Home Affairs speeds up ID process as elections loom but people are still frustrated

South Africa - Cape Town - 20 November 2022 - Stock - Cape Town Home Affairs Office. Photographer: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

South Africa - Cape Town - 20 November 2022 - Stock - Cape Town Home Affairs Office. Photographer: Armand Hough. African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 29, 2024


With just a few weeks to go until the 2024 elections, the Department of Home Affairs has publicized the nation's identification document (ID) process.

The department acknowledges the critical role of voter identification in facilitating participation and ensuring electoral fairness.

Delays and inefficiencies at Home Affairs have historically impeded the democratic right to vote, particularly affecting those in rural areas.

In November 2023, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi attributed the lengthy queues at Home Affairs offices to system failures within the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) system.

He announced that measures were being implemented to enhance productivity at Home Affairs. Among these initiatives are new virtual interactive self-service machines to be deployed across all nine provinces, which, however, will only be available for re-issuing IDs.

Additionally, an online system for scheduling appointments has been introduced.

Several procedures have been established to expedite the ID process, including the Branch Appointment Booking System (BABS), accessible via the Department of Home Affairs website, and a collection service system for applying and re-issuing IDs.

The department has also extended its office hours to include Saturdays for ID collections ahead of the elections.

Many individuals who have faced bureaucratic hurdles in obtaining necessary documents have praised this initiative.

The changes have markedly improved the situation, with some citizens expressing relief and gratitude for the newfound efficiency.

Mzwakhe Khumalo, a resident of Umlazi, shared his experience: "I have been trying to update my ID for months. I was concerned that I would not be able to vote as the elections draw near. With this announcement, I'll finally be able to contribute to determining our nation's future," said Khumalo.

The accelerated ID process has enhanced accessibility and convenience in urban areas, where long lines and administrative delays were once common. "Before the recent changes, I used to dread going to Home Affairs, but now everything proceeds much more smoothly," said Siphesihle Madlala, a student at DUT.

"I can now focus on researching the candidates and making an informed decision."

However, some locals remain sceptical.

Thandiwe Ngwenya from the Durban CBD expressed her frustration: "I missed a crucial interview because I could not receive my documents in time due to long queues and system outages. I was asked to return the next day. Delays like these have a significant impact on many people's lives. We need improvement and accountability."

Echoing this sentiment, Snenhlanhla Zuma, a resident of Davenport, commented, "I had to wait hours just to apply for a new ID. It's not acceptable, especially with the elections approaching. The government must ensure that Home Affairs services are effective and accessible to everyone."

Despite these challenges, there is a recognition of progress. "I have noticed improvements in service delivery at Home Affairs," said Zuma. "While it is essential to push for further reforms to address recurring issues, we must also acknowledge the progress made."

The public is calling for firm commitments to enhance productivity, reduce waiting times, and ensure fair access to essential documents.

IOL Elections