Tag Archive | second quarter report

Home Affairs fails on most targets

Department getting just about nowhere…

sa passportDepressing figures and equally depressing facts emerged from the annual report of the department of home affairs (DHA) to Parliament this year in the light of, once again, a qualified audit report and some pretty sad performance figures against targets where only 100% achievement is recognised.

Mkuseli Aplieni, director general, DHA, was responsible for the reporting but he was supported by neither the minister, Naledi Pandor, nor the deputy minister, Fatima Chohan. The DHA claimed that its mandate was to maintain the national population register; to manage effectively all immigration and to “develop state and civil society partnerships in support of service delivery and security mandates.”

Aplieni said DHA had “reasonably and efficiently” facilitated large volumes of immigrants and visitors through ports of entry thus supporting large international events and the tourist industry; it had “largely” eradicated the backlog of temporary residence permits and there were some efficiency gains in deportations of illegal migrants and in the adjudication of asylum seekers.

100% achievement, nothing less

DHA had 50 target areas and had partially achieved these at between 41% and 99% of targets. A target achievement requires 100%.  DHA had however managed to refurbish 19 offices, and fill 60% of vacancies, and this was making gains on the strategy to bring DHA closer to the people, Aplieni said.
However, he told Maggie Mauyne, chair of the portfolio committee on home affairs, the DHA faced major challenges in managing a complex and dynamic immigration environment, as well as in aligning and strategically managing the planning and budgeting cycle with staff shortages.

Slow start to ID smart cards

He said the pilot project for providing smart card IDs was tested with 100 cards although it was noted that this would be a long-term project running over the next six to seven years. Smart card development would require three years to develop and then another six to seven years to issue the cards to 38 million ID book holders. This process could not be rushed, he said.

E-permitting and visa system specifications had been approved in quantity and finalised in the meanwhile, Aplieni said. In general however, 100% of ID duplicates for clients coming forward were resolved within 12 weeks but the challenges remained of duplicates and corruption surrounding IDs.

Residence permit backlog better

The backlog of temporary residence permits had been largely eradicated, he said, but there were still problems with the need for speed on permanent residence permits, although a special committee had been established to deal with them and the backlog.

In answer to questions on this subject, Aplieni said there were some basic problems with the temporary residence permit procedure in terms of legal procedure on a number of applications already received recently as well as the backlog that had built up.

The DHA, he said, had to focus on new temporary permits first but a committee had been set up to deal with the backlog and by November 2013 much of it should have been resolved. A committee of five people had been dedicated to dealing with this problem.

Can’t get to grip with computers

In terms of fighting against corruption, a draft concept paper was reported to be under consideration, specifically on the role of DHA in fighting corruption and strengthening the security of identity and immigration systems. DG Aplieni reported that the Auditor-General (AG) had not issued an unqualified audit report in this year and this was mainly because DHA partially because remained challenged with the IT systems.

Opposition members noted that the “burning issue” was the question of leadership in the department and even the internal auditing team was not doing its work properly. One ANC said that as the DHA was a security department, the issue of corruption was a matter of national security when it came to illegal or undesirable people likely to use the corruption that existed to secure their stay in the country. This was viewed as a serious threat to national integrity and security,let alone the problems noted by the AG.

Still leadership problems

DG Aplieni explained that there was in fact a structure of communication and meetings in the DHA. He accepted that there was some poor management arising from the fact that the Chief Operations Officer (COO) post was not filled and the DHA was seeking someone to appoint in that capacity. The COO would assist the DHA in monitoring and ensuring that the DHA was effectively and adequately operated and this would be a centre of communication in future leading to much better management of such issues.

He also explained that the President’s target for 50 000 foreign workers was onerous but the DHA was doing all that it could to reach that target.

Getting to grips with corruption

Again, concerns were also raised about corruption within the department and the subject was raised by MPs of home affairs employees who did not declare their private businesses. MPs complained that there was a “culture of corruption” within home affairs and asked DG Aplieni what measures were being put in place to discourage malpractice and detect bribes.

It was quite difficult for the DHA to detect staff who did not declare their businesses, he responded. The DHA had as much information as was declared by employees from a form setting out the declaration of their assets, but it was impossible to know of those who had not done this or who had done it properly. It was even more difficult for DHA to go to the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office to investigate businesses that might be owned by employees or their spouses.

Back to IT vacuum

On the high vacancy rate, Aplieni said that the DHA faced certain challenges with employing people who were experienced in the IT field. Given the complexity of the work at the department there were many other positions that needed qualified people for DHA to achieve their objectives and targets and many posts stood vacant..

On the question of corruption, DG Aplieni said that the DHA did have disciplinary measures in place although “it took the issue of discipline seriously”. An employee could not be dismissed without the matter proceeding along the right lines. If there was a challenge and the matter went to court, that court action had to be allowed to run its course. He said that the Labour Relations Act and unions protected workers against dismissals. Whilst the matter might be before a court, an employee in question would be working and, eventually would be paid.

Foreigners entering

An ANC member expressed her concern around the fact that South Africa was not aware of the exact status or numbers of illegal or temporary foreigners in the country. She wanted to know what the DHA was doing to ensure national security and to prevent Kenyan terrorist-style attacks.

The response from DG Aplieni was that higher standards at ports of entry, DHA said, were not yet finalised although a draft concept paper on strengthening security of systems had been begun and was in process.

MPs asked for comment from the DHA on the woman who had been involved in a terrorist attack, who was claimed to be a South African. Aplieni said that this particular person, Samantha Lewthwaite, who might have been involved in the terrorist attack in Nairobi, was able to enter and leave the country without being detected or tracked down. DG Aplieni explained that the Department of Home Affairs in fact had compelling evidence that she was not using a South African passport.

No fingerprinting at borders

On border management and the question of undesirables entering the country, DG Apleni reminded the committee that no fingerprints were taken at border entry posts, although DHA was now at last included on the national security committee with South African Police Services and defence department.

On deportations of those staying illegally in South Africa, human rights activists sought judicial remedy which was expensive or embassies did not collaborate. This problem had to be solved at ministerial level, he said.  DHA was at the moment engaged in exhausting all judicial remedies available on the problem.

Refer to articles in this category
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/business-interests-bill-to-control-corruption-with-tenders/

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