Archive from June, 2017
Jun 20, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Whose democracy is it anyway? Home Affairs’ chilling move on your money, and your freedom

Whose democracy is it anyway? Home Affairs’ chilling move on your money, and your freedom
18 Jun 2017 – Daily Maverick
Within 10 years Home Affairs wants to be at the centre of South Africa’s security and economic development. To fulfil its vision, the department’s recently published discussion document proposes raising own funds by requiring institutions from public schools and hospitals, universities – but also banks, conveyance attorneys and airlines – to verify a person’s identity against a fee with Home Affairs’ biometric database before accessing services. The document also proposes raising funds through “identity verification provided to the commercial sector”. This move into the heart of government’s security cluster may just turn into a nightmare. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
The upcoming ANC policy conference will discuss what the governing party in its Peace and Security Discussion Document released earlier this year argues is the repositioning of a misunderstood administrative department into one “fully integrated into the security cluster” with its own fundraising capacity: “The sale of identity services and products would be another large revenue stream…” If the policy conference agrees, the issue will be up for adoption at the December ANC national and elective conference as an official policy of the governing ANC.
But the process of moving Home Affairs from the governance to the security Cabinet cluster has been well under way since early last year – the decision was reiterated in the Cabinet statement of March 1, 2017 – the party discussion process is now also replicated in state processes.
Home Affairs’ move from governance to security started when Malusi Gigaba headed the portfolio, and unfolded amid broader governmental moves also in legislation identifying “essential infrastructure” and “critical information infrastructures” for special protection and harsher penalties, and a change in language from safety and security to law and order. But it will be up to his successor, Hlengiwe Mkhize, to finish the move of Home Affairs into the heart of the state security apparatus.
With Gigaba now at the helm of the finance ministry, it also falls to Mkhize to see the actual implementation of the Border Management Authority (BMA), pivotal in the departmental repositioning of itself within national security. The BMA legislation was finally passed on the third try earlier this month, tagged onto the National Assembly’s Budget adoption session when ANC parliamentary benches were packed, unlike the other tries when walk-outs by opposition parties which have rejected the law caused a lack of quorum needed to adopt the law.
The BMA is sharply criticised for fragmenting customs and excise duty collection of an estimated R3-billion away from the South African Revenue Service (SARS), and for effectively putting Home Affairs in charge of security services such as the police and South African National Defence Force, which both, like SARS, were at best lukewarm in public hearings in the legislative process. Questions are also raised as to how agriculture, fisheries and health inspectors would be accommodated in this new authority.
In a Home Affairs budget vote briefing earlier this year, these criticisms were downplayed. Only 10% of custom and excise revenue would be affected as the overwhelming majority of monies was paid straight to SARS ahead of goods crossing the border – and a memorandum of understanding was now in place.
The discussion document confirms what emerged from the budget briefing: there will be no new, clearly identifiable border authority, and that instead the SAPS, SANDF, SARS and everyone else would simply co-ordinate their actions. “The BMA is based on the principle of integrating all units at an operational level, while participating departments retain full control over policy and legislation. With Cabinet announcing in March 2016 that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) must be fully integrated into the security cluster, the DHA is now better positioned within the state to deliver against its mandate.”
Despite government’s focused drive for the BMA, it does not feature large in the discussion document on repositioning the department “as a backbone of the security system of the RSA (Republic of South Africa)”. Or as it is also put it: “A repositioned DHA with modern systems and a cadre of suitably qualified and trained professionals will be the nerve centre of the national security system.”
Most of the 31-page discussion document seeks to net together national security, managing identity and the economy. “The securing of our country against threats to its people, systems, institutions and capacity to provide for the nation. False identities are used by criminals and terrorists who not only harm individuals, but also the economy and job creation.”
