Klerksdorp – When the Department of Home Affairs partnered with the Dr. Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality on a regional service delivery campaign for six days running, little did the two public entities envisage the positive impact it made to the communities within the district. Witness to the chronicle amounted to Hundreds of people, young and old, who braved the sweltering summer weather to get registered as official citizens of South Africa at the 26 pre-identified service points.
The operation, dubbed the National Population Register (NPR) Campaign, seeks to secure and record credible information through registering every birth, marriage and mortality in order to curb the compromises caused by fraudulent documentation. In turn, this would guarantee the maintenance of an imperfection-free home affairs record that verifies the legitimacy of every identity documentation and validify its title-holder as a genuine South African.
Target areas identified for the NPR campaign mainly included rural areas, farms and densely populated settlements located around townships across all four local municipalities (Ventersdorp, Tlokwe, Maquassi Hills and Matlosana). Other services provided during the operation amounted to social grant registrations through the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), voter registration by Independent Electoral Commission, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) testing by the Department of Health and other stakeholders.
According to the Department of Home Affairs, the South African Cabinet pronounced its concern about the questionable integrity of the National Population Register, which it describes as a “compromise not only on national security but also on international security”. This, as explained by the DHA, places the current register under scrutiny given the alarming number of foreign nationals who are caught in possession South African citizenship documents.
The other challenge is the process of Late Registration of Births (LRB), which is intended to address the legacy of apartheid wherein Black South Africans were confined to Bantu stands through Group Areas Act 41 of 1950 (Act) and had their own Registers. The dawn of the new era in 1994 meant that there was a need to consolidate the different Registers into one. However, not all the people registered their birth, hence the need to introduce the LRB process. The campaign also encouraged people to register birth irrespective of their age, in terms of the Act, births are supposed to be registered within 30 days of delivery.
“The benefits of preserving a precise National Population Register”
Citizens are able to access rights and services and participate in the formal economy, for example by applying for jobs or loans.
The state can fight poverty and underdevelopment more effectively, including through the secure provision of grants and better planning.
Immigration can be managed much more effectively and security in general enhanced by knowing, with certainty, who all our citizens are.
The state and the private sector can deliver many services far more efficiently, cheaply and securely if the country has a reliable and accurate NPR linked to biometrics such as photographs and fingerprints.