Before 2007, the Department of Home Affairs was not the most popular with the South African public.
Citizens had to contend with long queues when applying for identity documents, passports or birth certificates and then had to wait for months, sometimes even years, for these documents.
In 2007, the department implemented a turnaround strategy that paid off.
A customer satisfaction survey found that by 2009, 93 per cent of the department’s customers were impressed with the time it took to obtain documents. Much has happened since then.
The department introduced new features on passports to address foreign countries’ security concerns about these documents.
The department also introduced smart ID cards that have a microchip, which contains the necessary biometric data unique to every individual.
Smart ID cards are expected to curb the fraudulent use of fake or stolen IDs, as they are almost impossible to forge.
The department is also looking to the learnership academy to produce a new calibre of public servants.
When he was sworn into office for the first time in 2009, President Jacob Zuma said he wanted public servants to be courteous and treat citizens, who wanted services or information from government, with respect.
For this reason, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has decided that a learnership academy at his department would be run at the executive level.
He has entrusted his second in command, Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan, with the responsibility of ensuring that the academy produces a new corps of civil servants for Home Affairs.
Producing friendly, efficient public servants Minister Gigaba wants his frontline staff to be caring, friendly and helpful.
There will be no holy cows: both long-serving and new members of the department will attend the academy.
In an interview with Public Sector Manager, Minister Gigaba spoke passionately about his plans to mould a new breed of Home Affairs official for deployment in the department’s offices across the country.
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