Rorisang Kgosana
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
23 Apr 2018
8:15 am

Gigaba on the warpath against long home affairs queues

Rorisang Kgosana

The department says fake news isn't helping as it commissions a customer-satisfaction survey and improves its client contact centre.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivering the budget speech, 21 February 2018, Cape Town. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba will apply a “brutal, zero tolerance approach” to staff who were underperforming since poor management of staff contributed to frustrating long queues at the departments.

Gigaba announced the “war on queues” in Pretoria yesterday, saying he would immediately respond to complaints and queries by the public regarding the time-consuming service at the home affairs offices.

Customers across the city, especially the Centurion office, expressed frustration and irritation with department officials cutting off the queue long before closing time despite the fact some people had queued since the early morning.

Many took to social media to vent their frustration, stating they would have to take another day off work to return as they were turned away by officials.

“Got there at 09:00 and was told they cut the line already for the day. Now how does that work?” asked Dipuo Lata.

Resident Eleanor Momberg said she was turned away after she was told by officials that they were “too busy”.

“They only opened at 9am. If you want a passport or ID, you have to go to Pretoria central home affairs. Really? There are only about 30 of us in the queue,”  she said.

An assessment report compiled by the department showed that poor management and poor utilisation of staff in some offices were contributing factors to long queues, Gigaba said.

“We are concerned by queries from members of the public and the media about the time spent at our offices. We heard your cry. Our challenges include poor management at our offices. Management skills leave much to be desired. We need to be clinical and brutal in performance management,” said Gigaba.

As from today, the department will commission a customer-satisfaction survey and improve the client contact centre.

The department would also find solutions for walk-in clients and for front office space, while senior managers will frequently conduct unannounced visits to various offices.

Another large contributor to long queues was fake news about the discontinuation of the green barcoded ID books, which has created panic across the country; many have rushed to their nearest office to apply for a smart ID card.

“That increased volumes tremendously. We have a real problem of fake news in South Africa. This fake news caused credibility harm to the department and created a crisis. We won’t discontinue the green barcoded ID book this year. We will announce our plan in due course,” said Gigaba.

To improve service, 78 mobile offices are currently being refurbished to be distributed across the country in the second half of the year to assist high school pupils and those living in rural areas.

“This is not going to be a quick fix. It will be a process, one that we are committed to despite budgetary constraints and capacity restrictions. We have chosen to intervene innovatively to further improve the services we render to the public,” said the minister.

Meanwhile, immediate intervention at the Orlando West, Wynberg, Centurion, Pietermaritzburg, East London and Umgeni offices showed a reduction in waiting times and solutions to people waiting outside offices.

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