Changes needed in Home Affairs, says Dlamini Zuma

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Bloemfontein - Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has affirmed that many changes still need to take place for citizens to receive quality services from the department.

More work also needs to be done to improve the negative image of the department.

"The negative image of the department is something that should be worked on with immediate effect," said the minister, during a visit to the Bloemfontein Home Affairs office on Monday.

She said, however, that the changes would not happen overnight, and that the public must also be encouraged to work with the department to rectify the mistakes of the past. She encouraged the public to use the toll free number 0800 601190 to report any acts which would dent the image of the department.

The minister also insisted that department officials wear their nametags at all times so that members of the public can identify officials who offered lack lustre services.

Frontline staff not giving members of the public enough information about what they need to bring along to make an application, resulting in several frustrating visits and long queues was listed by Ms Dlamini Zuma as some of the department's challenges.

Apart from touring the offices and interacting with staff, the minister also used the opportunity to speak to citizens in queues.
Many of them expressed satisfaction with the services which were being offered, which prompted the minister to refer to the Bloemfontein office as a model others could learn from.

The Bloemfontein office has been able to reduce the number of fake marriages, by introducing more stringent measures.

Marriage Officer, Dickson Pongolo, explained that couples wishing to get married were subjected to interviews where discrepancies could be detected. "We also verify if the photos on the ID documents are original and approved by the department," said Mr Pongolo.

He added that if the marriage officer suspects something amiss, he would then report it to the immigration office.

The minister said the department would embark on a drive to register newborn babies and children up to the age of 14. This will help to update the population register as well as ensure that when they turn 16 or 18 they don't struggle to get ID documents because they were not registered at birth.

The minister said she was working on addressing the late issuing of passports. The application first had to be reviewed to ensure there are no mistakes which often led to delays.

Ms Dlamini Zuma's visit forms part of her drive to visit offices across the country to experience first-hand the challenges faced by the department. She has already visited offices in in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng.