BMA three months away

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The Border Management Agency (BMA) will become a legal entity in the next three months. That’s the word from state security minister Siyabonga Cwele. In his budget vote Wednesday he added his department, tasked with establishing the agency is currently in the process of obtaining approval for this from the Department of Public Service and Administration and National Treasury.

Speaking in is annual budget vote he said the framework for the establishment of the BMA was completed by December 15. “It will address the security gaps at our ports of entry and along our border line. The objective is to promote free movement of goods and people while preventing illegality. In this regard, the BMA will improve the security of our borders and ports of entry and promote trade within the region.
“We have set up an inter-departmental task team at a director-general level to conceptualise and develop the BMA. This task team has registered considerable progress. It set up various work streams namely; the ports of entry, infrastructure, human resource and budget.
“We have also agreed on the functions which the BMA will perform, as well as its relationship with the South African National Defence Force, which recently took the responsibility to patrol and secure our border line,” he said.

This is belied by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries that in a written reply to a Parliamentary question intimates that not all questions have been answered. Commenting on import inspection services at points of entry, the ministry said the BMA was being created to “manage migration, customs and land border line control services and to efficiently coordinate the services of other departments at ports of entry.
“This statement of intent from the President and the ensuing deliberations for setting up a BMA may lead to the border inspection part of the DAFF being ceded to the BMA. However the DAFF until such a pronouncement is made is steadfastly working towards improving the state of the border environment, including responding to the findings of the Auditor General” in a recent report, the ministry said.

Cwele adds that until the BMA is established, “we will continue to strengthen the current Border Control Operational Coordination Committee (BCOCC), where the SA Revenue Service is lead agency. “By the end of this month, the SSA will install [a] communications link between the BCOCC National Nerve Centre and the key ports of entry.”