‘Historic’ deal to shape up Dept of Home Affairs

Union leaders and the Department of Home Affairs on Thursday signed what they termed an ”historic” agreement to improve service delivery and stamp out corruption.

Speaking at the signing ceremony of the so-called Turnaround Agreement in Pretoria, Home Affairs Director General Mavuso Msimang said the aim of the agreement is to ensure quality service is provided to all people.

”The aim is also to root out the menace of corruption that has beset [not only] our department, but our nation too,” he said.

The agreement outlines the process of ”migrating” or restructuring some staff employed at levels 12 and below into newer positions in order to improve efficiency.

Msimang said the department has also given its assurances that while some staff may be moved into different departments, employment security and income protection are assured.

”The way forward is agreeable to everyone,” he said.

”Everybody is happy about it. It is a document [we] all wrote,” said Public Servants’ Association general manager Danny Adonis.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) president Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya said problems in the area of public service delivery include a human resources crisis, underfunding, HIV/Aids, staff shortages and corruption.

She said the way to address corruption in some instances is to prevent public officials’ interests in private business.

”We need to stop the tide of corruption in the public service part of the Department of Home Affairs by strengthening positions in anti-corruption forums,” she said.

Msimang said business interests need to be ”managed and banished. At least managed in such a way that it does not conflict with the work that we do.”

He added that perhaps even legislation could provide for a cooling-off period to prevent any wrongdoing.

The turnaround process was started last year with the intention of transforming the department into a new, public-friendly, corrupt-free and efficient service provider.

Practical measures will include better alignment of the department’s structures to its functions, improving infrastructure, a gradual increase in staff, and improving the calibre of all its employees — including and especially the managerial staff.

The agreement between the department and the two unions came into effect immediately on Thursday to allow all parties to implement the strategy without delay or misunderstanding, said Msimang.

He said some progress has already been made in improving delivery, and this includes the turnaround time for processing and issuing identity documents.

In the past three months the turnaround time has improved to and stayed at 47 days, this despite an initial target of 60 days by the end of the year.

The new call-centre service provider has also proven 95% effective, he said. — Sapa

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