Department of Home Affairs continues to flout refugee court orders, year after year

Home Affairs still does not serve new applicants in Cape Town despite a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling that says it must reopen and maintain a fully functional refugee reception office.
Still no functional refugee reception office in Cape Town nor evidence of future progress.
Nearly two years have passed since the Department of Home Affairs promised to open a Cape Town Refugee Reception Office (CTRRO) once again, and nearly a decade has passed since it decided in 2012 to stop processing new asylum applications in Cape Town.
In a judgment on 30 August 2012, the Western Cape high court ordered Cape Town Home Affairs to start serving new applicants again. The judge said the cost to Home Affairs of assisting newcomers was negligible compared to the harm done to them.
The court said delaying implementation of the court order would cause grievous harm to asylum seekers. While undocumented, they would be subject to arrest and deportation.
Yet Home Affairs proceeded to drag the matter through the courts until in September 2017, the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) ruled that Home Affairs must “reopen and maintain a fully functional refugee reception office in or around the Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality by 31 March 2018.”
Home Affairs sought leave to appeal from the Constitutional Court but this was refused. This means the SCA ruling is final.
In January 2019, GroundUp reported that Home Affairs, which by then was already in contempt of the court order, said a site in Maitland had been identified by the Department of Public Works and the proposed date for the office to be occupied was 1 June 2019, according to the Legal Resource Centre (LRC).
In July 2019, the LRC requested Home Affairs submit a detailed plan for the new office, including updated timelines and the reason for missing its June deadline.
Last week, Petra Marais, attorney at LRC, said Home Affairs had sent reports every three to six months, instead of the monthly reports ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal in 2017.
Marais said, “The last report received from Home Affairs for the period of August 2020 to January 2021 advised that Home Affairs together with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure has put out another tender during 2020 for new premises for the CTRRO, and from the bids received have now identified a premise in Epping.”
“The LRC has not received updated timelines nor a list of tasks completed during this time. From the reports filed by Home Affairs we were notified that the reason the previous premises fell through was that the landlord could not deliver on all the requirements set by Home Affairs. The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure thereafter advised Home Affairs that the tender process has ‘restarted from scratch’. We were given no reason as to why the tender process had to restart since the Department received five tenders from its 2018 bid, and therefore had four more tenders to consider.”
Marais said the reports filed by Home Affairs “still fail to provide us with timelines, adequate direction and sufficient information for why the Department is not complying with the SCA order”.
Despite various announcements by Home Affairs, refugees and asylum seekers have been struggling to access services for almost a decade now, and the situation became worse when the pandemic struck.
At present, Home Affairs in Cape Town only renews asylum documents and refugee statuses for people who originally applied in Cape Town.
With lockdown in March last year, services were suspended and Home Affairs declared an automatic renewal of documentation. At present, asylum seeker permits that expired, or were due to expire during lockdown, are valid until 31 March 2021.
Last year, the Scalabrini Centre said it is concerned about the number of refugees and asylum seekers with expired documents, and that the Department of Home Affairs has not made public any plans about dealing with the disruption caused by Covid-19.
GroundUp has tried to get comment from Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza and media manager David Hlabane since 17 March.
www.samigration.com

Motsoaledi’s smoke and mirrors crusade against immigrants is at odds with basic human rights

