GijimaAst, Home Affairs sign R2.5bn deal

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 10 Jul 2008

Home Affairs director-general Mavuso Msimang and GijimaAst officials yesterday signed a deal, said to be worth R2.5 billion, to transform the department.

Department of Home Affairs (DHA) spokesperson Siobhan McCarthy and GijimaAst confirmed the signing took place yesterday afternoon. Neither would comment further.

Aspects of the deal were recently referred to the auditor-general for investigation after persistent allegations of irregularities surrounding the processes followed to award the deal. Insiders have dismissed the claims as "sniping from the sides".

The deal, to implement the "Who am I online" project, has been touted as a key component in the DHA`s turnaround strategy that started last May with the appointment of Msimang as director-general.

What it does

"Who am I?" could potentially revolutionise the department by providing access to two core systems to branch offices and field teams. The national population register and the Home Affairs National Information System (Hanis) have, to date, only been accessible to officials at the DHA`s Waltloo head office, resulting in the issuance of urgent documentation taking at least a week.

With positive biometric verification at DHA offices around the country, temporary identity documents can be issued immediately.

The NPR is a mainframe database containing the identity records of every living South African citizen, resident and deported illegal, 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.

"Who am I" will allow DHA officials, border guards and immigration officers countrywide to check anyone`s identity against the NPR and Hanis. "Who am I" will also simplify the visa application process for foreigners - which is why it is meant to be part of government`s 2010 preparations.

Related stories:
R2bn Home Affairs project probed
Govt`s R2.5bn duplication
Home Affairs smart card pilot on track
GijimaAst COO calls it quits
Work under way on 'Who am I`