Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni says a repositioned Home Affairs will be a critical enabler of delivering mandatory services, economic development and national security.
“Currently, the department is only able to deliver against part of its mandate because of historical constraints,” he said.
Addressing the media in Pretoria on Wednesday, Apleni said a secure department can play an important role in the security system of the State.
“The current developments and related challenges impacting on social and economic relations here and abroad made it extremely urgent for us to recommit unflinchingly to the repositioning of this department.
“Thus the need arose for us to share information openly and earnestly on the new business case we have developed, conscious of the strategic role that Home Affairs can and must play in the South African State and wider society,” he said.
Apleni said the mission of the department is to safeguard the identity and status of citizens and the management of immigration to ensure security, promote economic development and fulfil the country’s international obligations.
“In a highly dynamic, globalised, digital world full of risks and opportunities, the nation would benefit from having a Department of Home Affairs that serves as the nerve centre of security and the backbone of the digital platforms their lives depend on,” he said.
Apleni said since Cabinet has approved the business case for the department’s transformation, the next step for the department will be to make this available for public discussion and engagement in the form of a discussion paper by the end of April 2017.
“The discussions and engagements will inform the drafting of a White Paper that will be gazetted for public comment by April 2018,” he said.
Apleni said a big priority for the department is to put in place key elements of a comprehensive National Identity System (NIS) and the modern immigration systems that will interface with it.
“We reiterate that the value of the services of the department is dependent on the security of its systems. If your identity is stolen, you will be at serious risk and will not be able to open a bank account, register at a college or travel abroad.
“Every fraudulent ID, visa or passport represents a serious risk to national security, as it may be used to commit crimes or acts of terrorism,” Apleni said.
The department first approached Cabinet in February 2016, stating that it was constrained by legacy systems, capacity and budgets and thus could not be secured and carry out its full mandate as a critical enabler of security and development.
On 1 March 2017, Cabinet approved the proposed measures set out in the Business Case to reposition the Department of Home Affairs to enable it to contribute to national security while protecting the citizens, systems and data.
In 2016, Cabinet announced the full integration of the department into the JCPS cluster.
It further resolved to have the department develop a business case that would set-out how it could achieve its vision, of becoming a secure, modern, professional organisation capable of delivering against its full mandate. Cabinet’s directives were carried out to the letter.