Speech by HON. NN Mapisa-Nqakula, RSA Minister Of Home Affairs On The Occasion Of Welcoming Mr. MJ Maqethuka as the New Director General Of the Department Of Home Affairs
I am glad that we can once again meet like this where we can interact with each other as colleagues serving the Department of Home Affairs. It is my wish that if our schedules permitted we could do this more often.
On Monday, March the 14th we had an opportunity to bid farewell to the former Director General of our department, Mr. Barry Gilder. I was not personally able to be there on that occasion as I have not been well, but I had been happy when I received a report that you had given him a deserving send –off. I must thank you all for the role each one of you played in making the event a great success that it was.
Today, four months after his appointment, we welcome our new Director General, Mr. Mzuvukile Jeff Maqethuka. Knowing our new Director General, I am sure that many of you would have had an opportunity to bump into him a number of times already. This mainly because he arrived at a time when the Department is at its busiest. We face a lot of challenges and we must applaud the DG for understanding that he needed to hit the ground running, including the fact that he couldn’t spare any time to enjoy a proper welcome in his first three months as head of our department.
Of course you will agree with me DG that the few months that you have been here have seen some of our most significant achievements as a department. During this time we have launched the National Immigration Branch, we unveiled our mobile units to ensure that we can extend Home Affairs services to the most rural of our people, we have held the National Conference against Child Pornography, introduced extended hours of service, and of course recently we have finalized our immigration regulations.
These are just some of the milestones we have achieved in the past few months and together with other significant developments, they are an indication that our commitment to position Home Affairs as a site of service excellence is starting to bear positive results.
I am sure many would have told you that things have not always been this promising at the Department of Home Affairs. Even to this day, we have not resolved all of our problems, in fact we have a lot of work ahead of us in that regard, but I am sure that I speak for all of us gathered here when I say at least there is hope and that we have started in the right direction. This hope, DG, is what we need to sustain. Millions of people that are our clients as a department have agreed to give us a chance when we promised them that that this department will stop to be a source of frustration for them when it comes to service. They trust that we shall be true to our word, and we have no intentions to fail them in that regard. In the fore front of that crusade to deliver on our promise is you, DG and I have no doubt that you are equal to the task.
Having said this, I must also add that you are assured our support and that of all the officials of the Department in caring out this mammoth task.
In order to ensure our success in this regard, we have swiftly moved to create the necessary leadership capacity that has been lacking in the department for quite some time. We have not fully completed this process, but as you would have observed, there will at least be the support of a full compliment of senior managers at your disposal at all times. We have moved away from the days when we did not have a single DDG and we now have a complete compliment of five DDGs to oversee five distinguished branches of our department. Most of our chief directors and directors are in place and we believe that we will fulfill our desire to further capacitate our leadership in the provinces, district and local offices during this year. We are desperate to finalise the creation of this capacity, DG because we have made a service pledge to our people and we intend to live true to that pledge. Let me take a few minutes to remind all of us about some aspects of this pledge:
We have committed ourselves to improve levels of service delivery and in this regard we have undertaken to reduce the lead times involved in the issuing of identity documents from the current 6 – 8 weeks to 4 -6 weeks.
We have just completed an audit of our infrastructure in order to determine our accommodation needs with regard to offices and we should be able to use this audit to rollout our office expansion plan. During this year we will relocate some of our worst offices into new accommodation with a view to provide decent service to the people we serve. Most of these offices are in the rural areas.
We are even stronger in our resolve to deal decisively with corrupt activities in the Department and we shall spare neither effort nor energy in going after those amongst us who continue to display anti-people tendencies that go against everything that we stand for as a government committed to good and clean governance. In this regard I am happy to announce that only two days ago we suspended twelve officials here at the head office in connection with various corrupt activities in our finance section. There will be further suspensions and dismissals as investigations continue in the next few weeks.
Next Monday we shall make public a list of over sixty employees who are also expelled from the department due to other corrupt activities including selling of identity documents and aiding illegal foreigners.
Let me once again make this clear to all our officials: Continuing to engage in corrupt activities is not a good idea anymore. While you might have succeeded in the past, it is only a matter of time before we pick you up now. Think about your families and other responsibilities you have before you put all of them at risk due to your selfishness and greed. Not only will you loose your job, but we have now enlisted the services of the Asset Forfeiture Unit to ensure that all the property you have acquired is declared proceeds of crime and should be seized from your possession. So, it is just not worth it. We know where these corrupt activities are happening and once we have finalized our investigations we shall reach you.
On a more positive note, DG, I was happy to learn that we are the department with the most intake of interns in the entire public service. I think this should demonstrate the commitment of government to bridge the skills inadequacy in our country and thereby fight unemployment. I am yet to receive a formal report on the work that our interns are doing, but already I have heard some encouraging remarks. My own view is that the department has a lot of human resource needs and if our interns are distinguishing themselves they should be empowered to be absorbed in the department on a more permanent basis. I was happy when our top management expressed their support for this view that I have. I am sure we can do more.
Our DDG (NIB), Mr Arthur Fraser informed me last week that when he advertised for a hundred immigration officers at an annual salary of R36000 per annum, he got 30 000 applications, mostly from graduands from tertiary institutions. Naturally, this got me very worried, DG and I have felt that we need to do something about this as a government generally. I will be discussing this with relevant colleagues in cabinet. This will also include certain initiatives to review our structure of immigration services.
So, briefly, DG, you and you management have got your work cut out. I am certain that with you at the head we shall succeed. This is not the first time that we have worked together, and I must say right here that I hold you in very high regard.
These officials that sit before you here are eager to effect the changes we want to bring to Home Affairs. Lead them.
I must also thank each one of you and those who are not here, women and men who work for our department in all of our offices, for making the past year a year we can all be proud of. Let’s not loose this momentum.
Because if our work was to be a war, for us that war would not be won until the ordinary person receives a quality of service, respect and care at our offices that is demanded by the principle of batho pele.
Today we welcome our DG, let’s eat, dance and be merry, but tomorrow we return to work as some of our offices will be open. South Africa needs us. Welcome to another war, DG.