BMA: Time for to get ready for an infomed debate


Legislation will likely come before Parliament later this year to establish a South African Border Management Agency.

In his inaugural State of the Nation Address (SONA) last June, President Jacob Zuma said his government would pay “the most serious attention” to combating crime. “Amongst other key initiatives, we will start the process of setting up a Border Management Agency (BMA),” he said.

Zuma made no mention at all of the BMA in his second SONA last week, leaving vital questions unanswered:

  • What will be its structure?
  • What will be its mandate?
  • What will be its budget?
  • To whom will it answer?

Following Zuma’s address performance monitoring and evaluation minister Collins Chabane on Friday said to “effectively manage our borders” was a among the “key outputs we have set for ourselves” in the fight against crime. But, again, no detail.

In July State Security minister Siyabonga Cwele added in his budget vote speech “deficiencies in the control and security of our borders have been … a challenge for some time now. These emanate mainly from lack integration by departments at our ports of entry. They are facilitated by corrupt officials; they are exploited by trans-national crime and people smuggling syndicates.”

State Security is just one of a plethora of departments and agencies with a role to play in border security – health, agriculture, immigration (home affairs), customs (SA Revenue Service, National Treasury), the police and defence are among the others.
“Notwithstanding the improvements made by interdepartmental initiatives led by the Border Control Coordination Committee (BCOCC), our efforts still lack sufficient synergy. We must be in a position to maintain our territorial integrity, expedite the legitimate movement of people and goods, whilst deterring and identifying illegal or hostile cross-border movement,” Cwele said when announcing his department had been charged “with the responsibility of coordinating the process towards the development of a framework for the establishment of the BMA…”

This process was meant to be completed by December – and might be. We may know more Wednesday when finance minister Pravin Gordhan announces government’s budget for the next year. It is said in some circles that there will be an allocation for the BMA. But to what purpose?

Soon there must be a thorough debate of the issues, both in Parliament and outside. But it is must be an informed discussion. The proverb says there are many roads to Rome, and there must be several models for the BMA. But which is best suited to SA’s circumstances and which is to the advantage of our neighbours to adopt? To explore this as well as the issues above, defenceWeb has arranged a Border Control Conference for March 17-18 at Gallagher Estate, Midrand.


You are cordially invited to attend.

I hope to see you there!