Minister of Home Affairs Dr Siyabonga Cwele visits the home affairs in Ga-Rankuwa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - Members of Parliament have demanded an investigation into a R400 million deal for an IT system that contains information to identify citizens at the Department of Home Affairs, saying it appeared to be illegal.

On Tuesday, the portfolio committee on home affairs told Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele the contract left a lot to be desired and seemed dodgy.

The Home Affairs National Identification System is a system used by the department to keep personal information of millions of citizens. It is an automated biometric national identification system and is also used by other departments in the criminal justice cluster and banks for verification and other purposes.

MPs said tender processes were not followed and that the State Information Technology Agency rubber-stamped the deal when it should have played a key role.

Questions were raised over why the company linked with Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) was given the tender, with no clarity on why other companies were left out of the bidding process.

FDA had threatened to collapse the criminal justice system last year after it clashed with the police on the other contract.

Chairperson of the committee Hlomani Chauke said they wanted the R400m tender to be investigated as processes were not followed.

Chauke said two other companies which had not qualified in the bidding process were later subcontracted to the main contractor.

“We are on the eve of the elections and we don’t want to be seen to be causing chaos on those management systems. We have to look at how the companies (got the tender). What we insist on, Minister, is that when we meet next week as the portfolio committee, we have to draft some terms of reference,” said Chauke.

It also emerged that some of the officials in the bid evaluation committee did not have appointment letters to sit on it.

Haniff Hoosen of the DA said it was a concern that those in the bid evaluation committee had failed to pick up that two companies which were later subcontracted did not meet the criteria, adding that the deal needed to be investigated.

Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi of the EFF agreed that the contract should be investigated, adding that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate had flagged it. Dineo Raputi of the ANC said Home Affairs was a “milking cow” for many people who “become millionaires” overnight.

Home Affairs acting director-general Thulani Mavuso said they would welcome an investigation into the contract.

The committee also warned Cwele to avoid a crisis at the Lindela Repatriation Centre after the collapse of Bosasa.

Bosasa went into voluntary liquidation after the banks dumped it. But Cwele assured MPs that Home Affairs would ensure illegal immigrants kept at Lindela were repatriated to their countries and there would be no disruption in the process.

Cwele said he had written to the liquidators on Monday to seek an assurance that there would not be any disruption in their work at Lindela, and he said the liquidators would respond on Wednesday.

Cape Town