Technology at Home Affairs brings improvement for South Africans

2013-10-24 12:28

As written before, Home Affairs is doing a great deal for the citizens (and permanent residents) of South Africa. In the past, the dreaded ID book application was followed by a very long wait, sometimes up to two years. But finally, through the adoption of technology and a solid provider thereof, the Department of Home Affairs has shortened this waiting period by more than 90%. In fact, ID documents now take less than two months to be produced.

This comes at a cost, of course, to taxpayers, of around R1.2 billion. However, that is a small price to pay for an efficient internal department that has a long history of poor service and low quality delivery. And in the last few months, Home Affairs has reported excellent results.

For example, the department has beaten its goals for issuing passports and is getting second-issue ID books out ahead of target. Over 95% of passports are ready within a month, and most applications for visas into South Africa are finalized in under two weeks. The same sort of results apply for birth, death and marriage certificates, which usually take longer and cause great stress among those who wish to formalize their married names.

Home Affairs is also replacing ID books with ID cards. This will mean another R5.5 million in Home Affairs office upgrades, and is currently only available to those citizens of South Africa who are older than 60 years of age. By 2016 Home Affairs hopes that all citizens will adopt the new ID cards. Rollout will happen based on birth month.

Although this is great news from South Africa's Home Affairs department, the situation is still dire for foreigners applying for anything more than a simple tourist visa. Work permits, spousal visas and permanent residence applications are still an enormous hurdle for anyone wishing to enter SA for the longer term.

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