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“I want to be the minister where the system is always online, not offline” – says new Home Affairs minister

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By Ragheema Mclean

New Home Affairs Minister Leon Schreiber has announced the extension of temporary concessions for foreign nationals awaiting the outcome of visa, waiver, and appeal applications.

The move aims to address the significant backlog in visa processing and improve service delivery at Home Affairs offices across South Africa.

Visa holders who applied for a waiver and whose applications were still pending as of June 30th have been granted a further temporary extension until December 31st.

Speaking on VOC Breakfast, Minister Schreiber highlighted the importance of this measure in alleviating the backlog.

“The purpose here is to deal with the backlog of visa applications. This concession was required to create some space for us to deal with this issue,” said Schreiber.

He noted the potential adverse consequences for those awaiting application outcomes, explaining that without the extension, individuals might face penalties for being in the country illegally.

“We need to work very hard to use this window that was created to deal with the backlog. It is receiving urgent attention from my office now,” he added.

Addressing broader concerns about service delivery at Home Affairs offices, Schreiber outlined some of his top priorities as he steps into office.

“My absolute number one priority is getting the basics right. This is something that should get urgent attention,” he stated.

Schreiber said this can be accomplished by looking at business process reforms to ensure that the flow of operations at home affairs branches are addressed.

“We’ve also got the online booking system; we need to use it effectively to help us deal with reducing the queues.”

Meanwhile, he said that one of the significant challenges has been the frequent “system offline” issues.

“I want to be the minister where the system is online, not offline,” Schreiber asserted.

He plans to tackle IT infrastructure problems by migrating the network to ensure reliable connections and ensuring devices and software are functioning optimally.

Schreiber emphasized the need to restore dignity to the Home Affairs experience for both customers and staff.

“It has to be a more dignified experience for the citizens of South Africa but also for the people who work there,” he said.

To address policy challenges, Schreiber plans to bring in external policy experts and leverage technology to relieve system pressures.

“A huge focus will be on execution and implementation – that’s my motto as I go into this job,” he declared.

Furthermore, regarding the smart ID cards, Schreiber encouraged citizens to apply for the updated IDs but assured there is no need for panic for those without them yet.

“The migration away from the green ID books ensures we move into a more modern system,” he concluded.

VOC News

Photo: VOCfm/Stockfile

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