26 June 2002
Cabinet today examined developments surrounding legislation on crossing the floor by public representatives, and it reaffirmed government’s commitment to the principles enshrined in the Constitution providing for Parliament to pass such legislation. It noted that failure to address major shifts in political alignments between elections could impact negatively on democratic governance, as shown in the Western Cape Province and a number of municipalities.
Although government has reservations regarding the main ruling of the Cape High Court on this matter, it does accept the decision of the Court. However, besides government’s confidence in the content of the legislation passed, the fundamental principle of competence of a High Court to prevent the operation of a law already proclaimed, needs to be clarified. In this regard, government will seek relief at the Constitutional Court. The intervening period also requires protection of public representatives who may have the intention to change parties; otherwise the purpose of the Act could be totally undermined by the Cape High Court ruling.
The meeting discussed the recent exposure of corruption at the Grootvlei Prison in the Free State Province, and it welcomed the fact that this information had come to light. Although government may not agree with the methods used, it is critical that such evidence is brought before the Jali Commission. Set up by President Thabo Mbeki the Commission is meant precisely to investigate these problems and ensure, firstly, that those responsible are brought to book; and, secondly, that these malpractices are eradicated. While noting that UNICEF had indicated that SA was more advanced than most countries in its policies on children, Cabinet urged the relevant departments to expedite the processes to ensure that juveniles are kept in separate juvenile prisons or places of safety.
Cabinet approved South Africa’s contribution to the replenishment of the resources of the International Development Association (IDA), to the tune of R83m. This amount, which would be drawn down over a nine-year period, would benefit our private sector, which would be eligible to bid for contracts financed from these resources.
The meeting noted the provision by SA of a bridge loan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo of Special Drawing Rights (SDR) 75m (about R760m). This will help clear the DRC’s overdue obligations with the IMF and allow that country to draw resources under the IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility.
Cabinet received a report on the implementation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) by Departments and public entities. A survey conducted by National Treasury reveals that national and provincial departments are making progress in complying with requirements of the Act. It was however necessary, for purposes of improving this area of work, to place emphasis on capacity building, which should include mechanisms of effective oversight over public entities.
The following Bills were approved for submission to Parliament:
- Constitution of the RSA Fourth Amendment Bill providing for a change in the name of the Northern Province to Limpopo; and
- Constitution of the RSA Third Amendment Bill, which further clarifies competencies and relationships between national and provincial government on the one hand, and local government on the other, on such matters as financial emergencies.
Cabinet was briefed on, and welcomed progress regarding, logistical preparations for the Summit of the OAU/AU to be held in Durban in the next fortnight.
The meeting approved the appointment of Lindiwe Msengana-Ndlela as DG in the Department of Provincial and Local Government.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)