At a press conference where Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and director-general Mkuseli Apleni announced a series of upgrades to the Home Affairs system, the minister said the department was understaffed by roughly 8 000 people.
This comes a day after The Citizen reported that despite the high unemployment rate in South Africa, some government departments and provincial governments were still failing to fill thousands of vacant posts.
This was revealed in the state of the public sector report released by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on Tuesday.
Gigaba today let slip the information about his department at today’s press conference meant for more positive news. It was intended for announcing upgrades to the Home Affairs system that would see the introduction of a paperless process for birth, marriage and death registration in a phased approach.
According to Apleni, by next year Home Affairs should be fully automated, and implementation will start rolling out.
Gigaba said the upgrades would entail interruption to ID and passport services between July 13 and 20, with different scheduled dates among the provinces.
The system upgrade will begin on Friday. Phase one includes the automation of birth certificates for children younger than a year. South Africans will no longer complete paper forms for birth registration.
Gigaba did, however, say written consent would still be required for children not travelling with parents.
The minister said a new system whereby the details of parents would be listed on their children’s passports would ensure these parents did not need to travel with unabridged birth certificates when travelling abroad – unless the country they are travelling to required this.
He added that since the departments did not have enough revenue to enact the desired upgrades and could not look to a cash-strapped government for help, Home Affairs had partnered with banks to make the changes possible.
He said measures would be put in place to ensure these banks were not granted access to any clients’ personal information.
Apleni was quick to point out that no staff would be impacted by the changes, with the current staff set to be reskilled.