Transcript: Post-Cabinet media briefing


24 August 2012

Panel: Government Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi, Pieter Mulder, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Minister Lulu Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Mr Steven Groenewald, Agriculture Processing

Date: 22 August 2012
Venue: Imbizo Media Centre, Cape Town

Remarks by Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Pieter Mulder

Just on the Arbour Week, South Africa will be celebrating as you said Arbour Week from the 1st to the 7th of September to raise awareness about the importance and value of trees in our lives. Our theme for this year’s campaign is ‘our forest our future’ and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is the custodian of forestry in South Africa and therefore the National Arbour Week celebrations Arbour Day was originally celebrated by South Africa in 1983 the South African Government extended the celebration of Arbour Day into a National Arbour Week. This year the campaign will take place in line with international year of the forest as declared by the United Nations Forum on Forestry. During National Arbour Week we recognise the importance of trees in our communities and encourage awareness of the need to protect our indigenous trees by planting trees in our communities we are also helping to mitigate the affect on global warming and climate change. Trees can beautify the community and promote bio-diversity by providing diverse habitats. They also promote sustainable living by providing food, shade and oxygen to this end National Arbour Week supports government’s priority to protect and enhance our environment from assets and that resources. The Arbour Week celebrations consists of the national launch event the main event and a series of other events in various provinces and districts this year the launch event will take place on the 1st of September 2012 in Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province the launch event will involve the establishment of 200 food gardens and the planting of over 1000 indigenous trees in the area. Cabinet Ministers, mayors and ward councillors are expected to participate in tree planning initiatives during Arbour Week another highlight in the event will be the awarding of prizes to the winners of the Arbour City Award the Arbour City Award is a competition that was introduced to promote the greening of cities and towns in South Africa. This is award is given to cities, towns that go an extra mile to green the areas of jurisdiction the department supports and facilitate the planting of trees as part of the implementation of the national green strategy and the celebrations of National Arbour Week. The trees that we plant can be categorised in two groups, indigenous on the one side and fruit and the fruit trees are integrated with other programmes that is vegetable gardens they address household food security. On the other hand indigenous trees are preferred because they are adapted to our local and national conditions in the country they are indigenous to South Africa and can withstand the prevailing climatic conditions even during time of hardships when we have droughts their chance of survival than those of exotic species. The planting of indigenous trees promotes bio-diversity and in addition South Africa is a water scarce country and indigenous trees use less water compared to other species. We are also using Arbour Week this year as a build up towards the World Forestry Congress that will be hosted by South Africa in 2015 it will be a meeting of role players and stakeholders from all over the world to discuss crucial and critical forestry matters affecting the world. Thank you.

Remarks by Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana

I am pleased to announce that the National Council against Gender Based Violence will be launched this Saturday on the 25th of August 2012 at the Southern Sun Hotel near OR Tambo Airport in Kempton Park. On the 5th of December 2011, Cabinet approved the establishment of the National Council against Gender Based Violence which is a high level multi-sectoral national response to the scourge of gender based violence. The council will be chaired by the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa Mr Kgalema Motlanthe and I will be its champion as Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities. Since the Cabinet announcement a lot of work has been done by the interim council and my department to mobilise partners and to prepare for the launch. As government we acknowledge that the levels of gender based violence in our country are unacceptably high according to the statistics announced by the Minister of Police last year the combined figures of all sexual offences including rape, indecent assault indicate an upward trend of 2.1% for 2010/2011 compared to 2009/2010 financial years. Cases of murder of women increased by 5.6% and sexual offences against children increased by 2.6% during this period. We are confident that the work of the council will lead to a significant reduction in the incidents of violence against women and children through the National Council against Gender Based Violence we are taking the war against gender based violence to a higher level. The council has been charged with the following responsibilities: to drive the implementation of the 365 days national action plan, advise government on policy and program interventions, to strengthen national partnerships in the fight against gender based violence, create and strengthen international partnerships on gender based violence, monitor and report progress on initiatives aimed at addressing gender based violence.

The National Council against Gender Based Violence is envisaging having 45 members with a dedicated secretariat located in the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities. Council members will be appointed for a period of two to three years, there will be observers from key organisations such as the Commission for Gender Equality, and United Nations bodies research institutions, donor partners and expats. We have ensured that the council is as representative as possible to enable us to draw from the diverse expertise, views and experience of various stakeholders. The following sectors will be represented in the council, civil society organisations dealing with violence against women and children and gender based violence, religious organisations, traditional, women’s movements, academic and research institutions, government across all spheres as well as the South African Local Government Association. Working together we believe we can do more to eliminate gender based violence, I thank you.

