South Africa: Deputy Minister Njabulo Bheka - Home Affairs Dept Budget Vote 2019/20

press release

Speech delivered by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Hon. Njabulo Bheka Nzuza on the occasion of the Home Affairs Budget Vote

Thank You Chair

The Minister of Home Affairs Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi

The Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs Hon Advocate Bongo

The Whip of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs Hon Mosa Chabane

Members of the portfolio Committee

Distinguished Guests

We are called to serve. We are called to do all in our power and capabilities to serve the people. The people come first. They are the reason we exist as a department, we are not doing a favor for the people, we are offering a service that they deserve which is protected by the Constitution.

The services we offer our people are the sole responsibility of Home Affairs and as such this responsibility requires us to be at our best at all time. We have no option but to be the best because; It is only Home Affairs that can affirm or grant citizenship to foreign nationals. We are the only ones who can grant non-South Africans authority to enter or leave South Africa. We are the only ones who can allow non-South Africans access to work, study or to do business in South Africa through our Visa regime. It is only Home Affairs that can grant asylum seekers a refugee status in the republic. It is only Home Affairs that can designate a port of entry to facilitate movement of people and goods in and out of the country, opening a gateway to international trade.

These are tasks we must execute with high level of consciousness that a compromised immigration system results in a compromised country. Our immigration system has a direct impact on our national security and the economy. Chairperson, we have a huge responsibility in our shoulders to maintain a world class immigration system. This is in line with the theme of this budget vote which is building a "World Class Home Affairs". If we are to do this, we must learn to convert themes into actions and dreams into reality.

And to do this we must be frank and open. If we want a world class Home Affairs with world class immigration systems, we must be comfortable to discuss discomforting issues. The Greek Mathematician Archimedes teaches us that "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line". To solve our problems, we must be upfront, frank and direct.

South Africa is today a great place to live in and many people in the world aspire to live, work and to be South Africans. We have developed laws that are humane, business friendly and go beyond just conforming to international standards on immigration. We do not run refugee camps but we allow integration of refugees to local communities. We give refugees the same rights as citizens except for the right to vote. They have access to our social services such as basic health and social grants.

SADC countries do not require a VISA but only a passport to visit South Africa. We do not deny foreign nationals to work, study and to do business in South Africa provided they comply with the Immigration Act and related legislation. The white paper on international migration of 2017 contends that "International migration in general is beneficial if it is managed in a way that it is efficient, secure and respectful of human rights. In general nations flourish where people with different origins, skills, resources and cultures are able to live work and trade peacefully".

Despite these open and friendly channels of migration we still have those who enter our country illegally undermining the sovereignty of our country. The issue of illegal immigrants is not supposed to be a difficult issue because those who seeks to come to South Africa must do so incompliance with the laws of our country. In the operation conducted in Marian Hill and Tongaat Toll Plaza between the 1st and the 7th of July 2019 we arrested 39 Foreign Nationals who were driving trucks without permits and legal status to be in the country. One employer has already been charged and more arrests are imminent.

We will curb the appetite of employers to employ undocumented foreign nationals all in the name of profits. They must know that when they break the law and employ illegal immigrants they will face the consequences and our inspectorate unit will leave no stone unturned. The major reason why they do this is because the seek to maximize their profits by abusing foreign nationals by paying them below market value salaries because they know they are in the country illegally. This can no longer be allowed to continue. We will fight the corruption that allows people and goods to enter the country illegally.

We have a serious responsibility to capacitate our inspectorate and allocate the necessary funding in order to enforce immigration laws that decisively deal with illegal immigration and its impact on our economy, social security spend and national security. We are moving forward with the One Stop Border Post project. This will be implemented in the 6 priority land ports between South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Mozambique Zimbabwe and Botswana. These will promote intra-regional trade between our countries and reduce elicit trade as well as illegal movement of people within our borders. The OSBP project will also reduce congestion, and improve turnaround times in our ports of entry. This project is in line with our plan to build a world class home affairs.

This supports the National Development Plan to adopt a more open approach to immigration in order to expand the supply of high skills in a manner that contributes to economic growth. The policy objective of the one-stop shop posts will increase South Africa's international competitiveness for critical skills and investment. In terms of the management of ties with South African expatriates, the one-stop border Post (OSBP) project objective is to proactively manage and harness emigration for development purposes; it will further ease cross-border movement, enabling African citizens, and provide a legal permitting route for SADC economic migrants.

We will also place our efforts towards improving efficiency in our refugee reception centers. We have to speedily conclude the adjudication process of asylum seekers who seek refugee status. We are located in 30 missions abroad where we process visa applications and offer civil applications for South Africans living abroad. We are now moving towards a new era that will bolster economic growth and create jobs for our country. We are moving forwards with the implementation of the e-Visa Regime. This regime will place technology at the center of our operations by making it easy yet secure to enter South Africa.

The e-Visa regime will see tourists and visitors to South African applying for their visas online and these will be sent to a central adjudication and approval whilst our visitors sit at the comfort of their own home. The e-Visa regime will result in the issuing of virtual visas. This paperless virtual visa will combat visa fraud. This will open South Africa as a desirable destination through the ease of our visa systems. The e-Visa regime will have huge tourism growth implications for the country. The e-Visa regime is anticipated to go on full production in November 2019.

The department currently runs an Advanced Passenger Processing System. This allows us to see and target undesirable visitors before they even board a flight from their destination. This gives us capacity to stop undesirable visitors for purposes of national security. We are now going further by establishing the National Targeting Centre that will do risk assessments on visitors after they have boarded flights as a secondary control system. This is critical to ensure that undesirable and risky visitors are kept at bay, to create a secure environment for the country.

World systems will work with world class infrastructure like the e-gates. The National Targeting Centre will be used to profile trusted travelers. These travelers will then be registered in our e-gates systems which will open for them automatically as they present themselves at our air ports of entry. These are world class systems that are linked with international policing and security.

We are building a modern home affairs. We are moving forward with our e-gates system in partnership with ACSA. This system will work by registering individuals as trusted travelers. Thus South Africans who are bona fide citizens who are not flagged on the stop risk engines will now be part of our trusted travelers which will drastically ease traffic for citizens giving us more capacity to speedily handle visitors.

The trusted traveler's security vetted by our systems will be able to check themselves in and out of the country using e-gates which will register them on arrival and departure. This is in line with world standards. As a result of this technology, our airports will now rank higher within the international community making it a desirable destination for doing business.

Chairperson we are Building a World Class Home Affairs with World Class Immigration Systems. We will never fail.

Thank You

Issued by: Department of Home Affairs

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