The standard definition of the ‘noble lie’, a concept originated by Plato in his ‘Republic’ published in 375 BC, is a myth or untruth purposefully and knowingly propagated by the ruling class to maintain social harmony or to advance an agenda. Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is a master of it.
Lies told by politicians in South Africa tend to be believed or dissed, but alas, hardly ever scrutinised to find their hidden meaning.
Often, these political narratives become the pretext for paradigmatic ideological change and new legislation. South Africa’s immigration and citizenship systems are about to change fundamentally. No formal announcements have been made. No official press releases have been circulated. But Home Affairs Minister Dr Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi has been making some strange and interesting statements in the national media recently that may well be strands of the growing noise of change.
The Public Protector’s investigative report on then home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba’s granting of citizenship to some of the Gupta family members was published on 7 February 2021. Immediately thereafter, Motsoaledi was interviewed by Jane Dutton on eNCA.
Motsoaledi indicated that South Africa’s immigration system, especially permanent residence, will be reviewed because it is just a step away from citizenship. The nexus between immigration and citizenship and the need to sever it was first articulated in the White Paper on International Migration adopted by the Zuma Cabinet in 2017. The white paper formulates the policy principle as follows:
“There should be no automatic progression from residency to citizenship in law or in practice. That is, the process of granting residency (short term and long term) and citizenship will be delinked. A points-based system will be used to determine whether the applicant will qualify for a short-term or a long-term residence visa. However, the number of years spent in the country will not qualify a person to apply for naturalisation. The process of granting residence and citizenship status should allow strategic and security considerations and the national priorities of South Africa to be taken into account.”
So, the white paper argues, permanent residence and citizenship must be delinked, and this would occur through the replacement of permanent residence status with a long-term temporary visa. In this way, foreigners, who are sometimes a source of organised crime, will be more carefully managed and South Africa’s borders and sovereignty will be more effectively safeguarded.
The notion that foreigners are a burden to our society and a source of crime has been espoused on numerous occasions by Motsoaledi. In a Human Rights Watch article published in 2020 on xenophobic violence, Motsoaledi was quoted as saying that most foreigners are not here as migrants but as criminals and that is why they remain undocumented.
In 2018 when Motsoaledi was health minister, he suggested that foreign nationals were behind the overcrowding of South Africa’s public health system. The executive director of Amnesty International South Africa, Shenilla Mohamed, worriedly responded he should “stop this shameless scapegoating of refugees and migrants” and should “stop fuelling xenophobia with these unfounded remarks”.
Nothing was made of Motsoaledi’s outing by these international human rights watchdogs for his prejudice against foreigners, other than to have him appointed home affairs minister. The irony in this appointment was never the subject of any real contention. Motsoaledi was a minister in both of Zuma’s Cabinets and was obviously a participant in the ideological discussions around the white paper and its doctrinal stance on refugees and migrants and the need for radical immigration policy interventions which it purports to contain. His disposition is hardly surprising.
In the Dutton interview, Motsoaledi said that he had already decided that the separate Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Acts are causing serious problems and havoc in South Africa’s courts and therefore they should be combined into a single act of legislation. This, he says, has been accomplished by quite a number of democracies.
This is an astounding revelation. Actually, no such mischief has been caused by these three separate pieces of legislation. Motsoaledi purposefully uses the word havoc to describe an untenable (non-existent) conflict wrought by the separation of these acts in order to discredit the existing legal order. Our courts have not entertained any such conflagrations. Rather, the deluge of litigation in our courts in this context relates mostly to the advanced dysfunction of the Department of Home Affairs in its administration of those acts. This is a classic noble lie, designed to sow discord with the existing paradigm, loosening its roots and eventually unplugging it.
The problem confronting Motsoaledi is how he is to deal on the public record with the fact that far too many senior officials responsible for the administration of Home Affairs’ functions are corrupt and that their machinations were responsible for the granting of citizenship to the Guptas.
As for democracies that have combined immigration, citizenship, and refugee affairs into a single legislative instrument, they exclude Austria, Canada, Brazil, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and the US. The reason these democracies have not sought to do so is that they cover separate areas of policies, each administered by different bureaucratic levers, which cannot be combined on a practical level. Those democracies have sought to keep these areas separate to prevent the sort of havoc Motsoaledi speciously ascribes to South Africa’s present legislative architecture.
Again, this idea of combining our three acts of Parliament to bring a stop to a fictitious havoc is another lie, but a useful one. Motsoaledi attempts to stem the flow of unbridled blame and finger-pointing of civil society and our apex courts at Home Affairs into a different direction: that the way Parliament has chosen to legislate in these areas of immigration, citizenship and refugees since at least 1949 is discordant with international best practice, disharmonious, and should thus be replaced with a new ideological paradigm for dealing with foreign nationals.
Dutton asked Motsoaledi how the new system will protect people who want permanent residence or citizenship. He responded that his new system will protect, not individuals, but the law and procedures, and the “the integrity and the sovereignty of our country”. He then added that corruption has led us to this point. But the minister’s utterances, while sounding intellectually and politically so profound, are false flags.
The Public Protector’s report concluded that Home Affairs officials misled Gigaba with their flawed submissions to support the granting of citizenship by early naturalisation in terms of Section 5(9)(b) of the Citizenship Act to Ajay Gupta and family members. Those officials included the then director-general, the deputy director-general, and a chief director, but their culpability did not inquinate the minister.
Motsoaledi’s suggestion that his new paradigm will protect the integrity of the law and South Africa’s sovereignty, not individuals, turns out to be nothing more than an irrational mumble of words. Law is not an automaton making independent decisions, decoupled from human actors, as if it existed in some imagined levitating bubble. Officials of the public administration, subject to those values contained in Section 195(1) of the Constitution, are empowered by legislation to carry out various functions. This is how legal systems work in every constitutional democracy, no less Home Affairs within our Bill of Rights.
The problem confronting Motsoaledi is how he is to deal on the public record with the fact that far too many senior officials responsible for the administration of Home Affairs’ functions are corrupt and that their machinations were responsible for the granting of citizenship to the Guptas. The wholesale resignation, suspension and arrest of senior Home Affairs officials for corruption continues unabated. The truth is that nothing Motsoaledi and his policy advisers will do in the rewriting of the legislative script could ever erase the risk of administrative malfeasance and moral pollution which has for so long punctuated Home Affairs, and other government departments.
There is one more question Motsoaledi should answer: how will his new system of regulating the influx and status of foreigners be safeguarded against himself, as the propagator of the noble lies of Home Affairs’ ideological revolution?
www.samigration

