Speech by Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for Budget Vote 2007, National Assembly
As you walked over to participate in our deliberations today, many of you will have seen the Home Affairs mobile units parked in the grounds of Parliament. We brought them here with two thoughts in mind, the first was to extend the services of Home Affairs to the members and staff of Parliament and the Ministries who often find it difficult to get away to apply for an identity document (ID) or a passport. The second, more important goal was to use the equipment we usually deploy to service the rural areas to demonstrate that Home Affairs is serious about becoming government's best delivery arm. That is a very ambitious goal, we are all aware of that and it will not be achieved overnight, of that much we are sure too.
A year ago, we made an undertaking to this Parliament to get to the bottom of the problems in Home Affairs. I am happy to report to you today that we not only delivered on our undertaking by deploying the high level Intervention Task Team. We are also well on the way to implementing its recommendations, having consulted widely with Cabinet and the Portfolio Committee much of what I have to say today will be centred on those measures we are taking in pursuit of the President's announcement in his State of the Nation address that we will and I quote: "bring the operations of the Department of Home Affairs to full capacity." Allow me in this context to thank President Mbeki for the continued confidence, support and optimism we have received from him. His encouragement and his very real support give us the consistent message that the task we face at Home Affairs can be mastered.
We are aware that we have a long and steep road ahead of us before we are able to say that we are, indeed, the best delivery arm of government in South Africa But we are determined to go that road. Indeed, we are already well down the road, achieving our first successes. We are determined to continue because we believe that the people of South Africa have a right to expect reliable, consistent and efficient services from the department, delivered with integrity and as promised. Home Affairs is the department with the responsibility for assisting our people with the right documentation from the first day to the last. We are, on behalf of the people of South Africa, the custodians of citizenship. We are the custodians of the right to visit, to invest, to work, and to take up permanent residence in our country and the documentation we deliver has the ability and duty to empower.
An ID empowers by opening doors to learning, to employment, to the funds needed to start a business and too many other aspects of life. A passport empowers by enabling travel to further education, for business, to mobilise the inward investment we need to grow our economy and fight poverty. The permits we issue to foreigners who bring skills and investment empower too, because they regulate the inflow of tourists, skills and investment positively so that we can ensure that they will assist us on our economic path. And of course the proper administration of refugee affairs is important in empowering those who are less fortunate than us.
Refugee affairs can also empower our communities to understand those who genuinely need assistance because they have been the victims of political or ethnic intolerance elsewhere. Properly administered Home Affairs, together with other arms of government, will consistently be able to identify those who are taking a chance by being here illegally. We must remember, however, that economic migration is an international phenomenon confronting every region of the globe. There is not a country in the world which does not face an influx from its neighbours if it is economically more stable or successful and so it is logical that we as South Africa, with our growing economy and let us remember that Gauteng alone produces about nine percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the whole of Africa. It is logical that our economy would be a magnet for economic migrants from the region. In this context it is important not to forget that the economies of the region are networked, with families and communities in neighbouring states relying on remittances from migrants working in South Africa. The other side of the coin of course, is that South Africa has long relied on those workers to help build our economy that is not to say that we should invite or even tolerate a free for all. As Home Affairs we have a role in regulating the status of those who come from other countries looking for work and in administering the protection the law offers to genuine asylum seekers
Already, we are able to report that since our last budget debate we have been able to clear the backlog of 13 000 applications for permanent residence
Also, we recently announced 35 000 new work permits for foreigners with scarce and critical skills. But we have not just left it at the announcement, because last year showed that we need to publicise these permits around the world. We have begun mobilising our overseas missions, Home Affairs offices and ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls in an effort to find the maths and science teachers, the aerospace specialists and the many others our economy requires.
