DHA moots smart cards – again


Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma say her department will impliment a smart identity card in the next financial year. Smart cards were first mooted in 1995 when the DHA issued a request for tenders for a Home Affairs National Identification System (Hanis) consisting of such a solution as well as Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). Only AFIS was awarded – in 1999.

After many more delays the digitisation, as well as migration, of the Home Affairs fingerprint and photograph archives were completed in 2007.

Dlamini Zuma says in answer to a Parliamentary question that a “system is envisaged to be implemented, during the 2012/13 financial year, in a phased approached [sic]. Answering a question by Independent Democrats MP JJ McGluwa, Dlamini Zuma said due to its sophistication, “the smart card system will be piloted for a few months towards the end of the [present] 2011/12 financial year, before it can replace the current Identity Document (ID). Planning is in progress to ensure that infrastructure in front offices, like Live Capture functionality, is completed, prior to the smart card implementation,” he said.

In answer to a separate question from the Democratic Alliance she added the project “will be designed in such a way that it is scalable, and expandable to accommodate other government departments, or interested stakeholders, on condition that the security of the card will not be compromised.” The party had asked whether her department intended integrating the smart card with a system used by the Department of Transport (DoT). It is not clear what the DA was referring to. The DoT is the issuing authority for the national credit-card sized drivers’ licence, but this is not a smart card.

In her budget vote in April Dlamini Zuma added that work on the smart card was indeed underway. “Last year we committed to piloting the smart card. In this regard, we are pleased to inform this House that this has been done. [The Government Printing Works] has produced the Crew Member Certificate which is used internationally by our pilots and crew members. This has laid a solid foundation for piloting an ID smart card in this financial year with a role out in the 2012/13 financial year,” she said.

Listed ICT company Gijima won a multibillion-rand tender in 2009 to impliment a smart ID card system. An audit, however, showed irregularities in the way it was awarded by the State IT Agency (SITA) and the contract was withdrawn.

The smart ID card system is intended to replace the current green ID book that South African residents are required to have as proof of identity for various official institutions, such as banks, government services and to vote. Residents can apply for one from the age of 16. In the past these were often forged or altered.