28 May 2009
South Africa is to introduce new measures to clean up its population register in order to restore the international integrity of the country’s identity documents (IDs) and passports.
Recently appointed Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says corrupt activities within the Department of Home Affairs had compromised the integrity of South African documents at an international level.
“Since we can no longer be sure whether the person in possession of a South African ID or passport is 100% South African, we strongly believe that we need a clean population register that will truly and clearly reflect all South African citizens,” she said in Pretoria this week.
“We want to do all this to retain the integrity of our documents, which are being increasingly undermined at the international level.”
While the department recently introduced a modern passport with new and improved security features, Dlamini-Zuma said some countries still demanded a visa as they felt a South African passport was not secure enough.
New birth certificate
Birth certificates currently issued in South Africa only contain the name and future ID number of a child; new certificates will also include details of the mother.
In order to reduce late birth registrations, Dlamini-Zuma said the department would soon embark on a huge national campaign, which includes visiting both primary and secondary schools.
“We will be visiting schools at the foundation level to ensure that all South African kids are properly captured on the population register,” she said.
Dlamini-Zuma said discussions were still under way as to the age that children under 16 years of age should be fingerprinted.
“This will reduce long and winding queues in our offices, because when children qualify to apply for an ID, they will just put their thumb on the system and their details captured on our data system will be reflected.
“We also intend to issue IDs to children while they are still at high school,” she said.
Every year, the department produced in excess of two million IDs, but up to 60% were re-issues to those who had lost their IDs. “South Africans need to be proud of their IDs, and they should keep them safely. We cannot continue with this situation,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
The former foreign minister added that her attitude towards fraud and all criminal activities would be one of zero tolerance.
“We are not going to tolerate fraudulent and corrupt activities, and we believe that all corrupt officials should leave the department,” she said.
“The justice system should also ensure that such corrupt officials are punished appropriately, because their activities not only demoralise the spirit of honest officials, but also undermine the integrity of our country.”