Home affairs wants modernisation feedback

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Home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele. (Photo source: ITU)
Home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele. (Photo source: ITU)

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is inviting interested parties to provide written input on its draft white paper by 18 February.

According to the DHA, the paper forms part of its modernisation roadmap and its aim to ensure citizens are provided with secure and professional services.

The DHA, whose core function is to manage identity, civil status and migration of citizens, has committed to rolling out a modernisation programme by taking advantage of technological advancements.

Home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele says the white paper seeks to find sustainable solutions to some of the department's challenges, including connectivity and networks, infrastructure, long queues, staff shortages and office space.

However, the process will not change the mandate of home affairs, Cwele stresses.

"The first mandate is to manage the official identity and status of persons. The current National Population Register is being replaced by a secure and fully inclusive national identity system (NIS), which will reflect key data related to identity, civic and immigration status of all persons.

"In the digital age, the NIS will be the backbone of a more integrated modern state that provides citizens and other clients fast access to efficient services. It will thus be a powerful enabler of inclusive economic development and will drastically reduce fraud and other related crimes."

After consideration of the comments, a final draft white paper will be tabled to Cabinet for approval.

To access the white paper, click here.

Meanwhile, the department has completed its investigation into cellphone use by staff members at the front desk of its office in KwaZulu-Natal.

Earlier this month, furore erupted following a video recording allegedly showing home affairs officials using private cellphones at the Tongaat office, despite long queues.

Following the incident, Hlomani Chauke, chairperson of the home affairs portfolio committee, urged the DHA to consider an outright ban on cellphone usage by front line staff during working hours at all the department's offices.

This, said Chauke, is due to the numerous complaints from the public about delays at home affairs offices.

However, the department has concluded, based on the strength of the information gathered, that the incident at the Tongaat office occurred during the 20-minute break in service and that it did not directly impact on service delivery to clients.

It adds the break in service was announced to clients, noting there were compelling reasons for the two officials to use their cellphones during the service break, but they should have excused themselves to attend to personal matters at the back office.

"On the basis of the findings and recommendations, a second chance is justifiable in this regard as it would encourage our officials to always exercise good judgement and adhere religiously to departmental policies," states acting director-general Thulani Mavuso.

"Mr Mncwabe, home affairs provincial manager, will continue to ensure officials adhere to the policy on the use of cellphones during working hours."

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