THE MINISTER OF HOME AFFAIRS, DR M G BUTHELEZI: Ladies and gentlemen of the media, your excellencies. I would like to apologise first for my cold. It is a very great pleasure, we can report on some of the milestones of the 1995 and some of the envisaged highlights for 1996 regarding the activities of the Department of Home Affairs.
Our Department stands in the forefront of rendering indispensable services to all the inhabitants as you are aware in respect of their status, identity and specific rights and powers and since May 1994 we have embarked on several programmes with the view to ensure that first of all the services rendered by the Department are compatible with the constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
Secondly, these services are rendered on a uniform basis throughout the Republic of South Africa by the fully integrated national Department of Home Affairs. The Reconstruction and Development Programme receives proper attention at the same time and is fully implemented during the execution of the Department's line functions.
And lastly, the control over the admission of aliens [indistinct] in the Republic in South Africa and to meet their present needs and demands.
When I speak this time about the Department of Home Affairs, unlike last year, I now refer to what is fully initial to the Department of Home Affairs. As the process of integrating the various home affairs branches [indistinct] in the former Republic of South Africa, the former independent states and the self governing territories, has now been finalised and the Home Affairs Laws [indistinct] Act of 1995 has paved the way for the execution of Home Affairs functions throughout the Republic. As a result of the entire [indistinct] which the rationalisation of the Department was undertaken, the Department was one of the first departments to complete the process. The integration process instituted an unavoidable increase in the posts on the establishment which currently stands at seven thousand five hundred and forty nine. A more balanced and service related staff complement would be achieved by way of transfers and natural attrition.
The government of national unity has a policy of promoting a greater agenda [indistinct] is strictly adhered to and the ratio of White to Black staff in the Department as a whole, currently stand at 45% to 55%. The ratio at regional level stand at 29% White against 71% Black.
The two main functioning areas of Department of Home Affairs of course as you are aware, ladies and gentlemen, are civic affairs and migration. And one of the milestones, I think, of the 1995 with regard to civic affairs was the promulgation of the New Citizenship Act of 1995 which was formulated on the 6th of October 1995. The old majors did not meet needs and requirements in various respects and were in certain respects also not compatible with the provision of the constitution. The new Act provides for more suitable measures and ensures compatibility in the constitution. The more important new provisions are that the new Act does provide those who become citizens of the former independent states [indistinct] countries while naturalisation can acquire sovereign citizenship by naturalisation automatically.
Section 11A of the Sovereign Citizenship Act of 1949 provided for the automatic acquisition of the sovereign citizenship. That major now which was included in the Sovereign Citizenship Act of 1949 "solely for the purposes of military services" has been excluded from the new Act. And provision has been made in the new Act that the Minister may deprive a South African citizen of his or her citizenship, where such a citizen makes use of a franchise or passport facilities of another country.
A further highlight of 1995 pertaining civic affairs was the outstanding work that was done by the staff of the Department of Home Affairs during the local government elections which took place on the 1st of November 1995. The decision taken was that elections for local authorities would be held on the 1st November 1995 and that the Department of Home Affairs again being [indistinct] with obligations for identity documents. The Department was better prepared as a result of the experience gained during the 1994 general elections. Some of the manners that were adopted were that we made photographs available free of charge. We sent out more ballot teams into rural areas and we employed casual workers of which the majority were already trained during the previous campaign and they were employed again for this purpose.
As a result of the increased number of applications received, no less than two million alien and twenty thousand nine hundred and forty identity documents were issued during 1995. Adding the twenty one million sovereign [indistinct] persons of eighteen years and older, who have been issued with identity documents to the almost seventy thousand persons who were still of possession of reference books or identity documents of the former independent states, shows that 95,6% of the potential number of voters were in fact enabled to vote. This, ladies and gentlemen, reflects favourably on the 75% voters who registered.
In this regard it is interesting to know that during the various identity document projects over the recent years, coupled with the rationalisation of government services, the Department's finger print records have almost doubled to more than thirty two million full sets of finger prints. The Department is in fact a world leader in the use of finger prints as the basis for the population register.
