#eHomeAffairs: DHA repositioning White Paper opens for public comment

2017-05-19 10:30 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - The Department of Home Affairs says it aims to reposition its services to facilitate South Africans' digital identity as an enabler in all aspects of life.

In line with this, DHA minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, during the 2017/18 Home Affairs budget speech at Parliament on Wednesday, 17 May, announced that a Discussion Paper on the Repositioning of Home Affairs, based on the Business Case, will be published in the Government Gazette on Friday, 19 May 2017.

The Government Gazette, with details on the DHA repositioning commentary, can be downloaded here

Submissions may be sent to the Department through the following addresses -

Mail: Director-General: Department of Home Affairs; Private-Bag X114; Pretoria 0001.
Hand-deliver: Johannes Ramokhoase Street; Hallmark Building; Pretoria (CBD).
Email: Repositioning@dha.gov.za (Please note – email is limited to 5MB attachments).

For attention: Dr John Carneson, Chief Director: Policy & Strategic Management.

The paper calls on the South African public to submit substantive comments on the proposals until 30 September 2017, after which the DHA will engage with stakeholders.

READ MORE ABOUT THE PROPOSALS HERE: #eHomeAffairs: Have your say on 6 key changes coming from the DHA's 'repositioning'

"These inputs will inform the drafting of a White Paper on the Repositioning of Home Affairs which will guide the drafting of future DHA legislation," the minister says.

"It is crucial that citizens and organisations express their views on the kind of DHA that can best serve and protect them. Over and above public consultation around the repositioning, I have taken a considered decision to increase my public participation programmes.

According to the minister, the department’s key strategic areas are those of civic and immigration services. "We are living in an era wherein all operations are executed within a digital realm. We are making inroads into the modernisation programme which was launched to develop secure integrated digital systems managed strategically by professionals," she says.

"Consequently, our work is highly dependent on information technology, and this critical component is voted R834 million to maintain transversal systems."

Modernisation on the move

To date, much has been done to improve the DHA as an organisation, modernise its systems, combat corruption and deliver better services.

For the 2017/18 financial year again, the DHA earmarked a total R519 million for the modernisation programme.

READ MORE HERE: Repositioning Home Affairs: 5 Key 2017/18 budget plans outlined

The new budget allocation comes after the department and Cabinet, on 1 March 2017, announced the approval of a new business case for the department. At the time, Cabinet said that the DHA "must be positioned within the security system of the state so that it contributes to national security and is able to protect its people, systems and data.

"This will enable the department to deliver against its full mandate as a critical enabler of inclusive economic development, national security, effective service delivery and efficient administration.”

Speaking at the ID4Africa's 3rd Annual Meeting, held in Windhoek, Namibia in earlier this year, Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni elaborated on the DHA's plans in terms of launching mobile Smart ID solutions. 

Moving to mobile 

As part of the broader #eHomeAffairs expansion and repositioning, Apleni announced that the department has started development on a mobile solution to beef-up the existing live capture solution. 

"We want the Smart ID Card to be a multi-purpose ID to be used by the whole of government, to improve efficiencies while enhancing security," Apleni says. 

The target for issuing smart ID cards has been increased from the 2.2 million of 2016/17 to 3 million in 2017/18, based on the number of counters in the 279 offices that to date have been fitted with the new digital system.  

The number of offices will be increased by a further 14 offices with paperless, automated issuance of smart ID cards and passports.

Apleni also highlighted further reasons why the traditional South African ID document will become redundant and insecure. 

Following the Apartheid regime, the green-barcoded ID book was issued to all citizens, serving as a prerequisite for various services for all citizens – including voting, getting married, registering birth, drawing social grants, opening bank accounts, seeking employment, and registering for the final school examinations. 

But in recent times, Apleni says, "The green barcoded ID book has serious limitations."

As a modern verification form of identity, the Smart ID Card has started to replace the green-barcoded ID book. The Smart ID Card is an end-to-end process which is wholly automated and supported by the live capture system. 

Since its inception in 2013, SA's DHA has modernised 179 offices across the country. By the end of March 2017, the total number of smart ID cards issued was over 2.6 million making a total of 6.8 million cards issued to date.

Furthermore, the e-HomeAffairs online application platform for smart ID cards and passports was improved to speed up the replacement of the existing green-barcoded IDs by smart ID cards.

The enhanced Movement Control System (eMCS) is also being rolled out at busy airports to capture biometrics of travellers and those travelling with children.

Although the Smart ID Card has been hailed as an innovative solution, it has not been enough, the DHA says. To enhance the process, they have also initiated a system-wide Modernization Programme, to create a digital, paperless environment. 

SEE: Digitising SA: DHA and Stat SA partner to modernise 286+ million civil records

This flagship Programme of Modernisation entailed significant changes to how the department operated, including system development, processes and change management, the DHA says. 

The Smart ID processes and verifications have also been implemented in four major South African banks, which has assisted both parties.  

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