South Africa’s Border Management Agency (BMA), which was formed last year as a single authority to man the country’s borders, will become operational sooner than expected.
This comes after Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi revealed in Parliament this week that the first 200 BMA guards had been recruited and would be deployed as early as next week at several “problematic” ports of entry.
This is the first step towards operationalising a fully-fledged agency focusing on the country’s borders.
Last month Home Affairs Director-General Tommy Makhode said the BMA was expected to be operational by 2023 at 18 ports of entry, but during Motsoaledi’s address to MPs, it was clear this timeline had been brought forward drastically. While it remains unclear to which entry ports the newly recruited guards will be sent, he did say they would be doing orientation early next week before being deployed to border posts immediately.
Motsoaledi also acknowledged that the immigration system was a crisis and needed a complete overhaul, indicating that the BMA would play a major role in dealing with the country’s porous borders.
According to a spokesman for the Cape Town Port Liaison Forum (PLF), the industry continued to monitor developments around the BMA closely as this new agency could have an impact on the movement of freight in and out of the country.
He said an interesting development that was being watched was the most recent announcement that the BMA would only be part of Home Affairs until March 30 next year when it would be registered as a schedule 3A public entity, only reporting to the minister of home affairs.
The exact implication of this was yet to be established, said the spokesman. “With the developments by Sars to develop smart borders and institute a single-window system, it remains unclear what the role of the BMA will be on cargo movements. We continue to monitor developments around this agency closely.”