Statement on the Cabinet meeting of 15 February 2017

1. Implementation of Government Programmes

1.1. Cabinet welcomes President Jacob Zuma’s 2017 State of the Nation Address (SoNA) under the theme "Radical Transformation of the Economy”. This was at the halfway mark of this Fifth Administration’s term of office which saw 2017 being declared the Year of Oliver Reginald Tambo and the year of deepening unity.

President Jacob Zuma outlined progress we are making in realising our vision of a National Democratic Society and the key actions required to move us closer and faster to a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

The President reflected on the implementation of Government’s programme and announced concrete actionable plans for effective implementation of the National Development Plan, which underpins the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014-2019. SoNA 2017 clearly demonstrated that consolidated efforts by government, business and labour in implementing the Nine Point Plan are beginning to have an impact. Cabinet reiterates the President’s call to intensify efforts aimed at driving radical economic transformation and efforts to fast-track implementation.

Cluster Ministers are in the process of post-SoNA media briefings to elaborate on Government’s 2017/18 Programme of Action. The 2017/18 Budget Speech will further map out the allocation of resources to the various government programmes as highlighted by the President.

1.2. The outcomes of the Investing in African Mining Conference that was held in Cape Town demonstrates the country’s competitive advantage in the areas of mining and related fields.

The mining sector remains the cornerstone of the South African economy contributing 8 per cent to the country’s GDP, employing around 460 000 people and earning foreign exchange. South Africa continues to be a productive and rewarding destination for investors in mining with an estimated $2.5 to 3 trillion in non-energy mineral reserves still in-situ.

The amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act by June 2017 and gazetting of the revised Mining Charter by March 2017 contribute to the creation of an enabling regulatory environment which encourages investment, trade and enterprise development in an equitable and socially responsible manner.

1.3. The Indaba was bolstered by Invest Africa which is a platform for business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs to gain insight and exposure to information and opportunities from Africa.
1.4. Cabinet welcomes the Settlement Agreement reached between the construction industry and Government, also known as the Voluntary Rebuilding Programme (VRP).

This Agreement sets company-level targets for transformation, either through the sale of a minimum of 40% of shares to black South Africans or through partnerships with smaller black-owned construction companies, to help increase their turnover to 25% of the listed company turnover, over a seven-year period.

This is the most far-reaching sector agreement on transformation reached with government to date and can help to give effect to Government's vision of radical economic transformation. It is also a model that can be drawn on for transformation in other sectors.

Cabinet congratulates the signatories to the agreement and urges all other construction companies in the sector who are not currently parties to the agreement, to follow this lead and join in the partnership that is being built, through making similar commitments in order to further boost the transformation of the sector.

1.5. Cabinet applauds all social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on the historic agreement on the introduction of a National Minimum Wage of R20 an hour with effect from no later than May 2018.

The agreement on a National Minimum Wage and other measures to strengthen labour stability and collective bargaining is an important step in creating a more equal, just and prosperous society as envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP).

The national minimum wage, which is a floor below which no worker may be paid, will significantly improve the lives of millions of low paid workers and begin to address the challenge of wage inequality.

The wage has been set at an initial level that will make a real difference in the lives of ordinary South Africans while minimising any adverse effects on employment. Businesses that are unable to afford the national minimum wage may apply for a temporary exemption, while measures are being considered to assist fragile sectors of the economy.

1.6. The unemployment challenge remains a top government priority and all programmes and interventions are geared towards turning the situation around, especially in this tough economic environment. Cabinet welcomes the increase in jobs in the economy over the fourth quarter of 2016 when 235 000 jobs were created, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey. The increase was largely driven by employment in the country’s services sector, followed by transport and manufacturing.

The growth in jobs over the quarter resulted in a slight decrease in the unemployment rate to 26.5%.

1.7. Cabinet thanks all parents, teachers, lecturers and administrators on the successful start of the 2017 academic year. Education is one of our key priorities and central to achieving Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan (NDP).

1.8. Cabinet commends the dedication of the Class of 2016 as we celebrate the achievement rate increase from 70.7 per cent in 2015 to 72.5 per cent in 2016. Cabinet wishes all learners well and looks forward to further improvement in the achievement rate from the Class of 2017.

Cabinet also commends the learners who will be sitting for the supplementary matric examination between 11 February 2017 and 18 March 2017 for their perseverance.

1.9. As part of government efforts to galvanise society to protect the right to education, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation will convene the National Development Plan Back to School Izimbizo on 25 February 2017 in all provinces. Education is the foundation for all government programmes and all Members of the Executive will be participating.

