News24

Smart card ID plan almost dead

2010-03-03 20:05

Cape Town - Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma declared on Wednesday that the project to provide every South African with a "smart-card" ID is virtually dead because there is no money in her department's budget for it.

The idea of the "smart card" was launched by Home Affairs when Mangosuthu Buthelezi was the minister. It aimed to take advantage of rapidly developing technologies for encrypting fingerprints, for storing the whole of the population register digitally, for computer chips embedded in bank cards and so on.

During the process of refining the capabilities of the ID card the project was loaded with the possibility of being used by banks to identify customers, and security firms to allow access to employees.

Not unnaturally this slowed the project down, and eventually the banks simply said they would have nothing to do with it.  Besides which they would have been expected to help fund the scheme.

By the time it was ready to go to tender for production, the State Information Technology Agency had was given the job of masterminding the tender. But Sita then stopped the tender.

Dlamini-Zuma told a media briefing in Parliament: "The board of Sita stopped the tender, because there were irregularities.

"And having stopped the tender, obviously the money went back to Treasury. And with the recession and all the problems that we had, that money was then utilised for other things.

"But we are still pursuing (it). We are still in discussion with Treasury to see whether this tender can be done differently, because we have had bad experience with Sita so we're not sure whether we should go back to Sita or be given an alternative way of dealing with it.

"In our budget now we don't have money for this. Once we have got an alternative (we can) put in the next budget the requirement for the smart card."