Whole of government approach needed for better border security


Co-operation, co-ordination and integration are all imperative for South Africa, the southern African region and the continent to succeed in making it a safe and secure place where economies can grow and people can live without fear, according to SA Army Colonel Anton Grundling.

This, in particularly the South African context, will mean the various government departments and agencies that are all part of the broader border protection tasking have to go the same route under the leadership of the Department of Home Affairs, Grundling told the SA Joint Air Defence Symposium (SAJADS) in Pretoria this week.

He pointed out there are currently at least 14 government departments, including the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), and agencies involved in securing South Africa’s close to 5 000 km of land border and 7 000 km plus of coastline, with the economic exclusion zone adding millions more square kilometres to be controlled and patrolled.

The various departments include Home Affairs; State Security; Public Works; Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Water and Environmental Affairs; Health; Trade and Industry; Tourism; Transport; SA Police Service; SA Revenue Service and the Cross Border Road Transport Agency.
“With many of these, including the SANDF, we are finding ourselves doing business and work we are not trained for. This is one of the reasons why there has to be co-operation and co-ordination. That will see people doing what they are trained to do in areas they know with a resultant improvement in border protection,” he said.

Another factor that has to be considered is the lack of intelligence and sharing of this commodity as well as the fact that there is currently no collective reporting or controlling regarding border protection.

A way of moving toward a whole of government approach, CSIR principal systems engineer Duarte Goncalves said, was to establish a new legal framework to ensure complex security problems were not constrained by departmental boundaries.

He added there was a need, especially in view of financial constraints, to identify high return on investment (ROI) actions where categories, definitions and relationships of the various risks are involved.