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Draft White Paper on Home Affairs on Track

March 13, 2019

Department of Home Affairs

13 March 2019

The home affairs minister, Siyabonga Cwele, recently revealed that the Draft White Paper on Home Affairs will be redrafted, following public input, and tabled before cabinet for approval.

The draft white paper was published for comment in January 2019.

According to the foreword by the minister, the draft white paper sets out the department’s “exclusive mandate and its central role in the state and society”.

A problem highlighted by the minister is that the department’s “legacy model is preventing it from delivering on its full mandate as required in a sovereign, democratic state”.

“The only viable option in the longer term is to replace the current model by repositioning the Department of Home Affairs as a modern, secure department, managed strategically by professionals.”

The department is mandated to manage the official identity and status of persons, international migration and asylum seekers.

The draft white paper is divided into three sections, namely, policy foundations of the home affairs department, the envisioned home affairs department and implementation strategy and road map.

Included in policy foundations of the department is the mandate, policies and legislation of the department, its operations and core business and a policy framework aligned to the new mandate of the department.

The 2017 White Paper on International Migration is included in the policy framework.

The section on the envisioned home affairs department outlines what a “modern, secure DHA staffed by professional officials will look like and how it will operate a digital platform with the NIS at its centre”.

Detail is also provided on some of the principles that should be included in the development of a funding model and what legislation is required in order for the department to carry out its mandate. A Homes Affairs Act is proposed that provides a “coherent legal framework for a repositioned DHA to deliver a mandate appropriate for a sovereign state that has a Constitution founded on democracy, inclusion, social justice, development, peace and security”.

The National Identity System will replace the current National Population Register and “will draw data, in real time, from the civic registration and immigration systems”.

The implementation strategy and road map section focuses on context, enablers and change strategy and implementation road map.

Three related themes run throughout the draft white paper, namely, that the department’s functions are essential to realizing the state’s constitutional obligations to the rights of citizens, the need for a modern, secure and competent department and that a repositioned department is essential for harnessing the “power of the fourth industrial revolution and enabling development that will include and benefit all citizens”.

According to the minister, the department is busy processing comment received during the consultation period and will also consult other relevant government departments in the redrafting phase.

The minister described the draft white paper as envisaging a “fully modernised and secure department, with professional staff and appropriate operating, organisational and funding models”.

He added that it also “sets the Department of Home Affairs on the path to play its role as a critical enabler of citizen empowerment, inclusive development, efficient administration and national security”.

The minister committed his department to work with other local stakeholders to develop a national data policy that will protect data in order to develop digital enterprises and drive economic growth.