Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon Deputy Ministers and hon members, we are honoured to present Budget Vote 4 for the 2014-15 financial year to this EPC today, in the year of the 20th anniversary of our freedom.
Home Affairs carries the responsibility of ensuring that all South Africans have an identity and status, and of maintaining a credible and secure national population register.
The past 20 years have seen our young democracy become fully part of the international community of nations, which has required the Department of Home Affairs to manage the entry and exit of persons to and from South Africa effectively. This carries with it immense development benefits for our country, but it also has serious risk implications that need to be mitigated. It is this evolution that informs our three departmental outcomes.
In pursuit of these objectives, the budget of the Department of Home Affairs has been set at R6,6 billion for this financial year. Departmental programmes will receive R4,9 billion, the Film and Publication Board will receive R79 million, the Independent Electoral Commission will receive R1,6 billion, and the Government Printing Works is now fully self-funding.
I have delegated the responsibility for front office improvement, asylum seeker management, and legal services to the Deputy Minister, on which she will elaborate later during her own speech.
One of our top priorities is to clean up the national population register, which continues, for historical reasons, to contain significant inaccuracies. One of the main methods to clean up the NPR has been the ongoing National Population Registration Campaign.
A key target of this has been to persuade all parents to register their children within 30 days of birth. This remains a daunting challenge in our country, where late registrations of birth, for historical reasons, remain a significant feature, resulting in significant breaches in and pollution of our NPR. During the past financial year 64% of all births were registered within 30 days, which constituted an improvement of 5% on the prior financial year. We have thus far inaugurated live birth registration in 391 hospitals and health facilities across the country, and intend enhancing our partnership with the Departments of Health and of Basic Education in support of birth registration.
I would like to make this important announcement. I intend ending all late registration of birth by 30 December 2015, after which all applications for late registration of birth will go through an appeal and adjudication process. Timely registration of birth must, and will soon be, the only way into the national population register.
This calls for a national effort, involving all patriotic South Africans keen to ensure we have a clean national population register. They are urged to get involved in the final mopping up stages of the late registration of birth campaign. In this regard, the 264 stakeholder forums that have been formed can play an important co-ordinating role.
One of the most tangible elements of our efforts to build a Home Affairs National Identity System is the smart ID card, which we began rolling out in 70 designated smart ID card offices countrywide in October 2013. Thus far over 300 000 cards have been issued, and an additional 70 offices will have smart ID card application capability by the end of this financial year, to support our roll-out target of 1,5 million cards. Chair, 30 of the 70 offices will be ready for smart ID card issue within 100 days. We are investigating ways to leverage partnerships with the Post Office and the banks in the smart card roll-out, the details of which we will announce when they are ready.
The dramatic improvements of recent years in the issuing of ID books and passports have also been sustained, with 92% of first-issue ID books issued within 54 days, and 96% of passports applied for through live capture being issued within 13 working days.
People aged 60 and above, as well 16-year-olds, are the only groups currently invited to replace their ID books with smart ID cards free of charge. When we reach the target of 140 smart ID card offices, we will then completely stop issuing green ID documents to 16-year-olds.
The smart ID card is also an example of technological innovation with advanced technology, including biometric data, which has ensured that it has not been breached in the 10 months it has been in circulation. The South African smart ID card was awarded the Regional ID Document of the Year Award 2013 at the Asian, Middle East and African Security Printing Conference.
This is a world-class South African-developed product which will have an enormous positive impact on our country and economy, with significant potential applications in financial services, governance, retail and ICT. Minister Zulu, the opportunity exists for local technology entrepreneurs and SMMEs to develop commercial solutions which take advantage of the card's functionality.
We must manage immigration securely and effectively, in a way which benefits our country and society, heeds our international obligations, and manages risks to national security.
Cabinet has assigned the Department of Home Affairs the leading responsibility in establishing the border management agency, BMA, which will be central to securing all land, air and maritime ports of entry, and support the efforts of the SA National Defence Force in addressing the threats posed to and the porousness of our borderline. We are currently undertaking a feasibility study to determine all the practicalities of a future BMA, the findings and proposals of which will guide the legislative process subsequently. All relevant government departments are being engaged in an intergovernmental consultative process through a project management office we have established. By the end of 2016 we hope to have the border management agency established.