Questions and answers

Journalist: The first question for Jimmy. Was there any discussion at all about the Limpopo textbook saga, I know it has sort of fallen to the backdrop after what happened at Marikana but was there any update on that report? Then Minister if I could ask you a question; we have quite a number of task teams, government task teams several of them involved the president himself set up one recently to tackle various problems. Do you think this will actually make a big difference and I ask specifically because we have had for example a commission for gender equality since the mid 1990ties and there’s has been some successes but in terms of domestic violence which is a particularly difficult problem, how do you think on the ground this is actually going to make a difference. Thanks. 

Journalist: Jimmy I wanted to find out when Cabinet reflected on the Marikana massacre did they discuss in any way the likelihood of spill over effects? Are they concerned that this action will stream over to other mines? Any contingency plans that government is considering to protect the platinum sector specifically? Thirdly did Cabinet endorse the action taken by SAPS to quell the strike action there? So will the modus of the operandi of the cops be similar or alternatively they are going to adopt a softer approach maybe not using live ammunition? Thank you very much.

Journalist: The report on hydraulic fracturing can you give us some idea on whether the moratorium is being lifted and also whether we are likely to go ahead with Shell gas intrusion in the Karoo?

Journalist: I wanted to know why was a decision taken to export bulk wine from South Africa and will it be extended to other countries and what impact will it have on jobs in South Africa. Thanks.

Journalist: During the discussion of products coming out of the Israeli occupied territories, was Deputy Minister’s Ebrahim statement on discouraging people from visiting Israel, was that discussed and does Cabinet endorse his view?

Minister Lulu Xingwana: Yes there are task teams some of them were set up by the Minister of Justice to ensure that we fast track the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act and some were specifically set up to look at killings of children and abuse of children. This council actually is the only council to address gender based violence that has been established at the highest level in the country and it will be led by the Presidency it is a council that will bring together ministers for instance Minister of Justice, Social Development, Police, Correctional Services, Education, Health but also not only government the task teams that we are talking about are only government task teams this one will also include civil society as I have already said we are working with NGO’s that are at the forefront of the fight against gender based violence. They too will be members of this council the CDE will be an observer of this council because of their mandate they can’t be a full member. We are also brining in traditional leaders as you know we have challenges such as cultural practices and eviction of widows from their homes those are some of the challenges that we want to address through this council. So this council will bring together both governments the private sector, civil society, NGO’s including women’s organisations so that we can pull together all our resources and all our expertise to fight the scourge once and for all. We believe that we have been working in our silence, as government we have been working in our small corners as the civil society and NGO’s but we don’t have essential body that pulls together all those resources to ensure that we can pull together and actually target this scourge as a co-ordinated body. Thank you very much.

Steven Groenewald:I’m going to be responding to the questions from the Die Burger on the wine exports from South Africa, in the 2011/2012 period 52% of South Africa’s certified wine was exported in bulk. In 2006 the number was round about 35% so there has been a very significant swing in the volume of bulk wine leaving the country. We believe that part of the reason for this is the work of a NGO based in the UK which is funded by the British Government caused the Waste and Resource Action Program and this NGO has advocated bulk wine exports from developing countries such as South Africa under the guides of environmental concern. It appears as if the NGO has not taken account of the socio-economic costs to an economy such as South Africa from exporting wine in bulk. Wine in bulk means that we don’t have the value addition in South Africa, we don’t have the brand identity associated with South Africa’s high quality wine, we also don’t have the development of other industries such as the bottle closures such as the glass bottle etc. Our view is that this is a serious risk to the South African wine industry we are led to believe that the retailers in the UK would like import wine from South Africa in bulk mainly because it is slightly cheaper and it allows them to bottle it within their economies and add value in their economy rather than in a developing country such as South Africa. We are also concern that this approach of environmental standard might spread to other sectors of the economy in particular we would be concerned about the fruit juice sector and the other beverage sectors of South Africa such as brandy and other spirits. So the decision to export bulk wine is not a government decision it is a decision made by individual wine farms under pressure from UK based retailers in particular. We believe that between 300 to 700 jobs have been lost in the sector through bottling plants either being closed particularly in the Western Cape so there is significant risk to the South African wine industry from this approach. As a result Cabinet has taken the decision to embark on a wide ranging and holistic set of interventions to try and deal with this ranging from as Mr Manyi mentioned earlier, from the development of a five year industrial strategy for the sector to innovative packaging solutions, funding research around that to export market diversification to ensure that our wine sector does not remain concentrated in the UK market and starts looking at other potential faster growing markets like China and a range of other interventions which seek to address challenges in the wine sector. Thank you.

