SA making progress in civil registrations

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

South Africa has made significant progress on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics and to serve as a model in light of its rate of coverage, outreach programmes, community participation and online birth registration in health facilities, said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.

The recently appointed International Relations and Cooperation Minister made the remarks this morning during the 5th Annual Meeting of the ID4Africa Movement at Emperors Palace Convention Centre.

Pandor said in terms of South Africa’s policy, civil registration denotes continuous, permanent, compulsory and universal recording of the occurrence and characteristics of vital events pertaining to the population as provided through regulations in accordance with the legal requirements of the respective countries.

South Africa in 2012 hosted the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) Conference in Durban. During this conference, African countries were encouraged to continue developing policies, systems and legal frameworks.

“That work has not yet been completed. This is evidenced by the themes of this 2019 ID4Africa Annual Meeting. We still have institutions responsible for public administration and social services that do not have basic personal data and information necessary for managing and monitoring their mandated functions of public resources.”

It is for this reason, Pandor said, government is pleased ID4Africa has broadened its work to now include diverse stakeholders from government, the private sector and international agencies and donors. 

“This we welcome, precisely because collaboration among these stakeholders will ensure we overcome persistent deficiencies in civic registration and identification systems. As a multi-stakeholder movement, ID4Africa has a role to play in promoting transparent and responsible adoption of digital identity by various states on the continent,” she said.  

Since its inception in 2014, it has emerged as a forum providing a platform for government agencies to develop expertise, share experiences and build capacity around the important subject of how digital identity can support a wide range of government services for citizens and for accelerating development broadly.

Pandor said she was hopeful that the 5th Annual Meeting will assist ID4Africa to pursue its primary objectives. These include promoting digital identity to enhance people’s lives from birth to death; providing a platform for South-South knowledge transfer and facilitating active Africa-centred engagements for the identity community.

Themed ‘Identity Ecosystems for Service Delivery’, the Minister said the meeting affirms that “identity is not only a right, but a tool that can be utilised to empower citizens and to promote socio-economic development and provision of quality services”.

“South Africa is among the many countries on the continent hard at work to develop integrated, secure, digital identification systems. It has not been an easy road to travel. This work started in earnest after the dawn of democracy in 1994,” Pandor said.

She said the country had before this inherited a fragmented civil registration system, largely, predicated on a divisive race discourse. 

“It was a discriminatory system designed to systematically deny Africans of citizenship. Only 4.5 million white people in the country had enjoyed access to acceptable levels of civic services,” she said.

At the inception of democracy, government had an immediate task was to forge a common, non-racial, and non-sexist, national identity in an endeavour to deconstruct the civic divisions and inequalities of the colonial and apartheid past.

Accordingly, as one of the landmarks of the democratic era and its transformation agenda, we introduced a common, compulsory identity document for all citizens, irrespective of race, and established a single national Department of Home Affairs.

In recent years, government began the process of replacing the green-barcoded ID book with ID card. –