Home affairs looks to advance smart ID rollout

Read time 3min 10sec
Department of Home Affairs DG Mkuseli Apleni.
Department of Home Affairs DG Mkuseli Apleni.

Discussions between the home affairs department and National Treasury to establish a public-private partnership (PPP), which will result in more bank outlets issuing smart identity documents (IDs) and passports, are at an advanced stage.

This was revealed by Department of Home Affairs (DHA) director-general, Mkuseli Apleni.

The DHA has identified the PPP as a support structure for the rollout of smart IDs as it continues to face modernisation challenges.

The home affairs ministry runs two systems; one which is manual for births, marriages and death registrations, while the automated system is for smart ID cards and passports. Only 184 out of 411 DHA offices currently have live capture, which can process applications for smart ID cards and passports. The remaining 227 offices are still to be modernised, according to the department.

"We have agreements with banks and the Competition Commission, [and] we are now in talks with National Treasury because we need a PPP. Treasury needs to give approval so that this relationship with the banks complies with the provisions of a PPP. Once we close that, we will rollout as quickly as we can," says Apleni.

Smart rollout

To fast-track the rollout of smart ID cards, the DHA partnered with four major banks ? Absa, First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank ? to replace 38 million green-barcoded ID booklets.

Using the eHomeAffairs portal, citizens are able to apply for their smart IDs and passports online and finalise the application process at certain bank branches.

To date, members of the public can only finalise their applications at 14 banks, 13 of which are in Gauteng and only one in Cape Town as pilot sites.

Apleni expressed that once the PPP deal is sealed, banks will be able to make more outlets available to process smart ID applications and passports.

He explains: "We are working on getting our systems fully automated, and are also developing a mobile solution to support the rollout of smart ID cards. Between 2013 and 2017, we were able to reach the seven million milestone on smart ID cards issued.

"Again we encourage those with access to the Internet to apply for their smart ID cards and passports online using the eHomeAffairs portal, which is accessible on the official Department of Home Affairs Web site.

"We intend to continue rolling out additional smart ID card offices in order to cover the majority of our population in all provinces," he adds.

Hoaxing around

Meanwhile, Apleni called on the public to ignore a hoax doing the rounds on social media, which claims the green-barcoded ID will be phased out by 31 March.

According to the DG, members of the public have flooded home affairs offices following the hoax in a bid to comply.

These reports, which first appeared towards the end of 2017, masquerade as a notice from the DHA and claim that 31 March 2018 is the termination date for using the old green-barcoded ID books. The incorrect reports have resurfaced since the beginning of January 2018, circulating largely on social media, he notes.

"We call upon members of the public to ignore these mischievous messages. Responding with panic affects our systems negatively, thus making it very difficult for us to deliver services as expected, professionally and in the most humane of ways."

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