Government Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: On the Limpopo textbook question as you know the last time we reported that there was a preliminary task team that was provided to the President with this matter so as things stand now the final report is still not out in terms of what is happening there. In the meantime the treasury is working very closely with the Department of Basic Education to provide all the support to ensure that they get closed so the absence of the report does not mean the work is not happening a lot of work is happening in Limpopo it is top of mind agenda item for Cabinet and we hope that in the near future there will be a full report on the matter.

Then on the issue of spill over of Marikana and the issue of whether Cabinet endorsed SAPS and all of those, let me put it this way right now the president has declared this whole week as a week of mourning. Cabinet’s posture is a mourning posture, the President has appointed a team of ministers under the chairmanship of Minister Chabane to go and assist the families the bereaved families in Marikana. So top of mind right now is to ensure that the families are council, is to ensure the families know where all the loved ones are is to make sure that there’s a whole range of support that goes into Marikana families and all of that. We think that the loss of life is a very serious matter and the families who lost loved ones must be counselled must be supported that is what government is busy with. We would rather wait for the facts that the judicial inquiry will come up with and then respond henceforth after that up until the judicial inquiry has pronounced cabinet will not say a word about whose auctioning whatever and also as you remember the President has been very clear that this week at least let’s mourn and let’s not do finger pointing let the judicial inquiry bring the facts to the table let’s deal with facts.

Journalist: A follow up Mr Manyi if you don’t mind. With all due respect I understand it is a period of mourning, I understand there’s a commission of inquiry I am aware of that but that is not to sound insensitive, that’s old news. At the moment there are people who are being blocked going to other mines. Has Cabinet discussed the spill over effects, what is government planning to do should the very key economic sector of mining be further affected? And we can skip the SAPS thing then please. Thanks.

Government Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: You sound very angry Windum?

Journalist: I’m just trying to get answers Mr Manyi that’s all I want, thank you.

Government Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: Indeed you do sound very angry but you know Windum in government when the President has spoken we listen. The President has been very clear this is a period of mourning this is a period of giving counselling to families, cabinet is endorsing that position and our view as government is that South Africa as a whole should respect that and we should be saying what is it that we can do in our various individual capacity to assist the bereaved families. That’s where Cabinet is on the matter I understand your anger and your requirement for news and all of that but right now the focus of government is on ensuring that those families come to terms with the reality in the most humane way and provide them all the support that they need. So I know your requirement for news does not meet that issue but you know it is one of those things, I can’t help that.

Moving on, the fracking as to whether it is going to go ahead, if I had to say one more word on this I will be jumping the gun. I think Donald the best way I can respond to you is to say look Cabinet is trying to give you a diamond out of this, you know when you manufacture a diamond from coal you put coal under high temperature and pressure and then you transform it and then it turns into the diamond now if in the process of that you open the oven you might just end up with coal. So I just want to say to you Donald, just hang in there we are not at the diamond stage yet but we are getting there and Cabinet wants to ensure that the processes this report by the ministry so that when we come back to all stakeholders and to the nation all the questions are thoroughly dealt with. So I am going to ask for a bit of indulgence on your part but simply to say Cabinet is ceased with this matter and it is doing everything it can to make sure that it is dealt with thoroughly. So at the right time which will be this year there will be a full briefing in terms of all the questions that you have.

Journalist: Mr Manyi when is that briefing?

Government Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: Look I think because we just had this cabinet now and there are processes in between, a much more accurate picture will probably emerge at the next cabinet briefing between now and that briefing there won’t be information on this matter because cabinet is involved in this baking. So I’m hoping that the next cabinet briefing will provide a bit more detail in terms of where things are. Then on the last question on Minister Ebrahim’s comments, no Cabinet did not discuss that. Thank you.

Journalist: With regards to the consultation process of the Deputy President do we know when that consultation process will end and when the outcomes will be made public and do you think the outcomes of that consultation process will have an impact on the review later this year? Then in terms of the Judicial Commission do we know when it is going to be set up and when it will be announced?

