Plans well underway for SA's Border Management Agency

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Department of Home Affairs says Cabinet is expected to approve the establishment of the Border Management Agency (BMA) early next year. 

The Minister of Home Affairs on Thursday submitted the BMA Bill to the National Assembly in May this year. The department wants to set up a Border Management Agency to majorly improve the control of South African borders and restrict illegal activity. 

The department, in partnership with Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), on Thursday held a media workshop on the 2017/18 festive season plans for South African borders. 

According to Home Affairs, plans are at an advanced stage for the establishment of the BMA, which will be led by the department, to curb illegal immigration. 

This single authority for border law enforcement provides the potential for more cost-effective services as well as enhanced security and management of the border environment. 

“The establishment of a Border Management Authority will represent a radical shift from the colonial and apartheid systems that were informed by a desire and mission to create and sustain racism, hostilities and hatred among the people rather than dignified migration,” the department said in a statement earlier this year.

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. The agency would not only be beneficial to South Africa, but it would also benefit destination countries.

Erstwhile Home Affairs Minister Dr Hlengiwe Mkhize in May 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, while also creating a breeding ground for corruption,” the Minister said at the time. 

Cabinet took a decision in June 2013 to establish a Border Management Authority to improve management of ports of entry and the borderline.

It subsequently endorsed a vision for the BMA in 2014. The BMA Bill has been through an extensive consultation process.

Tightening border security 

Over 40 million people enter and leave the country on an annual basis for various reasons including asylum, economic, educational and training opportunities, tourism and leisure -- thus the need for an effective and efficient border management authority.

According to Home Affairs, the BMA will help prevent, among others, drug-related crimes, human trafficking, illegitimate movement of goods and unauthorised movement of persons.

Illegal immigration has become a serious challenge for the country because of its vast borders such as land, air and maritime.

The BMA, as envisaged, will take over all border management functions at entry and exit points nationally. –

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