Selfies‚ queues and gripes with Home Affair's Gigaba

23 April 2018 - 15:59 By Nivashni Nair
Sibusiso Mawota takes a selfie with Minister Malusi Gigaba at Department of Home affairs in Pietermaritzburg.
Sibusiso Mawota takes a selfie with Minister Malusi Gigaba at Department of Home affairs in Pietermaritzburg.
Image: JACKIE CLAUSEN

Veena Rampatha has driven past the Home Affairs department in Umgeni Road‚ Durban‚ every weekday since last year‚ but the long queues put her off from renewing her passport.

On Monday‚ she was surprised to find no queue at the city's busiest home affairs office.

The country's home affairs boss Minister Malusi Gigaba was there doing his rounds during an unannounced visit as part of his "war on queues" campaign.

"They obviously were tipped off that he was coming. I live nearby and have driven past every day from last year and every day there is a queue that stretches across the parking lot. People stand there for hours.

"There is no reasonable explanation for why it's so quiet today other than the officials knowing that the minister was in town‚" Rampatha said.

Following the launch of his campaign on Sunday‚ Gigaba's first visit was to the home affairs office in Pietermaritzburg‚ where he found a long queue. By the time he arrived in Durban‚ there were no complaints of queuing but he was immediately approached by disgruntled citizens.

Siyabonga Gwala told Gigaba that he could not apply for an identity document because both his parents were dead. He had a birth certificate in his possession but needed a relative‚ guardian or neighbour to vouch for him.

Gigaba referred Gwala to an official and instructed her to immediately assist the 24-year-old.

"In some instances there isn't sufficient compassion for people who bring problems to us. I have said these people must not leave until their problems are resolved. Difficult as they are‚ but I think with the greatest degree of compassion‚ more application and dedication we can resolve their problems‚” the minister said.

After receiving an assessment report last week‚ Gigaba vowed to do away with queues within the next 12 months.

However‚ his ambitious plan appears to be hindered by failing equipment‚ poor management‚ and a delay with the project to roll-out the e-homeaffairs service in banks.

During his visit on Monday‚ he discovered that one only of the three photo booths in the Umgeni Road office was functional. While he was there‚ the online system was down for an hour.

"We stand committed to do the best we can to win the all-out war on queues bedevilling our operations in spite of the structural constraints and other challenges. This is not going to be a quick fix.

"It will be a process and we are committed to restoring the dignity of our people‚" an optimistic Gigaba promised.

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