Troubled Dept of Home Affairs needs help

The embattled Department of Home Affairs, which received a disclaimer from the Auditor General on its latest financial statements, may get help from the Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to sort out its problems.

Parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee on Wednesday resolved to recommend to Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that she ”request assistance from the Treasury and the DPSA … specifically to help the department around issues of internal controls and … capacity”.

Committee chairperson Patrick Chauke said the situation at home affairs was ”very worrying”, and that MPs were looking for a turnaround in the department’s performance, similar to what had been achieved by the South African Revenue Service.

Earlier, committee members were briefed on aspects of the department’s 2007/08 annual report by its Director General, Mavuso Msimang, who told them his efforts to fix problems in the department were taking longer than anticipated.

He said the reasons for this included, among others, the ”bureaucratic requirements” of government systems when it came to hiring and firing staff.

”You are not going to get results in a short period,” he said.

Msimang, who took over the reins at the Department of Home Affairs in May last year, also referred to ”deep-rooted and pervasive problems” existing in the department.

Shortly after his appointment last year — he is the seventh head of the department in the past 14 years — Msimang described the situation at home affairs as a ”national disaster”.

On Wednesday, he warned the department would continue to receive qualified audits unless support was received from Treasury.

”In the longer term, substantial investments in the development of human resources, systems and infrastructure will be required in order to achieve objectives that have been set,” he said.

Chauke said the committee would to seek the help of Treasury and the DPSA to ”help the department employ people to fill vacancies”.

He said recommendations would be made to Parliament in this regard within a month. — Sapa

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