The DA claimed that the resignation of home affairs DG Mkuseli Apleni was a result of pressure over the naturalisation of members of the Gupta family. Picture: Antoine de Ras/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Pretoria - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday claimed that the resignation of long-serving home affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni was a result of opposition pressure over the naturalisation of members of the Gupta family.

"The DA notes the resignation of Home Affairs’ Director-General, Mkhuseli Apleni, as a result of the DA’s continued pressure and efforts to hold him accountable through the parliamentary inquiry looking at the circumstances surrounding the early naturalisation of five Gupta family members," said the DA's spokesman for home affairs Haniff Hoosen.

"Apleni must know that he will not absolved for his role in the Gupta naturalisation saga."

Parliament's committee on Home Affairs is investigating questions around how members of the politically connected family gained South African nationality. It is part of a wider investigation by the legislature into the so-called state capture scandal, in which companies linked to the Guptas made millions from suspect deals with parastatals.

Apleni and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba have denied anything untoward in handling the Gupta family's application for early naturalisation.

Gigaba on Monday paid tribute to Apleni, who will be leaving the government post at the end of the month for the private sector. 

“I wish now to turn to a matter that has since this morning [Monday] drawn the attention of many South Africans and the media, which is, the announcement of the resignation of the Director-General,” said Gigaba at a press briefing in Pretoria.

"I would like to announce officially that the Director-General of the department of home affairs, Mr Mkuseli Apleni, has tendered his resignation, effective end of July 2018, to pursue other career opportunities in the private sector.

“He has served the public service with distinction, in various capacities."

Apleni was recruited into the department of home affairs in 2009, to help improve financial management, a task he discharged impeccably. When he arrived, the department was achieving only 25 percent of its annual performance targets. 

Since then, Gigaba said the department has been achieving 89 percent of its targets, “which underscores a marked improvement on [the] delivery of services to our people, as well as on the performance of the department as a whole”. 

Gigaba said as a result of Apleni’s diligence, home affairs obtained its very first unqualified audit report in 2010/2011, which has been followed by the second obtained for the 2016/17 financial year.

“Coming as he did ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, he ensured a competent team was in place to assist in fulfilling FIFA guarantees," said Gigaba.

"In this period, the electronic movement control system was completed, thus giving impetus to the department’s modernisation programme. This was important as it was a guarantee South Africa had given for hosting the World Cup.

“With his team, the DG accomplished so much, yet, with so little.”

Gigaba also spoke of progress relating to the War on Queues Campaign related to major systems upgrades undertaken by the department earlier this month.

“A monitoring tool was developed, to measure average waiting time, from the time the client receives a ticket to the time the client receives the product or service. On average it takes 25 to 30 minutes to issue a product to the client. This analysis necessitated a review of [the] workflow process,” said Gigaba.

“This work includes a pilot to redesign the workflow so that we separate those collecting passports from the ones collecting smart ID cards. The pilot was successfully conducted at the Pretoria office (Byron) and Cape Town Office (Barrack Street).”

Apleni, who said he was joining Discovery, had been reinstated to his post last year after challenging in court, then-minister Hlengiwe Mkhize's decision to suspend him.

African News Agency (ANA)