May 18, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home Affairs prioritising immigration policy

Home Affairs prioritising immigration policy
2017-05-17 – News24
Higher education systems in Southern Africa are not growing to meet the demands of the burgeoning youth population, deputy higher education minister Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize says
Cape Town – Home Affairs had made improving South Africa’s international migration policy a priority, Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said on Wednesday.
Cabinet approved the white paper on international migration in March, she said during her department’s budget vote debate in Parliament.
Briefing reporters earlier, she said the white paper replaced a 1999 version which did not address globalisation, migration, and priorities set out in the “National Development Plan, Vision 2030”.
The new paper was intended to provide a policy framework for amending immigration and refugee legislation, to better align these with goals of using migration for development. It would guide managing labour from the SADC region.
“Reviewing and updating immigration policy is critical because it guides how we manage entry, sojourn and departure from the country, to better interact with the rest of the world, in the interests of the nation, its security, and prosperity,” she said.
Mkhize was pleased that the Border Management Authority Bill had gone through the parliamentary process. Last week, most opposition parties scuppered the passing of this bill when they staged a walkout. The ANC did not have enough MPs in the National Assembly to form a quorum.
6 million smart cards
DA MP Haniff Hoosen praised the department for the rollout of six million smart ID cards in four years and the quick turnaround times for passport applications.
However, South Africa’s immigration system was broken. Many people entered South Africa legally, but many did not, he said.
“Most businesses respect our laws and pay their workers a proper wage, but they are also forced to watch others exploit these rules as they pay undocumented immigrants low wages.”
Home affairs could not say how many millions of undocumented immigrants were in the country. An immigration system that was fair, effective and helped grow the economy and create jobs was needed.
“You no longer need to jump a fence, there is no fence,” he said.
Mkhize’s deputy, Fatima Chohan, dedicated her speech to Palestinian prisoners who were on hunger strike in Israeli jails, in protest against the “cruel and unjust occupation” of Palestine.
“Today there are more refugees globally than any time in history, sad to say,” she said.
ANC MP Nokhaya Mnisi said not everyone coming through South Africa’s border had honourable intentions.
“Like the Guptas!” yelled an MP in the opposition benches.
Mnisi said 95% of those claiming asylum in South Africa were not genuine asylum seekers.
“South Africa must be able to refuse asylum to asylum seekers who traversed safe countries,” she said, adding that this was within the United Nations’ rules.

May 18, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home affairs stops manual issuing of passports

Home affairs stops manual issuing of passports
2017-05-17 – Times Live
The Department of Home Affairs says it is phasing out manual passports in a bid to stamp out crime and corruption.
This week‚ 15 unused‚ legitimate South African passports were seized from an al-Shabab courier in Tanzania. The passports bore the photographs of people on the country’s watch list and one bore a striking resemblance to the “white widow” Samantha Lewthwaite.
Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize announced in her department’s budget speech that manually processed passports will no longer be issued‚ and said that people will now have to apply for their passports at one of the country’s 179 live capture sites where photographs and fingerprints are digitally recorded.
Questioned about the Tanzanian passports at a media briefing earlier in the day‚ Home Affairs director general Mkuseli Apleni said smart card IDs and passports had been introduced to phase out fraudulent passport use but up until now‚ manual and digital processes had been running alongside each other.
This system where fingerprints were taken on paper and “the photo is taken under a tree somewhere” created a “gap” where fraud could be committed.
Mkhize said the department was strengthening its fight against corruption.
“IDs‚ passports and birth certificates have high value and the Department is under constant attack by local and international criminal syndicates‚” she said.
She said they would strengthen the work of their counter corruption unit which had since its launch facilitated 166 arrests for fraud and other crimes‚ made up of 85 officials and 81 members of the public‚ working either alone or for syndicates.
Mkhize said the old National Population register would be replaced with a National Identity System‚ as part of her department’s modernisation process. Part of this requires the replacement of 38 million green-barcoded ID books with secure smart ID cards. So far 6.8 million of these cards have been issued.
-TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

May 18, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Get cracking on border agency, says home affairs

