UPDATE: Deadline extended for public comment on repositioning Home Affairs

2017-10-27 11:18 - Kavitha Pillay
Post a comment 0

Cape Town – The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has extended the deadline for the public's participation and comments which will be used in the drafting of the White Paper on the Repositioning of Home Affairs.

Thabo Mokgola of DHA confirmed with Traveller24 that while the deadline for submission of comments was the 30 September 2017, it has been extended to 31 October 2017 by the former Minister of Home Affairs, Hlengiwe Mkhize, at the Repositioning Colloquium on 29 September 2017 "to allow for more submissions and comments on the Discussion Paper".

"About 270 inputs were made in writing, or made verbally during the events held over the past three month in eight provinces. The last road show will be held in Gauteng before the end of October," Mokgola told Traveller24.

He says the "inputs are still being analysed" and "the overwhelming majority of comments are positive in response to the vision presented of a modern, professional DHA that will be a critical enabler of empowered citizens, inclusive economic development and national security".

ALSO SEE: Visa-free travel: Why is SA's passport power declining?

DHA encourages the public to submit their comments, saying "It is important that as many people as possible make an input on the way in which a repositioned DHA can respond to their needs."

"We also need to engage with issues raised such as data security and privacy and access of all citizens to digital services and information. The future Home Affairs will be at the heart of the state and will operate within existing policy and legal frameworks, such as the POPI act and the Cyber Security Act once that has been signed into law," adds Mokgola.

SEE: UPDATE: Repositioning Home Affairs will see e-borders in place by 2018

Mokgola says that the inputs and comments from the public "will inform the drafting of a Home Affairs White Paper that will define its mandate and its enabling role in service delivery, economic development and national security."

"It will incorporate the principles set out in the White Paper on International Migration and the policies needed to establish a National Identity System. These policies have implications for every one of us and for our young African nation that must survive and thrive in a fast-changing and highly connected world," adds Mokgola.

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).

SEE: Repositioning Home Affairs: 5 Key 2017/18 budget plans outlined

Former DHA Minister Mkhize, who delivered the 2017/18 Home Affairs budget speech at Parliament in May, made specific reference to shaping and managing a national identity and international migration system that benefits economic growth.

Mkhize highlighted five ways in which the DHA hopes to put the department’s future plans to Parliament.

5 Key 2017/18 budget plans outlined 

Repositioning the DHA 

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 of the new business case for the DHA on March 2017.

Mkhize confirmed 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 and open for public comment.

Substantive comments can now be submitted until 31 October 2017, which will be considered in the drafting of a White Paper on the Repositioning of Home Affairs as well as any future DHA legislation. 

"It is crucial that citizens and organisations express their views on the kind of DHA that can best serve and protect them,"says Mkhize.  

The current developments and related challenges impacting on social and economic relations here and abroad makes it extremely urgent for SA to recommit unflinchingly to the repositioning of this department. 

ALSO READ: #eHomeAffairs: Have your say on 6 key changes coming from the DHA's 'repositioning'

According to the DHA, they are currently "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."

The repositioning of the department will aim to address this issue. 

International Migration Policy 

Cabinet approved the White Paper on International migration in March this year, replacing the old and outdated White Paper of 1999 which doesn't speak to the current challenges of globalisation, migration and national priorities set out in the National Development Plan outlined for 2030. 

"The new White Paper thus provides a policy framework for amending immigration and refugee legislation, better to align them to the DHA and South Africa's goals of using migration for development," Mkhize says.  

"Accordingly, for 2017/18 the total vote allocated is R7.1 billion, of which R1.2 billion was transferred to the IEC and R141 million to the Represented Political Parties Fund."

"We will be able to say how best we can benefit from emigration, how best to tap into the pool of critical skills and how best to integrate and benefit from socio-economic contributions of migrants in the country." 

The new policy will also guide how best to manage labour from the SADC region.

The moderenisation of the DHA 

Despite the early hiccups and growing pains, biometrics data capturing technology is an essential part of modernising the department.

The enhanced Movement Control System (eMCS) currently being rolled out at busy airports to capture biometrics of travellers and those travelling with children is part of the DHA's long-term goal first initiated towards the end of 2016.

READ: Everything you need to know about the new Security System at OR Tambo

But the systems have caused a lot of frustration for international passengers going through the immigration processes. Due to a lack of staff and a lengthy initial enrollment procedure, biometric data capturing currently takes up a lot of travellers' time.  

Mkhize, while not going into further detail says the DHA is fully committed to replacing the "outdated systems that are not secure or efficient"

She also cited improvements to the e-HomeAffairs online application platform for smart ID cards and passports to speed up the replacement of the existing green-barcoded IDs by smart ID cards, "Saying we hope to strengthen our partnership with the four banks participating in this project. 

For the 2017/18 financial year, a total allocation of R519 million earmarked for the modernisation programme, according to Mkhize.

Refurbishment of major ports of entry 

The DHA also says it will "complete major refurbishing infrastructure at major land ports of entry,  as these are strategic for risk-based immigration management and professionalisation of services". 

The move will not only see the systems upgraded, but hopes to create a sense of national pride among South Africans, as well as give visitors the best first-time view of the country.

"We committed to upgrade six of the largest land ports of entry:  Lebombo, Oshoek, Beitbridge, Maseru Bridge, Ficksburg and Kopfontein. Working with National Treasury a transaction advisor was appointed to develop a Public-Private Partnership solution, and this has been achieved."

HAVE YOU SEEN: OR Tambo, Cape Town International Airport expansions: What you need to know

Tightening security 

Lastly, the DHA says since the inception of a modernised, online world, national identities have become a matter of state security.  

ALSO SEE: Cyber-attacks: What should travellers be aware of?

Mkhize confirmed the department had discontinued the paper-based processing of passports. Passports can only be acquired through the 179 live capture offices across the country.

The department’s key strategic areas are those of civic and immigration services, with Mkhize saying,"We are making inroads into the modernisation programme."

Being highly dependent on information technology, "an estimated R834 million has been budgeted to maintain transversal systems". 

"We commit to finalise the design of a National Identity System (NIS) that will replace the National Population Register, which dates back to the 1980s. The new National Identity System will be a secure integrated system recording identities and status of all persons who visit or reside in South Africa." 

"We will strengthen our all-out fight against corruption, bribery and fraud," Mkhize says. 

What to read next on Traveller24

ALERT: Beware of 'Home Affairs' robbers

UPDATE: SA request to ease EU visa access referred to 'individual member states'

UPDATE: Repositioning Home Affairs will see e-borders in place by 2018