Community members are invited to join members of Cabinet, Members of Parliament, Premiers and leaders in local government as they visit schools, tertiary institutions and other educational centres.

1.10. In line with the prescripts of the Freedom Charter that “higher education and technical training shall be opened to all by means of state allowances and scholarships awarded on the basis of merit”, Government through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme is funding more than 20 000 new students at 23 universities.

This is in addition to the 107 000 returning students from 25 universities and 737 747 returning students from 35 Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges.

1.11. Our government continues to explore various models in finding sustainable solutions to funding and opening up opportunities for the poor and the middle-class to pursue post school education and training. The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) is an innovative public private partnership led by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) that assists the “missing middle”.

The project is being piloted with six universities and one technical and vocational education training (TVET) college and will be funding the studies of approximately 1 500 students studying in a number of general formative degrees, as well as seven professional qualifications and one artisan qualification for the duration of their studies.

They will also receive academic support, social support, life skills training, mentoring and medical support where required. More than R200 million will be needed to enable the pilot to succeed and will mainly be sourced from the private sector.

1.12. The second World Skills South Africa Competition which is being hosted by the Department of Higher Education and Training at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban from 13 to 17 February 2017, celebrates the talent of young artisans and technicians in the country.

It also serves as an advocacy programme to highlight the importance of the artisanal sector in the country’s economy. Winners go on to represent South Africa at the World Skills International Competition in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in October 2017.

1.13. President Jacob Zuma’s unannounced visit to Nyanga Police station in Cape Town coincided with the release of the 2015/16 Victims of Crime Survey by Statistics South Africa. The successful visit, as part of the Presidential Siyahlola Monitoring programme, gained first-hand account of work that is being done to fight crime in the area. Departments from the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster are in the process of attending to challenges faced by the Police Station.

1.14. The Victims of Crime Survey is important as it guides government in formulating its policies in the fight against crime. This is in line with the government priority that All People in South Africa Are and Feel Safe. The results assist in guiding further work that needs to be done, to match the good news on achievements over the last five years, with perceptions and experiences of citizens.

2. Cabinet decisions

2.1. The Implementation Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Environmental Governance in the Mining Sector, included the management response and improvement plan by the Department of Environmental Affairs

The National Environmental Management Act, 1998 defines the environmental management approach that should be integrated across all sectors, including the mining sector. The objective is to ensure that the environmental impacts of mining activities are effectively mitigated or managed. The evaluation assessed the relevance and effectiveness of the legislation and its implementation to achieve this objective.

Cabinet supports the ‘One Environment System’ as proposed in the Improvement Plan with a mandate to consider additional streamlining measures such as further alignment of Specific Environmental Management Acts. Cabinet also supports a discussion on mine closures to ensure environmental protection and to reduce socio-economic risk to surrounding communities.

2.2. The 2015/16 Research and Development (R&D) Tax Incentive Annual Report which is being submitted to Parliament, shows how the R&D Tax Incentive programme is promoting increased private sector R&D investment. This is required to increase the economy’s capacity to boost employment creation, as well as to increase positive spillovers through knowledge transfer and skills development.
From March 2015 to February 2016, the Department of Science and Technology received 189 R&D tax incentive applications from 147 companies.

This increased the total number of companies participating in the incentive programme since its inception in November 2006, to 962. In this period the National Treasury estimates that just over R6 billion in tax revenue was foregone as a result of the R&D tax incentive. Over the same period the incentive supported about R36.1 billion in R&D expenditure.

Of the 962 companies, 47% are Small and Medium Enterprises, 12% are large enterprises (turnover R41 million to R100 million); 32% are very large enterprises (R100 million and above); and 8% did not disclose their turnover size.

2.3. Cabinet approved the introduction of a process for the coordination of the government’s budget for Research & Development (R&D) activities.
The National Development Plan notes that R&D and innovation have a key role to play in improving the competitiveness of the South African economy and in supporting socio-economic development and employment.

South Africa’s critical national scientific infrastructure is obsolete and in urgent need of technological upgrading and modernising to sustain effective service delivery. Such infrastructure is large and expensive, and would require coordinated investment across departments.

The proposed budget coordination will be phased in over the medium term 2016/17 and 2019/20.

2.4. Cabinet was briefed on the progress made in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and MeerKAT projects, the planned establishment of the merged South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the hosting of the Hydrogen Epoch of Re-ionisation Array (HERA) telescope on the SKA site.

The SKA and MeerKAT constitute one of eighteen Strategic Infrastructure Projects of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission. These mega infrastructure projects contribute to the National Development Plan through their potential to promote economic development, unlock economic opportunities and promote job creation.