On my last visit to the European Union (EU), I gathered our ambassadors from the region to enlist their support in popularising the quota work permits and we provided embassies with a media kit to assist them further. I will use other overseas travel in a similar way in other regions. The efforts around the quotas and the success in clearing the permanent residence backlog are very clear indications that we are serious about what we are doing and determined to get it right. Which is why we continue to push our refugee backlog project, despite the difficulties it faces. These include the sheer volume of applicants who in fact have no claim to asylum but have been led to believe that this is an easy way to regularise their status. Even though we have adjudicated almost 37 000 applications, the backlog project has not gone as well as we would have wanted it to and so we continue to work on the remaining 75 000 applications. We are working on flattening the mountain, and this project will be part of the work of the Turnaround Action Team I will discuss later. We are very aware not only of the fact that we are the custodians of all of these vital areas from citizenship to refugee affairs. We are aware that this makes us the custodians of important aspects of South Africa's sovereignty and economic and physical security
A false ID or a corruptly obtained residence permit can be the gateway to crime, whether it is fraud, or of a more sinister nature. Our banks and our businesses who sell on credit have a right to expect the ID system to assist them in preventing crime. So do our security services
Chairperson and colleagues,
I can already hear the honourable Members of the opposition getting ready to criticise the gap between what Home Affairs should be and what it is in reality today. So let me assist you colleagues, by telling you that we are very aware of the inherited shortcomings of a department whose origins lie in the days when its real job was to deny the majority of citizens their rights. We are aware of these shortcomings because it was us, as the African National Congress government, who last year deployed the Intervention Task Team into the department with the clear mandate of getting to the root of the problems and challenges of Home Affairs.
We did so because we were determined to ensure that Home Affairs should be a department able to meet its democratic mandate in the spirit of Batho Pele. We did so because we were aware that only a forensic view of Home Affairs thorough, unsentimental, professional, without fear or favour, would give us the detailed understanding of what has to be fixed. The report of the Intervention Task Team to the Ministry this year and discussed in detail with the Cabinet and the Portfolio Committee was the first significant victory for our strategy for Home Affairs. It was a victory because it shone the spotlight into every dark corner where we needed to see clearly and onto every single aspect of this big department that has to be fixed. And, chairperson, let me take the opportunity to thank to all who were involved in shining those spotlights on Home Affairs
We are particularly grateful to:
* the Public Service Commission under Professor Stan Sangweni and Odette Ramsingh
* Public Service and Administration and Minister Geraldine Fraser Moleketi and Professor Richard Levin
* the Accountant-General, Freeman Nomvado
* Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Lesetja Kganyago
Our second significant victory came three weeks ago when our new Director-General (DG), Mavuso Msimang, took office. Many of you have interacted with him in the Portfolio Committee. For those who missed his introduction, let me say that all of us, in all parties, can be very happy that it was possible to recruit a person of his standing, experience and leadership capabilities. You may be aware that it was under his leadership of the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) that an independent client survey found customer satisfaction rose by 50% in the past 18 months. Mavuso Msimang has been referred to in various media reports as "Mr Fix It", not just because of his work at Sita, but also at SANParks. But I must tell you today that we have no intention of leaving the fixing of Home Affairs to him alone, because it is a task for more than just one person, it must be a collective effort.
We have agreed with him that he must be given the resources and the necessary time and space to do the job. That means financial and human resources and perhaps that most important of all resources: the flexibility to do what must be done in taking the department from what it is today to what it needs to be
We are aware of the questions raised about vacancy rates in some sections of the department and on how that might impact on delivery. We will fill the vacant posts. But we will not do so without thought, we will do so as part of the process of re-engineering the process flows in the department.
Let me explain: there is no point in filling 50 posts at an office today if our needs analysis tomorrow says there should only be 20 and the other 30 would be. But those re-engineering processes are underway and we will have a structure and the necessary capacity as that process unfolds. I call on the representatives of all parties today to assist and support Mavuso Msimang and all who work with him for a better Home Affairs. I call on you to exercise constructive criticism, if you must criticise. I call on you to praise when praise is due.
I do so because two weeks ago we were able to announce, just a few metres from here, the deployment of the Turnaround Action Team and chairperson, I am pleased that we are joined today by members of the Turnaround Action Team, including Kevin Wakeford, who is managing the process on our behalf, and Sven de Kock, who heads the AT Kearney or Fever Tree team I will talk about more later.
