Top DG throws in the Home Affairs towel

2010-02-21 09:46

TOP director-general Mavuso Msimang has quit the Department of Home Affairs to retire.

The highly regarded Msimang (68), who has been at the helm since May 2007, said his three-year contract had ended and it was time for him to retire.

He came to the department with a sound track record in the public sector, having led SA National Parks, the State Information Technology Agency (Sita), Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and SA Tourism.

Last Sunday the department advertised Mavuso’s position, which comes with a yearly salary of R1.2?million.

“When I left Sita I was retiring so I’ve delayed my retirement by three years,” he said.

He dismissed speculation that he had clashed with Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

“She raises legitimate issues, pores over documents and asks questions. These are the normal functions of a supervisor,” he said.

Msimang also chairs the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

He conceded that the fight against rampant corruption in home affairs had been tricky.

“I’d be lying if I said we got to the bottom of that,” Msimang said. “We’re unfortunate in that we’re a painful mirror of what’s happening in society,” he said.

According to Msimang, 400 officials have been dismissed for fraud and corruption.

He said his successor would have to continue the fight against corruption.

“I’m very pleased with some of my accomplishments,” he said.

Msimang said research surveys showed that the department’s delivery had improved.

Among Msimang’s major achievements was a United Nations’ Economic Commission for ­Africa award last April.

The Technology in Government in Africa award was for the department’s automated fingerprint identification system and online fingerprint verification, which form part of its turnaround strategy.

Home affairs also managed to ­improve its identity document turnaround time from 127 days to an ­average of 40.

The department has not succeeded in managing its finances properly and has received five qualified opinions and three disclaimers in eight years from the auditor-general, according to analysis by the Democratic Alliance last October.

In the 2008/09 financial year the auditor-general found that R356?million could not be accurately assessed due to the lack of an audit trail and systems to facilitate the recording of immigration fines and penalties.

In his defence, Msimang said it was not possible to turn the system around in a year, insisting that the qualified audits were with fewer issues compared to previous years.

But DA deputy shadow home ­affairs minister Masizole Mnqasela said Mavuso had not improved the department’s performance.
“He didn’t respond to our satisfaction as politicians,” said Mnqasela.

He said he had been waiting since last October to meet Dlamini-Zuma, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and Msimang to quiz them about performance and the overhaul of the department.

Msimang also clashed with the previous portfolio committee chairperson, Patrick Chauke, in 2008 over a trip by committee members to Germany that was sponsored by a company tendering for the department’s smart card project.

At the time Msimang said the trip could compromise the tendering process.

He also barred provincial managers from appearing before the committee, accusing MPs of siding with suspended department officials.

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