Cape Town - The Department of Home Affairs has been on a mission to reposition itself as a critical enabler of delivering mandatory services, economic development and national security, with the latest step receiving cabinet approval soon to open for public comment.
The current developments and related challenges impacting on social and economic relations here and abroad made it extremely urgent for SA to recommit unflinchingly to the repositioning of this department.
This is according to Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni, speaking on the repositioning of the Department of Home Affairs to state security.
The statement comes after an ANC discussion document on peace and stability stated that the DHA is “wrongly positioned”.
According to the DHA, the need arose for SA and its people to "share information openly and earnestly on the new business case we have developed, conscious of the strategic role that Home Affairs can and must play in the South African state and wider society".
Why is this needed?
Especially in a changing global atmosphere - in terms of digitisation and security - the DHA says it the term “repositioning” of the department is deliberately used because it implies movement.
They say this movement is needed in order to safeguard both the country as well as its citizens.
"Currently, this department is neither in a position to adequately defend itself from the ever-present threats, such as criminal syndicates and cyber-attacks nor to play its full role in working with other departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster, in keeping the nation safe and secure at all times.
"In a highly dynamic, globalised, digital world, full of risks and opportunities, the nation would benefit from having a Department of Home Affairs that serves as the nerve centre of security and the backbone of the digital platforms their lives depend on," they say.
The repositioning of the DHA can be highly beneficial to SA, especially if a comprehensive National Identity System (NIS), and the modern immigration systems that interface with it, is implemented.
"Together these systems will provide the nation with a critical resource, featuring accurate and secure knowledge of who our citizens are and who is living within our borders," the DHA says.
Here a 6 Ways in which SA's citizens will experience the change, the DHA says -
Accurate, real-time statistics for planning and operating services
A platform that will power e-government and e-commerce and greatly reduce fraud by providing secure digital identity
Faster, more efficient private and public services, and access through multiple channels
Fast access to relevant information for better governance and accountability
Enhanced safety and security for individuals, communities and institutions
Capacity to implement the new immigration policy, which is risk-based, and also development and Africa-oriented
The system and repositioning of the department will also mean that identity fraud will be better managed and prohibited.
"Every fraudulent ID, visa or passport, represents a serious risk to national security as it may be used to commit crimes or acts of terrorism," the department says.
"In spite of being highly constrained by historical underfunding and outdated systems, the Department of Home Affairs has decisively proven it can transform its people and processes, and improve the lives of citizens," they say.
What to expect
Following a year-long approval process for the DHA to get support to reposition its operations, a paper for public discussion and engagement will be made available by the end of April 2017.
The discussions and engagements will inform the drafting of a White Paper that will be gazetted for public comment by April 2018.
The expectation is that the Bill will then be tabled by December 2018.
According to the DHA, the next two years before the tabling of the Bill will focus greatly on driving the current modernisation programme, which has been phased out in various ways during the past years already - as seen in the biometric data capturing systems piloted at various international airports in SA, as well as the launch of online applications for official documents.
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