By Justin Adams – DA Abroad Chairperson – United Kingdom
The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the outsourcing of passport application services for South Africans in the UK.
South Africans in the UK can now lodge passport applications through VFS Global and will be able to hold interviews in London, Birmingham, Manchester or Edinburgh.
This follows years of sustained pressure by the DA through the DA Abroad, as well as the valuable support of SAPeople, and demonstrates that the DA gets things done for all South Africans – including those living abroad.
The lodging of passport applications is only the first step to relieve the ordeal of endless unanswered phone calls and correspondence simply to lodge a passport application.
Over 20 000 South Africans signed the DA petitions to Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor. This is currently tabled in Parliament and calls on the ministers to:
- Reduce waiting times for civic documents such as passports, ID books and birth certificates to two months;
- Ensure that electronic services implemented in South Africa be implemented abroad as well;
- Make an online tracking service available so that those abroad can receive updates and check on the status of their applications; and
- Provide foreign missions with adequate resources to contact consular offices and ensure that enquiries are responded to.
The DA will continue the pressure on these issues and submit parliamentary questions on the outstanding issues of birth certificate and identity document applications, interventions on the manual transmission of applications via diplomatic bag, the drastic reduction of processing times for applicants abroad and similar application processes for South Africans in other countries.
The outsourcing of what should be a relatively straightforward role of government is a damming indictment of the Department of Home Affairs, but is not surprising given both the DHA and DIRCO’s minimal interest in resolving this issue. Despite being asked to cough up expat tax, South Africans abroad have had to wait up to 24 months for a passport renewal, many missing weddings, funerals and in certain cases have been left stateless.
The DA will continue the fight to ensure that the rights of South Africans abroad are protected.