Motsoaledi’s smoke and mirrors crusade against immigrants is at odds with basic human rights

The standard definition of the ‘noble lie’, a concept originated by Plato in his ‘Republic’ published in 375 BC, is a myth or untruth purposefully and knowingly propagated by the ruling class to maintain social harmony or to advance an agenda. Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is a master of it.
Lies told by politicians in South Africa tend to be believed or dissed, but alas, hardly ever scrutinised to find their hidden meaning.
Often, these political narratives become the pretext for paradigmatic ideological change and new legislation. South Africa’s immigration and citizenship systems are about to change fundamentally. No formal announcements have been made. No official press releases have been circulated. But Home Affairs Minister Dr Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi has been making some strange and interesting statements in the national media recently that may well be strands of the growing noise of change.
The Public Protector’s investigative report on then home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba’s granting of citizenship to some of the Gupta family members was published on 7 February 2021. Immediately thereafter, Motsoaledi was interviewed by Jane Dutton on eNCA.
Motsoaledi indicated that South Africa’s immigration system, especially permanent residence, will be reviewed because it is just a step away from citizenship. The nexus between immigration and citizenship and the need to sever it was first articulated in the White Paper on International Migration adopted by the Zuma Cabinet in 2017. The white paper formulates the policy principle as follows:
“There should be no automatic progression from residency to citizenship in law or in practice. That is, the process of granting residency (short term and long term) and citizenship will be delinked. A points-based system will be used to determine whether the applicant will qualify for a short-term or a long-term residence visa. However, the number of years spent in the country will not qualify a person to apply for naturalisation. The process of granting residence and citizenship status should allow strategic and security considerations and the national priorities of South Africa to be taken into account.”
So, the white paper argues, permanent residence and citizenship must be delinked, and this would occur through the replacement of permanent residence status with a long-term temporary visa. In this way, foreigners, who are sometimes a source of organised crime, will be more carefully managed and South Africa’s borders and sovereignty will be more effectively safeguarded.
The notion that foreigners are a burden to our society and a source of crime has been espoused on numerous occasions by Motsoaledi. In a Human Rights Watch article published in 2020 on xenophobic violence, Motsoaledi was quoted as saying that most foreigners are not here as migrants but as criminals and that is why they remain undocumented.
In 2018 when Motsoaledi was health minister, he suggested that foreign nationals were behind the overcrowding of South Africa’s public health system. The executive director of Amnesty International South Africa, Shenilla Mohamed, worriedly responded he should “stop this shameless scapegoating of refugees and migrants” and should “stop fuelling xenophobia with these unfounded remarks”.
Nothing was made of Motsoaledi’s outing by these international human rights watchdogs for his prejudice against foreigners, other than to have him appointed home affairs minister. The irony in this appointment was never the subject of any real contention. Motsoaledi was a minister in both of Zuma’s Cabinets and was obviously a participant in the ideological discussions around the white paper and its doctrinal stance on refugees and migrants and the need for radical immigration policy interventions which it purports to contain. His disposition is hardly surprising.
In the Dutton interview, Motsoaledi said that he had already decided that the separate Immigration, Citizenship and Refugees Acts are causing serious problems and havoc in South Africa’s courts and therefore they should be combined into a single act of legislation. This, he says, has been accomplished by quite a number of democracies.
This is an astounding revelation. Actually, no such mischief has been caused by these three separate pieces of legislation. Motsoaledi purposefully uses the word havoc to describe an untenable (non-existent) conflict wrought by the separation of these acts in order to discredit the existing legal order. Our courts have not entertained any such conflagrations. Rather, the deluge of litigation in our courts in this context relates mostly to the advanced dysfunction of the Department of Home Affairs in its administration of those acts. This is a classic noble lie, designed to sow discord with the existing paradigm, loosening its roots and eventually unplugging it.
The problem confronting Motsoaledi is how he is to deal on the public record with the fact that far too many senior officials responsible for the administration of Home Affairs’ functions are corrupt and that their machinations were responsible for the granting of citizenship to the Guptas.
As for democracies that have combined immigration, citizenship, and refugee affairs into a single legislative instrument, they exclude Austria, Canada, Brazil, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, Spain, Netherlands, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and the US. The reason these democracies have not sought to do so is that they cover separate areas of policies, each administered by different bureaucratic levers, which cannot be combined on a practical level. Those democracies have sought to keep these areas separate to prevent the sort of havoc Motsoaledi speciously ascribes to South Africa’s present legislative architecture.
Again, this idea of combining our three acts of Parliament to bring a stop to a fictitious havoc is another lie, but a useful one. Motsoaledi attempts to stem the flow of unbridled blame and finger-pointing of civil society and our apex courts at Home Affairs into a different direction: that the way Parliament has chosen to legislate in these areas of immigration, citizenship and refugees since at least 1949 is discordant with international best practice, disharmonious, and should thus be replaced with a new ideological paradigm for dealing with foreign nationals.
Dutton asked Motsoaledi how the new system will protect people who want permanent residence or citizenship. He responded that his new system will protect, not individuals, but the law and procedures, and the “the integrity and the sovereignty of our country”. He then added that corruption has led us to this point. But the minister’s utterances, while sounding intellectually and politically so profound, are false flags.
The Public Protector’s report concluded that Home Affairs officials misled Gigaba with their flawed submissions to support the granting of citizenship by early naturalisation in terms of Section 5(9)(b) of the Citizenship Act to Ajay Gupta and family members. Those officials included the then director-general, the deputy director-general, and a chief director, but their culpability did not inquinate the minister.
Motsoaledi’s suggestion that his new paradigm will protect the integrity of the law and South Africa’s sovereignty, not individuals, turns out to be nothing more than an irrational mumble of words. Law is not an automaton making independent decisions, decoupled from human actors, as if it existed in some imagined levitating bubble. Officials of the public administration, subject to those values contained in Section 195(1) of the Constitution, are empowered by legislation to carry out various functions. This is how legal systems work in every constitutional democracy, no less Home Affairs within our Bill of Rights.
The problem confronting Motsoaledi is how he is to deal on the public record with the fact that far too many senior officials responsible for the administration of Home Affairs’ functions are corrupt and that their machinations were responsible for the granting of citizenship to the Guptas. The wholesale resignation, suspension and arrest of senior Home Affairs officials for corruption continues unabated. The truth is that nothing Motsoaledi and his policy advisers will do in the rewriting of the legislative script could ever erase the risk of administrative malfeasance and moral pollution which has for so long punctuated Home Affairs, and other government departments.
There is one more question Motsoaledi should answer: how will his new system of regulating the influx and status of foreigners be safeguarded against himself, as the propagator of the noble lies of Home Affairs’ ideological revolution?
www.samigration

Smart cities promote best practice in urban sustainability

According to Carshif Talip, expertise leader, Urban Planning and Land Infrastructure at Zutari, a ‘smart city’ is much more than a city that is digitally enabled and brimming with technology. It is a city that leverages innovation to achieve its desired outcomes, Talip says, and here innovation does not necessarily mean only technology.

