Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has handed over the 10th million smart ID card.
Briefing the media ahead of the hand-over ceremony and ahead of tabling the department’s Budget Vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday, the Minister said the milestone was reached despite several challenges.
He said over the past decade, the department’s goal was to invest in a relatively low-cost digital service for all citizens. This innovative service, the Minister said, would make the department fully capable to serve as a key enabler of economic development and social justice.
“A critical pillar was the new smart ID card. When the first card was issued in 2013, around 38 million people had green-barcoded IDs.
“I am pleased to announce we have now issued 10 million smart cards. This in spite of challenges in infrastructure, systems and staffing,” he said.
The Minister said of the department’s 411 front offices, 184 are on live capture, which processes applications for smart cards and passports. He said 227 offices are yet to be modernised,” he said.
He said on average, each digital application counter at an office is expected to take in 84 applications per day. More offices will be modernised over the 2018/ 19 financial year.
“Discussions are apace to finalise a partnership with banks to increase the number of branches at which we may issue smart cards and passports.
“I encourage citizens banking with ABSA, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank to apply on-line,” he said.
Push to reduce system interruptions
The Minister said, meanwhile, that the department will sign a tripartite agreement with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and Dimension Data in a bid to have an uninterrupted network connectivity.
He said this move will contribute to the reduction of network down-times and that it will also ensure that services are seamless. This push, the Minister said, will also cut down waiting times.
“To increase capacity, thereby broadening access, we are refurbishing 78 [departmental] mobile units. The units will be equipped with live capture functionality for the issuance of smart cards and passports, targeting mainly the elderly and first time applicants,” he said.
Department looks towards a digital future
The Minister said, meanwhile, that with the launch of its new integrated multi-modal biometric system, the department was “not half-committed” in its drive to modernise the department and to go fully digital in the future.
He said this was one of several initiatives that form part of the broader vision that will see the department also digitising 900 million records at the department’s back offices.
“Phased-in digitisation of birth records, in partnership with Statistics SA, is gaining momentum.
“We’ve implemented an automated booking system at Desmond Tutu Refugee Centre to better manage the flow of newcomers.
“In 2017, Cabinet approved the White Paper on International Migration to replace the out-dated 1999 White Paper and to respond to challenges of globalisation and migration and priorities of the National Development Plan. We are hard at work amending immigration and refugee legislation, to find alignment with the noble goal of using migration for socio-economic development and security,” the Minister said. – SAnews.gov.za