While Parliament has risen ahead of the August local elections all indications are South Africa will have a new, over-arching authority handling border affairs by next year.
What was originally going to be known as the Border Management Agency (BMA) has, according to a Parliament statement, now become the Border Management Authority and its future will come up for Parliamentary debate later this year.
“The processing of the BMA bill, which will include briefings by the Department of Home Affairs, public hearings and written submissions, will be held in mid-September and it is likely to be finalised in the last quarter of 2016 or early in 2017,” the statement said.
This is in line with Cabinet’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster which indicated earlier this year the BMA should be reality next year.
The BMA bill aims to provide a legislative framework for establishing a unified border guard and authority. This, according to the statement, is because inefficiencies resulting from too many government departments co-ordinating and often duplicating the securing of South Africa’s land, sea and air borders have contributed to a porous 5 244km border.
“The bill and related authority aims to centralise the border-related responsibilities of, among others, the Department of Home Affairs, the SA National Defence Force, SA Police Service, the customs department of the SA Revenue Service as well as aspects of the departments of Agriculture, Environment and Health.”
Thirty-four organisations and individuals earlier this year submitted comment on the proposed Bill.