22 February 2017

South Africa: Committee Receives DHA Input On Foreign Service Bill

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The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has started the process of receiving input from other government departments impacted by the Foreign Service Bill.

The Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Mr Mkhuseli Apleni, made the submission and said there were no serious issues with the Bill when it comes to operational matters, but clarity was needed on some of the things raised.

"Our view is that consular services is encompassing other issues and not restricted only to what the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) is doing. Consular assistance is help provided to citizens who are living or travelling overseas and travel documents are a responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs," Mr Apleni said.

He said as the Bill stood it pre-supposes that Dirco will offer consular services home and abroad including issuing of documents.

"In situations where the DHA is not present at missions abroad, then Dirco could take over and issue the documents," he said.

Mr Apleni said the Bill should also provide for consultation when deploying officials at missions. "As it stands, the Bill| provides power to one department, whereas Foreign Service should involve all the departments."

The Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Siphosezwe Masango, remarked that Dirco is the biggest stakeholder when it comes to the missions abroad, but that DHA operations will be impacted by the Bill.

Members sought clarity on such issues as synergy among departments, revenue collected at missions, upskilling of employees, vetting of employees, and the role of the academy in general.

It was agreed that Dirco needed not respond on issues raised, and that the two departments should meet on the points raised by DHA. Dirco will give a comprehensive response when all inputs have been sourced from all the concerned departments.

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