“A smart city is a city where opportunity, amenity, safety, resilience, inclusivity and prosperity are imperatives, and innovation across financing, design, construction, operations and governance is embraced by all stakeholders to achieve these imperatives,” says Talip.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address on 11 February that the masterplan for the proposed Lanseria Smart City had been completed in November last year and is now available for public comment. The project is a joint initiative of the Presidency, the Office of the Gauteng Premier, Tshwane, Johannesburg and Mogale.
Smart cities and sustainability

The fact that innovation is such an integral part of smart cities makes for a natural fit between smart cities and sustainability, according to Talip. The emphasis on digital platforms also enables data collection, and the availability of large data sets is one of the first steps towards optimisation. “While there are benefits in chasing low-hanging fruit, I believe that a more holistic approach is the more appropriate first step.”

Talip asserts it goes without saying that proper planning is the answer to rapid urbanisation, inadequate infrastructure and polarised development. What is equally important is an integrated approach, as with the Lanseria Smart City. “A siloed approach, whether that be across the various spheres of government, the private and public sectors or even within a municipal entity itself, needs to be eliminated if we are to be successful,” urges Talip.

Each stakeholder needs to have their role and contribution clearly defined and have the necessary resources to deliver. Finally, a measure of agility and fluidity needs to be built in, he says.
According to Paragon Group director Henning Rasmuss, the new Lanseria Smart City revealed during this year’s SONA is just ‘papering over the cracks’…
Adaptable to change

“Planning, in essence, is designing a path based on a predicted future. If that future changes, and one just has to look at how unpredictable 2020 was due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan needs to be sufficiently adaptable to respond to change,” stresses Talip.

In terms of the impact of Covid-19 on future urban planning requirements, one positive outcome has been that flexible working arrangements are now possible, he notes: “The need for large swathes of office space will certainly be challenged, and tenants will demand more flexible arrangements from their landlords.” While there will always be a brick-and-mortar component to retail, there is certainly a move towards online retail, says Talip. These two phenomena could challenge planning concepts like centralising commercial areas, and even the concept of what a CBD looks like.

“This might have a profound impact on what cities look like in the future,” argues Talip.

Supply chain disruption

Another more subtle impact of Covid-19 has been the disruption of global supply chains. What will be interesting to see in the long term is if governments around the world – who anticipate more severe pandemics in future – shift towards self-reliance rather than global imports, he says.

Therefore, governments might consider reigniting primary and secondary economic sectors such as mining, agriculture and manufacturing. “Should this happen, we could expect shifts in urban migration that could impact planning requirements,” predicts Talip

Foreigner everywhere, citizen nowhere: The prohibitive and hostile barriers of being stateless in SA