Within this context much emphasis is paid to the department’s centrality to the digital economy. And it is in this hi-tech, digital economy space the drafters of the Home Affairs discussion documents spin words on the potential to generate its own funds given the long-standing National Treasury cost-containment.
Unlike the ANC policy discussion document, which remains fairly vague on these outside sources of cash, the Home Affairs discussion document is more specific.
Yes, fees currently charged for IDs, passports, birth and death certificates and other services could be adjusted. But the focus of revenue generation squarely falls on introducing an additional express identity vetting step in a swathe of services and commercial transactions like buying a house that are currently supported by the submission of certified copies of IDs.
“Official transactions that require identity to be verified, such as the transfer of a house or a vehicle, would attract a fee for a check against the National Identity System (NIS) on a cost-recovery basis.”
Other examples of “mandatory compliance requiring DHA biometric identity checks” include:
• Banks complying with FICA (Financial Intelligence Centre Act) legislation requirements;
• Airlines verifying the identity of passengers;
• Telecom providers for RICA (Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act) compliance;
• Higher education student verification for registration and access to examination centres;
• Public schools for student registrations;
• Public hospitals for admission entry;
• Social grant system for identification purposes of grant collection.
“If charges for verification of the above services were between either R1 or R4, then between R500-million and R2-billion could be collected at current volumes of the few transactions list above,” according to the discussion document.
But most of the own-generated funds from citizens’ identity would be made from the private sector, which would be given digital access to the NIS database. “The largest new revenue stream would probably be identity verification provided to the commercial sector. This could be in the form of fees charged for maintaining an interface with the NIS, charges for each verification and fees charged for incorporating a connection to DHA verification systems into hardware and software.”
Access would also be given to government for research and analysis purposes. “(This) would significantly enhance the capabilities of the state to plan, conduct research, monitor the impact of policies, deliver services effectively and manage risks,” says the discussion document.
Questions arise over potential and real invasions of privacy and protection of personal information as the discussion document simply states, without details, Home Affairs “must seek to protect and empower citizens though improving access to rights, efficient services and information, including their right to dignity and privacy” while also “not making a profit from providing a public service”.
Own revenue generation from identity verification services, like the move to be the backbone of security, is premised that there is an NIS, rather than the National Population Register that currently still has paper-based components. And this is premised that all South Africans are indeed captured on that NIS.
This in itself will be a massive job as, despite a decade of various turn-around strategies, modernisation initiatives and the tech updates that still leave Home Affairs offices countrywide quite regularly off-line.
Thousands of South Africans are not on the population register, or are captured incorrectly. Civil society organisations regularly recount children not being in school for want of an ID or birth certificate. There are accounts of young people not being able to gain employment, or access to higher education and training, because of the lack of an ID. Some years ago there was a spate of accounts of South African women unknowingly married to non-South Africans.
Given this, for those outside the proposed NIS net, be it due to bureaucratic failures or simply a lack of life skills of funds to get to the proposed future service centres, access to public services and run-of-the-mill commercial transactions may grind to a halt.
The discussion document acknowledges Home Affairs is unable to do its job, right now: “… as it is currently positioned, the DHA does not have sufficient capacity to enforce these laws or protect its systems”.
Little concrete emerges on how this would be fixed. Instead, the discussion document argues for the need of a White Paper for Repositioning the Department of Home Affairs, the policy foundation for future legislation. That legislation would establish that “the only legally recognised procedure to be used in official transactions must be affirming of identity and civil status by the DHA using the Smart ID Card or approved digital systems”.
Effectively, such a statutory verification requirement would then allow the levying of fees and charges to self-fund Home Affairs on the back of citizens’ identities and personal information the department holds as sole guardian. It’s neat sophistry.

