1 December 2004
Cabinet today held its last meeting of the year 2004. In this regard government wishes all South Africans a happy festive period and a productive New Year. Government also calls on all South Africans - drivers, passengers and pedestrians - to heed the messages from our traffic authorities to exercise special care in this period so we can all Arrive Alive.
The meeting discussed preparations for the January Cabinet lekgotla, which will take place mid-January, and which will inform the programme for 2005 and the State of the Nation Address. It also examined processes under way to complete preparations for budgetary allocations for the 2005/06 financial year.
Cabinet noted and welcomed the data released by Statistics SA regarding the performance of the South African economy. Among other factors, what these facts indicate is that our GDP is bigger than previously estimated, per capita GDP is also higher, and the rate of growth of the economy is much larger. This information provides a better understanding of the opportunities in the economy and how we may improve these; it gives us a more accurate and favourable understanding of the country’s tax and debt burdens; and it improves the country’s global ranking and creditworthiness.
The meeting was briefed on the IMF’s Staff Report for the 2004 Article IV Consultation with SA, which discusses macroeconomic policies as well as structural and social issues. While there are issues on which further clarifications may be necessary, the Report supports the country’s efforts to implement initiatives aimed at reducing income and wealth disparities and to maintain social cohesion. It was agreed that the Report should be released to the public.
The meeting was briefed on the programme to recruit, train and deploy Community Development Workers, which has already enrolled a total of more than 500 learners in Gauteng, Northern Cape, Northwest and Eastern Cape. It was agreed that the processes to employ these Workers should be speeded up in these and other Provinces, and that, in this regard, co-ordination among all the spheres of government should be strengthened.
Cabinet approved plans for the consolidation of passenger railway entities (Metrorail, Shosholoza Meyl and SA Rail Commuters Corporation) into one body which would report to the Department of Transport. These plans are informed by the imperative to improve rail services to communities and to ensure that Transnet focuses on the challenge of providing freight services so as to support economic activity and job-creation. A Task team has been set up to expedite the implementation of the transaction plan.
The following Bills were approved for submission to Parliament:
- Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land Amendment Bill which seeks to strengthen provisions in the current Act especially with regard to persons organising or arranging such occupations;
- World Heritage Convention Amendment Bill which transfers functions in this regard from the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to the Department of Arts and Culture;
- Precious Metals and Diamonds General Amendment Bill which provides for better access to precious metals and diamonds for purposes of beneficiation; and
- Electricity Regulation Bill which deals with the responsibilities of municipalities and the powers of the electricity regulator in relation to the country’s development objectives.
Cabinet also approved the Service Charter for Victims of Crime in SA (“Victims’ Charter”) and Minimum Standards on Service for Victims of Crime which consolidates the present legal framework on rights of victims and services provided to them. It also deals with minimum standards for such service by security agencies and government institutions. This includes rights to fairness, to dignity and privacy; to offer and receive information; to protection; as well as assistance; compensation and restitution.
The meeting approved in principle the content of the draft Codes of Good Practice on Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment which will be released for public comment. The Codes provide principles and guidelines which will assist both public and private sectors in realising the objectives of the Broad-based BEE Act.
On the occasion of World AIDS Day, the Deputy President and some members of Cabinet were to join commemorative activities across the country. Cabinet noted the progress made in the comprehensive campaign against HIV and AIDS, including prevention and home-based care. It was noted that the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy had increased to just under 20 000 by the end of October while that of people utilising Voluntary Counselling and Testing services had increased from 412 696 in 2002/03 to 690 537 in 2003/04. The communication campaign on awareness and services has been intensified.
Government wishes on this day to express its solidarity with those affected by HIV and AIDS; and it vows to intensify all elements of the campaign, working with structures of civil society.
The meeting received and approved a report on the work of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) for the Second Quarter of 2004. The Report covers issues such as policy, foreign military assistance legislation, compliance and verification. Cabinet also approved accession by SA to the Wassenaar Arrangement which is an international body dealing with co-operation on matters of conventional arms control.
The following appointments were approved:
- Mr T Mseleku (DG: Education) who is being appointed as DG: Health with effect from January 2005;
- Extension of the contract of DG: DTI (A Ruiters) by one year;
- Extension of contract of Statistician-General (StatsSA) for a further 3 years;
- Mr M Damane as CEO of the Central Energy Fund and member of the CEF Board;
- Extension of contract of Adv M Simelane as Competition Commissioner for a further 5 years;
- Deputy DG’s in the Office of the Public Service Commission (2), SAMDI (1), DFA (1); and
- Ms W Damane as CEO of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA).
Cabinet was briefed on discussions under way to finalise senior appointments in NIA and SASS, relevant announcements around which will be made during the course of this week.
The meeting also noted the pronouncement by a US Court against the lawsuit on reparations, which underlines our own understanding that matters of this nature should be dealt with within SA, along the path we have chosen as a nation, of nation-building and reconciliation as well as reconstruction and development. It is critical that we continue with the process of implementing TRC recommendations agreed upon. This includes co-operation among all sectors - government, business, communities, victims and perpetrators - in creating work and fighting poverty. Decisions of the Growth and Development Summit and the work of the Business Trust are among the critical initiatives in this regard.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)