Get cracking on border agency, says home affairs
18 May 2017 – Business Day
Opposition parties say if Border Management Authority Bill were passed in its present form, it would usurp customs and excise function of South African Revenue Service
The Department of Home Affairs was pushing for the Border Management Authority Bill to be passed through Parliament, Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said just before her budget vote on Wednesday.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was also keen to see the bill passed, she said.
The ANC, which holds the majority of seats in Parliament, failed to get the bill passed in the National Assembly after the plenary could not secure a quorum to put the bill to vote.
All opposition parties voiced their apprehension that the bill, if it were passed in its present form, would usurp the customs and excise function of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). This crucial function has been a revenue generator for the fiscus, but could be unravelled if it were to be taken over by the proposed Border Management Agency, the establishment of which will be triggered by the adoption of the bill.
Speaking to reporters ahead of her budget vote, Mkhize said the bill had gone through “endless consultation” and had long been approved by the Cabinet. The government could no longer postpone interventions to end SA’s fragmented border management, she said.
“Everyone was unanimous in their support for home affairs to take the lead at the Border Management Agency. There were questions about SARS and customs but after engagement, we agreed on co-ordinated management so that we implement policy that is coherent,” Mkhize said.
Gigaba, her predecessor at home affairs, remained a supporter of the bill, which had pitted him against the Treasury.
While Mkhize said SARS would still be able to manage revenue from excise after the bill was enacted, there was still no clarity whether this would include revenue collection at ports of entry — this is not expressly stated in the bill.
Her budget vote aimed to prioritise the review of SA’s international migration policy.
The Cabinet’s approval of the white paper on international migration would address SA’s policy position on migration.
“The new white paper is important as it will provide a policy framework for amending immigration and refugee legislation [and] better align them to our goals of using migration for development,” she said.
Home Affairs Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan said the department would consider measures to prevent it falling victim to “malicious litigation”.
Director-general Mkuseli Apleni said other priorities would be to improve the security of documentation and to combat fraud. “We started with smart cards and passports. People were taking passports fraudulently. We issue manual passports and the minister will make an announcement on that, along with measures on fraud,” said Apleni.

May 18, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

National campaign launched to galvanise support for tourism

National campaign launched to galvanise support for tourism
17 May 2017 – Tourism Update

The ‘I Do Tourism’ campaign will remind South Africans that tourism is everyone’s business, says SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona.
South African Tourism this week launched the ‘I Do Tourism’ (IDT) campaign at Indaba.
The initiative seeks to remind South Africans of the importance of the tourism industry and the role they can play as advocates for South Africa and for tourism.
Opening Indaba on Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma endorsed the campaign, highlighting tourism’s growing importance to the economy when other sectors are not performing as well.
The purpose of the campaign, according to SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, is to show the economic and social value of tourism in South Africa. “Tourism has a ripple effect,” Ntshona notes. “Each direct permanent tourism job opportunity that is created can have multiple spin-offs for transport, agriculture and other sectors.”
I Do Tourism will bring this message to the attention of the South African public by reminding them of tourism’s impact on the economy. The campaign will also showcase members of the industry, and provide a space for them to share their stories.
In addition to inspiring potential domestic tourists, SA Tourism is also aiming to motivate industry members to keep up their good work, and to remind government and other stakeholders of the importance of supporting the industry.
According to SA Tourism, while tourism contributes 3% to the nation’s economy and has created around 500 000 jobs, the majority of South Africans remain unaware of how their lives are affected when international travellers decide to visit the country; or even how their own holiday may help to better the lives of other South Africans. The organisation emphasised that, for many South Africans, tourism remained inaccessible and something that was “for other people” and therefore had little bearing on their day-to-day lives.
“This is precisely the attitude we hope to change through I Do Tourism,” Ntshona explains. “We aim to remind South Africans that tourism is everyone’s business because all South Africans benefit through and from tourism. Tourism adds value to the lives of all South Africans in a range of ways. As South Africans, we all have something to gain from the growth and development of our tourism industry. That is why our involvement in rallying behind tourism is vitally important. The continued success of tourism benefits us all.”
The campaign will also seek to draw attention to the fact that the impact of tourism is not industry-specific and that tourism contributes to the growth of sectors ranging from agriculture to transport. In this way, the campaign will emphasise that tourism is integral to the growth and development of the country and it is therefore the duty of every South African to do what they can to support tourism. And that by doing so, they are contributing to the country’s economy.
“Ultimately, I Do Tourism seeks to make South Africans want to get behind tourism by seizing the economic opportunities within the tourism industry or by simply playing their part by making visitors feel welcome and providing assistance where necessary, whether that’s by giving directions or recommending a local attraction. If tourism wins, we all win,” Ntshona said.

