Statement on the Cabinet meeting of 21 June 2017

Cabinet met on Wednesday, 21 June 2017, at Tuynhuys, Cape Town.

Cabinet Statement Fact Sheet

1.  Issues in the environment

1.1. Cabinet reflected on the recent announcements by the three major ratings agencies. All three ratings agencies raised similar issues such as the slow pace of growth-enhancing reforms, the performance of state-owned companies (SOCs) and political risks, among other issues.

Cabinet expressed confidence in its systematic interventions to address the country’s economic challenges as well as work undertaken to strengthen the performance of the SOCs.  Government remains on track in maintaining its fiscal framework, ensuring policy certainty, and working to ensure inclusive growth and economic transformation.

Cabinet reiterates that the foundation for a higher growth path and socio-economic development has already been laid.

It focuses on improving investor and consumer confidence by fast-tracking the implementation of the structural reforms for economic growth.

President Jacob Zuma convened the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Advisory Council workshop on Tuesday, 20 June 2017, which focused on radical socio-economic transformation.

The workshop, amongst others, addressed the systematic and structural implementation challenges of the Broad-Based BEE Act, 2003 (Act 53 of 2003) and the proposed recommendations to realise government’s objectives on radical socio-economic transformation.

The partnership between government, business, labour and civil society is critical to boost confidence levels, so that working together we can reclaim and maintain investment-grade ratings.

1.2. As Youth Month draws to a close, Cabinet thanks all sectors who participated in activities across the country. The participation of thousands of young people in the various Youth Month empowerment activities that were hosted by departments, government entities and the private sector is encouraging.

This year marks the 41st anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Student Uprising and the commemoration serves as a reminder that young people in the country were at the forefront of our Struggle.

Cabinet calls on youth to use all the support and resources that government has made available to improve their prospects and advance their participation in the economy.

1.3. Cabinet condemns the recent violence and intimidation of commuters during the protests by taxi owners. Such actions are out of place in a democratic society. Peaceful interventions on any matter will always be beneficial to all parties involved.

The subsequent agreement between the South African National Taxi Association and SA Taxi Finance Holdings is further confirmation that peaceful dialogue can resolve such issues without impacting on innocent people and disrupting the economy.

Cabinet welcomes this decision, which is in the best interest of commuters and the taxi industry.

Cabinet welcomes the dialogue currently taking place between the Department of Transport and the leadership of the taxi industry in finding a lasting solution. The department will be engaging development finance institutions to seek alternative taxi finance options. 

1.4. Cabinet conveys its deepest sympathy to all who lost loved ones during the recent disasters in the Western and Eastern Cape respectively. A number of residents also suffered displacement and loss of property.

Cabinet commends the prompt integrated approach and response from government, business and ordinary South Africans in assisting the affected families. Cabinet pays tribute to the heroic volunteer firefighter, Bradley Richards and the truck driver John Blaaw who assisted firefighters in transporting water who paid with their lives saving their community. 

Cabinet further extends a special appreciation to the Working on Fire team that bravely fought the raging fires. They are our pride! Cabinet wishes a speedy recovery to the two injured firefighters including Ian Barnard who sustained injuries whilst trying to save Bradley Richards.                                                 

President Zuma visited the communities of Wit Lokasie and Knysna Heights that were adversely affected by the fires. President Zuma attended the memorial service of Mr Richards.  In the true firefighter team spirit, Mr Barnard was able to attend the memorial service of his colleague Mr Richards. 

The President dispatched humanitarian and other support to all the affected areas. This was coordinated through the National Joint Operations Centre Disaster Management structure, working with the Western Cape Provincial Government and Provincial Disaster Management teams.

Cabinet thanks all non-governmental organisations, the private sector, volunteers and communities who are supporting affected communities.

1.5. Cabinet urges communities in Limpopo bordering Zimbabwe to be vigilant and exercise caution with their chicken stock. This follows a report of an outbreak of a bird and chicken flu virus called H5N8.

The trade in birds and chicken products from Zimbabwe has been suspended. The H5N8 virus is highly pathogenic and extremely contagious, and leads to a high level of mortality. Commercial farmers are also encouraged to increase their biosecurity measures on farms.