Jun 20, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Gigaba hammers media for helping to peddle ‘lies’ about him

Gigaba hammers media for helping to peddle ‘lies’ about him
The Citizen 15.6.2017
The minister alleges a paid campaign started being waged against him since he became finance minister.
“We must try, to the best of our abilities, to avoid being information peddlers,” Gigaba told journalists at the end of a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday after speaking about the state of the economy.
He lashed out at reports on allegations levelled against him by Julius Malema and Vytjie Mentor and said the media was too quick to publish unverified allegations.
“I would have been much happier if you had studied a little bit the issues you are bringing up so that you are able to argue them out properly.
“Remember that at one stage I was accused of having an offshore account. Those accusations still hang in the air and I’m being asked to prove if I have it or not. But the person who made the allegation hasn’t been asked to provide prima facie evidence.”
Malema and the EFF had alleged in a press conference that the Gupta family had bought a house for Gigaba while he was still in another portfolio.
“There was an allegation that in Cape Town I live in a house that was bought for me, not a government house. And some of your colleagues in the media ran with the story without calling public works to ask. It’s a simple thing. Call public works. Ask. You would have found your information.
“Instead of peddling wrong information, you would have written a correct story that the person making the allegation is lying.”
He then turned to former ANC MP Mentor, who has variously alleged that Gigaba has signed a nuclear deal with Russia, which turned out not to be true, had an affair with a woman named Judy and that he is actually Zimbabwean.
“A story is made that I’m not South African. Some of your colleagues run with this story, you don’t check whether this is true or not.
“You allow yourselves to participate in insulting my family, insulting my integrity, insulting my identity.
“An allegation was made that my father wasn’t South African. May his soul rest in peace. But you run with this story, you don’t even dare to check.”
He then turned to an allegation from the EFF that he had personally, and improperly, granted citizenship to the Guptas while he was home affairs minister.
“It could be, as with regards to all the other stories that are being run, that the director-general of home affairs can explain to you that the minister of home affairs on an annual basis deals with not one application for a waiver, but with many. You deal with many decisions, not only waivers. Some you approve, some you reject.
“Because you are the minister, you don’t have capacity in your office to assess and evaluate documentation from people applying for whatever forms of documents.
“Let me just take you through this issue of the naturalisation. These people [the Guptas] applied for naturalisation in 2008 when someone else was minister … they obtained their permanent residency in 2008 when someone else was minister of home affairs.
“Some of them obtained their naturalisation in 2013 when someone else was minister of home affairs. In both instances it wasn’t me.
“Then a number of issues are raised that they are highly invested; secondly, that you grant permanent residence to a father but not the wife, and they ask you to regularise that, and you correct it.
He said the recommendation was ultimately made by this staff to overturn the original decision on the Guptas’ application, “basically saying overturn my decision because new facts have come to light … we’ve reconsidered the matters. That’s the whole principle of appeal. It’s the same in government as it is in the courts.”
He said the allegations were aimed “completely to tarnish my name, to defocus me from my work”.
“I hope you are not part of that agenda. My family has not been spared. My wife has been rubbished. My father is being rubbished in his death. It cannot be right.
“I’m sure that when the public protector looks at all of these issues … let us trust that she will do a thorough job so that we can get to the bottom of the matter. So that when we talk about urgent issues of the economy we don’t get diverted to allegations that have not been proved – where anybody can jump around making an allegation.
“It would seem to me you say ‘it would appear that the Guptas have benefited’.”
He went on to defend his record as minister of home affairs.
“I know that the campaign against us will continue.”
He said people were being paid to run the campaign against him, and it had started on the 30th of March, but he would remain focused on his work.

Jun 20, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

New Home Affairs says Gigaba granted Gupta’s citizenship lawfully

New Home Affairs says Gigaba granted Gupta’s citizenship lawfully
Destiny Reporter June 15, 2017
Former Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba did nothing wrong in granting the Gupta family South African citizenship, his successor Hlengiwe Mkhize said on Wednesday
“I have looked at all the documentation and I thought [that] if I was in a similar position I would have considered the request in a favourable manner,” Mkhize said, adding that there was therefore no reason to investigate the matter further.
The EFF released two letters on Monday which it claimed proved that Gigaba – now Finance Minister – granted the Gupta family’s citizenship irregularly.
The first letter, signed by a Home Affairs official in January 2015, states that the family’s application had been rejected as they have not complied with the law. It states that they could apply again in December of that year, provided they had not spent more than 90 days a year outside the country in the past five years.
However, Gigaba wrote to the family in May, approving their citizenship.
Mkhize insists that Gigaba followed the letter of the law. She said that in her three months in office she had received numerous complaints from applicants. Front-line officials were to blame and needed training as they had to implement complex legislation and policies, she said.
The Gupta family qualified for citizenship as they had lived in South Africa for more than five years and government gave priority for naturalisation to investors and those bringing in skills.
She said the official only rejected their application because they had left the country on business. As a minister she would have looked at this and used her discretion to help.
“I don’t think, in all fairness, we can start questioning, unless we amend the legislation and say people should not appeal to ministers,” Mkhize said.
The EFF said it would go to court to challenge the decision to grant the family citizenship.
Mkhize said calls to have their citizenship reviewed, following revelations in the emails leaked from the family, would have to consider the law.
The emails reveal that the family allegedly interfered with the running of government and state-owned enterprises.
“If we were to make a decision you have to be legal, have the facts, interpret those and apply relevant sections of policies and legislation,” she said.

Jun 20, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

South Africa: Refugees Struggle to Renew Papers At Home Affairs

South Africa: Refugees Struggle to Renew Papers At Home Affairs
GroundUp (Cape Town) – 15 June 2017