May 18, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Minister shares vision for tourism

Minister shares vision for tourism
Tourism Update – 17 May 2017
Transformation and skills development will be key priorities for newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Tokozile Xasa.
Xasa, who was Deputy Minister for about nine years, and Deputy Tourism Minister, Elizabeth Thabethe, met with industry captains at a breakfast on the sidelines of Indaba on Wednesday morning.
Speaking to Tourism Update after the engagement, Xasa said driving transformation by bringing in new entrants was a key part of her vision. “We need tourism to reach all corners within South Africa,” she said, adding that people who had been excluded in the past regime needed to be brought into the sector.
Xasa said the sector already had a platform to achieve radical economic transformation and that this would be driven by programmes and initiatives, not a change in policy. She used the example of the Hidden Gems, showcased at Indaba through a partnership with SA Tourism and Satsa. Xasa added that the department would seek to leverage South Africa’s growth in new markets to bring new entrants into the sector.
The Minister said it was important to grow the skills base in the country, and that opportunities should be created, especially for the youth and women. She added that while women held many positions within the sector, more women needed to hold positions at executive level.
Going forward, Xasa said that achieving transformation and skills development were key to the sustainability of the sector.
She said she was also confident that, with the roll-out of the ‘I Do Tourism’ campaign, the profile of tourism within the country would be raised. She said that by recognising the contribution all South Africans made to the tourism sector, South Africans would be encouraged to do even more to support the industry.
While Xasa has not yet had a formal meeting with newly appointed Minister of Home Affairs, Prof Hlengiwe Buhle Mkhize, she was confident that the two departments would be able to work together to improve the implementation of immigration regulations that had harmed the tourism industry. She said that as a former ambassador, Mkhize was passionate about tourism. She added that the Immigration Advisory Board would be meeting next week and that progress was being made, with industry input, regarding the implementation of immigration regulations

May 16, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

“Border guards” will be part of the Border Management Authority – Minister

“Border guards” will be part of the Border Management Authority – Minister
DefenceWeb, , 15 May 2017
Addressing the National Assembly, Home Affairs Minister Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize gave another indication the proposed Border Management Authority (BMA) will be active only at recognised ports of entry leaving by far the bulk of border protection to the military.

She hinted at, but gave no further details of, an apparently new position, that of “border guard”. She also told MPs there was concern about the nature of powers to be given to these border guards to conduct routine searches but did not indicate from where they would be drawn or whether they would be specially recruited.

“The BMA will play an important role in supporting the creation of an inclusive and growing economy at the frontline of our country’s borders by facilitating the legitimate movement of people and goods in line with our socio-economic objectives. We will focus on building the right set of skills for Border Guard officials and on establishing modern and secure infrastructure, information and communication technology platforms that meet the universal standards based on the rule of law,” she told MPs.

According to Mkhize, who inherited the BMA legislation from Malusi Gigaba, now Minister of Finance, two of the imperatives underpinning the BMA Bill are “a new policy paradigm of integrated border management” and a determination to facilitate “the legal and secure movement of people and goods across our borders”.

As far as challenges facing the still-to-be finalised government agency, she pointed out one being “government departments and state agencies operating in a fragmented and incoherent manner with conflicting policy positions, non-aligned implementation and varied interpretation of the border management regulatory regime”.

The consequences of inefficient and ineffective border manager at South Africa’s 72 ports of entry leads to travellers and traders having to put up with poor service and “creates a breeding ground for corruption”.

