Home Affairs Minister, Hon. Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize presented to National Assembly Speaker, Honourable Baleka Mbete her new Smart ID Card, at one of the busiest Home Affairs Offices in Johannesburg, Harrison Street. The Minister appreciated the patriotic act on the part of the Speaker, of applying for and collecting her Smart ID Card.
This year’s target is to issue 3 million Smart ID Cards to citizens. The department is aiming to replace around 38 million green-barcoded ID books within five years. Since July 2013, over 6 million Smart ID Cards have been issued.
The green-barcoded identity book was first introduced in 1986. With the advent of democracy in 1994, it was extended to all citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity. In the democratic era, the green-barcoded ID book played a role in South Africa’s endeavour to forge a new, common, national identity, and it served as a prerequisite for various services for citizens, including voting, registering birth, drawing social grants and opening bank accounts.
Its limitations were mainly around security as it can be easily tempered with. It is open to human manipulation and thus it may contribute to fraud. South African citizens are encouraged to apply for the Smart ID Card because it is highly secured. For instance it has a card chip which is readable and verifiable, with biographic data embedded on it, and thus it is not easily manipulated or forged.
The Smart ID Card is an end-to-end process which is wholly automated and supported by a live capture system. Since its inception in 2013, the department has modernized 179 offices across the country. It is from these offices that we issue the Smart ID Cards and secured passports.
The Smart ID Card is a part of the system-wide Modernization Programme Home Affairs initiated in 2011, to create a digital, secure, paperless environment. The Modernisation Programme is changing for the better the way the department is operating, including in digitising systems and processes.
It is in this context that the department had partnered with four commercial banks in the country, to increase its service footprint – ABSA, FNB, Nedbank and Standard Bank. Through this partnership, the department is using spaces in banks for the intake of Smart ID Cards and passports. Participating banks are equipped with the live capture system.
Over and above this initiative, a first for South Africa, over 3000 bank branches across the country are also benefitting from the online verification initiative.
As part of the Modernisation Programme, the department has initiated a project also to modernise processes for births, marriages, deaths, personal amendments, permitting, asylum- seeker and refugee management.
The ultimate goal is to build of a new, credible, reliable and efficient National Identity System by which can be delivered mandatory services to citizens, while also supporting economic development and promoting personal safety and national security. Home Affairs is encouraging citizens, young and old, to apply for their Smart ID Cards, and to keep them safe. Those who have applied should collect their Smart ID cards, and help in protecting national identity.