This week the media reported on the emphasis put by my colleague Minister Valli Moosa and his Department on the importance of tourism in South Africa. This is good news to all South Africans in view of the economic benefits of tourism. The Department of Home Affairs also has a crucial role to play in tourism, as we carry the statutory responsibility to regulate the entrance and sojourn of foreigners in the Republic. This is but just one of the many ways in which my Department's scope of operation affects the activities of other departments and sectors of society.
The Department of Home Affairs carries two main statutory functions, namely civic affairs and migration control. In addition, the Department is responsible for the Printing Office and is the supervising department of several statutory bodies with several degrees of institutional autonomy, such as the Publication Control Board and the Independent Electoral Commission In the case of the Independent Electoral Commission, the Department is a mere conduit of financial allocations made by this Parliament to enable the Commission to carry out its duties under the Constitution.
In the exercise of its civic affairs functions, the Department carries the mission of identifying the members of our population so that they can exercise rights and powers as well as become the objects of duties and obligations which are provided for in legislation entrusted to other departments. In this respect, the purpose of the Department is to protect and serve the interests of the inhabitants of the Republic of South Africa as individuals in respect of their status, identity and specific rights and powers.
Functionally, the Department is divided into the two branches of Civic Services and Migration. These branches are headed by Chief Directors who, in turn, report to the Deputy Director-General As it stands at present, the Department has a Director-General and two Deputies, the second being in charge of the Government Printing Works.
For the Department to be able to implement its functions efficiently, support services at the level of Chief Director have been put in place. Such services include Legal Services, Human Resources and Ethical Conduct, Information Technology, Financial Management as well as Strategic Planning and Service Delivery. Together with the Anti-Corruption Unit, which is headed by a Deputy Director, Chief Directorate: Strategic Planning and Service Delivery is located in the Director-General's office.
his Chief Directorate also oversees the Departments offices throughout the country as well as offices abroad. In each province. the Department's offices are headed by a Director.
The responsibilities of the Chief Directorate of Civic Services comprise mainly population registration, citizenship and travel documents. The former entails issuing of identity documents; the recording of personal particulars in the Population Register with a view to the issuing of identity documents: identification by means of fingerprints and photographs; and matters pertaining to the status of persons, such as births, marriages and deaths.
South Africa can rightly take pride in the fact that we have a population register which lists all the members of our population along with their particulars and their finger prints. Many countries in the world, far more developed and advanced than ours, do not have such a population registry. The population registry is linked to the voters' roll, thereby enabling the Independent Electoral Commission to identify those who are entitled to vote once their citizens have chosen to register as voters.
The constant maintenance of the Population Registry is in important function which supports the rendering of services, both at the provincial as well as at the local government levels. It is envisioned that this function will increasingly become more part and parcel of local government activities, especially in respect of the handling of the certification of births, marriages and deaths.
In between the functions of civic affairs and migration is the function relating to the management of citizenship. Everybody takes his or her citizenship for granted, and yet citizenship is a specific status which one may acquire or lose and which, in any case, needs to be documented. Our Constitution prescribes that no-one may be deprived of his citizenship, which is obviously subject to the limitation clause like all other human rights. The Department has the responsibility of issuing certificates of naturalisation or resumption of South African citizenship for those aliens who become citizens through naturalisation, or for those who once were South African citizens and for various reason lost their citizenship.
The Chief Directorate of Migration is responsible for control over the admission of aliens too, their residence in and their departure from the Republic. This entails mainly the processing of applications for visas, temporary work and study permits and immigration permits; the maintenance of a traveller's and aliens control system; and the tracing and removal of aliens who are considered undesirable or who are in the Republic illegally.
