Mooted border control agency to benefit economy

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pretoria – Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize says the introduction of the Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill will bolster the country’s efforts to ensure that only legitimate goods and people enter and exit South African borders. 

The Minister on Thursday submitted the BMA Bill to the National Assembly. 

The Department of Home Affairs seeks to set up a Border Management Agency to majorly improve the control of South African borders and restrict illegal activity.

Minister Mkhize said through the agency, Home Affairs would focus on building the right set of skills for border guard officials. They would also establish modern and secure infrastructure, and information and communication technology platforms that meet the universal standards.

She said such an agency would not only be beneficial to South Africa, but it would also benefit the destination countries.

The Minister said a big challenge at the 72 Ports of Entry was the lack of coordination between government departments and State agencies, at times operating on conflicting policy positions.

“The consequences of this inefficient and ineffective border management approach often leads to poor services being rendered to traders and travellers at Ports of Entry. This impacts negatively on travellers and traders, whilst also creating a breeding ground for corruption,” the Minister said.

According to Minister Mkhize, over 40 million people enter and depart South Africa on an annual basis.

“People come to South Africa for different reasons including those seeking asylum, economic migrants, those seeking education and training opportunities, as well as for tourism and leisure.”

Government has undergone an extensive consultative process, with affected government departments seeking consensus on creating a single command and control Border Management Authority under the Department of Home Affairs.

“Our imperatives are further driven by national interest, which includes the establishment of a National Identity System for all people who reside in South Africa. 

“We must be frank about some of the key problems characterising the border environment in our country,” the Minister said.

According to the BMA Bill, border enforcement in the sea, on land, and in the airspace would be performed exclusively by the officers of the Authority.

The inefficiencies resulting from having many government departments coordinating and often duplicating the securing of South Africa’s land, sea and air borders have contributed to the porous 5 244km border.

The Bill and related authority aim to centralise the border-related responsibilities of the Department of Home Affairs, the South African National Defence Force and Police Service, Customs of the Revenue Service as well as aspects of the Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Health. –