The deployment of the Turnaround Action Team is the most significant step so far in our strategy to transform and improve the department's ability to serve the people and contribute to economic growth. As you may know, the Turnaround Action Team includes private and public sector experts from a number of fields, including IT, finance, business process re-engineering and communications. It is a team which will be directed from the office of the Director-General (DG). It is a team which has been tasked, alongside the DG and in close cooperation with him, with creating a radically more efficient, customer and business friendly Home Affairs structure. A Home Affairs able to fight corruption effectively, deliver services on time and serve the needs of the population and of the economy. In a nutshell, we are in the process of creating the new Home Affairs
Chairperson and colleagues,
We are presenting a budget to Parliament today which will be spent on continual and increasingly noticeable improvements to Home Affairs in the context of a Mid-Term Expenditure Framework which foresees a continual growth in our spending
We are very pleased by the increases and I take this opportunity to thank the Finance Minister and the Treasury for their work and the trust they have placed in what we are doing at Home Affairs. Our budget includes a rise of 18,36% this financial year, followed by a further 20,32% increase next year, and 3,2% more the following year. These allocations mean that we will have the resources needed to do the job we must do for the country.
This is good news because of our duties associated with securing the World Cup in 2010 but it is more importantly good news because of the resources it provides us for the long term in making Home Affairs what it must be.
We are presenting a budget for things we believe are realistic, achievable and necessary. This is why I am confident when today I refer to the new Home Affairs which has this budget cycle as its starting point. I would ask colleagues and the media to pay very careful attention to my wording I am saying this budget cycle is the starting point for the new Home Affairs.
In other words, we are building systems; we are re-engineering them, improving them, getting the institution fit for the future. We are saying to our staff: you can join in; you can become a part of the new Home Affairs. So I am not announcing today that the turnaround or the transformation or the change is complete. I am saying that starting with this budget and together with Parliament, together with the 7 000 staff in the department, we are building the new Home Affairs in the interest of the country.
The new Home Affairs is about setting realistic delivery targets and meeting them consistently and efficiently. It is about new technologies wisely deployed and synchronised with existing infrastructure to enhance our ability to oversee, direct and speed up delivery processes. It is about a new level of co-operation with the country's law enforcement agencies in driving corruption out of the department.
It is, for example, about the new digital version of the 29 million fingerprints we keep, which we have completed and which now allows us to ensure that people trying to obtain a second ID number to use for criminal purposes will consistently and reliably be found out. It is about the new passport system which will allow us to cut delivery times while we enhance the security and the international acceptance of the documents at the same time. But perhaps most importantly, the new Home Affairs is about creating and sustaining new attitudes and a new will to serve the people among the staff members of Home Affairs.
It is about a new, empowering approach to management which says that individuals must take daily responsibility for the quality of their work and their output levels. That means saying to every staff member between Musina and Cape Town that this is indeed a new department in the making, with new attitudes, a new vigour, a new will to deliver on its mandate.
The other side of the coin is and I say so clearly here as we have said to staff, the other side of the coin is that staff members who choose not to be full and committed participants in the new Home Affairs are welcome to seek their futures elsewhere, if they wish. The new Home Affairs has no place for the corrupt, lazy, or inefficient; it has no space for loafers. The new Home Affairs will be home to the industrious and energetic, to officials for whom Batho Pele is much more than just a slogan. A home to those who love our country and want to contribute their professionalism to making it work properly
When we mention setting realistic targets and meeting them, we are saying the most important thing we can offer our clients is reliability. It is more important to say to an ID applicant that they can collect the document in four weeks and for them to find the document ready and waiting in four weeks than to say you can have it in two, but it is not there when they come to collect.