1.6.  Cabinet has welcomed the High Court ruling that declared Section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) unconstitutional, lifting the 20-year limit to lay criminal charges against those accused of sexual abuse. This ruling will go a long way in strengthening our justice system’s capacity to act against those perpetrating violence against women and children.

1.7. Cabinet welcomes the recent Internet for All community session held in Kliptown, Soweto. The session – led by Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, private sector and civil society – resulted in the training of about 500 young people in basic information and communications technology (ICT) skills. The Declaration on Internet for All adopted the leadership structure and also identified targets for implementation within the next six months.

Cabinet further welcomed the intervention by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services through the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the Economic Development Department through the Competition Commission, to look into the high data costs that continue to be an inhibition to increase access to ICTs.

1.8. Cabinet is concerned by reports of services being disrupted at mortuaries in Gauteng due to ongoing labour disputes. As a result, grieving families are unable to claim their relatives’ bodies.

Death in any family brings an element of vulnerability and pain to the surviving family members. As society no amount of dispute is worth such insensitivity. Cabinet appeals to all parties involved to find an amicable solution to their disputes without affecting the families of the deceased.

1.9. Cabinet welcomes the formation of the Local Government Youth Development Forum. The forum is set to be a progressive voice of youth in the implementation of various youth development initiatives within local government.  The Forum held its first inaugural conference on the 20 -21 June in Muldersdrift, west of Johannesburg.

2.  Cabinet decisions

2.1. Cabinet approved the White Paper on the National Health Insurance (NHI), to be gazetted as a policy document. The White Paper takes the country closer to ensuring all South Africans have access to healthcare, irrespective of their socio-economic status.

The NHI is a health financing system that allocates funds to provide access to healthcare.

This is consistent with the National Development Plan’s (NDP) objective that seeks to ensure everyone has access to healthcare, regardless of their income.

The Department of Health will hold a briefing on 29 June 2017 to fully unpack the elements of this White Paper.

2.2. Cabinet approved the Revised Human Resource Development Strategy towards 2030. The revised strategy addresses the weaknesses identified in the last five years in some parts of the education and training system and also identified the lack of coordination between different parts of the system.

The strategy is now aligned to the NDP and the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019.

It also focuses all the relevant stakeholders (government, labour, civil organisations and private sectors) on the needs of the economy and the importance of supporting an industrial strategy to achieve inclusive growth and development.

2.3. Cabinet approved the publication of the key findings of the 2015/16 survey on government funding for Scientific and Technological Activities. The 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology requires that the Department of Science and Technology monitor government funding of the science and technology sectors, and its contribution to South Africa’s growth and development.

The results of the findings of 30 national departments indicate that an estimated R23,4 billion was spent from the national fiscus in the 2015/16 financial year. Cabinet noted the nominal increase of 6.6% increase when compared with the previous year given the current fiscal constraints.

This total investment represents 1.7% of the total national budget for the year. Cabinet appreciated the fact that most of these funds were used in scientific services that support service delivery in core areas of government competency such as education, health, minerals, energy, agriculture and environment.

3. Bills

3.1. Cabinet approved the publication of the Customary Initiation Bill for public comment. The Bill seeks to protect, promote and regulate the customary initiation practices. Once approved, the Bill will provide acceptable norms and standards in conducting these customary practices. It will deal with the abuse of the initiation practice, which has seen a number of young boys dying in initiation schools.

Government and traditional leadership institutions have adopted a zero-tolerance stance towards the death of initiates as a result of initiation practices.

3.2. Cabinet approved the National Research Foundation (NRF) Amendment Bill of 2017 for submission to Parliament. The Bill has gone through its full public consultations. The amendments clarify the authority of the Minister of Science and Technology over the foundation and makes explicit the NRF’s responsibilities in respect of science engagement. These amendments will enhance the authority of the Minister to guide the NRF to improve efficiencies.

They will also improve the responsiveness and effectiveness of research, development and innovation provision to the quality of life of South Africans, through better alignment with government priorities.

3.3. Cabinet approved the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill of 2017 for submission to Parliament. The Bill strengthens aviation safety, security and environmental protection regulatory framework to ensure sustainability and stability of the civil-aviation industry.

