“The staff profile is skewed towards the lower ranks, with 60% having only matric or lower qualifications, and there are far too few managers and supervisors,” said the department in a paper in the Government Gazette on Friday. “Officials who cannot resolve problems give excuses or tell clients to come back. The situation encourages bribery and extortion,” it said. “There are too many foot soldiers and not enough staff at supervisory levels.”
The department has 9813 employees across the country. The paper is central to the department’s move to becoming part of the cabinet’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster. It plans to make its systems and all identity documents security-protected. But, in the discussion paper, it admitted that it “is not yet organised, staffed and funded to be able to operate effectively in this environment or secure its systems and data”.
Its IT unit is “extremely understaffed”, it said. Only 1.27% of staff work in IT and the international norm is 5.2%. Just 0.8% of staff are business analysts; the global standard is 7.6%. Fewer than 15% of staff work in immigration services with a budget of under R1-billion. This complement is responsible for 72 ports of entry and the visa system. It also has to manage asylum-seekers, refugees and deportations.
“There are more police stationed at OR Tambo Airport than immigration inspectors available to serve the whole of South Africa,” said the department. Its staff profile review showed that 69% of employees either only have Grade 11 or matric, 3.4% possess higher certificates, 23.2% bachelor’s degrees and fewer than 2% had postgraduate degrees.
“Low education and competency levels mean critical, complex functions suffer and the organisation is not positioned to meet future demands,” said the paper. The department decried that its budget had declined by 2% in real terms from the last financial year and said a pattern of “chronic underfunding” existed since 1994. David Hlabane, spokesman for the department, described the latest move as a blueprint to improve service delivery.
“A repositioned department will have professional staff that manage identity and international migration securely, efficiently and humanely,” he said.