According to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) Cabinet is expected to approve the long-awaited establishment of the Border Management Authority (BMA) early next year.
SAnews, reporting on this week’s DHA briefing for festive season plans at South Africa’s authorised ports of entry, names the new entity as the Border Management Agency. This was the name given when it was first mooted but was subsequently changed to “authority” so as to give it more standing.
DHA maintains plans are at an advanced stage for the establishment of the BMA to curb illegal immigration. The government publication notes the BMA will be led by DHA under the leadership of Minister Ayanda Dlodlo. She was moved into the post by President Jacob Zuma during his most recent Cabinet reshuffle in October.
This single authority for border law enforcement provides the potential for more cost-effective services as well as enhanced security and management of the border environment SAnews stated.
“The establishment of the BMA represents a radical shift from the colonial and apartheid systems that were informed by a desire and mission to create and sustain racism, hostilities and hatred among the people rather than dignified migration,” DHA said in a statement earlier this year.
Through the authority DHA will focus on building the right set of skills for border guard officials. They would also establish modern and secure infrastructure and information and communication technology platforms to meet universal standards. The BMA would not only be beneficial to South Africa, but it will benefit destination countries as well.
Previous Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize said in May a big challenge at South Africa’s 72 ports of entry was the lack of co-ordination between government departments and agencies, at times operating on conflicting policy positions.
“The consequence of inefficient and ineffective border management often leads to poor service rendered to traders and travellers at ports of entry. This impacts negatively and creates a breeding ground for corruption,” Mkhize said at the time.
Cabinet took a decision in June 2013 to establish a Border Management Agency to improve management at ports of entry and the borderline.
It subsequently endorsed a vision for the BMA in 2014. The BMA Bill has been through an extensive consultation process.
Over 40 million people enter and leave the country on an annual basis for reasons including asylum, economic, educational and training opportunities, tourism and leisure — thus the need for an effective and efficient border management authority according to SAnews.
According to Home Affairs, the BMA will help prevent, among others, drug-related crimes, human trafficking, illegitimate movement of goods and unauthorised movement of persons.
SAnews said Illegal immigration has become a serious challenge for the country because of its vast borders such as land, air and maritime.
The BMA, as envisaged, will take over all border management functions at entry and exit points nationally. This leaves thousands of kilometres of land border where there are no official entry and exit controls to be patrolled by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). The border protection tasking is done under the aegis of Operation Corona and currently has 15 companies deployed along the landward borders.