Since arriving in South Africa two decades ago, Primrose Modisane has never been outside of Gauteng. She says once she gets her ID she would like to go back to school to finish matric, open a bank account and get her driver’s licence.
People who find themselves stateless in South Africa struggle to rectify their situation and often find themselves defeated by bureaucracy at Home Affairs.
Zimbabwean-born Primrose Modisane has been living in South Africa for 20 years without an ID or birth certificate.
“It’s difficult because I can’t open a bank account. I can’t apply for any social grants. I can’t walk around freely without the fear of being arrested by police. If you’re sick you cannot go to the hospital because they will ask for an ID,” she says (by law, hospitals have to treat undocumented people. – Editor).
“Statelessness is essentially an acute violation of the right to citizenship. A stateless person is a foreigner everywhere and a citizen nowhere. You are not recognised as a citizen in any country,” said Thandeka Chauke of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR).
The organisation, together with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHRA) briefed the Department of Home Affairs parliamentary portfolio committee about statelessness in South Africa on Tuesday.
LHR says people of mixed parentage, orphaned and abandoned infants, adults whose births have never been registered, and undocumented long-term migrants are most at risk of being stateless – someone who is not considered a national of any state.
“You cannot access basic things like a bank account, enrol for an educational course, sign a lease agreement or get married — things that we take for granted,” said Chauke.
In Modisane’s case, she and her mother left Zimbabwe and moved to South Africa in 2001, when she was in Grade 5. They lived with her grandmother (83), a South African citizen, in Vosloorus, Gauteng, where she attended primary and high school.
Since her mother was undocumented, Modisane was unable to register for a birth certificate.
She said she only realised the extent of the problem of being undocumented when she was unable to write her final matric exams in 2010.
“I realised in matric that I needed an ID book to write my final exams. So my granny and I approached Home Affairs to get one for me. “
“We went to the offices in Germiston, Vosloorus, Boksburg and Harrison. But we stopped visiting the different branches to get help because we ran out of transport money because my granny is a pensioner.”
“I gave up when they told me that I wouldn’t be able to write matric without an ID book. We tried everything. We tried to get an affidavit where my granny could explain to them why I don’t have an ID book. But it didn’t work, so I gave up,” she said.
Unable to finish matric, Modisane decided to enter the job market and started working as a domestic worker in 2011.
Getting citizenship for her daughters
Another challenge Modisane faced was getting citizenship for her two daughters, aged five and 12.
She was unable to register their births and get birth certificates because she is undocumented. She approached LHR for assistance in 2017. She was advised to get DNA tests done with her daughter’s father (a South African citizen) to prove that they are related, and apply for birth certificates.
Both of her daughters now have birth certificates.
Modisane, her mother and her grandmother also got DNA tests done in March 2019. After a mistake was made on the samples, they only received the correct results on 17 February 2021. They visited the Germiston Home Affairs branch the following Wednesday to apply for birth certificates for Modisane and her mother, but were told to come back the next Tuesday. When they arrived that Tuesday they were told that the person they were supposed to see was on leave and were told to return the following Monday (8 March).
They revisited the Germiston offices on Wednesday. After completing registration forms, the officials told Modisane that she can only apply for her own birth certificate once her mom, who is currently still undocumented, receives both a birth certificate and an ID card of her own.
“I’m happy for my mom, but I’m sad that I didn’t get any useful information. When my mother’s ID arrives I don’t know what stories [Home Affairs] tell me. I don’t know if [Home Affairs] will even be able to help me.”
Modisane’s current employer, Sophia Welz, said the process of getting her registered has been “intimidating and unhelpful”. Modisane has been in her employment since 2014.
“When you tell your story and the person behind the counter says, ‘Ag, man you’re lying’, it’s very displacing and difficult.”
“Her grandmother is South African, so she and her mother should be entitled to citizenship. But [the officials] make you feel as though you’re a criminal because of the late birth registration. And because you’re applying for late birth registration you must be lying.”
Welz adds that she is concerned about what will happen to Modisane if she ever needs to urgently go to the hospital with no form of identification.
