Media release

Statement on Cabinet meeting of 20 March 2002

20 March 2002

20 March 2002

Cabinet this morning received a briefing on latest developments regarding the situation in Zimbabwe. The meeting noted the decision of the Commonwealth on the matter, and expressed its support for the comprehensive and forward-looking approach contained in the Commonwealth statement issued yesterday.

In this regard, Cabinet congratulated President Thabo Mbeki for the role that he and President Olusegun Obasanjo in particular have played to ensure that the Commonwealth addresses the most critical issues facing Zimbabwe in the current period. We are confident that the initiative to assist Zimbabweans to unite in pursuit of peace, stability and economic recovery will bear fruit.

The decision of the Commonwealth to suspend Zimbabwe for a year is an important symbolic gesture both to express the displeasure of the organisation with the weaknesses which were manifest in the electoral process, and to serve as an incentive for the role-players in Zimbabwe to unite and work together to rebuild their country.

As our government has said, the most critical challenge in this period is to assist the people of Zimbabwe to reconstruct their economy, including through a law-governed land reform process, to deal with food shortages and to bring about political and social stability. South Africa and other Commonwealth members have committed themselves to this objective, and we call on the international community to join us in this endeavour.

In pursuit of the Commonwealth’s and our own objectives, the South African government will continue to relate to the Government of Zimbabwe as the elected government of that country. In this regard, President Mbeki has noted and accepted the report of the SA Parliamentary Observer Mission adopted by Parliament yesterday, and the interim report of the SA Observer Mission.

Further, the SA government wishes to emphasise that it is critical that no one – within and outside Zimbabwe – should behave in a manner that seeks to worsen the economic, social and political difficulties facing Zimbabwe. We also wish to condemn any form of violence or destabilisation from any quarter, which would have the effect of undermining these objectives.

Cabinet examined South Africa’s relations with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); and it agreed that SA would continue to build relations with this organisation incrementally and in a co-ordinated fashion by applying for observer status in the committees that would best serve the interests of our country.

The meeting received a report on progress in the Human Settlement Re-development Programme, which seeks to facilitate increased access to infrastructure services, upgrading of the environment and increased opportunities for social and economic development. It agreed that all relevant Departments and all the spheres should take active part in the review of impact and lessons from current projects and the take full part in the implementation of the programme.

Cabinet noted the policy intentions outlined in the Revised National Curriculum Statement (Grade R to 9), and supported its publication as government policy.

The following Bills were approved for submission to Parliament:

  • amendments to the National Development Agency (NDA) Act, to effect the transfer of the Agency from the Ministry of Finance to that of Social Development;
  • State Information Technology Agency (SITA) Amendment Bill, which redefines part of the mandate of SITA.

Cabinet approved the development of a new system of National Orders, and that details of the transformed system would be announced by the President once the process has been completed. It also approved a new policy approach on State, Official and Special Official Funerals and on occasions at which the flag would be flown at half-mast.

The following appointments were approved:

  • six members of the Legal Aid Board
  • DDG in the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry; and
  • Mr S Msikinya as CEO of the SA Maritime Safety Authority.

Cabinet approved the work being done jointly by various Departments to develop a comprehensive strategy against rape and related child abuse. The three critical elements of this strategy will include deterrence against potential rapists through effective conviction; repeat offender analysis to detect and convict repeat offenders; and focus on local environmental factors that are conducive for these crimes.

Joel Netshitenzhe
Cell: 082 900 0083

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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