Cut the chit-chat and do your job: call for ban on cellphones at home affairs

The home affairs portfolio committee chairperson says frontline officials chatting on their cellphones annoys customers waiting in long lines for service.
The home affairs portfolio committee chairperson says frontline officials chatting on their cellphones annoys customers waiting in long lines for service.
Image: 123RF/ Panithan Fakseemuang

Please turn off your phone or switch them to silent: parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee chairperson Hlomani Chauke wants the home affairs department to consider banning frontline staff from using cellphones during working hours.

"This is because of the numerous complaints the committee has received from the public about delays at home affairs offices."

As a result, home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele and acting director-general Thulani Mavuso will be invited to the committee's first meeting of the year to give an update on measures implemented to resolve the delays.

Chauke said it was "unacceptable" for the public to spend "excessive amounts of time at home affairs offices while officials spend a disproportionate amount of time busy with their cellphones".

"Officials are primarily employed to offer a service and the complaints point to dereliction of duty by some officials, yet they continue to draw a salary."

Chauke said it gives tourists a bad impression of SA when they have to wait for hours at  border gates. "This is more concerning because the president has anchored his economic growth drive to tourism, which will be undermined by poor service."

Chauke believes the solution is drafting a framework.

"The framework must also include guidelines for how officials can be contacted in cases of family emergencies."

Chauke said one of the keys to resolving the long queues at home affairs offices would be ensuring that officials are at their desks offering the services they are employed to do.

"We are, of course, cognisant that one of the major causes of long queues is the downtime caused by unreliable information and technology software, but professional service at the department must improve," he added.

Cwele's predecessor, Malusi Gigaba, launched a "War on Queues" campaign last April which sought to shorten waiting time at home affairs offices. 

Source: TMG Digital 

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