Home affairs: MPs commit to working with Gigaba’s successor to solve queue problem

Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs Hlomani Chauke has welcomed the appointment of Siyabonga Cwele as the new minister of home affairs.
The committee said it was of the view that the appointment would bring innovations to resolve some of the challenges facing the department, Chauke said in a statement on Friday.
Cwele was moved from the telecommunications portfolio to home affairs when President Cyril Ramaphosa shuffled his Cabinet on Thursday. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, previously Cwele’s deputy, is now minister of communications and telecommunications.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced changes to the National Executive at the Union Buildings, Pretoria.
Cwele fills the gap left by Malusi Gigaba’s resignation, following a raft of findings against the former beleaguered minister that he lied under oath.
Chauke said one of the key challenges for the new minister will be to resolve the lingering challenge of long queues at service points across the country.
“In addition, the intermittent challenges with server downtime that hampers the rendering of services must be urgently resolved. Also, the committee has emphasised the need to address the ever-increasing legal liabilities facing the department,” he said.
Resignation ‘not an admission of guilt’
“The implementation of measures announced by the President to increase tourism numbers and cut red tape to facilitate investment is paramount.”
Chauke said the committee had committed itself to work with Cwele to find workable solutions to the challenges facing the department.
Gigaba resigned from Cabinet last Tuesday following mounting pressure for Ramaphosa to give him the boot.
“I did so after a long period of sustained and vitriolic public attacks on my integrity. I wish to state that my resignation is not an admission of guilt on my part,” Gigaba had said.
He also resigned as a member of Parliament on the same day, but this was only announced three days later on Friday, November 16.
On his resignation from Parliament, Gigaba said: “It was indeed my honour and privilege to have been of service to our people in this high office.
“I am also grateful that my organisation afforded me this honour.”

Ramaphosa to announce cabinet reshuffle

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday afternoon.
PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa is to announce changes to the cabinet at 3pm.
Two ministerial posts need filling in Environmental Affairs and in Home Affairs.
Malusi Gigaba stepped down as Home Affairs minister, saying he quit after a long period of sustained public attacks on his integrity.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa died in September after a short illness while on an official trip to China.
Ramapahosa addressed the National Council of Provinces, sitting in Ekurhuleni.
His address concludes a week-long NCOP Taking Parliament to the People programme.
He acknowledged the failures of government.
He says it’s not meeting citizens’ expectations in a number of areas.

Home Affairs put citizens’ info at risk

Daily News – 20 Nov 2018
SECURITY breaches in the country’s national population register could be fuelling the multimillion-rand identity fraud industry after revelations that citizens’ critical information was left vulnerable to abuse for four years.
This was according to a financial crimes investigator following damning affidavits which alleged that the Department of Home Affairs risked the country’s population register by housing it on an open URL from June 2005 to November 2009 because of its “failures” in installing key infrastructure.
The affidavits were deposed by Hannes Smith and Moeketsi Nonyana in a liquidation case involving Double Ring Trading, the company which alleges the department owes it R794 million – including interest – in unpaid bills that have accrued since 2009.
Both Smith and Nonyana managed the department’s project to install an information and communications technology (ICT) hub at its premises in Tshwane.
Last month, former Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba was subpoenaed to appear before a court-appointed presiding officer to explain why the department let a R67m bill balloon to R794m.
The legal wrangle is ongoing, despite Gigaba’s resignation from the department.
Double Ring Trading was tasked by Home Affairs from 2005 to, among other things, supply and install the ICT hub in Tshwane.
According to the affidavits, failures to install a fibre optic link between the department and the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) – which the affidavits said was Home Affairs’ responsibility for the hub to be operational – necessitated the use of signal distributor Sentech’s frequency in order for the department’s mobile units to be operational.
In his affidavit, Smith said Home Affairs “was at all times cognisant of the risk inherent to the population register by placing (it) on an open URL”, as both Smith and Nonyana had “repeatedly” discussed this with the department.

