Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Hlomani Chauke, has urged the Department of Home Affairs to consider an outright ban on mobile phone usage by front-line staff during working hours at all Home Affairs offices.
In a statement released on Monday (14 January), Chauke said that his committee has received numerous complaints from the public about delays at Home Affairs offices.
“It is unacceptable that the public spend excessive amounts of time at Home Affairs offices, while officials spend a disproportionate amount of time busy with their mobile phones,” he said.
“Officials are primarily employed to offer a service and the complaints point to dereliction of duty by some officials, yet they continue to draw a salary at the end of the month.”
Chauke added that it was also concerning that these practices have been witnessed at ports of entry across the country, which gives a bad impression to visitors when they arrive in the country.
This is more concerning because the President has anchored his economic growth drive to tourism, which will be undermined by poor service, he said.
Chauke said that a guiding framework on the use of mobile phones at front desks should now be drafted and implemented across the country to ensure standardisation.
The framework must also include guidelines for how officials can be contacted in cases of family emergencies.
“We are, of course, cognisant that one of the major causes of long queues is the downtime caused by unreliable information and technology software, but professional service at the department must improve,” Chauke said.
“Public service is based on adherence to Batho Pele principles, which call for high-quality service and courtesy. As such, measures must be put in place to encourage and, where necessary, enforce adherence to these principles.
“At its first meeting of the year, the committee will invite the Minister and the Acting Director-General to give an update on measures implemented to resolve this challenge.”