Home affairs revamp working

South Africans can soon expect a vast improvement in the time it takes to obtain identity documents, passports and a range of other services, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe MapisaNqakula said yesterday.

South Africans can soon expect a vast improvement in the time it takes to obtain identity documents, passports and a range of other services, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe MapisaNqakula said yesterday.

While it currently takes an average of 127 days to get an ID, the department is aiming at 60 days within a year and seven days five years from now, she told a media briefing at parliament on the department's turnaround strategy.

"A passport now takes an average of 41 days. In five years we hope to produce this document within five days."

A permanent residence permit, which currently takes up to 18 months to be issued, should be provided within three months in a year's time.

"A visa today can take up to 10 days to be issued. In five years we will do so in two." Refugee status determination, which currently takes up to a year, should be processed within a month one year from now, Mapisa- Nqakula said.

The end of the first phase of the turnaround project was two weeks away, with phase two - the rollout of large-scale programmes - running from January to December next year.

The final phase - the continued rollout of major IT programmes - begins in 2009.

The first phase entailed identifying and understanding the problems and designing future implementation and "quick wins".

"I am happy that in only six months during which we implemented the first phase of this project, we are able to announce major strides towards our ultimate goal of building a new home affairs.

"The home affairs of the future will look and operate very differently to the way it does today," she said.

One of the crucial backlogs - in the fingerprint verification section - had been eliminated by November 1.

She said there was a fingerprint verification backlog of almost 237000 in July, and "now we have zero".

This turnaround was not simply "superficial tweaks", but a fundamental change to the way the department works, she added. - Sapa

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