In October, Naledi Pandor took over home affairs, a department historically plagued by corruption, skills shortages and incompetence. But her predecessor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is now African Union Commission chairperson, successfully implemented a turnaround strategy, ensuring effective control measures in finance and supply-chain management.
Dlamini-Zuma also appointed appropriately skilled individuals and made sure that frontline offices had enough staff to serve the public well.
And, for the first time in 16 years, the department was awarded an unqualified audit from the auditor general last year. But it regressed this year, receiving a qualified audit.
Next year, Pandor will oversee the launch of the smart identity card, which has been piloted among 100 staff members for its durability and security features. The smart ID card will be introduced to all South Africans then.
Pandor will further oversee the department`s information technology modernisation project, which will also be implemented next year. The project will launch live capture for IDs and passports, thus reducing service turnaround time.
Since her appointment, Pandor has already conducted two unannounced visits to Cape Town and Johannesburg offices to assess service delivery levels. She has also visited ports of entry and other offices to engage with the public and officials.
Pandor will have to fix strained relations with the refugee community and human rights activists after Dlamini-Zuma shut down refugee centres in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Another test for the new minister will be to deal with visa applications, including those of controversial figures such the Dalai Lama. Her predecessor came under fire for delaying his visa application. Last month, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the government had acted unlawfully in delaying its decision on the matter.
But Pandor`s biggest challenge in 2013 will be to make sure her new department gets another clean audit.