22 October 2003
The main focus of discussions in Cabinet today was on issues pertaining to the fiscal framework and division of revenue, in order to guide preparations for the Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) by the Minister of Finance to Parliament on 12 November. The Statement will deal with broad indications regarding allocation of resources for the next 3-year expenditure period.
The meeting was joined by Provincial Premiers and MEC's of Finance for a broad exchange of views on priorities in the vertical allocation of resources, over and above priorities for allocation among national departments. It was agreed that government across all spheres would stay the course of pushing back the frontiers of poverty and broadening access to a better life for all.
Cabinet noted the publication of government research, "Towards a Ten Year Review", on progress in the implementation of government programmes in the last nine-and-a-half years; and it called on all sectors of society to debate these issues and conduct assessments of their own sectoral experiences, the better for our nation to appreciate its advances in the First Decade of Freedom and identify challenges for the Second Decade.
The meeting noted the up-coming Conference next weekend in the United Kingdom, bringing together friends of South Africa in all areas of life, to share views on progress in dealing with the legacy of apartheid, and to forge stronger partnerships of solidarity in support of reconstruction and development in South Africa and the rest of the continent.
Cabinet approved for submission to Parliament:
- Protocol to the AU Charter on Human and People's Rights dealing with the Rights of Women in Africa; and
- Ø Protocol on Amendments to the Constitutive Act of the African Union.
The following appointments were approved:
- Members of the Consumer Affairs Special Committee (to be chaired by Prof T Woker) and Consumer Affairs Special Court;
- Chairperson of the Board of the Council for Geoscience, Prof P Ngoepe as well as one additional member of the Board; and
- One DDG each in The Presidency and the Department of Correctional Services.
Cabinet welcomed the release of the Financial Sector Charter as an important step in the comprehensive process of redressing the racially-based income and social inequalities that still affect South African society. The Charter is a voluntary mechanism which will be binding only on the sector, and it will be registered as a "Transformational Charter" in terms of BEE legislation. The Minister of Finance has been requested to consult with the sector on ways in which the reporting requirements could be simplified.
On the Implementation Plan for Anti-retroviral Treatment in the public health sector, the Department of Health is finalising documentation for submission to Cabinet, after in loco inspection in some of the Provinces. It is expected that the documents would be ready for submission in the next few days; in which case the Cabinet Secretariat would consider the possibility of convening a special Cabinet meeting to consider the matter.
With regard to the issue of conditions for acceptance into the SA National Defence Force, Cabinet reiterated that there was no government policy to exclude individuals merely on the basis of their HIV status. Because of the mandate of the SANDF and the rigour of preparation in the military section of the Force, it is a requirement that new recruits are assessed on the basis of clinical evaluation inclusive of height, weight, vision, audiometric status, and serological sampling including hepatitis and HIV; and each case is treated on its own merits.
Further, the SANDF does not terminate the service of members who are HIV positive - rather, they are offered counselling and treatment in the service.
Cabinet welcomed the implementation of the National Imbizo Focus Week as planned from 13 to 19 October. Initial reports indicate that 395 events were held throughout the country, to share views with the public on how they can access economic opportunities for growth and development. This campaign will continue. It was also noted that, while massive progress has been made in encouraging citizens to apply for Identity Documents, there are indications that in some areas these documents, once issued, lie in government offices uncollected. Relevant Departments will examine this issue with a view to encouraging applicants to collect their ID's.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)