23 July 2003
Cabinet held an ordinary meeting on the morning of Wednesday 23 July 2003, prior to the beginning of Cabinet lekgotla which will continue until Friday.
The meeting approved a process towards the setting up of a South African Social Security Agency, a national body which will take charge of the management of the distribution of social grants throughout the country. A fulltime implementation body has been appointed to expedite the setting up of the Agency, including discussion with relevant trade unions where the process may entail relocation of staff.
Cabinet received a report regarding, and welcomed the progress in, the South African Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) established and funded by government to develop a vaccine against HIV/AIDS. The meeting noted that the clinical trials on “South African products” in this regard would start in 2004, while the other products developed in collaboration with international partners would start later this year - pending approval from the Medicines Control Council and Ethics Committee. While this research is still at an early stage, the kind of progress being made is yet another source of hope in the comprehensive campaign against the pandemic.
The meeting was also informed that the work of the Task Team of the Department of Health and National Treasury on options for an enhanced HIV/AIDS treatment programme was nearing completion. Cabinet reiterated that the matter should be handled with the utmost urgency, and it is expected that the Report would be submitted to Cabinet in the coming few weeks.
The following Bills were adopted for submission to Parliament:
- Electoral Amendment Bill on the conduct of the 2004 elections;
- Local Government: Municipal Systems Amendment Bill which aligns the current Act with other laws;
- Judicial Matters Second Amendment Bill which amends a number of Acts managed by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development;
- Older Persons Bill which seeks to protect the rights and dignity of senior citizens;
- Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill which seeks to improve the approach to dealing with sexual offences;
- Superior Courts Bill and Constitution of the RSA Third Amendment Bill on rationalisation of laws on the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeal and Higher Courts;
- National Environmental Management Second Amendment Bill as well as other Bills dealing with Air Quality and Environmental Conservation;
- Bills or amendments on agriculture, land affairs and forestry issues: Agricultural Produce Agents, Sectional Titles, Restitution of Land Rights, Spatial Data Infrastructure, and Forestry Amendment Bills; and
- Postal Services Amendment Bill, on regularisation of the SA Post Office licence.
The meeting also approved a Draft Integrated Energy Plan in line with the White Paper on Energy Policy, for public comment.
Cabinet approved South Africa’s enhanced participation in MONUC, as part of the interim emergency multinational force in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also approved the scaling up of SANDF involvement in the AU Peacekeeping Force in Burundi.
The meeting was briefed on the intention of the US Administration to terminate the International Military Education and Training and Foreign Military Funding Programmes, unless SA enters into a bilateral agreement indemnifying US servicemen and women from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The South African government is to communicate through appropriate channels with the US, that SA would not enter into such a bilateral agreement.
South Africa’s position in this regard is premised on its commitment to the humanitarian objectives of the ICC and the country’s international obligations. The Department of Defence will address the funding shortfalls through the normal budgeting and adjustment processes.
Cabinet received a briefing on municipal services debt, and noted progress being made with regard to strengthening economic and financial viability of municipalities. It also endorsed a Municipal Revenue Enhancement Programme which details measures to ensure sustainable reduction of both household and business arrears, and address the causes thereof. Further, a programme has been developed, including a payment protocol, through which affected national and provincial government departments would settle their arrears and ensure regular payment of bills in future.
The following appointments were approved:
- Members of the Board of the Road Accident Fund; and
- Council for the Agricultural Research Council, chaired by Mr T Setiloane.
The midyear Cabinet lekgotla which started on Wednesday afternoon is expected to end on Friday evening; and briefings will be conducted by the President and relevant Ministers during the course of next week.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)