The Department of Home Affairs needs to move out of the dark ages

Issued by Angel Khanyile MP – DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs
03 Mar 2024 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Angel Khanyile MP.

The Democratic Alliance urges the Minister of Home Affairs to introduce a live application tracking system in immigration, addressing significant backlogs and enhancing transparency for visa applicants.

In a recent presentation by the Minister and his department to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, the department revealed a backlog dating back to 2016, exacerbated by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions preventing officials from working. The current backlog exceeds 74,000, with reports suggesting it now surpasses 95,000.

Applicants are left in the dark, unable to access VFS systems beyond generic status updates such as “application received” or “application pending.” This lack of transparency leads to frustration and inundates the Democratic Alliance with inquiries seeking assistance due to the numerous complaints received indicating that the department’s phones ring unanswered.

The DA proposes upgrading the system to provide real-time tracking from application receipt through processing stages to final adjudication, eliminating the need for applicants to call the department for updates. Additionally, complaints indicate that the department’s phones often go unanswered, exacerbating the issue further.

Recognizing tourism’s vital role in the economy, the DA emphasizes the importance of streamlining visa processes to attract tourists without unnecessary hurdles. They argue that in today’s digital age, tourists should have seamless access to visa status information.

To push for action, the DA plans to submit Parliamentary Questions and press the Minister in Parliament to clarify whether the department will be stuck in the stone age or modernize its systems or remain stagnant, potentially hindering tourism and economic growth.