Birth registration is counterproductive – South Africa

Minister Gigaba proposal for birth registration is counterproductive

The DA notes with concern the announcement made by the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, that as at the end of December next year all parents of children not registered within 30 days of their birth will have to undergo a stringent process to ascertain the child’s identity, including appearing before a committee to give evidence.

As such, I will be making submissions to the Minister outlining why this proposal will not work and why it will essentially undermine his department’s efforts to make child registration easier.

This comes after Minister Gigaba announced that parents who register their child’s birth beyond 30 days of the child’s birthdate will have to endure an “agonising” screening process to verify their child’s identity before they will be granted a birth certificate.

This announcement appears to be a development on the announcement made by the Minister in his budget speech that parents will be fined for not registering their children within 30 days of their birthdate.

The Minister’s announcement is bizarre given that a recent reply to a DA parliamentary question revealed that only 159 of the 389 online child registration systems available at healthcare institutions are fully functional.

The Minister would do well to direct his efforts towards making sure that healthcare institutions have the necessary, fully functional equipment to make child registration easier rather than making it difficult for parents by imposing penalties for a system that is woefully failing at the Minister’s hands and not as a result of the parents.

This proposal doesn’t take into consideration the hospitalisation of mothers beyond 30 days after giving birth due to child birth complications or mothers in rural areas who do not have easy access to registrations points.

The DA therefore calls on Minister Gigaba to provide clarity on the following:

  • What this “agonising” process will entail;
  • Whether the Department is going to conduct regulatory impact assessments of these processes;
  • Who will serve on the proposed birth registration committees and how these committee members will be selected; and
  • How much this process will cost the taxpayer?

Last month the Minister announced that the Department of Home Affairs was going to halt the implementation of regulations pertaining to unabridged birth certificates until a full regulatory impact assessment was conducted. The DA contends that Minister Gigaba must apply the same compromise to this latest proposal.

The Minister must not seek to implement new regulations and processes, while the systems of his Department remain broken.

Statement issued by Haniff Hoosen MP, DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, October 8 2014