Home Affairs gets on board with New Growth Path

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pretoria - The Department of Home Affairs will contribute to the New Growth Path by exploring ways in which it can facilitate the entry of people who possess scarce skills into the country.

"Our responsibility [with regards to the New Growth Path] is one that must facilitate skills coming into South Africa, that will be our biggest contribution to the growth path," said Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

The minister noted that it would take time for South Africa to train people in the necessary skills needed to grow the economy and that while that process was underway, the department had to create an environment where it would be easy for those with scarce skills to come to South Africa.

In addition, the department will also help out the tourism industry by looking at the "visa regime" for international tourists with the aim of making it easier for them to visit the country, Dlamini Zuma said.

The department is also expected to pay more attention to immigration issues this financial year.

In particular, it intends tackling the growing problem of foreign nationals entering the country illegally.

Dlamini Zuma said a worrying trend was that these foreign nationals would fly to neighbouring countries, enter those countries legally, but then cross into South Africa illegally. "It is an issue we will be putting to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agenda," she said.

Looking back at the previous financial year, the minister said one of the priorities had been to get the population register in order.

Efforts were focused on ensuring that babies were issued with birth certificates within 30 days of their birth and everyone above the age of 16 had an ID. These initiatives were bearing fruit, the minister noted.

More than 180 hospitals were now linked to the department, enabling new mothers to register their babies before they left the hospital. As a result in the past year, almost half a million babies were registered within 30 days of their birth. This represented more than 50 percent of babies registered in the year.

The minister described this as a significant improvement from previous years.

In addition, more than 80 percent of all babies registered in the past financial year were registered within a year of their birth.

With regards to IDs, the department last year issued 1 091 511 IDs to first time applicants - 257 000 more than the previous year.

However, the department still needed to make progress with ID collections.

In the past financial year, the department had to re-issue 1.3 million IDs. Dlamini Zuma said it was disconcerting that more than 50 percent of these IDs had not been collected.

"It is quite wasteful in terms of time, money and also opens up the possibility of corruption and ID duplication when you have all these documents uncollected," she added. 

Many people misplaced their IDs and then applied for a new one. However, once they found the old one, they did not bother to collect the new one. The minister called on South Africans to take better care of their IDs. - BuaNews.