Closely related to the function of migration control is the management of refugees. Refugees are not people who wish to come into the country exclusively because of their volition, but are people in a situation of distress who are no longer provided for by their State. When the ties of protection which exist between the people and their State are broken by extraordinary events such as natural calamities, war or persecution, many international conventions and provisions of international law to which South Africa has subscribed require other States to receive such people and provide for them, even though they are not their own citizens. Refugees are received as guests in our country in terms of these provisions of international law and they are entitled to stay in South Africa for as long as the conditions which forced them out of their country persist, but have the obligation to return to their countries as soon as such conditions cease to exist. As soon as their own State can provide for them, they must return to their countries of origin.
A separate function of the Department relates to the Government Printing Works which provides for the printing, stationery and related requirements of government departments, provincial governments and local authorities, and publishes, markets and distributes government publications.
This function also includes the procuring of tenders for printing work and the administration of printing contracts awarded to private printers and publishers; laboratory services, which include support for factory processes, evaluation of tender samples, and quality control of all stock items purchased; and the manufacturing and supply of fingerprint ink to the South African Police Service as well as specialised items such as postage stamps to the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The Government Printing Works, which has for some time struggled to run profitably, faces incisive challenges such as the issue of privatisation and staff reduction. Addressing these issues can no longer be postponed and urgent solutions are being considered to avoid any future complications-
In his first State of the Nation address, President Mbeki spelled out the new Government's objectives and priorities. It therefore becomes imperative for our Department to make sure that, while being mindful of the existence of its policy documents that are in line with these objectives and priorities, the rate at which they are delivered and realised is in tandem with the President's vision.
The position with regard to vacant severance package posts inhibits proper human resources planning, as under-staffing in certain crucial operating areas is critical. As a result, multi-purpose deployment of staff such as using Immigration Officers in ID Campaigns, especially in remote rural areas, will continue as it has proven to be effective. This has also been evident during the recent strike action by public service unions, whereby staff was deployed from nearby offices to the border gates. To be able to do this without disturbing workflow, capacity building among staff is crucially important.
Therefore, the Directorate of Human Resource Development will expand functional training and enhance personal enrichment by enabling training such as Adult Basic Education and Training programmes, with primary focus based on previously disadvantaged employees; upgrade computer training, especially to enable staff dealing directly with the public to serve them more efficiently and promptly; and present adequate financial training. especially at district level, to enable officers to properly manage and monitor their budgetary allocations. This will take the form of a continuous inter-office training with Head Office serving as support service.
The Department is in the process of re-assessing its internal structure and we realise that restructuring will become increasingly more necessary. The need for restructuring was also prompted by the necessity of implementing the White Paper on International Migration which was adopted by Cabinet in March. The Department will be drafting legislation to implement this White Paper which will be restructuring its migration function into a distinct Immigration Service. We hope that through restructuring we will be able to better allocate our existing resources in freeing available resources which are now tied up in less than optimal uses.
In fact, the lack of adequate funds impedes adequate service delivery especially in rural areas where the need is greatest. This mostly manifests itself at district level, where there is high shortage of official transport. However, the reality of limited governmental resources, particularly finances, should be accepted. ConsequentIy the challenge is to not only maintain but also improve control over departmental assets by placing emphasis on the saving and redirecting of resources to deserving communities, so that more delivery can be secured with the assets we have.
The challenge is also that of transforming the value of what we have by pursuing better allocations and changing the Department from inside out, obviating to the fact that many aspects and procedures of the Department have remained unchanged for decades.
The Department is also exploring alternative methods of funding for selected projects. This includes striking partnerships with stakeholders such as business with regard to financial assistance, specialised expertise and the provision of infrastructure. In the Western Cape for instance, the Airport Company at Cape Town International Airport offered to provide a more customer-friendly uniform to Immigration Officers and approximately R250 000 for payment of 50 casual workers. The only challenge with this is that budgeting procedure does not adequately focus on crucial operational needs. However, we will stick to Treasury Regulations when pursuing this venture.
The customer service dimension is also receiving priority attention and specialised expertise in matters such as queue management is being sought from the business sector.
Through a similar venture, all our major offices throughout the county will soon have television sets installed for customers' viewing while in waiting areas and in queues. This project will gradually spill over to other smaller offices.
Particular attention will also be paid to the upgrading of departmental services in the former TBVC and national states that were neglected in the past. It was especially apparent during the ID campaign that the Eastern Cape experiences most difficulties when coming to service delivery. Exacerbating the problem in that region are poor roads that lead to some areas that have not been easily accessible.
A special emphasis will also be placed on adequate service provision to especially, the marginalised groups such as the Khoi and San who should be supported in establishing their status and identity.
In addition to service delivery, communication and co-ordination in rural areas are priority matters that are receiving attention. The poor standards of the aforesaid factors mostly emanate from the remoteness of many service points and the vast distances from district and regional offices. Coupled with shortage of transport, these factors adversely affect operations of the mobile units moreover at district level.
To better reach out to these communities, the departmental capacity will be strengthened by way of close co-operation with relevant role-players and other stakeholders. Of the essence in this regard are other national departments, such as the synchronisation of our mobile unit system with that of mobile clinics operated by the Department of Health to provide a one-stop service; local governments and traditional leaders are also important, for instance in making use of their office facilities as they are closer to communities. At present all service points, which are based in rural areas, are without computer equipment and links. This seriously impedes service delivery to affected areas and is partly a result of instability of structures that are being used as service points. The Department will therefore pursue the use of government offices as service points since they are stable.
We also intend to capitalise on the input of community based organisations, for instance in mobilising their members and supporters to apply for Identity Documents, rectification of personal particulars such as dates of birth, which disqualify most of our senior citizens from getting social pensions and other benefits. The establishment of Home Affairs Community Forums, which could serve as a direct link, especially between communities in inaccessible areas and the Department, is also being considered.
We are also looking at the business sector in respect of which I have given examples earlier, and these are other ventures we would like to engage the business sector in.
To improve internal communication and co-ordination, which will impact positively on service delivery, the Chief Directorate of Strategic Planning and Service Delivery has been mandated to, on the one hand, act as the channel for general managerial and administrative interaction between Head Office and the regions and, on the other hand, to monitor and evaluate progress with regard to transformation and service delivery. This encompasses a reliable and consistent two-way communication flow between Head Office and the regions. The bi-monthly meetings between Head Office and Regional Heads, as stipulated in the Department's Transformation Policy Framework, will serve as the primary vehicle in this regard.
Regional Directors are also being afforded the opportunity to regularly interact with each other in order to share experiences and best practice options.
Due to its involvement in national intergovernmental policy making structures regarding transformation and service delivery issues, this Chief Directorate is staying informed regarding crucial policy directions and requirements. Thus, relevant information pertaining to these matters will on an ongoing basis be provided to regions. This will ensure that Regional Directors and their staff do not operate within a policy vacuum.
In view of the instability of the environment, we find ourselves in, the Department's Employee Assistance Programme Co-ordinator will continually liaise and visit regions to help staff with social and health problems that impede production. This programme includes counselling and referrals of staff to specialised help on matters such as HIV/AIDS.
The need to issue Identity Documents has not come to an end with the termination of the formal ID Campaign since the demand for IDs is an ongoing process. We will therefore maintain the capacity created by first considering appointing people from the pool of trained casual workers that have now been laid off, when appropriate vacancies open.
The implementation of the Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS), which is scheduled to commence in the second half of the year 2000 will significantly enhance proper identification and status determination of the South African population. Our present negotiations with the winning tender, MarPless, are geared towards making the production of the ID card affordable to the disadvantaged members of communities. The HANIS project's first direct beneficiaries will be senior citizens of this country, who are receiving social welfare grants. This would be my Department's further contribution towards the eradication of corruption in this sector in view of this new identification system's forge-proof nature.
