Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says his department is working around the clock to ensure the registration of a public-private partnership for visa facilitation services occurs timeously.

He was responding to a written parliamentary question posed by DA MP Adrian Christopher Roos, who asked the department about progress it had made in the appointment of a new service provider for the public-private partnership.

Roos also asked Home Affairs what steps it had followed so far to ensure that the initiative was completed before the expiry of its contract with VFS Global, which is expected to end in December next year.

Early this year, MPs indicated they were gravely concerned with the process that involved the appointment of companies tasked with processing the country’s visa system.

At the time, the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs penned a letter to then Minister Siyabonga Cwele asking that his department’s contract with VFS Global be reviewed, as there were indications that the company’s contract had allegedly been granted an extension of two years.

VFS Global is an international outsourcing and technology service provider for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide.

In his written response, Motsoaledi said the implementation of the public-private partnership depended on the completion of a preliminary market evaluation, adding that this needed to happen through a Request For Information (RFI) system.

“Specifications for the RFI have to be drafted, and this has been undertaken by a bid specification committee,” he said.

According to Motsoaledi, the specifications in question were approved by a bid adjudication committee on September 11.

“On the same date, the bid adjudication committee also resolved to support the registration of the public-private partnership with National Treasury.”

The committee, he said, also resolved that the RFI specifications should be validated by a chief procurement officer at National Treasury.

Motsoaledi, however, indicated that the buck on the private-public partnership stopped with Minister Tito Mboweni’s ministry.

“This process and the timelines attached to it are outside the control of Home Affairs, due to the activities required. The department is therefore unable to confirm whether the public-private partnership process will be finalised before the expiry of the current contract,” he said.

Previously, the department extended the contract of VFS Global to administer the issuing of visas in December 2018 for 24 months, which was effective from January this year until December 2020.

It is contracted by the department to automate and run the application process, including managing the call centre and facilitation centres in the provinces, to strengthen the department’s capacity.