Immigration-related permits: Why Motsoaledi is 'jittery' about releasing 'sensitive' report to MPs

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  • A task team report involving the issuing of permits at the home affairs department is "sensitive", according to Aaron Motsoaledi.
  • He is "jittery" about distributing the report to the committee before it is presented to them.
  • The task team investigated several immigration-related permits.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is "jittery" about releasing a "sensitive" report to MPs before the information is presented to them.

The report is in relation to a task team's investigation into the home affairs department's issuance of permits.

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs was scheduled to be briefed on this report on Tuesday, but at the 11th hour, Motsoaledi asked for a postponement.

MPs weren't too pleased, but agreed to postpone the briefing until 8 July.

"Honourable members, I am as anxious as you for the report to come out because, indeed, the report is ready. There is no other reason that we are delaying it, except that this was an investigative report, by investigators. It would be remiss for me to try and make myself an investigator and bring it to you," Motsoaledi told the committee.

Special report | Unwelcomed Neighbours: Measuring the human cost of ending Zimbabwean permits

"The people who are not here are not officials from the department; it has got nothing to do with officials from the department. But they're outside people doing the investigation, who we could not get today, for which I profusely apologise."

Motsoaledi said he would do everything possible to have the task team members at the briefing on 8 July.

"But these members are high-powered people. Some of them have since been called to the bench to act, and they are not easily available. But I will make sure that I bring a minimum number of those without whom the report cannot be presented."

Aaron Motsoaledi.

DA MP Angel Khanyile and IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe asked that committee members receive the report as soon as possible to prepare for the briefing.

Motsoaledi said it was in the committee's hands, but he had his reservations.

He said the report was of a "sensitive nature", and previously the committee allowed him not to send reports of a similar nature to the MPs before it was presented to the committee.

"To distribute it here, electronically, I'm a jittery about it," Motsoaledi said.

The chairperson of the committee, Mosa Chabane, said he would discuss the matter with MPs and legal services, and then advise Motsoaledi on their decision.

Motsoaledi appointed the task team in March last year to review the permits issued by his department.

READ | Home Affairs vows to crackdown on back-door granting of visas, permits

At the time, Motsoaledi said he identified the need to review the permits after realising a trend emerging from the outcomes of cases involving prominent people investigated by the department's Counter Corruption Unit.

The unit investigates wrongdoing by departmental officials.

"Over the years, the Counter Corruption Unit has established that 66%, or nearly two out of every three reported cases, involved permitting. The allegations are reported by different whistleblowers, using different avenues to reach the Counter Corruption unit," he said in a statement.

"In November 2020, during a high powered investigation, I was alarmed when 14 members of the permitting section signed a petition demanding that the Counter Corruption Unit should stop investigating their errors. This admission strengthened my resolve to have a more transparent permit issuance regime."

The task team was established to review all permits issued since 2004 – the year in which the Immigration Act came into operation – in the following categories:

  • Permanent Residence Permits (PRP), which are just a step away from citizenship;
  • Corporate visas, especially in the mining sector;
  • Business visa;
  • Professional critical skills visa;
  • Retired persons visa;
  • Citizenship by naturalisation; and
  • Study visa.

The task team is chaired by former top civil servant, Cassius Lubisi, and will include advocate Sesi Baloyi, forensic investigations specialist Peter Bishop, Kathleen Dlepu - the chair of the Legal Services Council - and Professor Somadoda Fikeni.

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