Good progress is being made on the preparations for SKA-1 in South Africa including the acquisition of land and negotiations on the international treaty and the procurement process. In its ten years the SKA SA Human Capital Development Programme awarded over 800 bursaries, with extensive support to schools in Carnarvon.

The MeerKAT “first light” image of the radio sky produced with only 16 antennae shows more than 13003 radio galaxies in the distant universe, demonstrating that it is the best radio telescope in the Southern Hemisphere and should be the world’s best telescope of its kind, once completed. The full complement of 64 antennae will be installed and operational by March 2018, and is being built with 75% local content so as to prepare the local industry for deeper participation.

HERA is a complementary scientific experiment to advance understanding of early galaxy formation and if funded mainly by the National Science Foundation of the United States in partnership with Cambridge University.

The concept of a single radio astronomy observatory, to be known as the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory will consolidate the different projects and activities of the South African radio astronomy landscape. There are efficiency gains to be made with a single new National Facility under the National Research Foundation.

2.5. The White Paper on National Civil Aviation Policy, which promotes and enhances civil aviation safety, security and environmental compliance, was approved. It also promotes the national interest of South Africa and facilitates the expansion of trade and tourism. Further it promotes the development of an efficient and productive aviation industry, which is capable of competing both locally and internationally.

2.6. Cabinet also approved the National Airports Development Plan which was initiated by the White Paper on National Civil Aviation Policy to address the gaps between the current airport network and the future desired state.

It will guide and support both overall network planning and the development of individual airports integrated within their broader spatial and transport contexts, in consultation with key airport stakeholders.

Airport infrastructure is an integral part of the South African transport system and contributes to the socio-economic development of the country by facilitating domestic and international tourism and trade.

2.7. The draft Comprehensive Maritime Transport Policy 2016, was approved, for public comments.

This provides a national framework to guide the integrated governance, growth, development and transformation of the maritime sector, with a view to unlock the maritime sectors’ full potential and enhance its contribution to the socio-economic development objectives of the country, while contributing to international trade.

This is in line with Government priorities relating to Operation Phakisa on growing the Oceans Economy and broader goals from the National Development Plan 2030 and the National Infrastructure Plan to promote economic growth and to boost job creation.

3. Bills

3.1. Submission of the Draft Marine Spatial Planning Bill, 2016 to Parliament. The Bill provides a legal framework for the development of a marine spatial planning system that promotes economic growth; and is facilitated by coordinating planning across multiple sectors.

It will promote good ocean governance by ensuring involvement of all sectors in joint management and planning in the ocean space. It will also facilitate: conflict resolution (amongst the users of space and regulatory authorities); enhancement of information; knowledge and management in South African ocean space.

The Bill will work towards sustainable development, rather than only conservation or environmental protection, with a view to contribute to more general social and economic objectives. It is also a key initiative of the first Operation Phakisa (Ocean Economy) to unlock our economic potential.

3.2. Submission of the Agricultural Products Standards Amendment Bill to Parliament. The Bill amends the Agricultural Products Standards Act, 1990 (Act No. 119 of 1990)

The Bill aims to strengthen the regulatory framework for agricultural production, health and food safety of certain agricultural products. Such a regulatory framework promotes food safety and creates an enabling environment for increased and sustainable production. This will increase fair trade practices and consumer protection.

3.3. Publication of the Draft Electronic Deeds Registration Systems Bill, 2016, for public comment.

The Bill facilitates the development, establishment and maintenance of an electronic deeds registration system that will provide, amongst other things, for the effective registration of large volumes of deeds as a result of our Government’s land reform measures, improved turn-around times for providing registered deeds and documents to clients; provide country-wide access to deeds registration services; enhanced accuracy of examination and registration; availability of information to the public; and security features including confidentiality.

This also supports the National Development Plan call for measures to be implemented in all government departments and sectors that effectively manage information and technology to ensure that South Africa does not fall victim to a ‘digital divide’.

4. Issues in the Environment

4.1. Cabinet joins President Jacob Zuma in extending condolences to the families and friends of mentally ill patients who died in Gauteng. Government, and society at large, has a responsibility to protect and care for the vulnerable. Cabinet commends the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi for appointing the Health Ombudsman to investigate all wrong doings committed by health institutions and health practitioners.

Further, the action being taken by the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura, based on the report of the Health Ombudsman, is welcomed. Cabinet further calls on Premier Makhura to ensure that appropriate disciplinary action is taken against all who may have conducted themselves improperly or negligently.