It is more important to say to residents of Idutywa or Garies or Ga-Segororo for example that the mobile unit will be here once every three months to register births and to accept applications for documents and permits, than to promise a visit once a month, only to find people have journeyed to town but the vehicle does not arrive two months in a row. We are aware of the challenges facing the mobile units and we will fix them. But the fact that we have brought the units here today is a further expression of the political will which guided us in creating the service in the first place, the will to extend access to Home Affairs to those who have been deprived of services because of where they live.
This is what we mean when we say the new Home Affairs must set realistic delivery targets and that it must meet them consistently. This is why so much of our budget in this financial cycle is going to upgrading systems for passports, live data capture, and Hanis, the Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis), to name a few. By the way, members will be pleased to know that our plans for the Government Printing Works (GPW) as a corporative secure printing agency able to assist internationally are already bearing fruits. The Deputy Minister will give you more information on the GPW process, but it is pleasing that GPW has scored its first success with a request for the secure printing of African Union diplomatic passports.
This year, over 19% of our total R3,054 billion budget will go towards IT projects. The High Level IT panel made up of private and public sector experts which form part of the Turnaround Action Team will help us ensure that this money is spent wisely and productively. Let me tell you about some of the more important IT projects. The Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis), as many of you are aware, comprises the ID smart card, which is a future project, the automated fingerprint identification system (Afis), and the integration of these systems so that they talk to each other in such a way that data can be matched and tracked. Getting Hanis right will provide us with the necessary technical platform to move towards the smart ID card.
We are continuing our work to analyse and refine our understanding of the potential benefits of the smart ID card as a central element of our upgraded, more secure and more reliable identity system. Our view is that a project of this size and complexity must provide greater identity security and that this is not achieved simply by changing ID formats. At the heart of the smart card system must be more data integration which is less vulnerable to tampering
I am pleased to be able to report today that the Hanis disaster recovery site has now also been fully implemented. Some may question the need for this expenditure, but if we recall the fire some years ago in the Munitoria building which destroyed the Pretoria City Council's records, we are able to recognise that disaster recovery systems are critical to the functioning of a modern state
Pretoria could continue functioning the next day, including issuing rates and water bills because every record was backed up off site.
We are clear that this example proves the case for having spent R207 million in the past two financial years creating the disaster recovery system at a secure location which backs up all our records every fifteen minutes on a continual basis. Having completed the digitisation of approximately 29 million sets of fingerprints, we are pleased to report that they too are backed up as an essential part of the Hanis. At the same time, we are making important progress on digitally capturing the birth, marriage and death records of our citizens under the Electronic Data Management System, where a total of 57 million records have now been scanned. The current financial year will see us spend a further R167 million expanding this project.
Besides enhancing our ability to guarantee the integrity of the identity system, this is another example of how we will cut corruption, because the fewer the loopholes in the system, the less matching of data done manually, the fewer the opportunities to crook the system.
We have already gone a way down this road with the introduction of the Track and Trace system as an internal management tool. The Track and Trace system allows departmental managers to trace and if necessary speed up the progress of an ID application. The system monitors progress from the moment of application through every stage of the process until the ID is delivered. Managers are now able to establish which Home Affairs official has responsibility for the processing at each stage of the application. They can track the responsible officials from acceptance at a Home Affairs office to transport to headquarters, verification of the applicant's identity, permission for an ID document to be printed, printing, return to the issuing office and handover to the applicant that means vastly enhanced security. But it is also a much more reliable method to monitor and manage the output of individual staff members because Track and Trace allows us to see how much work each official involved in the ID process is actually doing each working day.
This is another indication of how better infrastructure can assist in managing, monitoring, and motivating our most strategic asset, our people. It goes without saying, colleagues, that it is the Home Affairs staff that must ensure that all of the equipment upgrades are used productively in pursuit of our ultimate goal of being an example for efficient, consistent, and reliable delivery by government. So we are building the new Home Affairs, brick by brick, from the foundations up. One of those bricks we will announce during this financial year is the further roll out of the Track and Trace system beyond its current functionality as an internal management tool. We will make details available as and when we are ready to add this brick to the new Home Affairs. Suffice it to say that Track and Trace, when it is fully developed and available to the public, will allow every ID applicant to follow progress on their IDs themselves and to know when it is ready or to get answers as to why it might not be ready on time. We already have a similar system for passports in place.