South Africa’s tourist arrivals struggle to make comeback

20 November 2018 – Tourism Update

In keeping with the trend for most of 2018, and following on from August statistics, September arrivals continue to show 2018’s lack of performance in terms of tourist arrivals.

Statistics SA recently released South Africa’s tourist arrival figures for the month of September. According to the data, South Africa’s arrivals show little to no growth, with an overall decline in overseas arrivals of 1% year-to-date, welcoming 1 902 261 visitors in 2018 thus far.
The sluggish trend is evident in year-to-date arrivals with Europe showing only 2% growth, North America 1%, and Central and South America a 10% increase, however declines were noted from Asia, which was down 3% year-to-date, having delivered 232 208 visitors and the Middle East, 39 117 tourists to South Africa, a decrease of 11% year-to-date.
Some of South Africa’s key source market year-to-date numbers include:
• UK: 305 156 visitors, down 4%.
• USA: 285 307 visitors, up 1%.
• Germany: 224 406 visitors, showing no growth.
• France: 129 146 visitors, down 4%.
• Netherlands: 101 599 visitors, down 8%.
• Australia: 87 126 visitors, showing 0% growth.
• India: 70 558 visitors, down 5%.
• China: 72 752 visitors, down 1%.
• Brazil: 51 729 visitors, up 7%.
• Canada: 46 997 visitors, 0% growth.

Argentina showed significant growth, with 15 394 visitors year-to-date, up 30%, and for the month of September, 1 198 visitors were recorded, showing growth of 26% month-on-month. Italy carried on its upward trajectory with a 9% month-on-month increase, recording 4 014 visitors in September 2018, compared with 4 604 visitors for the same period last year. On the other end of the spectrum, Portugal showed a decline of 20% year-to-date with 22 644 visitors recorded, translating into an 18% month-on-month decline.
Key source market arrivals and their change from September 2017 to September 2018 are as follows:
• UK: 28 126 visitors, down 3%.
• USA: 33 257 visitors, up 2%.
• Germany: 27 536 visitors, up 5%.
• France: 12 682, down 3%.
• The Netherlands: 11 086 visitors, down 9%.
• Australia: 12 770 visitors, down 4%.
• India: 6 443 visitors, down 16%.
• China: 9 347, up 2%.
• Brazil: 6 377 visitors, up 16%.
• Canada: 5 733 visitors, down 4%.
n 2017, Africa’s share of investment in travel and tourism was US$28.2 billion, or 5.7% of total investment in the continent, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), 2018.
At the recent ‘Africa Travel Masterclass’, hosted by Africa Tourism Partners (ATP), Christelle Grohmann, Director at Grant Thornton, said: “South Africa is by far the biggest market (in Africa) when it comes to tourist arrivals.”
However, Grohmann mentioned that even though South Africa had been ranked number one for a number of years, the country had not improved. “We are not very consistent when dealing with some aspects. We need consistency in performance,” said Grohmann. “We often give away more than we gain.”
According to Grohmann, the problem with Africa is its inconsistent growth, often fluctuating drastically, adding: “So we gain one year and give away the next year. You can’t build, can’t invest if you don’t expect more of an up in the market.”
Long-term growth patterns will be moderate and sustainable over time, however, she says: “At this stage for us to grow in Africa, we can’t go moderate; we have to be much higher than the world is growing for us to be able to achieve a significant share.”
International arrivals are expected to be more than 1.8 billion by 2030, and Africa is expected to get 7% of international arrivals by 2030, however Grohmann posed the question: “Given what needs to happen in the industry, is the growth enough in Africa?”
She touched on issues facing the country, and continent at large, with one being infrastructure in air transport, which she deemed a major hurdle for Africa, as it was expensive.

