Border Management Agency supersized?


The Border Management Agency (BMA) will have the requisite powers “to enable the state to address the long-standing problems of fragmentation, duplication and ineffective use of resources in the border environment,” Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele says.

“The model approved by the JCPS [Justice, Crime Prevention & Security cluster] Cabinet committee is moving away from the current coordinating to an integration model that provides for the integration of functions, staff, infrastructure and the centralisation of authority around issues of security at our ports of entry,” Cwele said in his budget vote on Thursday. “The migration to the new model will be completed by 2014.”

Speaking to journalists before his address, Cwele noted his department was studying “best cases” from around the world. He noted Britain had “a fully-integrated model of border control”.

The UK Border Agency is part of that country’s Home Office and is responsible for immigration as well as customs. It was established in April 2008 through the merger of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), UKvisas and the detection functions of Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. According to its website the Border Agency is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the UK, with 25 000 staff – including more than 9000 warranted officers – operating throughout the UK and across 135 countries worldwide.

President Jacob Zuma announced the BMA in his inaugural State of the Nation Address in June 2009. Since then, there’s been little news and many rumours of infighting regarding the budget, function, placing and structure of the agency.

Border management is currently the task of a host of departments. Home Affairs is responsible for issuing passports and visas as well as immigration and deportations – the last two via the National Immigration Bureau. While Home Affairs is tasked with controlling the movement of people, the South African Revenue Service, part of the National Treasury, is charged with tracking goods for the purposes of customs and excise. The national Department of Agriculture is assigned the task of regulating the import of animal and plant products, while the Department of Health has a disease control function. The police must deter, detect and investigate crime, the military is patrolling the land, sea and air borders and the State Security Agency conducts intelligence tasks.

Addressing the media earlier this year on JCPS matters rising from President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address, cluster chairman Jeff Radebe noted a task team “has been established to ensure a coordinated and integrated approach is implemented to ensure border post security and borderline integrity.”