DHA promises smart cards – again


South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs expects to begin piloting a new smart card identity document (ID) next year, confirming a statement made in July.

In a response to a parliamentary question posed by the opposition Democratic Alliance party’s shadow for Home Affairs Minister Annette Lovemore on when the department anticipated introducing the ‘Smart ID Card’ and at what cost, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said that the roll-out plan and cost still had to be determined.

Dlamini-Zuma added that all South Africans would be required to obtain the card ID, which will replace the current green bar-coded ID book. “Planning is in progress to ensure that infrastructure in front offices, such as live capture, is completed prior to Smart Card implementation. The system is envisaged to be piloted during the 2012/13 financial year,” she added.

Dlamini-Zuma made a similar announcement in her budget vote in July this year. “Last year, we committed to piloting the smart card. In this regard, we are pleased to inform… that this has been done. … The full spectrum of identity management goes beyond mere issuance of secure documents; it encompasses the safe maintenance and archiving of biometric and demographic records of citizens and persons who have been permitted to reside in SA.”

Dlamini-Zuma cancelled a previous smart card project in March last year, saying her department ran out of money after it used the R114 million allocated for the project “for other things”. The project was originally supposed to be piloted at the end of 2008, using pensioners as the sample group, but this did not happen.

The contract was sent out for tender, but was not awarded as the entire project was put on hold in 2009. The DHA said this is because of the Who Am I Online (WAIO) delay, since the smart card project needed all the new systems to be in place first before it could be worked on.
“Planning is in progress to ensure that infrastructure in Front Offices, such as Live Capture is completed, prior to Smart Card implementation,” the minister’s latest answer noted.

It costs the department R140 to produce an ID book, inclusive of printing, distribution and administration costs. The cost for producing a Temporary Identity Certificate (TIC) is also R140. “As in the case of the ID, the charge for the TICs is, only, for cost recovery purposes, and not for profit margins.”

A passport, by contrast, costs R400, the answer shows. “The current passport has, all, the relevant security features, and is considered a highly secure document. Should the Department, at a later stage, find a need to upgrade any current security features, this will be done in consultation with, all, relevant stakeholders [sic].”