Government efforts to improve South African border control in the form of the Border Management Authority (BMA) move forward slowly with the appointment of a commissioner and deputy commissioner to lead the way.
The appointment of Dr Nakampe Masiapato as commissioner and former SA Police Service major general David Chilembe as deputy commissioner operations at the BMA was confirmed by Cabinet last week.
The appointments were welcomed by Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi who noted: “It is an uncontested fact we have problems along the borders. The establishment of the BMA is meant to solve those problems. Now that legislation to establish the BMA has been passed, it is important to appoint individuals to implement it”.
At the same time Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs (PCHA), in the form chair Mosa Chabane, added its support saying: “The appointments lay a foundation for operationalisation of the BMA Act”.
The Act will be “instrumental in resolving some challenges at ports of entry”. These include “a fragmented border management model leading to incoherence in implementing border management”.
According to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) “Masiapato is a seasoned official in the law enforcement environment particularly at strategic level”.
“To this he can add significant value toward establishment of the BMA. Given his experience, he should provide critical leadership in realising BMA national objectives. He previously served on a number of border related forums including as Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee (BCOCC) and Inter-Agency Clearing Forum.
“Masiapato has extensive experience in the intelligence environment having served as acting national co-ordinator for intelligence. He has over 19 years’ experience in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) of which 12 were at senior management level. His employment history cuts records police, Defence Intelligence and the civilian intelligence environments.
“He is currently executive manager for monitoring and analysis at the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC). He recently contributed to establishment of the FIC Fusion Centre, which brings twelve law enforcement agencies investigating COVID-19 related corruption together.”
Masiapato holds two PhDs, one in Public Management and the other in Governance as well as a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. He completed the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Executive National Security Programme (ENSP).
Chilembe has years of SA Police Service (SAPS) experience since 1984 to June this year. His 17 years at senior management level specifically in the border policing and law enforcement environment includes management, command and control of law enforcement at ports of entry.
“DHA has confidence in the appointed individuals. Masiapato will implement something he believes in and has the requisite qualifications and experience,” Motsoaledi is quoted as saying.
“Chilembe’s experience in border law enforcement is now under an authority (the BMA) whose sole focus is borders.”
Earlier this year PCHA members visited two of South Africa’s busiest ports of entry – Beit Bridge with Zimbabwe and Lebombo with Mozambique – in terms of its oversight function. That visit was the result of, in part, failure of the “improved” security fence alongside the actual port of entry erected at the behest of Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. The upgrading of 40 km of border fence was apparently part of government efforts to control the spread of coronavirus from neighbouring Zimbabwe.
What committee members saw on that visit prompted Chabane to say: “We are confident the appointment of a commissioner and deputy commissioner is a step in the right direction moving South Africa to a desired target of secure, impermeable borders”.