Warders, Home Affairs officials in dock for allegedly freeing foreign drug mules

Johannesburg – Home Affairs officials and former prison warders are set to appear in court on Monday morning over allegations that they hatched an elaborate plan to assist in the illegal release of prisoners for a fee.
They will be joined in the dock by the inmates, all of whom are foreign nationals who had been arrested for drug trafficking.
According to a source close to the investigation, the scheme unravelled when one of the female drug mules was arrested in 2016.
Police had received information that a woman inmate had allegedly been impregnated by a prison warder from the Johannesburg Prison and subsequently wrongfully released on parole. The woman had allegedly been kept in a private cell – allegedly for prison warder to have easy access to her.
When the woman fell pregnant, the warder is alleged to have hatched a scheme to have her illegally released on an early parole. Instead of being deported, she was allegedly taken to a house in Soweto and she later aborted the baby.
Police traced her to the Soweto house where she was later arrested and further investigations revealed an intricate plot that had seen many other inmates fraudulently released on parole.
“One by one we found them in different locations around Johannesburg. They were in houses in Soweto, Hillbrow and Yeoville,” the source said.
According to the source, it was discovered that after the inmates were illegally released Home Affairs officials – who were in cahoots with the plotters – did not take the inmates back to Lindela to be deported to their home countries.
“Both the prison warders and Home Affairs officials shared the money that the inmates paid for their unlawful release,” the source said.
While the inmates have been charged with escaping from unlawful custody, the home affairs officials and prison warders face charges of corruption and aiding and abetting the illegal release of prisoners.

Why we should be concerned about Home Affairs contractor purge

Last week we learned that hundreds of IT contractors across the Department of Home Affairs were told they were no longer needed, with just a few weeks notice, six weeks before Christmas.
Sources have said the reason the contractors has been cut loose is due to budget pressure, but the department would only say it had reassessed its priorities and allocated spending elsewhere.
These contractors are generally highly-skilled specialists in the industry – they knew that by signing up to high hourly rates they also took the risks associated with being contracted instead of employed, but we should still pause to consider the abrupt end to their work.
The ramifications will be felt by the contractors, their families, and those left behind in the department trying to pick up the pieces. The taxpayer will also feel the impact, with funds already spent on projects that we may never experience benefits from, or will only feel those benefits years later than originally planned.
Home Affairs would only say that some projects had been “paused, slowed-down, or ceased,” with no further clarification. When will we know what promised benefits we will now miss?
This incident highlights many of the issues around the government’s reliance on contractors to get core work done. While Public Service Minister Mathias Cormann is a fierce proponent of the use of contractors to give the government expertise and flexibility, the reality is that in many areas contractors aren’t brought on for specific short-term tasks, but end up rolling from project to project.
This trend is amplified in the IT sector, where Home Affairs spent $687 million on IT and computer services between 2012 and 2017.
It is a widely-held view that the public service lacks capability and resources due to the reliance on hired expertise. When the work is consistently and overwhelmingly contracted out, institutional knowledge is not held within the department, meaning lessons are not learned and mistakes repeated.
The union has long been campaigning against the increasing use of contractors and consultants in the public service, arguing that in some cases big consulting firms are making a profit off work that should be done by public servants. Conversely, when it comes to labour hire, contractors working in similar roles take home less pay than their public servant counterparts, with less security.
The contractors who are affected will be considering their next move, working out how to support themselves while waiting for work to come up elsewhere. The public servants still employed must now do more, with less.
They, like many others, will be asking why this department in particular has needed to make such sudden and deep cuts due to budget pressure. Formed less than a year ago, and headed by powerful minister Peter Dutton and influential secretary Michael Pezzullo, its work in securing the country’s borders has long been a centre-piece of the government’s pitch to voters. If Home Affairs is feeling the squeeze, what is happening elsewhere?
Or has the embarrassment of riches that comes with being the government’s favourite been managed poorly, leading to last week’s swinging of the axe?