As part of the business re-engineering process we are undertaking with the Turnaround Action Team, we are putting systems in place which allow us to set realistic and sustainable delivery targets. This is a crucial element of what we have set out to achieve because although technical upgrades are important, they can only ever be part of the whole picture. Track and Trace is one example, the R150 million modernisation of the passport system this year and the R 220 million for the live capture facility are others. Live capture gives us the ability to record fingerprints, photographs and identity numbers alongside each other electronically and at the same moment within one document which belongs to one individual. Again, it will make processes traceable and enhance our capability for ensuring that individual staff members remain accountable.
It is clear that this is a significant contribution to the prevention of ID fraud and corruption.
As you know, the department includes elements which are often not recognised as falling under our umbrella, such as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), or only reach the public eye when the media needs to let off steam, such as the Film and Publication Board (FPB).I will leave the FPB for further comment by the Deputy Minister, who has taken them on as part of his portfolio of responsibilities, except to say this on the matter of pornography and censorship: We unfortunately live in a time and in a social context which forces us to confront the evils of child pornography, gender insensitivity and the portrayal of women as sexual objects.
In a democracy, there are always many ways to approach issues like these, including self-regulation and state regulation. I mention state regulation very consciously because I am not among those who believe that democracy is the same as a free for all. The democratic state has the right and the duty to protect and defend its citizens, particularly those unable to protect themselves. This is no clearer anywhere than in the realm of child pornography and so there can be no apologies and I will make no apologies, for seeking legislation which gets child pornography under control.
Let me be very clear here: along with my colleagues in Cabinet and the ANC leadership I am a firm believer in the freedom of the press and I will defend it as an integral part of the democracy we fought for Sanef and the other media organisations we have interacted with in the past several months are well aware of my and our positions. That we have had a robust debate on the sidelines of the main issue - child pornography - about media freedom has showed me two things. Firstly, that we have an open democracy which allows such a robust debate and even allow some participants to wander off the point. And secondly, that there is a much stronger need than has hitherto been accepted for the media to take its responsibilities to society as a whole more seriously.
It cannot be that the answer to every criticism of the media's very liberal use of our Constitution, its effective failure to self-regulate, is met by screams about some imagined threat to media freedom. Sometimes, a little self reflection by the practitioners of the reporters' and editors' craft could go a long way to taking the unnecessary heat out of these debates and restoring a measure of balance. The IEC will use a large proportion of the R740 million in this year's budget allocated to the IEC, FPB, Government Printing Works, and transport and property management.
ithin this and the next financial year, the IEC will intensify its preparations for the next general election, in 2009. It will be the fourth general election in a row, and as such a major triumph for our democracy. But it will also be a major triumph for the values we seek to put at the heart of all Home Affairs work and for which the IEC is rightly praised consistent delivery, responsible use of taxpayers' money, and integrity, all in the spirit of Batho Pele. But it is not only our own elections for which we thank the IEC
They have guided and supported the successful transition to democracy in a number of important countries in our neighbourhood, most recently in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). I want to take this opportunity on behalf of the government, but also on behalf of our people, to thank the IEC under the leadership of Brigalia Bam and Pansy Tlakula for the contribution they have made to stability, peace and democracy to so many African countries.
Allow me in winding up to return to what must be at the core of what we do this budget year, namely ensuring that the new Home Affairs becomes a reality on the ground for more of the Department's clients every day. We have spoken about the Turnaround Action Team and our confidence that the resources being allocated are well invested. Our confidence stems from the track record of AT Kearney and Fever Tree, who are key elements of the Turnaround Action Team.
Together with the South African Revenue Service's (SARS) leadership, they were at the centre of many changes which made SARS a model to be emulated.
