The Department of Home Affairs will make available their business proposal for public discussion and engagement by April this year after Cabinet approved the bid, which will assist the department in serving as the centre of security.
This after the department approached Cabinet in February this year, stating it was constrained by legacy systems, capacity and budgets and could not be secured to carry out its full mandate.
Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni told the media in Pretoria on Wednesday that the department was currently not in a position to adequately defend itself from threats of criminal syndicates and cyber-attacks.
He said the department could not play its full role in working with other departments after Cabinet announced the department’s integration into the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster earlier this year.
One priority was to put in place a comprehensive National Identity System (NIS), a modern system that would replace the current National Population Register (NPR), which held data of all South African citizens.
“The NIS should have data of everyone in the country, whether a citizen or a foreigner. When, for example, I apply for a grant, and I put in my fingerprints, the system should confirm my details and identity. The system will join all departments and everyone can have access to the system to validate a person’s details as we will link all information,” Apleni said.
Other benefits of the NIS include accurate, real-time statistics for planning and operating services, enhanced safety and security for individuals, communities and institutions and capacity to implement the new immigration policy.
“We reiterate, the value of the services of the department is dependent on the security of its systems. If your identity is stolen, you will be at serious risk and will not be able to open a bank account, register at a college or travel abroad.”
“Every fraudulent ID, visa or passport, represent a serious risk to national security as it may be used to commit crimes or acts of terrorism.”
The public discussions and engagements will form the drafting of a White Paper that will be gazetted for public comment by April next year.
After appropriate engagement with the public and stakeholders, the White Paper will provide a solid policy platform for drafting legislation that will define the mandate and the objectives of the department.
“The expectation is that the bill will be tabled by December 2018. In spite of being highly constrained by historical underfunding and out-dated systems, the Department of Home Affairs has decisively proven it can transform its people and processes, and improve the lives of its citizens.”