Thursday, July 19, 2007

Another Encounter with Home Affairs

The Home Affairs department on Harrison Street is a prime example of the symptoms of lethargy, inefficiency, indifference and a general lack of motivation, that plagues the entire ministry. This ministry needs urgent transformation, or perhaps reform is a better word.
I had the dubious pleasure of visiting Harrison Street yesterday to collect my updated study permit. I arrived at eight thirty in the morning and left after five o'clock in the evening. Last year when I went through the same process, it took me about two hours to get my renewed permit. Yesterday, it took approximately an hour to attend to each individual applicant. How is it possible that the services keep declining fom bad to worse?
At first there were three people attending to a group of over thirty people, not too long after there was only one person. The second person was slower than a snail (so her presence was not productive), and the third person took someone's details dumped it somewhere and left the building without handing the documents over to another officer.
Reflecting on what I learnt during the WOW sessions, good leadership is a key attribute towards building any organisation or institution. Team building is achieved through committed and exemplary leadership. An organisation's culture also comes out of good leadership.
I have heard several times on the news that the Home Affairs department is improving its services. When are we (the clients) going to see evidence of this improvement? I am of course appreciative of the fact that it is a fairly large parastatal giving services in many locations around the globe. It is said that 'charity begins at home', therefore there is need for the home office to spearhead this reform. A friend in Denmark also complained about the lack of efficiency at the South African High Commission in that country.
My impression of the Harrison Street department was that the indifference was entrenched. There was a lack of motivation displayed by a majority of the staff there. The minister needs to come up with a more effective service strategy for Home Affairs as a matter of urgency.
I know that I am not alone in this and it has nothing to do with being a foreigner. South African citizens also go through the same frustrations to get identity documents and passports. My question is; ''has the minister and her team accepted that there is a problem and how do they plan to turn this department around?''


Thomas Blaser said...

It is depressing. How much has been written about this and plans made for remedial action and so on. And yet, it is all the same. Besides confiding my sort to God, in true African fashion, I don't see any other, legal recommendation. Perhaps hiring a consultant to deal with the department on your behalf.

Susan Arthur said...

apathy, apathy, apathy. I don't believe anyone has a turn around plan. Sorry you had to spend your day there, but glad you managed to get what you needed at the end of it.

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Thomas, I just decided not to be frustrated and calmed myself into a trance. I enjoyed a lively conversation with some of my compatriots and people from other African countries stuck in the same plight. We debated the Zimbabwe crisis, Mbeki's non-action and the apathy displayed by the rest of the continent towards 'Uncle Bob's' antics.

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

Susan A, apathy is not the word. I think that ministry is comatose now. I have decided what I have no control over is not worth tearing out any hairs. But I did get what I came for in the end. We were the last to leave the building.

Adam N. Mukendi said...

Hi Ije,
No comment. You said everything. But I would like to tell you that the Home affairs issue is a big montain for the government. One the minister said that they should be no major break through before end of next year. Myself I have tried to get a study permit but things took so long that I have resigned. Happy that you have your. However, I hope that things change.

Ijeoma Uche-Okeke said...

I hear you Adam,
Thank you for your comment. There's nothing to say. Thank you, I am happy I got what I went there for or it would have been a double tragedy!! Yes, we always keep up the hope that there will be positive change someday soon.