Journalist: Mr Manyi the first question I have is relating back to the Marikana issue. President Zuma has not actually met the miners so by mourning and sympathising will he be meeting the affected people this week, any time soon, at all? The second question is going back to e-toll if you remember the last time we met I think it was a few weeks ago if not months you promised to get back to me on the e-toll the 44 subcontractors the list that Deputy President Motlanthe made very clear that I would get even that day if not that week and this was literally months ago. So when can I get this list its now been months surely this list is available can we get a commitment to get it by the end of the day please otherwise we will have to write that government refuses to give us this list which I will have to be writing tomorrow if we don’t get it. The second question is relating to the portfolio of Home Affairs where Minister Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma has moved on is there going to be a Cabinet reshuffle? Will it be this week or how long will this post remain empty? The last question is relating to Inga and I know you probably won’t be able to comment but the question there has been many treaties before, Inga has never worked what’s going to make this treaty any different? Thanks.

Journalist: Just on the UK bulk wine issue you say Cabinet are looking at a study on the impact of possible bulk imports of whisky from the United Kingdom. Is there any possibility of this starting some kind of trade war with the United Kingdom and possibly other European countries?

Journalist: I’ve got a question for the Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities it is in connection with the Traditional Courts Bill the last time I heard you speaking I asked you about this Bill and you told me you’ve met with the Justice Minister and he agreed that this Bill needed to be withdrawn and rewritten in fact he used the words overhauled. Now when he was telling you this or when he was agreeing with you about this it seems he was also instructing his legal team to write a set of revised policy options regarding this Bill. Did he lie to you and if he did what can you do about that, the Bill has not been withdrawn it has not been overhauled it is in the NCOP for more hearings. Is this not a betrayal of the women in this country?

Then my other question relates to the fracking when will the report be made public and when the moratorium on the exploration rights be lifted before the public have had an opportunity to comment on the details in this report. And if I can just dig in a last question I think the question relating to the spill over affects of Marikana in the mining sector is a very legitimate question. This country’s economy revolves around mining it is a crucial sector and I think as a fellow journalist I take offense to Mr Manyi implying that my colleague is simply after a headline, I think it is a legitimate question and I think that it deserves to be answered. I think it is all fine to say that this is a week of mourning we do accept that and we have enormous empathy and sympathy for the events that took place but I feel that we can’t just accept an answer that says it’s a week of mourning and we are not going to even entertain the possibility of further issues arising in this sector. I think we deserve a better answer Mr Manyi. Thank you.

Journalist: Mr Manyi can you give us some details about the memorial services taking place tomorrow and also any details around burials related to Marikana. Thanks very much.

Journalist: My question is on the gender equality draft bill when it is going to be published in the government gazette and when are the closing date and the address where the submissions can be sent. Thanks.

Minister Lulu Xingwana:Going back to the Traditional Courts Bill yes the Minister wrote to me and agreed that the Bill is flawed and agreed that the Bill must be overhauled now I’m not aware that he has instructed someone to write the Bill, I’m scheduled to meet with the Minister once again and we are going to discuss this Bill, myself, Minister of Justice and Minister of Traditional Leaders Minister Baloyi. After that meeting and I don’t believe Minister Jeff Radebe lied to me, I think he was genuinely concerned about this Bill and he was concerned that we need to overhaul it and we need to ensure that it is not passed by parliament in its current form.

In terms of the Gender Equality Bill, Cabinet endorsed the Bill yesterday for publishing in the government gazette and then after that we shall invite public comments for 30 days. Thank you very much.

Steven Groenewald:Responding to the question from Paul from Business Day. You know South Africa has a long and very strong relationship with the United Kingdom at both economic, trade and political level so we certainly hope that the developments on bulk wine doesn’t lead to any kind of trade war between either South Africa, the UK or any of the European countries with whom we trade extensively. However South Africa does have a responsibility to protect its trade interests in the year 2011, South Africa imported round about 1.7bn rands worth of whisky from the UK while at the same time exporting round about 993 million rands worth of wine to the UK. So there’s a significant imbalance in terms of the beverage import and exports between South Africa and the UK. We believe we will begin an engagement with the United Kingdom Government as well as the key retailers and producers of whisky to begin to engage with them around why what if exporting bulk wine is much more competitive and cost effective than exporting bottled wine, why South Africa shouldn’t be importing bulk whisky from the UK and bottling it locally so that we can at least attempt to prevent some of the job losses that we have seen up to now spreading to other parts of the South African economy. So to be very clear we are certainly not hoping for a trade war with either the UK or the European Union but we want firm and robust engagement with our trade partners whether in the wine industry or any other manufacturing sector are potentially going to be undermined and it is within in that context that we are looking at engaging both UK government its major retailers as well as the local wine industry to ensure where we can improve competitiveness we do so and we support them as both the DTI and the government. Thanks.