Envisaged highlights for 1996 on the civic affairs terrain are the implementation of the new sovereign passport, and the possible introduction of a new identity card. Our aim are for the system of new machine readable passports are well underway and it is envisaged that the new system will go into operation during May of this year. A new system has become vital as a result of the numerous cases of forged passports in circulation and also to comply with the accepted norm of machine readability. The new passports will contain a number of safety features which will make forging extremely difficult if not impossible.
An interesting feature regarding the new passport system is that a children's passport will now be introduced for the very first time. The passport will be valid for five years. A variety of five kinds of passports will be issued depending on the specific purpose.
The proper identification of all inhabitants of the Republic of South Africa is a key concern of our Department, and this is an obsolete necessity for the effective execution of the government's policy with specific references to the RDP. The sovereign identity document is the single instrument of identification of inhabitants who are entitled to certain rights, privileges and benefits in the country. It is an extremely important document I think for inter alia the better facilitation of the RDP itself.
Due to the previous political dispensation we are presently compelled to cope with a number of identity documents issued by the previous administrations. and the issue of a single document to all the permanent residents and citizens of the country has now become important and urgent issue. The present finger print identification system operated by this Department is a manual system and an automated finger prints identification system has become imperative.
In addition to this, and especially as a result of the fact that the identity document in its present format, has become obsolete due to the removal of fire arm particulars from it. And the fact that drivers licences will now be issued in a separate format by the Department of Transport. It is also envisaged to implement an identity card.
I must just stress, ladies and gentlemen, that this is actually very very urgent, it will be before Cabinet just now and it is urgent that it be implemented, because if you take into account that in fact more than a billion of tax payers' money is actually stolen each year, because of the problems that are created by identity cards. You can see that we really need to do something soon about that.
Negotiations and investigations by the Department of Home Affairs have progressed to such an extent that the Cabinet was approached and has now approved in principle the implementation of these systems. During the magnitude of this project and the various other departments involved, the Ministers responsible for the RDP, agreed in principle for the funding of a study of this project. As the costs of implementing this system will mainly be covered in expenditure due to the equipment which will have to be purchased. This is a project which might be funded from the RDP fund. And this possibility is in the process of being further pursued. It is envisaged that the Department will go out on tender for the identity card system during 1996.
On the immigration policy I would say that the Department's functions regarding international migration relate to the control over the admission of aliens to their residence in and departure from the Republic. The existing immigration policy is first and foremost directed towards the protection of the interest of the sovereign worker and creation of employment opportunities. Immigration must be seen as a solution to South Africa's manpower needs in the short or medium term. However, we should not meet our short term requirements with measures, which would deprive South Africans of precious job opportunities in the long term.
Our Department's immigration policies are primarily aimed at persons who (a) are qualified in occupations for which a proven demand exists and who are able to obtain firm offers of employment prior to applying for permanent residence or (b) can prove that they are able to transfer a substantial amount of capital for investment and are establishing industrial concerns which will lead to economic growth, of course, and generating of employment opportunities for permanent residents of South Africa. Obviously such investment in entrepreneurial undertakings should be of a nature and content that render beneficials to South Africa.
On the illegal aliens issue, I just want to say it is a known fact that the presence of illegal aliens in this country has become a very serious issue. Because of the Department's commitment towards the successful accomplishment of the reconstruction and development programme, and because of the negative impact that the illegal aliens have on the programme, and on the socio economic welfare of the country. For this reason parliament approved the Aliens Control Amendment Act in 1995 which provide for stricter immigration policy, the integration of visa fees and other measures which will shortly come into operation in an attempt to control illegal immigration.
During 1995 Human Sciences Research Council undertook a research project at the request of the Department regarding the issue of free movement of people across international borders with specific reference to Southern Africa and the particular effect thereof on South Africa itself. The result of the study indicated there may be as many as 2.5 000 000 to 4.1 000 000 illegal aliens in this country. The effect that these illegal aliens
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