This week will see Parliament’s Home Affairs Portfolio Committee start work on processing the Border Management Authority (BMA) Bill.
The Authority was until June known as the Border Management Agency but this was changed to give it more substance.
According to committee chairman Lemais Mashile the new bill will bring the BMA into being and this will “remedy the fragmented border management model currently in use”.
“This fragmented model has resulted in a variety of challenges in relations to control of the country’s borders. The bill seeks to establish a single implementing entity under a single executive authority,” he said in a Parliamentary statement.
As part of the process, comments have again been called for. By the end of February this year 34 organisations and individuals had submitted comment on the proposed BMA bill before it was taken to Cabinet, where it was approved for introduction to Parliament as a draft bill. Further progress through the parliamentary process was halted because of Parliament rising due to the local government elections held on August 3.
Mashile sees the latest round of public comment as further strengthening the bill for the purpose it is intended to achieve.
The committee’s first meeting will see it briefed by three of the government departments involved in border control and management – Home Affairs, Police and Finance. The SA National Defence Force (SANDF) is also part of the BMA.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo was earlier this year reported as saying the BMA would be a tool to curb illegal immigration.
Other work on the bill’s progress to the Statute Book saw Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba consult with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) to ensure “maximum consensus among all relevant constituencies”.
The BMA, as envisaged, will take over all border management functions at entry and exit points nationally. The establishment of both a coast guard and a border guard has been mentioned as part of the BMA function by Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, but no further information on these has been made public.
The BMA will carry out duties at, among others, land border posts such as Beit Bridge and Komatipoort, ports such as Cape Town and Durban and airports such as King Shaka International in Durban and OR Tambo International in Ekurhuleni.
Indications are the BMA will become operational early next year.