4.2. Cabinet was concerned about the disorderly behaviour displayed at the Opening of Parliament which not only infringe on the rights of others in Parliament, but on the rights of all South Africans. Parliament is one of South Africa’s founding democratic institutions, established by the Constitution, to uphold the Bill of Rights and account to the people of South Africa – all of whom have entrusted us with the responsibility of leading them towards a better life. Members of Parliament, as representatives of the people must put the interests of all South Africans first and reassert the role of this important institution.

4.3. Cabinet was apprised on Tropical Cyclone Dineo, with South Africa set to experience severe storms and heavy rains starting from today, Thursday, 16 February 2017 until the weekend - Sunday 19 February 2017. The Cyclone will affect Mpumalanga, the extreme northern parts of Kwa Zulu Natal and Limpopo. This will mostly affect – Kruger National Park, Enhlanzeni, Vhembe, Mopani and Waterberg district Municipalities. The eastern parts of Limpopo may also experience high levels of rainfall on Friday, estimated at 200 mm over a 24-hour period.

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) and the National Joint Operations Centre (NATJOC) comprising of various government departments and institutions have assessed the situation and activated three Provincial Joint Operations Centres (PROVJOC) in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. This multi-sectoral approach will assist where the need arises to ensure safety of communities and to minimise the impact.

Government is appealing to all affected communities to take extra care ahead of this coming cyclone. Communities are discouraged from crossing flooded roads, bridges and rivers. We also urge parents, care givers and guardians to ensure the safety of their children during the storms. Communities must work together to ensure the safety of people. Please listen for warnings and information on Tropical Cyclone Dineo which is being broadcast across all local radio stations.

4.4. Cabinet fully supports the intervention and community engagement by the government delegation, being led by Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, and the Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane to engage on issues affecting communities in the area, in particular matters around policing and the alleged illegal activities of migrants.

Cabinet supports the Minister’s call for “a whole of state approach” to these legitimate issues raised by communities, which will be addressed through: the establishment of a Border Management Authority that will help in better managing our borders, documentation of all people living in South Africa, effective policing and ensuring compliance to the laws and the Constitution of the Republic by citizens and foreign nationals.

Cabinet gives full support to the security cluster, to ensure that these matters are resolved to the satisfaction of the South African public. This will require better dialogue around policing between communities and the authorities. Cabinet further wishes to call for responsible public comments by all leaders and representatives, issues must be handled in a responsible manner.

4.5. In a separate incident, Cabinet condemns the attacks on fans, players and officials during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld which left 13 people injured.

Such behaviour and acts of hooliganism brings the sport into disrepute, reflects negatively on the country and requires stringent action from soccer authorities that must act swiftly to ensure such acts are not repeated.

5. Sympathy and congratulatory messages

5.1. Cabinet expresses its condolences to family, friends and the rugby fraternity on the passing of former Springbok captain Joost van der Westhuizen. President Jacob Zuma had also declared a Special Provincial Official Funeral to commemorate the South African rugby legend.

5.2. Cabinet welcomes the election of Chad's Foreign Minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, as the new Chairperson of the African Union Commission, replacing South Africa's Dr Nkosazana-Dlamini Zuma.

5.3. Cabinet welcomes the appointment of Minister Jeff Radebe, as a South African ambassador for Global Citizens, and will form part of a movement of eight million Global Citizens across the world. This is a network of top celebrities, policymakers, business leaders, activists and stakeholders committed to tackling the world's biggest challenges and ending extreme poverty. It’s work is aligned to the National Development Plan goals of ending poverty and reducing inequality, and benefits the development framework for the continent - Agenda 2063.

5.4. The Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, is also being honoured by the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her role in science diplomacy in Boston, United States, today.

5.5. Cabinet congratulates the winners of the annual Ubuntu Awards, hosted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to celebrate South African citizens who play an active role in projecting a positive image of South Africa internationally. These included: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela; Siyabulela Xuza; Pretty Yende; Esther Mahlangu; Gertrude Shope; and Chinese Ambassador Tian Xuejun. Sasol, Babies Behind Bars and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation were also recognised.

5.6. Cabinet also congratulates the South African Sevens team also known as the Blitzboks for winning the Sydney Rugby Sevens World Series tournament. This is their second win since the beginning of the year after the Blitzboks won the HSBC Wellington Sevens in January.

6. Appointments

All appointments are subject to the verification of qualifications and the relevant clearance.
6.1. Ms. Claire Busetti to the National Research Foundation Board.
6.2. Mr. KW Vukela as the Deputy Director-General: Service Delivery at the Department of Public Service and Administration.
6.3. Ms. JL Meyer as the Chief Financial Officer at Government Printing Works.

Enquiries:
Donald Liphoko
Cell: 082 901 0766

Issued by: Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)

Year: 
2017
Media Statement date: 
Thursday, February 16, 2017