Roll-out of ID smart cards in sight

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pretoria - South Africans are set to see the roll-out of new identity document smart cards, which will replace the current identity document, from next year.

"We are privileged to announce that we will be piloting this new Smart ID Card this year and rolling it to the citizenry from next year," said Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Wednesday, ahead of her department's 2012 Budget Vote.

The roll-out of the pilot phase to the public is set to begin in six months, while a "big roll-out to replace all IDs" will follow next year.

The roll-out of the pilot phase to the public would probably involve those applying for their IDs for the first time or those re-applying for lost IDs, she added.

Looking back at South Africa's history, the minister noted that pass laws were one of the most resisted and resented pieces of legislation with the document itself becoming known as the dom-pass.

"We decided it was high time to move from the dom-pass to the smart card. At the moment we are in the middle - the ID - which is the transition from the dom-pass to the smart card," she said.

The smart card would allow citizens to have a modern identification card rather than an ID book which was easy to forge, Dlamini Zuma said. Even if there were attempts to forge a smart card, this could be easily picked up by Home Affairs officials.

The minister was most excited about the turnaround time - the time it takes from the application for the document to when it is delivered to citizens. "We're talking about a couple of weeks at most from application to delivery," she said.

The cost of the smart card is expected to be similar to the current costs for documents.

Government Printing Works is involved with the printing of the smart cards.

Turning to the issue of the population register, the minister said she was happy with the positive response to the department's campaign to secure the register, noting that last year 51% of babies were registered within 30 days of birth.

"It means that only 51% of the population did act according the law... I would like to point out that the 49% have the responsibility to register the babies as soon as possible," she noted.

The minister called on all citizens to register their babies within 30 days of birth, saying Home Affairs was trying to make it easy for the public by having mobile offices and linking its offices to hospitals.

Dlamini Zuma was also pleased that the programme to reskill Home Affairs officials was bearing fruit.
The department had developed a Home Affairs qualification and more than 250 officials are undergoing training.