Budget 201: R2.2bn for home affairs IT project in South Africa
South Africa’s National treasury has allocated R2.2bn over five years for the department of home affairs’ “Who Am I Online?” project, which has been stalled by a legal dispute with Gijima, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his budget speech on Wednesday.
“Although only partial funding has been allocated for the project, national treasury has approved the business case for the total lifecycle cost of R2.2bn beyond the [next three-year] period.” The department suspended a contract with Gijima (formerly GijimaAST) after it emerged that it was awarded R4.5bn, though the tender limit had been R1.9bn.
Gijima threatened legal action, but is currently in the final stages of talks with the department, treasury and the SA Revenue Service about an out-of-court settlement, according to home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
She expressed frustration last week that the dispute had forced her department to put on hold plans to set up an integrated IT system to process identity documents, birth and death certificates, visas, work permits and passports online.
Dlamini-Zuma said a settlement was imminent, but denied reports that the state had agreed to a R2bn pay-off for Gijima. Gordhan confirmed that to date, R390.4m has been spent on the stalled project. Home affairs’ other allocations in treasury’s estimates of national expenditure document show that streamlining immigration processes and regularising the status of immigrants from Southern Africa remain a top priority.
The department’s immigration budget of R587m will be spent on extending the special dispensation of documenting illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe to other nationals in SADC, overhauling immigration management and facilitating entry for foreign nationals with special skills.