Government Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: On the consultation process it is an ongoing process as you know the Deputy President wants to make sure that there is no important player out there that is going to say I was not consulted. So he is on the mission to make sure that all the basis are covered so it is also subjected to availability of people but the Deputy President is working on a tight schedule and he has met all the key players what is actually happening now is the follow up visits to some of the same players, follow up meetings because they go to this meetings as you know in this discussion you don’t go with a fixed position they go there and work things and they go back. So what has been happening now actually has been repeat meetings of some of the stakeholders that have been met already this we hope we will eventually ensure that we see eye to eye on all the matters that are being discussed in the consultation processes. We are hoping it should be concluded in the near future as to whether it will impact on, I can’t comment on that.

Judicial Commission this is the matter that is being handled by the President and I would beg your indulgence there the President has cut short his visit in Mozambique to try and deal with this matter and the very first thing he announced was the commission so the President is working very hard to make sure that this is established soonest. I don’t have the date but it is very high on the agenda of the President to get this commission appointed and to also make sure that the terms of reference are proper.

When the President will meet miners? As you know the President arrived Friday night and at that time we had to get a briefing and we had to check on the ones that were in hospital that were injured in the process as we speak right now I have been told the President is also on his way back to Marikana so the President is taking this matter very seriously.

On the list of contractors James, in fact I must apologise for not coming back to you on this matter I do have the list I can confirm that with you the only thing that we are dealing with is that this contractors have got their own subcontractors, and they have a very different relationship with the main contractor now we have just been waiting to hear from the legal people whether making it available if we are transgressing anything but we have the list we do and if somebody if you can tell me that there shouldn’t be any legal comebacks, but I have the list in fact I wanted to give it to you that same afternoon James the only issue was just to make sure that as we do so we don’t make other transgressions elsewhere. I will double check today I should get it today by end of business. I got the list from SANRAL I got it from SANRAL so they have the list so it is just the question of making sure making it public we are not violating any fine print any where that’s the only thing that is holding this list.

Cabinet reshuffle the appointment and disappointment if I could call it that of the executive is a presidential matter it is not a cabinet matter, I’m the spokesperson for the cabinet so that matter the President deals with on his own so I can’t comment on cabinet reshuffle it is maybe Mac Maharaj will be better positioned to deal with that matter.

Whether the treaty is going to work with others not having worked, I think I note the comment and the question but perhaps different times, different dynamics were applicable at a particular point we are where we are now we do everything in this country with great anticipation that all is going to be well. So we are doing this hoping that we will deliver on it and we are very confident that indeed we will deliver. The trade war story has been dealt with the fracking when will the report be made public just as I said a bit of indulgence the Minister will pronounce fully on this matter and I can’t say anything more than that at this point.

The battle on the spill over affect you see this is a very emotional matter and I can understand the emotions of the journalist on this matter but as government we have a responsibility to say that emotional as it is this matter but we have to handle it in the most sensitive way and government has decided that the most sensitive way noting all the things that you are saying which we take very seriously, government has decided, the President has decided that this week we are going to be mourning and in parallel to the mourning process there’s a whole range of ministers are camping in Marikana as we speak right now to provide a lot of support to the families out there that’s what ministers are doing as we speak. Whether there will be spill over effect or not those are matters that are determined by facts one has to look at and analyse the situation and look at what are the conditions that prevailed Lonmin whether they are the same conditions so it is an in-depth study that you need to know you can’t just wake up and say there will be, so this is why as government we take the approach that collection of information, gathering of facts is a very important aspect before you make any pronouncements. So at this point the facts are being collected, the inquiry will bring South Africa to closure by bringing all the relevant facts of this matter but as things stand right now if you see anything it will be what you think it is unlikely to be born out by proper facts. So we appeal to all the people that are looking for answers that can we first make sure that the facts are right and all of this so that’s where we are. Thank you.

End of media briefing

Year: 
2012
Media Statement date: 
Friday, August 24, 2012