NATIONAL ASSEMBLY WEDNESDAY, 19 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 14:00 – 16:15 Budget Vote 5: Home Affairs

Hon. LL van der Merwe

Chairperson –

Imagine waking up at 4am, using your last bit of money on transport to your local Home Affairs office, hoping that today you will be able to get an identity document. Because that ID is what stands between you and a job. It stands between you and providing for your family. It stands between you and a brighter future.

Then consider the mother who travels to Home Affairs in search of a birth certificate. That document stands between her and a SASSA grant, without which she cannot feed her newborn baby.

But for many visiting a Home Affairs office means taking a day off work, only to queue for hours on end, and then to be told to come back tomorrow, because the systems are offline again.

Systems that are perpetually offline have become synonymous with this Department. This despite a Task Team having been set up to resolve system downtime. But little to no progress has been made.

It is therefore baffling that Home Affairs still has no appointment system. More so that its services have not been rolled out at all banks; banks which are eager to assist.

Chairperson, this is simply a dysfunctional department. Call center calls and emails go unanswered.

Our borders are open to anyone willing to cross a river, or pay a syndicate.

Lawyers for Human Rights estimates that according to stats they have from the World Bank, South Africa is home to 15 million undocumented migrants. If that is indeed true, it poses a massive risk to the State, yet this Department has zeroplan to address this crisis.

Then, our asylum seeker system has been abused to the point where economic migrants from all over the world have set up businesses – wiping out the spaza shops that once supported many South African families. Yet on this issue, Home Affairs simply passes the buck to Small Business Development, which passes it straight back to Home Affairs, and ultimately on to municipalities.

While lawlessness flourishes Chairperson, our Ministers simply look the other way. Then, our Minister is on record saying that his Department has not lost the war against corruption. Yet we know that corruption is eating away at the heart and credibility of this Department. Some will tell you with pride how they only need to save a few Rands to buy a South African document.

This is a crime against the South African State and its people. But it is not clear whether a single official is doing hard time in jail for selling our documents.

Now six months since the Bushiris’ great escape, we still don’t know which government official aided and abetted them.

While lawlessness flourishes Chairperson, our Ministers simply look the other way.

The much-lauded Border Management Authority – supposedly the panacea to our border management problems – has not been fully operationalized, because it is still not clear where the funds will come from.

What we do know, through a Cabinet Task Team co-chaired by the Ministers of Labour and Home Affairs, is that some sectors in our economy employ mostly, if not only, foreign nationals. This at a time when more than 30% of South Africans and 50% of our youth are unemployed.

In mines, in restaurants, and in the trucking industry and elsewhere, South Africans are overlooked for job opportunities. Yet instead of fixing this our Government responds by calling on Cuban nationals to take up engineering posts, while South African engineers sit at home. This Department is presiding over a full-scale immigration management crisis.

Chairperson, the Electoral Commission, continues to do great work. We wish them well for the upcoming elections. The IFP pledges its support to ensure free and fair elections. We will do our part for voter education and youth participation in the coming Local Government Elections.

For as long as this Department fails to implement its own laws; for as long as it relegates South Africans to unemployment lines, and SASSA queues; and for as long as no efforts are made to correct all this; we cannot support this budget vote.

I thank you.