Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has declared a "war on queues" bedevilling the department's operations, but admitted it will not be a quick fix. Picture Cindy Waxa/African News Agency/ANA

Pretoria - Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has declared a "war on queues" bedevilling the department's operations, but admitted it will not be a quick fix.

"This will be a critical component of concerted efforts to ensure citizens and other clients are served professionally when they seek access, in-person or digitally, to services we offer," Gigaba told journalists in Pretoria.

While Home Affairs had had "tremendous successes in reducing turnaround times for production of documents", the critical challenge now was to reduce the amount of time clients spent in home affairs offices. The department was currently finalising action plans to deal with problem areas identified. These would be rolled-out as short, medium, and long-term interventions. 

Some of the short-term actions scheduled for roll-out from Monday, included getting client contact centres working optimally, finding a solution for "unpredictable" walk-in clients and for front office space, exploring possibilities of a new shift system, attending to the unstable computer system, improving workflow, and beefing up communication with clients.

"Ultimately, to be able to serve all South Africans efficiently we need to expand our footprint. This will need to be addressed through the budget process. To complement our office footprint we are in the advanced stages of establishing a public-private partnership with the banking sector to roll-out the e-Home Affairs service to branches of four major banks – Absa, FNB, Nedbank, and Standard Bank – around the country over the next year.

"We stand committed to do the best we can to win the all-out war on queues bedevilling our operations, in spite of structural constraints and other challenges. This is not going to be a quick fix. It will be a process, one that we are committed to despite budgetary constraints and capacity restrictions. We have chosen to intervene innovatively to further improve the services we render to the public," Gigaba said.

African News Agency/ANA