They are the only business process re-engineering company in South Africa with an international track record in the field of Home Affairs. They have in recent years been central in assisting the Netherlands, Belgium, New Zealand and the US in re-engineering core elements of their Department of Home Affairs or the interior. We are confident that this intervention can make the necessary difference and be the catalyst for the new Home Affairs because we have agreed a process which will ensure that the drivers are not just external consultants who then leave us rudderless at some point.
In fact, the drivers of the process are all members of the department this will ensure that this intervention leaves behind a lasting and sustainable legacy. The members of the Turnaround Action Team will be active in every significant area of the department. They will form working groups which include a Home Affairs sponsor usually a senior official. The working groups will include a Home Affairs project team leader and a number of other officials who, together with the Turnaround Action Team, will take on the restructuring and day to day running of a particular aspect of the department's work.
We have identified six areas in which the Team will work closely with the department in the first phase to implement "quick wins". These will lay the basis, set the pace and create the benchmark for the further work that will follow in all other aspects of the department the six areas in the first phase include:
* further development and roll out of the Track and Trace system as an internal management and external customer service tool
* redesign and optimisation of ID processes - this will include a pilot phase for the revised and enhanced ID process of the future
* redesign and optimisation of the permits and refugee processes, again including a pilot phase of the new system
* review of IT projects to assess their ability to align with and support our strategy and the requirements of all of business units
* review of all key contracts and service level agreements, and
* evaluation of all potential areas of risk in Home Affairs, including but not limited to corruption
By having our own people and the team work together on all aspects of the Turnaround Action process, we are ensuring that there will be a qualified, motivated and experienced cadre to continue the work at a sustainable high level when the team leaves the department. In other words, we are building the capacity the new Home Affairs requires as we move forward. In order to do this job properly, we have received treasury support for the Turnaround Action Team amounting to R100 million this year and R300 million each year for the next two financial years.
Among the many deliverables the Turnaround Action Team has committed to is a review - and again this is together with our own staff members - of our service level agreements with external service providers and where we might need new service level agreements. These include, as an example, the South African Post Office, with which an agreement exists. It has a key role in delivering documents across the country and we must quickly gain an understanding of whether this agency can be part of our enhanced service delivery, or whether it in fact contributes to poor turnaround times and poor controls.
The point is that Home Affairs will get the ID system right; we will have a system and the people in place to ensure production cycles which are reliable, consistent, and free of corruption. But for the entire supply change to function with integrity in a way that allows us to deliver on our promises to our clients, we must have a logistics provider able to guarantee that an ID will get to its rightful owner in a reasonable time. So it is a necessary and integral part of the process of building a consistent, sustainable, and reliable service that we ensure that we are not being hobbled by those who are paid to support us.
We have come to Parliament to discuss the budget for the current financial year, and to report on our use of finances in the last year. We have, I believe, demonstrated that a great proportion of the resources have been well spent creating the basis for our next steps. And we have been able to demonstrate that we have done the necessary work to establish what those next steps must be.
In fact, with the appointment of the Turnaround Action Team, we are already taking those next steps. I say all of this aware of the challenges we face and the many steps still to be taken. But I say it too uplifted by a deep and very firm understanding that we are on the right road. Our job is to make sure that every step we take on that road to the new Home Affairs is a step in the right direction. Your job, and I include our colleagues from the opposition parties in this, your job is to accompany us on that road in critical solidarity. And, chairperson, allow me to take this opportunity to thank the parliamentary portfolio committee on Home Affairs and its chairperson for the work they have put in to our department over the past year. The members from all parties have shown commitment, tenacity and frequently, the requisite understanding in accompanying our work in the manner our constitution ascribes to Parliament.
I am sure that this Parliament as the representative of the people of our country will ensure that the balance is right between solidarity and criticism, so that it is indeed critical solidarity we receive from you because it is critical solidarity, with the emphasis on solidarity that will take Home Affairs forward
The new Home Affairs is a necessity for our country.
The new Home Affairs is possible, in the interests of serving our people.
And as Minister I pledge today that all people of good will within the department will give their best efforts towards making the new Home Affairs a daily reality for all of its clients.
I thank you
Issued by: Department Home Affairs
7 June 2007