We have upgraded infrastructure at 11 high-volume points of entry, including Beit Bridge and Maseru Bridge, and expanded the Enhanced Movement Control System to 13 additional points of entry. During the past year we facilitated the movement of 39 million travellers in and out of the Republic, demonstrating that our ability to manage the flow of people in and out of the country is becoming increasingly efficient and robust.
In this regard, we draw attention to the new immigration regulations which took effect on 26 May 2014, following amendments to the immigration legislation which had grown outdated in the context of new complex challenges.
As well as facilitating the streamlining of our permitting regime, improving the administration of our visa issuance, and regulating human movement into and out of South Africa, the new regulations enhance our security by addressing areas of weakness, risk and abuse.
Opportunistically, South Africa is being advised to drop or relax visa requirements in a world where they are required of South Africans when they are travelling abroad, and where security has become a matter of global concern. We reject with contempt any suggestion that these regulations are part of an Afrophobic agenda to keep Africans, or any nationality for that matter, out of South Africa. After all, South Africa cannot be separated from Africa. Hence, we cannot shut ourselves off from Africa, nor shut our eyes to the enormous risks that the new world possesses in abundance.
Our commitment to African unity and development is resolute, and our track record in this regard speaks for itself. We value the contribution of fellow Africans from across the continent living in South Africa. That is why we have continued to support the AU and SADC initiatives to free human movement.
However, this cannot happen haphazardly, unilaterally or to the exclusion of security concerns. Neither can it happen without standardising population registration and immigration legislation, and addressing development challenges everywhere. Risks to any country on our continent have a direct impact on our own country. After all, we have not unilaterally removed existing visa waiver agreements which we have with fellow African countries, and are keen to enter into more such agreements as we are satisfied that more African countries are conducting civic registration of their nationals.
At this point I wish to announce that we are in the final stages of deliberations about the Zimbabwean special dispensation, which will expire in December this year. I am mindful of the anxiety among the Zimbabwean nationals in possession of this special permit which was issued in 2010, but I shall announce my decision in August this year.
Future policy development will focus on, amongst other issues, a framework to deal better with economic migration. Many of those involved have tended to pose as asylum seekers. We are actively seeking a solution for how best to separate asylum seekers and refugees from economic migrants. In this regard, work is under way to introduce a nationwide discussion on a new international migration policy framework that will take into consideration current realities and future management perspectives. The Department of Home Affairs contributes to economic development in several ways, and our contribution as an enabler of tourism is irrefutable. Our identity documents help create the platform of trust and accountability which underpins our competitive and sophisticated financial system. Our ability to facilitate large numbers of international visitors' moving through ports of entry efficiently has enabled us to be positioned as a trusted host for major international events.
Our immigration management enables us to bring in workers and investors who contribute to our economic growth. Our staff have done well to eliminate visa and permit backlogs, and proactively assist businesses with immigration issues. The new immigration regulations will make it easier to source critical skills from overseas. Foreign nationals possessing critical skills can now apply for and be granted a critical skills work visa, even without a job, allowing them to enter the country and seek work for a period of up to 12 months.
For some time now, business stakeholders have been asking for families of workers to be considered as a unit, an international best practice which the new regulations now include.
These specific improvements, and our commitment to responsiveness to business needs in general, will make it easier for South Africa to attract the critical skills and investment our economy needs.
I am further proud to announce that the 11 Home Affairs visa facilitation centres throughout South Africa are now all operational. Results have shown that 4 000 applications were received in June alone, and the turnaround time for adjudication has already been reduced.
The Department of Home Affairs currently uses inefficient, outdated manual systems which hamper our ability to offer a speedy service to customers and are vulnerable to fraud and corruption. We have thus embarked on a modernisation programme to secure, integrate and automate all our systems and create a paperless data environment. Customers will benefit from greater efficiency, convenience and security.
Working together with the SA Revenue Service, we have successfully implemented the enhanced movement control system in 58 ports of entry, and automated the live capture for smart ID cards and passports in 70 offices nationwide.
We have upgraded infrastructure in physical offices and technology at the Government Printing Works and in all the offices with live capture and smart ID card capability. We have also conducted training and change management in all 70 offices for front and back office officials on new automated processes.
