A smart identity card. File picture: GCIS
The Department of Home Affairs is repositioning its mandate to replace the population register with the national identity system and improve the management of asylum seekers.

This comes after Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele published a white paper on home affairs in the Government Gazette last Friday.

Cwele has given those interested a month to submit comments or make representations.

In a foreword to the document, Cwele said the white paper presented for the first time a document that set out the department’s exclusive mandate and its central role in the state and society.

Cwele said their first mandate was to provide the nation with the means of knowing the “unique identity and civic and immigration status of every citizen globally and every person who has been on our territory”.

“The National Identity System (NIS) will replace the current national population register and will draw data, in real time, from the civic registration and immigration systems,” he said.

He said the NIS would be digital, integrated and operate in the cyber environment using e-identity.

“The system will be a critical enabler of access to efficient services and inclusive economic growth. Legislation will specify data that must be reflected in the NIS and govern its use.”

Cwele said the NIS would be supported by a multimodal automated biometric identification system, which had been installed and would replace the outdated home affairs national identification system.

A number of departments and institutions such as banks verify identity using the current system, which has reduced fraud and improved services.

He said the white paper provided for a national commission to lead and co-ordinate work on asylum seekers.

Political Bureau