Task team says turnaround is possible

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

The Home Affairs Department, we have come to believe, consists of many staff members who are lazy, unskilled and unfriendly.

But there is hope for a turnaround.

This was the picture that emerged yesterday during a report-back from the task team that investigated the shortcomings of the troubled department.

During the presentation of the report to MPs yesterday, leader of the task team Odette Ramsingh expressed hope of a turnaround.

She said that in the past year more than 90 percent of the projects started had been completed simply because her staff had played a hands-on role with Home Affairs staff.

For instance, 13000 residential applications were dealt with within 35 days by officials with the help of the task team investigators.

Ramsingh said this gave her great hope that if management got involved with hands-on work, the department could recover from its crisis.

Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who had called for a task team to help the crisis-plagued department, said she was prepared to shoulder the responsibility of dealing with the problems.

Mapisa-Nqakula was present at the presentation with her deputy, Malusi Gigaba.

"It is not important for us to deal with who created the problems, but the leadership of the department should take collective responsibility to find solutions," said Mapisa-Nqakula.

Ramsingh said that the task team had focused on four areas during its investigation.

These were leadership and management; human resources; information technology; and service delivery improvement.

Ramsingh told MPs there was a lack of skilled and hands-on management with strategic vision in place at the department.

She said more such managers needed to be appointed and that they needed to play a role in helping to implement the new plans.

She said that it was crucial to appoint a director-general for a period of five years, longer than the normal three years, so that any plans developed could be implemented.

Further, a skills audit will be undertaken and a company will be appointed to do a head-count of the department's staff.

Ramsingh said it was also crucial to upgrade and replace the department's old, ineffective information technology systems.

She also said that service delivery during face-to-face dealings with citizens needed to be improved. If the department failed to do this it would continue to get negative reports from citizens and the media.