Key in the modernisation project is the development of the Home Affairs National Identification System, which will replace the current national population register and refugee systems; an Integrated Border Management Solution, which will include the Trusted Traveller Programme, and the e- visa and e-permit system; the data cleanup of key immigration and civics systems; and the further roll-out of live-capture smart ID cards to the remaining identified offices. We will further design dedicated smart ID card offices in each province rather than implement the smart ID card system in all offices.
I am convinced that the leadership demonstrated by each and every one of our employees is a critical ingredient to our success. Leadership development, therefore, will be a consistent theme over the next term, right into the future. It is critical that our staff be service-oriented, professional, competent, committed, ethical and incorruptible. High standards and accountability are no longer negotiable at Home Affairs.
Ongoing challenges include fighting corruption and the staff being overburdened due to understaffing amid resource constraints. Inconsistent customer service is also a great challenge.
We are committed to ensuring that our customers consistently experience excellent customer service. Our progress in developing a new cadre of Home Affairs official includes the establishment of a learning academy offering our officials high-quality, accredited courses, in partnership with universities.
Our commitment to youth employment is demonstrated through our internship and cadet programmes. These young colleagues have had a great impact already, having been immensely instrumental in the reduction of permit backlogs.
We have undergone a branding campaign to ensure all frontline staff wear an updated uniform and name tags to ensure they are easily identifiable, pleasant and approachable.
Other key priorities this year are the employment and development of women and people with disabilities, as well as talent enhancement initiatives.
In the past eight months the Government Printing Works has produced over 300 000 smart ID cards for the Department of Home Affairs. Since 2009 it has seen its revenue double to R757 million, with an envisaged twofold or threefold increase in revenue over the next 5 years.
The Government Printing Works is midway through a five-year R300 million capital programme to upgrade all printing machines to state-of-the-art technology, as well as a multiyear renovation and relocation project. Thus far the passport and smart ID card factory and the high security printing division are operational, with the passport, smart ID card and examination paper dispatch centre coming on stream in 2015.
Over the coming few years the Government Printing Works plans to complete its transition from a government component into a state-owned enterprise. By 2017 the Government Printing Works will have consolidated its position as the leading security printer in Africa, and one of the leaders in the field worldwide.
The Film and Publication Board has found innovative ways to discharge its mandate, particularly of protecting children from premature exposure to potentially harmful and explicit content. It now uses FPB Online, an online application system which enables them to release classification decisions in well under 24 hours.
To adapt to the growth of digital media, it is exploring online distribution agreements with major content distributors, enabling the companies to classify material on its behalf in accordance with its regulatory guidelines.
Furthermore, the Film and Publication Board also strategically engages internationally, and within SADC, on initiatives to prevent child pornography and child trafficking.
The FPB continues to work with the Department of Home Affairs, the SA Revenue Service and the SA Police Service, and recently conducted the destruction of more than 8 000 illegally distributed items of material in Komatipoort.
During the past 20 years we have, out of a painful past of discrimination, exclusion, neglect and indignity, toiled hard to forge a department committed and equal to the tasks of restoring dignity to all South Africans and playing a critical role in the socioeconomic development, as well as the security, of our nation. Over the next five years, and towards Vision 2030, with your support we can do even more to establish and maintain a secure Home Affairs National Identity System and facilitate the secure, efficient movement of people.
I have outlined the work that our department is doing to ensure that all South Africans can access their rights. The Deputy Minister will add to this.
I would like to close my remarks by requesting all South Africans to fulfil the responsibilities that come with these rights we have outlined.
On behalf of the Department of Home Affairs, and as part of this national effort, I ask the following five things of every citizen.
Firstly, prize South African citizenship. Citizenship is our precious birthright, and deserves our protection and respect. Participating in illegal schemes to extend citizenship to people who do not deserve it devalues our hard-won citizenship, undermining our national development, security and social cohesion. The Department of Home Affairs, in conjunction with the police and other security agencies, will continue to combat identity fraud and identity-related corruption, fighting fraudsters and colluders alike with the same tenacity.
Secondly, register the birth of all children before you leave the hospital, or within 30 days of their birth, in order to ensure that your child's identity and status are recognised and safeguarded, and to help us secure our national population register.
Thirdly, apply for your identity document at 16 years ... [Time expired.] Thank you. [Applause.]