Asylum seekers from Somalia face unexplained delays and shabby treatment at the foreshore office
A number of refugees from Somalia say they keep getting turned away at the Customs House foreshore offices of Home Affairs when trying to renew their documents. This after they had travelled all the way from Pretoria, since Home Affairs only allows people to renew their documents at the place they first applied for refugee status in South Africa.
Last week, GroundUp met Abdullahi Mumin and a group of Somalis outside the Home Affairs offices. Mumin received refugee status in 2007 and renews every four years. He said this time it was their fourth visit in a month, trying to renew his documents. He had been to the offices on 1 May, told to return on 25 May, which he did, only to be told to return on 1 June, only to be told yet again to return on 9 June. On 9 June, he was told to return on 13 June. Each time officials would scribble the return date on the permit. Mumin now plans to engage a lawyer.
Mumin has a shop to run in Pretoria and the trips to Cape Town cost him business. He said he couldn’t go back without valid documents, because in Pretoria police demanded bribes. His refugee status expired on 31 April.
“If I refuse to pay, they would keep me in a [police] cell for more than three days just to spite me,” he said.
Home Affairs offices open at 8am, but refugees and asylum seekers have learned to start queuing at 6am if they hope to be helped. There are queues for asylum seekers documents renewal, refugees status documents renewal, ID and passport applications. Typically, foreign nationals seeking to renew their papers are required to wait outside. Between 8 and 8:30am, an official collects their papers and takes the paperwork inside. During the course of the day, usually after 2pm, someone from Home Affairs will emerge and call the person. They then find out what the outcome of their application is. Parents or guardians have to bring their minor children as their documents cannot be renewed in their absence. Sometimes women form their own queue, and sometimes they are served first.

Jun 20, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs Dept ordered to appear in Parly over Guptas’ SA citizenship

Home Affairs Dept ordered to appear in Parly over Guptas’ SA citizenship
17 June 2017 – ENCA
JOHANNESBURG – Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs has ordered the Home Affairs Department to appear before it and provide details around the naturalisation of the Gupta family.
Home Affairs officials will appear before the committee on Tuesday following Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema’s release of a letter from the department, turning down the Gupta’s request for citizenship.
Another letter Malema released came from Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, who was previously home affairs minister, waiving the residential requirements for citizenship.

The chairperson of the portfolio Lemias Mashile says they want details from the department about the EFF’s claims.
“We have requested the department to come and brief us on what happened. We want to know what the department knows so that we can understand the background on this matter.”

Mashile says the department is expected to explain as to how the Gupta family’s application got in to the hands of the minister.
“We will only have details after Tuesday on what they have in their records. Remember the minister doesn’t receive papers, someone has to take it to him. We want to know what convinced the minister to sign or not to sign.”

Jun 20, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs makes U-turn on disciplinary action against workers

Home Affairs makes U-turn on disciplinary action against workers
17 June 2017 – ECN
Home Affairs agreed to enter negotiation with unions after the Bargaining Council’s conciliation hearing on Thursday.
without paying them overtime.
Workers told the department that the order meant that they would have to use extra money for transport to work and that this warranted remuneration.
Home Affairs agreed to enter negotiation with unions after the Bargaining Council’s conciliation hearing on Thursday.
The department’s Nkidi Mohoboko announced on Saturday that it would review its disciplinary plans for staff.
Numsa’s Daniel Mthethi says they will ensure the department keeps its word.
“Those charges must be withdrawn and we’ll make sure those charges are dropped.”
Trade unions and the department will meet on Monday to discuss an amicable strategy concerning Saturday shifts.
Mohoboko says they’re open to negotiating on the matter.
“We will negotiate in a way that satisfies both the employer and employees.”
The department and trade unions have just under six days to come to an agreement concerning their Saturday shifts for staff.
The Public Service Association’s Ivan Fredericks says their mandate is to ensure their members get what they deserve.
“We will ensure there is security measures so that people feel safe in their working environment.”
Unions have subsequently called off the nationwide strike that was planned for Monday.

Jun 20, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

SA and UNHCR to mark World Refugees Day with tolerance exercises

SA and UNHCR to mark World Refugees Day with tolerance exercises
Jun 16, 2017 – News Ghana
The Department of Home Affairs and United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNHCR) have announced that they will jointly commemorate World Refugee Day in eThekwini Municipality to promote social cohesion, tolerance and peaceful co-existence among refugees, asylum-seekers and host communities.
World Refugee Day celebrations kick-off with build-up events on Sunday 18 June at Inanda J.L. Dube Stadium with Fun Run/Walk as well as friendly football matches involving refugees, asylum-seekers and the local community.
On Tuesday 20 June at Play House Company, the Department of Home Affairs and UNHCR will organise structured community dialogues between refugees and the host community aiming at increasing knowledge on the rights and responsibilities of refugees, promote better understanding, social tolerance and mutual trust as well as respect for cultural diversity. Community discussions are followed by cultural entertainment as well as World Refugee Day remarks by refugees, provincial authorities, UNHCR and the Department of Home Affairs.