The amendments include, amongst others, a provision for the operational independence of the aircraft accident and incident investigation; provision for the establishment of the Aviation Safety Investigation Board. It further amends and inserts certain definitions in the Act.

3.4. Cabinet approved the publication of the Sectional Titles Amendment Bill of 2017 for public comment.

The amendments update the working, functioning, application and administration of the Sectional Titles Act, 1986 (Act 95 of 1986). The current Sectional Titles Act of 1986 bestows certain rights on owners of sections in sectional titles scheme. The proposed amendment Bill proposes regulations of these rights in a meaningful manner.

3.5. Cabinet approved the Communal Land Tenure Bill of 2017 to be published for public comment. The Bill seeks to protect owners of communal land, particularly the vulnerable in rural communities.

4. Upcoming events

4.1. President Zuma will attend the 5th Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Summit to be held in Swaziland on 23 June 2017. The one-day summit will be attended by Heads of State and Government of the SACU member states, which include South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

The summit will discuss various issues related to regional trade and industrialisation and work programme. It will also review some aspects of the SACU agreement and its terms of reference, so as to facilitate development of SACU economies.

It is through SACU that increased markets for goods and services from the region can be secured through the various ongoing trade negotiations that are aimed at advancing greater regional and continental integration.

4.2. As part of the continuing crime-fighting Imbizo, President Zuma will undertake a Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme visit in Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape on Saturday, 24 June 2017.

4.3. Cabinet encourages South Africans to support the upcoming Knysna Oyster Festival and the Knysna Marathon. This is one of the most popular festivals with huge appeal to sports lovers and families. All stakeholders are working together to ensure Knysna is fully operational and open for business.

4.4. Mandela Day calls on all of us, every day, to make the world a better place. The theme for Mandela Day on 18 July, is #ActionAgainstPoverty.

Making every day a Mandela Day celebrates Madiba’s life and legacy in a sustainable way that will bring about enduring change.

5. Condolence message

5.1. Cabinet joins President Zuma in extending condolences:

  • to the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, and his family on the passing of his mother, Mrs Nozipho Nzimande. The much-loved Mama Nzimande turned 90 years old last month. She warmly received South African Communist Party and African National Congress activists in her home during the difficult period of the violence that engulfed Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal and surrounding areas during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
  • on the passing on of Lord Joel Joffe. Lord Joffe, who died at the age of 85, was a defence attorney in the Rivonia and Little Rivonia trials. He bravely defended anti-apartheid activists, making an immense contribution to the project of democracy in South Africa.
  • to the people of Namibia on the passing on of Mr Toivo ya Toivo, a revolutionary in the struggle for freedom in Namibia and an anti-apartheid activist. Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo will officially represent the government of South Africa at the funeral that will take place on Saturday, 24 June 2017.

6. Congratulatory message

6.1. Cabinet congratulates geologist Tshiamo Legoale who made history by being the first South African to be crowned the FameLab International Champion for a project that researched a method of using wheat to harvest gold from mine dumps. Legoale is a beneficiary of one of government’s bursary programmes and she recently won the award at the Cheltenham Science Festival held in the United Kingdom.

6.2. Cabinet wishes Team SA all the best for the upcoming 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games in Nassau, Bahamas from 19 to 23 July 2017.

The Games, which are held every four years, saw Team SA take second place on the medal table, with a total of 35 medals, in the 2015 games in Apia, Samoa.

The Commonwealth Youth Games remains an integral event for our future stars. Team SA is an inspiration to youth to get involved in sport as a means to change their lives for the better.

6.3. Cabinet congratulates the Springboks who put in an impressive performance on both attack and defense to win in their three test matches with France.

6.4. Cabinet congratulates Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor for being awarded an honorary Doctorate by the University of Nova, Portugal.

6.5. Cabinet conveys good wishes to Muslims in our country and the world over on the joyous occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadaan. Ramadaan and the celebration of Eid-ul-fitr afford Muslims a unique opportunity to strengthen bonds of friendship and family ties amongst themselves and with their fellow South Africans.

Enquiries:
Phumla Williams (Acting Director-General (GCIS)
Cell: 083 501 0139

Year: 
2017
Media Statement date: 
Thursday, June 22, 2017