Rehab tourism is big business

When it comes to South African tourism, our beaches, safari parks, Table Mountain and the Garden Route undoubtedly garner the most attention.
There are, however, more reasons tourists come to our country.
South Africa has become increasingly popular among foreign English language students and addiction rehabilitation patients.
South Africa’s tourism industry is growing. The latest Tourism and Migration Survey by Stats SA shows that 2.6 million foreigners passed through our ports of entry in November last year – a 3.9% increase from November 2016.
Most of them (96.3%) came here on holiday, 0.4% visited South Africa for study purposes and the rest were here on business.
While small, South Africa’s English language travel sector is becoming a powerful contributor to the economy.
Last year, the 20 English schools belonging to Education SA (EduSA) language travel association attracted 10 042 students, 15% more than in 2016 and 43% more than in 2015.
“Each of them spends R6 146 for every week of their six-week stay,” said Johannes Kraus, founder of the Kurus English school in Cape Town and EduSA chairperson.
“Collectively, our students spent 61 268 weeks in South Africa in 2017.”
Based on these figures, EduSA’s students spent R377 million in South Africa in 2017, or R37 497 each. Their per capita contributions exceed the expenditures of conventional tourists.
The total contributions of South Africa’s entire language travel sector were much higher, as the above data only applied to EduSA’s 20 members.
South Africa had between 35 and 40 serious language schools.
While South Africa’s language travel sector was thriving, things could have been better had it not been for the visa debacle of 2014.
In that year, the department of home affairs decided it would no longer issue study permits to students of institutions not accredited by the higher education and training department.
As a result, EduSA’s student numbers plummeted from just over 10 000 in 2014 to 7 000 in 2015, said Kraus.
Students stayed shorter periods of time, around five weeks, instead of the usual six.
“Four schools had to close their doors and others had to downscale.”
Fortunately, Kurus was back at the level it was in 2014.
The fact that the home affairs department’s decision was overturned in court played a huge role in the recovery.
“We have until the end of this year to get registered, said Kraus.
“Imagine if we hadn’t lost out. We could have had 15 000 students by now.”
Another less visible group of economic contributors were foreign rehab patients who were after a spot in one of around 30 local rehab clinics.
The Netherlands alone accounted for 3 000 of them. They come here to deal with their addiction to substances such as alcohol and drugs and for behaviours ranging from gambling to sex.
Mario de Wit, CEO of Dutch addiction care organisation GGZ Interventie, said the Netherlands sent 250 patients per month to South Africa.
“Each of them contributes €4 000 (R59 500) to the local economy during their 32-day stay,” said De Wit, an addiction care expert.
The organisation had arrangements with five Cape Town-based clinics that offered 32-day rehab and recovery programmes.
The Dutch contingent of rehab patients alone was worth R180 million per year.
“This is over and above creating 70 direct jobs in the five clinics we have relationships with,” said De Wit.
The economic impact of South Africa’s entire rehab industry was much higher and growing, he added. This was due to the affordability and the quality of care.
“Addiction care is 65% cheaper in South Africa than in Europe. This allows you to get treatment twice as long for the same price.”
Most European medical aids covered addiction rehab. The reason was simple: a recovered Dutch addict, for instance, would save the Dutch economy around €1 million for the rest of his or her life after recovery.
“These savings refer to fewer medical costs, costs associated with social problems, crime prevention, police costs, increased economic productivity and the impact of addiction on the patient’s family,” he said.
The South African equivalent to this figure was R4 million, he said.
While Europeans accounted for most foreign rehab patients, new regions were making an entry. These included the Middle East.
“Addiction doesn’t officially exist in the Middle East because drugs and alcohol are forbidden. That is why they come to South Africa anonymously,” said De Wit.
Those coming here for treatment were mainly the elite in these countries.
“They tend to go to a five-star rehab resort that combines treatment for addiction, private bungalows, spas, golf and equine training woven around their therapy. The rich don’t go to our clinics, where people share rooms, sleep in bunk beds and are there to deal with their addiction and change their mentality.”