“I’m not sure what the government is so scared of. They could be taxpayers while working and contributing to our society. They’re already here and deserve to get the necessary papers and have access to basic services.”
“If more people knew about statelessness they’d be more sympathetic,” she said.
www.samigration.com

No end in sight to DHA’s biometrics tender furore

There is no end in sight as yet for the controversial Department of Home Affairs (DHA) biometrics tender, as the parliamentary committee on home affairs on Friday deferred the matter to a later date after power cuts disrupted a crucial meeting.
The committee was due to receive an update on the execution of the project, which has stalled for over three years, but some members could not join the virtual meeting, including key staff from the department.
The planned session with the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs was to hear from the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, which had been invited to attend the session where the DHA was to brief the committee on the way forward.
SITA handled the Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) on behalf of the DHA in 2017, but the 2018/19 financial audit found the tender was awarded irregularly to EOH Mthombo.
During the annual audit of SITA, the auditor-general flagged the contract as potentially irregular because of suspected collusion in the bidding process, and the fact that the tender master file could not be found.
Implementation of ABIS was delayed as a result of the missing master files in the ABIS contract and a forensic audit has since been concluded.
On Friday, committee chairman Bongani Bongo said some committee members failed to participate in the meeting due to load-shedding and the matter was deferred to a later date.
French connection
The DHA has been battling to rescue the long-awaited ABIS project, and last week, reportedly received confirmation from National Treasury to cede the contract to French multinational technology company IDEMIA.
According to the department, EOH recommended the work be ceded to IDEMIA, a decision that has seemingly received Treasury’s backing.
The recommendation has not been well received in some quarters, with questions being asked why a subcontractor that was part of a consortium that failed to deliver the ABIS on time should be the one to take over.
The system was supposed to be up and running after 12 months but is now late. IDEMIA was a subcontractor working with EOH in the period when project timelines were missed.
The bid was awarded in November 2017, therefore should have been completed in November 2018. However, three years and three months later, the project is still incomplete.
IDEMIA’s empowerment credentials as per the tender requirements have also been flagged as a concern because it’s a French-headquartered business.
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi previously denied the company was favoured ahead of other local firms.
Organisations that missed out on the original bid are alleging “apparent bias” in the decision.
Three companies − NEC Africa, Accenture SA and Ernst & Young Advisory Services − missed out on the bid to EOH.
Legislation appreciated
Responding to ITWeb on Friday, Tlali Tlali, head of corporate services at SITA, could not be drawn to comment directly as to when exactly the agency received instructions to cede the contract.
“It would be inappropriate, unprofessional and discourteous to discuss in the media at this stage, the details around this project. We know and understand our obligations towards Parliament and continue to accord Parliament the respect it deserves,” said Tlali.
“Should the need arise to do so once the committee has been briefed, SITA will consider commenting on matters that relate to this project, provided they fall within our purview and based on the role we played in the project.
“We run an accountable agency of the State that is committed to serving our customers and the people of South Africa the best way possible to extract value for money in accordance with policy and the law.”
In his presentation to the portfolio committee last November, Motsoaledi revealed that out of the R400 million contract, R224 million had already been spent on services, infrastructure and software.
The budget still available for the project is R129 million.
The minister added that legal opinion obtained by the DHA suggested that ceding is permissible subject to certain requirements being met.
Siya Qoza, the minister’s spokesperson, would also not be drawn to answer direct questions regarding the forensic investigation on the tender as well the subsequent cessation of the project.
“The department intends to finalise the implementation of the ABIS project once all processes and negotiations have been concluded.” he said.
IDEMIA previously declined to be drawn to comment on other matters pertaining to the contract, referring ITWeb back to the department.
www.samigration.com

