SA's uncoordinated border management vulnerable - Home Affairs

2016-08-16 17:02


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Cape Town – Five uncoordinated organs of state are currently involved in managing the country's borders, resulting in a large influx of undocumented foreigners and contraband goods, Parliament's home affairs committee heard on Tuesday.

Just under 9 000 employees were involved in border management and the various players focused on their own mandates at the expense of border security, Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni said.

He was making a presentation to MPs on the draft Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill, which would see a single border authority set up at South Africa's ports of entry.

President Jacob Zuma referred to efforts to establish a new border control authority in his State Of the Nation Address in 2009. In June 2013, Cabinet approached Parliament to draft legislation. 

Apleni said South Africa received among the highest number of asylum seekers in Africa and the country's border management was vulnerable. Border security globally had been increased and it was not an issue unique to South Africa.

Over 39 million people moved through South Africa's borders annually. The country's borders stretch for 4 471km, including the landlocked border with Lesotho, and have 72 ports of entry.

Constitutional mandates

Poaching, illegal migration, limited surveillance by air, extensive zones to cover by sea and the number of different role players and legislation were some of the problems facing authorities.

Major General David Chilembe, the police's section head for border co-ordination, said they were willing to work with both Home Affairs and Treasury. However, constitutional mandates meant only SAPS could police the border.

Police would lose 7 000 personnel as they would be either forced to resign, or work for both the BMA and SAPS, which would be problematic, he said.

Treasury deputy director-general Ismail Momoniat said the bill would need to specify how taxes and customs would be addressed, as it did not do so currently.

Momoniat said the Davis Tax Committee had recommended that the status quo should be kept with regards to taxes at the border, and that Sars and the BMA remain separate.

The BMA should focus on issues like immigration and trafficking, and leave tax administration and collection up to Sars.

Concerns expressed at Nedlac

"Splitting the setting of a tax or levy from administration and enforcement will create gaps that could lead to tax evasion," Momoniat added.

A total of 30% of all of Sars' revenue was currently derived from customs and excise duties.

This was just over R300bn of the R1 trillion collected in total revenue in the last financial year.

At a Nedlac meeting last year, labour and business representatives expressed concerns over the setting up of such an authority. Labour brokers felt the BMA Bill as it stood would amount to privatisation of a government sphere, and would prefer the BMA to be managed as another government department.

Business felt setting up the authority would be too risky and costly.

Public submissions to respond to the bill would open on September 8.

The portfolio committee would reconvene on September 13.

Read more on:    home affairs  |  cape town  |  migration  |  parliament 2016  |  security

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