Why Home Affairs is broken but SARS works

Speaking at a recent Parliamentary committee meeting about the financial state of the Department of Home Affairs, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi lambasted the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) for its failure to deliver reliable services to government departments.

Motsoaledi said that relying on third parties like SITA was “painful” and that it was challenging to deliver services while being mandated to procure network and IT services through the agency.

SITA is a government-owned company which is tasked with the IT procurement and management for various departments, a fact which the Department of Home Affairs said had resulted in headaches across many parts of government.

“All government departments, wherever you go, [and you ask] why this or that didn’t happen, [the answer is] SITA,” Motsoaledi said.

“I still don’t know why it is that they cannot do their job. I think the state was trying to get an agency to do its work but it is not working.”

Other committee members echoed the Minister’s views on the state technology agency, with DA member Joe McGluwa stating that everyone lost the battle concerning SITA, and that the problem with SITA and its network system was that the system was always offline.

Fixing the system

The Department of Home Affairs is compelled to use SITA’s services unless there is a change in policy.

“We have not been exempted from using SITA services,” Motsoaledi said. “There were huge promises that were made by SITA in 2016 on the type of service they were going to give us and to ensure that we reach 99.9% network availability.”

“As of today, that dream has not been realised.”

Just three weeks ago, a total of 412 Home Affairs offices could not work for 48 hours because of SITA, Motsoaledi said.

The Minister argues that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is working well precisely because it is not required to depend on SITA.

The Department of Home Affairs has been plagued by network issues and other IT-related problems over the last few years, while SARS has just overhauled its e-filing system, a change which was implemented seamlessly, barring a few outlying issues.

MyBroadband asked the Department of Home Affairs to provide additional feedback on its remarks at the Parliamentary committee meeting, but we did not receive any feedback by the time of publication.

We also reached out to SITA for comment on the remarks made by Minister Motsoaledi. We did not receive any feedback by the time of publication.

Now read: There’s no quick fix for SARS

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Why Home Affairs is broken but SARS works