Angolan Parents – Born in South Africa there is hope Brothers born of Angolan parents have right to South African citizenship: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by the minister of home affairs, who was ordered by the high court in Pretoria last year to grant citizenship to two brothers born in SA of foreign parents in the 1990s.
Brothers Joseph Emmanuel Jose and Jonathan Diabaka are entitled to South African citizenship even though their parents are Angolan.
This follows a ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal on Tuesday, when it dismissed, with a punitive cost order, an application by the home affairs minister for leave to appeal against a court order that he grant citizenship to the two men, who were born in SA of foreign parents.
Joseph and Jonathan, born in SA in February 1996 and August 1997 respectively, have lived in the country their entire lives. Their parents are Angolan citizens who fled that country in 1995 and sought asylum in SA. The parents and children were granted refugee status in 1997.
This endured until January 2014 when the department informed the family that their refugee status had been withdrawn. When the status was withdrawn, Jose was 17 and Jonathan 16.
The department referred them to the Angolan embassy, where they were advised that to remain lawfully in SA, they had to apply for Angolan passports and failure to do that would result in “repatriation”.
The brothers have never been to Angola, they have no family there, know little about Angola, and neither speak any Portuguese.
When they experienced difficulties in applying for South African IDs, they approached Lawyers for Human Rights who advised them that they were eligible to apply for citizenship.
However, their efforts were not successful and they then applied to the high court in Pretoria to direct the department to grant them South African citizenship.
The court ordered the department to grant them citizenship in March last year.
Dissatisfied with this order, the minister applied for leave to appeal to the SCA.
The high court granted leave only on the question of whether it was competent for the court to order the minister to grant, as opposed to consider, the brothers’ applications for citizenship.
In the judgment passed on Wednesday, the SCA held that the brothers met the requirements for South African citizenship in terms of the Citizenship Act.
This is because they were born in SA of parents who are not South African and who have not been admitted into SA for permanent residence and that they have lived in SA from the date of birth until they became adult.
On the question of whether a court can direct the department to grant the men’s application for citizenship, the SCA said while the doctrine of the separation of powers must be considered, this did not mean that there might not be cases in which a court may need to give directions to the executive.
The SCA said given that it was clear that the men met all requirements for citizenship, it would serve no purpose to send the matter to the minister to make a fresh decision.
The SCA said a recent Constitutional Court judgment passed in July, which sets a precedent, affirmed that a court may direct the department to grant citizenship to an applicant.
The appellate court said though the precedent was set after the heads of argument -setting out the basis for the minister’s appeal – were filed, the department’s position ought to have changed.
The court said the department was obliged to reconsider its position.
For that reason, the SCA dismissed the minister’s appeal with costs on a punitive scale.
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