The SA National Defence Force (SANDF), mainly through deployments of SA Army and SA Army Reserve Force units, assisted by elements of the SA Air Force (SAAF) and the skills of the SA Army Specialised Infantry Capability (SASIC) unit, does the necessary patrolling of the country’s landward borders, stopping illegal immigrants and contraband. There are currently 15 companies deployed at any one time as part of Operation Corona, the border protection tasking that sees soldiers patrolling South Africa’s landward borders with Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula visited SANDF and community members at Mbuzini on the border with Mozambique in on May 3 to find out what challenges they are facing. She was told that over the last two months, soldiers assisted by police had arrested 206 undocumented immigrants who illegally crossed the border from Mozambique and Swaziland and seized contraband goods, dagga and stolen vehicles worth R10 million.

Over the weekend Community safety, security and liaison MEC Pat Ngomane launched a border security programme that is aimed at eliminating cross border car theft. The launch, held at Komatipoort, included stakeholders the SAPS, SANDF, Nkomazi local municipality and Tracker.

In the 2016-17 financial year, about 142 stolen vehicles were recovered while trying to cross the border to Mozambique. Four stolen cars were recovered in the last week on the border between South Africa and Mozambique.

May 16, 2017 - Business Permit    No Comments

Evolving partnerships drive South Africa’s digital identity program

Evolving partnerships drive South Africa’s digital identity program
May 15, 2017 – Biometric Update
South Africa took a major step toward the use of digital identity to secure the delivery of a variety of government services in 2013, with the introduction of a national smart ID card embedded with fingerprint data.
Today the system is progressing toward being used for driver’s licenses, voter registration, and all other social services, Director General of the Department of Home Affairs for South Africa, Mkuseli Apleni, told an audience at ID4Africa 2017 last month. However, it faces an enrollment backlog of millions of people, along with roughly a million new applicants each year.
Director General Apleni spoke about the challenges and opportunities facing South Africa’s identity system in an exclusive interview with Biometric Update at ID4Africa 2017. Having moved beyond a prior unsuccessful attempt with a completely privatized process, Apleni says the role of the Department of Home Affairs is to manage suppliers. “My mandate in Home Affairs is to manage civic affairs and immigration. But for me to do that, I need systems.” The way to make sure those systems perform the function they are needed for, while avoiding vendor lock-in, is to acquire solutions rather than equipment, he says.
Now that that process is well under way, and as early benchmarks are achieved, Apleni sees a role for other biometrics like iris and voice recognition, and an evolution within the system toward multi-factor biometrics. “These things will help us to tighten up.” He also sees a need for governments to strike a balance between keeping costs low and providing incentive for vendors to continue the research and development that ultimately provides new and improved processes.
South Africa’s Home Affairs National Identification System (HANIS) program also includes a public-private partnership with four banks to extend South African citizens’ digital identities to secure personal financial services such as social grants. This model is helping the country extend the uses of digital identity as broadly as possible, leveraging the database administered centrally by the Department of Home Affairs.
South Africa is currently upgrading its AFIS system to provide law enforcement with fuller prints, and Apleni sees that data improvement as part of a widely beneficial capacity-building process driven by security concerns.
“The Home Affairs Department is at the center of the security architecture of any country, because we keep the database of identities for the country,” Apleni says. “We are moving in the right direction with biometrics, and as we improve these systems to include iris, voice recognition, and as we reach the next level, where at a point of entry you can just say ‘open the gate,’ we can save money for the state and improve the economy by reducing corruption and fraud in the country.”
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South Africa is considering ways to improve its birth registration system and increase enrolment in HANIS. Like most African countries, it is also still completing its transition away from legacy paper systems, and Apleni says resistance to that change is natural, but must be overcome.
“Technology is the solution,” he says. “A paper-based process will give you problems forever. You cannot have an efficient system, which is not prone to fraud and corruption, so you cannot properly give access to your citizens.”
“When you are at the point of buying the systems, you always think it’s too expensive, but it’s very cheap as compared to manual processes,” Apleni explains. “Yes it will be expensive when you implement it, but the benefits to your country are far beyond.”
For Apleni, ID4Africa 2017 reinforced the need for dialogue within the digital identity movement. “Sharing is a key. You may be in your country struggling with a certain issue, and spend all your energy on this one thing, and you can just take it from another country here.”
With continued partnership and support from diverse groups of stakeholders, South Africa may be able to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 16:9 to provide legal identity and birth registration for all by 2030 ahead of schedule, and share the stories of its continued success to help other African countries do the same.