Partnership and outsourcing as tools for increased access to consular services : a case of South African High Commission in the United Kingdom
Tiba, Johannes Kgotso
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The provision of consular services is an obligation of every government to its citizens who are living abroad. In providing such services, efforts must be made to ensure that they are accessible to all citizens, wherever they may be. Under the current economic climate, maintaining an extensive network of embassies and consulates around the world is an expensive venture. It is against this background that governments must be innovative in providing services by ensuring that private and third sector organizations are involved, in order to complement their work of ensuring that consular services reach their citizens at affordable costs - wherever they are. Besides rendering consular services to South African (SA) citizens, consular offices can be a vital investment vehicle of the government abroad, by ensuring that much-needed investment is obtained. Furthermore, the consular services can serve as the first line of defence of a country, by ensuring that people who can cause harm to the country do not enter it. Despite the daunting challenges facing the post-apartheid government in SA, a number of changes have been undertaken to ensure that consular services are modernized. However, those changes have been inadequate and have fallen short of meeting the expectations of most South African citizens who are living abroad. This study makes a vital contribution on the concept of using partnership and outsourcing as tools for increased access to consular services in one of the critical missions of SA abroad - the United Kingdom, by showing that the traditional way of rendering consular services from a diplomatic mission is inadequate to reach potential customers scattered in parts of the host country. The study concludes with significant recommendations that, inter alia, include even using post offices and the internet to ensure that consular services reach all parts of the United Kingdom, where South Africans live. Given that consular services have inherent security implications, the study also notes that among factors that must be taken into account before outsourcing consular services, or even setting up a partnership, the chosen service providers must, amongst other things, be able to maintain and protect the confidentiality of their customers.
- Humanities