Home Affairs Budget Vote: Debate 4
By Ms Helen Makhuba MP

 

 

National Assembly, 12th April 2011

Honourable Chairperson:

Home Affairs is a portfolio close to the heart of the IFP, because of its leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi's successful tenure as Minister of Home Affairs from 1994 to 2004. We still contend that Prince Buthelezi's vision of placing the civic administration of home affairs under municipal jurisdiction and thereby leaving existing Home Affairs offices to deal solely with migratory issues, would solve most, if not all of the problems currently plaguing Home Affairs in terms of its service delivery without negatively impacting upon the Department's budget allocation.

The recent increase in the cost of Identity Documents by an incredible 700% from R20 to R140 and passports by 100% from R190 to R400 is ludicrous. These price increases are way beyond the means of our poor and unemployed, and the fact that the Department will issue every citizen with their first Identity book free of charge does not assist those who are getting married, divorced or who have had their ID books stolen or lost. The IFP is of the opinion that these exorbitant price increases in ID documents and passports must be immediately scrapped in favour of a more affordable 20% increase.

Service delivery backlogs as well as crime and corruption within the Department remain some of the biggest concerns and the Department must adopt more vigorous measures and strategies to effectively deal with this crisis that has become endemic in the Department. We are pleased to see that the Department has caught up on the backlog of permits for foreign nationals, which this is a great step forward. 

The "Who Am I" integrated IT system is a step in the right direction to our outdated and obsolete legacy systems. This system should provide the Department with the necessary tools with which to expedite, track and control all applications which should result in greater efficiency and service delivery to both citizens and foreigners alike. The concern is that the Department and the service provider are currently embroiled in a dispute which we hope will be resolved shortly and at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

Corruption remains and will continue to remain a major problem within the department and the proposed scrapping of section 49 of the Immigration Bill will only encourage corruption within the Department. The IFP therefore urges the Ministry to re-think the scrapping of the "Immigration Practitioner" by the Department.

Our Refugee Reception Offices and in particular the Lindela detention centre require infrastructural builds, such as additional toilet facilities at the medical clinic, which has only one existing toilet for both male and female persons. This clinic saw 14568 persons during the period April to June 2010.

These are small and innocuous building expenditures but are very necessary.

The Department should engage a countrywide investigation as to the infrastructural capabilities and readiness of all departmental buildings and in particular the Refugee offices in order to ascertain whether or not they are sufficiently resourced to deal with the large numbers of people that they are currently having to service.

Huge backlogs of case appeals as well as critical posts within the Refugee Offices being left vacant are some of the challenges facing the Department and we trust these problems will be resolved during the course of the year. 

Overall, a corporate culture of transparency, accountability and responsibility by Department employees must be fostered by the Ministry and a tough line approach must be adopted in cases where employees transgress these obligations. The recent arrests at the Umgeni Road offices of corrupt officials will send a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated and this in itself is another big step forward in the fight against rampant corruption. 

The challenges are there, but they are not insurmountable Madame Minister, and the IFP wish you every success in the coming year. 

The IFP supports the vote. 

I thank you.

Contact:
Ms Helen Makhuba MP
073 268 3063