Covid-19 protective equipment has been bought through an emergency procurement process.
South Africa’s home affairs offices are now up and running, Parliament’s portfolio committee chairman Bongani Bongo has said.
Most home affairs offices across the country have been closed since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the national lockdown towards the end of March 2020, with staff fearing being infected with Covid-19 in the high-risk environment posed by the usually long queues.
Bongo said all services are now being offered at home affairs and staff now have the protective equipments they would need to protect themselves when issuing IDs, birth, death and marriage certificates, etc.
“The committee asked the department to purchase the masks, sanitisers, gloves, etc for the workers at home affairs offices and that was done,” he said.
He said the reason the Parliamentary committee directed the home affairs department to procure protective equipments urgently using National Treasury Instruction No.05 of 2020/21, which sets out emergency procurement procedures in response to the National State of Disaster, was because they wanted parents of newborn babies to be able to get birth certificates for their children so that they receive the grants that were announced by Ramaphosa last month as well as death certificates for families to be able to bury their loved ones.
“All services are offered at home affairs, including issuing of IDs, certificates, passports, etc and as members of the committee we will continue with oversight visits to our nearest home affairs offices to monitor if there is compliance with the Covid-19 safety measures and the labour department too will also be making sure that so that nobody gets infected with the virus in the process of providing essential service delivery,” Bongo said.
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the portfolio committee that the staff were told by their union, the Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA), to abandon the offices due to fear of being infected with Corona Virus in the long home affairs queues.
Motsoaledi said they would take the department of labour to court if it doesn’t open two home affairs offices that it closed in Gauteng because as the department of home affairs they don’t understand their reasons for closing down the office.
The labour department had said the home affairs department did not comply with Covid-19 safety measures for staff and was the reason the offices were closed to protect the workers. Motsoaledi said the protective equipment have now been bought and all workers were requested to return to their respective home affairs offices and document citizens.
(edited by ZK)
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