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In his state of the nation address in 2014, President Zuma pledged that government will, “deliver services faster and more efficiently. More importantly”, he said, “we want members of the public seeking services to be treated with respect, patience, understanding and courtesy”.

Congress of the People questions whether Malusi Gigaba, Minister of Home Affairs, registered what the President was saying. If so, it is difficult to understand why he is failing South Africa so dismally as Minister of Home Affairs.

To begin with, many forms are not available online. They have to be procured at a Home Affairs office. Neither does the website make clear what requirements are to be met for different purposes. Citizens have to take time off from work and it is only when they finally get a turn to be attended to that they learn that their trip was wasted and their patience rendered futile. Has Minister Gigaba found out how many clients have to make more than one trip to get sorted out?

At the beginning of each year, the Minister of Basic Education gets one thing right. She visits problematic schools to arrest problems before they become too big. Why does the Minister of Home Affairs not do the same at the beginning of each year. He should spend half a day in a Home Affairs office and chat to the people who come there about how services could be improved. He should take a personal interest in ensuring client satisfaction.

Likewise, he can put out a media alert to inform South Africans to email suggestions to him about what could be done to improve online services. He could approach Amazon and Google, amongst others, to critique Home Affairs online service. That will be very instructive for him.

Gigaba can also do more to stamp out exploitation of foreigners outside Home Affairs offices. He needs to get out of his air-conditioned office and be among the people who experience shoddy services through poor planning or failure of planning.

It is time that Minister Gigaba stepped up to the plate and delivered on the promise that President Zuma pledged.

Issued by Dennis Bloem, COPE spokesperson


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