession of the bar-coded ID document. These people are unable to participate in the democratic process of elections; they experience difficulties registering for state services such as social grants, health services and unemployment payouts.

A further aim of a UDM government will be to substantially reduce the late registration of births. This will be achieved through partnerships with churches, clinics, the South African Police Services, Local Authorities, Traditional leaders and private institutions such as banks as well as post offices. These institutions, civil society organisations and other government departments will be asked to act as agents for the Department of Home Affairs in this regard.

In order to further improve civic services a UDM government will substantially simplify the processes involved in the application and issuing of documentation. Current processes are cumbersome and open to manipulation and fraud, exactly because of the complexity of the process. Simplifying the processes will not only result in fewer opportunities for fraud, but will also save cost and speed up delivery.

The existing information technology will be updated and decentralised to improve services.

A retraining and re-orientation of staff is of critical importance. Current delays occur because applications are incomplete and information inaccurate. This results in application being sent hence and forth.

The verification section has a backlog of tens of millions – this under current circumstances seems impossible to rectify. A UDM Government will employ, for a specific period of time, a number of part time workers who can work around the clock to transfer the current paper based documentation systematically to electronic format. There can be no compromise on this issue, because the current circumstances and backlog experienced, results in delays in all other sections of the Department.

5.3. Migration

A UDM Government will without delay put in place a constitutionally-orientated and economically dependable Migration Policy. Such a UDM policy will address the most urgent skills needed in order to contribute to the economic growth of the Country and the capacity for migration.

Migration services need to be properly staffed, and processes need to be clearly mapped out and uniformly applied. Statistics must be gathered and managed so that it can inform and enable the strategic management process of the Department.
Sufficient provision, technologically and logistically, must be provided in order for the Department to perform its core processes.

All ports of entry should be connected to the mainframe and those who are not yet computerised, must be as quickly as possible. Security needs to be sharpened at border posts and ports of entry. The Department of Public Works will fulfil its responsibility as the main role player in upgrading and maintenance of buildings and surroundings at ports of entry.

A UDM Government will immediately address the staff shortage experienced in dealing with illegal immigrants. The UDM believes that the costs of illegal immigrants far outweigh the cost of appointing those needed to prevent the problem from further escalating and to bring it under control.

Focus should also shift to those who employ illegal immigrants with stiff sentences and in extreme cases revoking of business licenses.

2016-10-26T08:39:18+00:00 April 9th, 2014|Policy Positions|Comments Off on Home Affairs Policy Proposals