2010 drives 'Who am I'

Audra Mahlong
By Audra Mahlong, senior journalist
Johannesburg, 03 Apr 2009

Following numerous delays, GijimaAst says the first part of the Home Affairs “Who am I (I am I said)” online project will be completed by the end of April.

“We have actually given them [Home Affairs] a commitment that we will deliver the application on the 29th [of April],” says GijimaAst CEO Jonas Bogoshi.

While it is not known what the cost of this phase of the project is, the budget for the entire project has grown to about R4 billion since it was first conceived.

“Who am I” is the controversial Department of Home Affairs integrated business system, which aims to replace all manual processes with online and real-time transactions. A consortium, headed by GijimaAst, was awarded the contract for the project in 2007.

In 2008, the project was referred to the auditor-general for investigation, following persistent allegations of irregularities surrounding the awarding of the deal.

Only one part of the application will be delivered by the end of this month, as part of a rush to have systems in place by the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The focus for now, confirms Bogoshi, will be on key immigration systems, such as visas, permits and movement control. So, for the time being, the visa application process for foreigners will be simplified. Work on the civic services application is yet to begin.

Bogoshi says if there are any delays this time around, it will be due to site delays - and not the delivery of the application. A demo of the solution has been made available and the first pilot will be run at an unspecified airport.

The initial deadline time set for the roll-out of the project was 31 March 2009. By that date, the system was supposed to have been available in all Home Affairs offices, mobile units and selected hospitals, morgues, post offices and chain stores.


Bogoshi says GijimaAst has “reprioritised for 2010”. So civil service applications will only be implemented at a later stage. Work on those applications would begin once the first phase is complete, he adds.

“We are on track. We will start with the other services soon,” Bogoshi reassures.

“Who am I” would provide branch offices and field teams with access to two core systems. The national population register (NPR) and the Home Affairs National Information System (Hanis) are currently only accessible to officials at the DHA's Waltloo head office, resulting in delays of urgent documentation for at least a week.

The NPR is a mainframe database containing the identity records of every living South African citizen, resident and deported illegal immigrant, while the Hanis automated fingerprint identification system contains their photographs and fingerprints. Hanis is used to verify identity and acts as a “guard dog” for the national population register.

With the application, DHA officials, border guards and immigration officers countrywide will be able to check identities against Hanis, while the positive biometric verification at DHA offices around the country will allow temporary identity documents to be issued immediately.

Constant delays

SITA started the tender process in March 2006. In September 2006, after a tender evaluation process and oral presentations by the shortlisted companies, GijimaAst was recommended as the successful bidder.

However, the company was not awarded the tender as the process was delayed, and the Home Affairs minister appointed a task team to review the department's IT projects and operations. Following a recommendation by the team, Mavuso Msimang was selected as the Home Affairs director-general in May 2007. GijimaAst was then awarded the tender in the same year, sparking controversy in many quarters.

Following the auditor-general's investigation, GijimaAst has maintained it has not been implicated in any wrongdoing, saying it had no role in the adjudication process and the reported escalation of costs.

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GijimaAst lies low
GijimaAst, Home Affairs sign R2.5bn deal
'Who am I' keeps ticking
R2bn Home Affairs project probed
Work under way on 'Who am I'