CAPE TOWN - The Border Management Agency (BMA), which was formed last year as a single authority to man the country’s borders, will be operational at 18 ports of entry next year.
This was the word from the Department of Home Affairs when it tabled its annual performance plan to the portfolio committee.
Director-general Tommy Makhode said the department would ensure that the BMA was operational by 2023-24 at 18 ports of entry, six segments of the land border law enforcement areas and one community crossing area.
“We want to ensure BMA rolled out to an additional seven ports of entry and one additional segment of the land border law enforcement area by 2024,” he said when he was detailing the department’s budget for 2022-23.
Makhode said 100% of selected ports of entry would be equipped with biometric functionality by March 2024 and the automated biometric information system would be implemented by 2022-23.
He also said their target was to secure the border posts through phased implementation of the BMA.
Makhode also said there was also incremental establishment of the BMA through the submission of pre-listing documents to the National Treasury.
The agency was in the process to fill critical management positions, including work around the border guards.
The BMA already has a commissioner, Nakampe Michael Masiapato, who was appointed last year along with his deputy David Chilembe.
According to Makhode, the agency was still finalising protocols with the South African Revenue Service.
A lot of work was done in transferring the functions related to the Department of Agriculture and SAPS to BMA, including identification and ring-fencing personnel, funds, assets and liabilities.
“We want to make sure the BMA budget structure is submitted to the National Treasury. These are requirements for pre-listing to undertake in quarter four.”
Makhode said they wanted to ensure that governance committees were established to deal with audit risk management, remuneration and human resources in the last quarter of the financial year.
Asked about funding of the BMA, Makhode said it was allocated R120 million but it subsequently wrote to the National Treasury asking for reprioritisation to start the agency’s capacitation.
“The National Treasury would want to monitor how we spend the allocation before further funds are allocated,” he said.
Parliamentarians asked the department to provide them with regular or quarterly reports on the progress made in the establishment of the BMA.
Addressing the committee, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said there was a belief that the department was not doing anything on migration, hence groups in communities took the law into their own hands.
Motsoaledi said their inspectors conducted 220 operations to check if migration laws were not broken in the last financial year.
“We have decided, because of what is happening, to double that from 220 operations to 540,” he said.
Motsoaledi also said they would increase the number of IDs produced from 1.2 million produced last year to 2.2 million in this financial year.
IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe said there was a need to fix the immigration crisis in the country.
“Tensions are rising. Communities rightly say the Department of Home Affairs fails to implement immigration laws,” she said.
Van der Merwe also said the solution could not be the 540 operations conducted by the department’s inspectors.
She said there was a need to ascertain the successes of the operations conducted by inspectors last year.
Van der Merwe said it was counter-productive to increase operations to 540 if the department was unsure if the current operations were yielding results to fix the broken migrations system.
In his response, Motsoaledi said there was an assessment done of the operations and that there was a need to completely overhaul the immigration system.
“We think the time for complete overhaul is here and we are busy with that. Very soon, we will give you a game plan as you are 100% right that we need a very clear plan.”