Border Management Authority projected to cost over R10 billion a year

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Implementation of South Africa’s Border Management Authority (BMA) is expected to initially cost just under R4 billion with a future anticipated budget of R10.3 billion annually, according to a Helen Suzman Foundation researcher.

Tove van Lennep writes in a Foundation brief that in its attempt to resolve the fragmentation of South Africa’s border management, the BMA creates “another costly level of government bureaucracy under the Department of Home Affairs (DHA)”.

“The BMA was born out of Malusi Gigaba’s tenure as Minister of Home Affairs and is a major effort by the DHA to expand power. But DHA has neither the capacity nor the trust of society to warrant expanded authority: It is an ineffective department, riddled with corruption and inefficiency. It is, for example, the custodian of an asylum system with an appeals backlog that would take over 68 years to finalise,” she writes.

The current border management regime, in operation at the 57 official ports of entry into South Africa, sees seven government departments and agencies applying 58 different laws. The departments are Home Affairs (Immigration Division), SA Police Service, SA National Defence Force, Agriculture, Land and Rural Development, Health and SA Revenue Service (Customs and Excise).

“These departments have seven different command structures with different laws, work ethics and mandates. At some border posts, departments are housed in different buildings. There is no institutional mechanism providing for accountability of the various departments and their agencies and there is no platform linking information or IT systems.”

She suggests what was the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee (BCOCC), now the co-ordinating function for the BMA, should be “extracted from the BMA framework, renamed, revamped and resourced to address the silo-based approach to border management”.

“This would shift the focus from authority to co-ordination and from an extensive, risky and costly border management overhaul to reforming the current system in a less costly way. The country certainly cannot afford to give DHA an extra R10.3 billion per year to assume control of South Africa’s borders.”



The revised BMA Bill is back before the National Assembly and the DHA is finalising the draft Presidential Proclamation that would transfer border enforcement functions from other Ministers to the Minister of Home Affairs. As it stands, the BMA Office functions are limited to planning and co-ordination, having absorbed the mandate of the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee. The Department is planning the roll-out of the full BMA at designated ports of entry in 2020/21, beginning with OR Tambo International Airport, Cape Town Seaport, Oshoek and Lebombo.