In view of the nature of services provided by my Department, the issue of Y2K is viewed very seriously We have consequently established a Y2K continuance of Business Steering Committee comprising of all Chief Directors in the Department, including Film and Publication Board. Our Information Technology staff are undertaking the compilation, testing and evaluation of contingency plans to manage any business disaster that might arise as part of the roll over to the new millennium.
Obviously, the most important challenge that the Department will need to face in the new millennium, will be that of controlling the flow of illegal immigrants. There is general recognition that the present situation is not a satisfactory one. In the past three years the Department undertook a complex process of policy formulation which it formulated in the white Paper on International Migration, Migration is one of those issues in which there are no simple and easy solutions and effective solutions are often the most difficult ones.
Though acknowledging that the issue of illegal immigrants is a great challenge to us, it should be noted that we act throughout within the framework of applicable legal requirements. Particularly we acknowledge the human rights dimensions prescribed by the Constitution and international conventions, with which we comply. Therefore, the perception that the Department is soft on illegal immigrants, foreigners is inaccurate.
The issue is not one of softness or hardness but rather one of effectiveness and we hope that through the implementation of the white Paper progress can be made in making the action of the State more effective, delivering greater value for the funding we receive. However. we must also stress that if greater results are to be obtained in the control of legal and illegal migration, the better allocation of existing resources may by itself not be sufficient and additional resources might be required.
We acknowlede that a lot still has to be done to properly contain the situation but it should also be noted that we are faced with a problem of insufficient human and financial resources.
In view of unemployment levels in South Africa, the Government has created an environment in which foreign investors provide jobs. The Department plays a crucial role in this regard by ensuring that deserving applicants acquire necessary enabling documents to come and establish businesses in this country.
The Wwhite Paper recognises that international migration has a bearing on the macro-economic policies of the country and intends to create a balanced framework which enables those who bring and add value to our economy to be welcome in South Africa while closing the door more for people who are taking resources sway without replenishing them.
The finalisation and implementation of legislation on international migration as well as refugee affairs, will also provide a consistent framework for dealing with this daunting reality and establish clear direction for the future with regard to migration matters. The White Paper on International Migration is now before Parliament and will need to be analysed by the Parliamentary Committee which may decide to call for additional public comments or call for hearings on it.
Subordinate legislation to the Refugees Act which will come into effect early in the year 2000. is being drafted. Deputy Minister Sisulu and I will see to it that these pieces of legislation are, without compromising their quality, attended to, with the urgency they deserve.
The President has set up structures that will ensure better co-operation between Ministries and I will be using such structures to iron out matters of concern between my Department and other stakeholders. Reports of illegal immigrants who buy their way out of prisons and the recent `sex for freedom' revelation regarding Thai women for example, are some of the issues that need to be discussed with the Minister of Safety and Security among others.
Prevention of corruption and related matters is of paramount importance to us and the Department's Anti-Corruption Unit, which lacks capacity at the moment, is being capacitated by. forging a closer co-operation and synergy with other functionaries such as the Directorate of Ethical Conduct, Inspection Services and Internal Audit. This could help infiltrate the crime cartels, which operate with a high degree of sophistication, sometimes in partnership with some of our officials. To ensure a clear function clarification between each of these units, we are currently conducting a work study investigation into their operations. The Anti-corruption unit was specifically established to identify and investigate irregularities, advise on disciplinary and criminal actions and to develop anti-corruption strategies.
In conclusion, the Department is facing many challenges which also underpin many opportunities. We look forward to a profitable relationship with the Portfolio Committee of Home Affairs of this Parliament. Together we can overcome the challenges by transforming some of the present problems into the opportunity of doing more and better with what we have. The challenge is that we have the opportunity of overcoming the many problems confronting our Department and I am confident that together we have the resources, the vision, the courage and the determination to make this possible. I really hope that the next five years will be marked by a close relationship between the Ministry, the Department and the Portfolio Committees.
I thank you