31 May 2007
Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Cape Town yesterday, morning, 30 May 2007.
The meeting noted that in the coming weeks and on the eve of the Summit of African Heads of States in Accra in July, a series of nodal events will put the spotlight on the African continent. These events will include the G8 Summit (6-8 June) which will be attended by our President, the visit to South Africa by the British Prime Minister and the launch of the CNBC Africa channel on 1 June. The African chapter of the World Economic Forum will also provide a platform for African political and business leaders to share their views on the socio-economic challenges facing our continent. We trust that the media will take an active interest in these events and inform the public about the discussions and outcomes of these fora.
The highlight of these international engagements will be the visit to South Africa by President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a country whose emergence from decades of civil war has highlighted the advances being made on the continent. President Kabila will address our Parliament on Thursday, 14 June 2007.
Cabinet approved the extension of the deployment of 70 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members to Mozambique. This deployment will provide military assistance in the clearance and demolition of unexploded ordinance devices at the ammunition storage facility in Maputo following the explosion at the facility which occurred on 22 March 2007. The SANDF will participate in this exercise until 15 July 2007.
South Africa’s response to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) report was noted. The response will be published together with APRM report after the African Union Heads of States Summit in July. Our response will be embargoed and will only be published together with the APRM after the African Union Summit.
A Framework on Intellectual Property Rights from publicly funded research was approved. Legislation will be gazetted shortly for public comment prior to tabling it in Parliament. The need to publish South Africa’s achievements in technological innovation was noted
The National Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technology Research, Development and Innovation Strategy was approved. Hydrogen and fuel cells are seen as energy solutions for the 21st century, enabling clean and efficient production of energy from a range of primary energy sources. The transition to hydrogen is expected to reduce dependency on oil and gas and reduce carbon dioxide emissions when used in efficient fuel cells. The strategy will enable government to support emerging research and development in this strategic field.
The ban on the importation of de-boned beef from countries that slaughter animals according to the World Organisation for Animal Health guidelines and with acceptable Mad Cow Disease control measures was lifted. The Ministry of Agriculture will release the list of affected countries and will continue to monitor the quality of beef to ensure compliance with the safety standards by all the affected countries.
Progress in implementing the no-fee schools policy in public ordinary schools was noted. The department of education will release more details on the successful implementation of this policy.
The 2001 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage was approved and will be submitted to Parliament for ratification. The Department of Arts and Culture will draft legislation to give effect to the convention.
Child Protection Week will take place on 28 May to 3 June 2007. Programmes that seek to protect children from poverty, exploitation and abuse will be profiled to during that week. The passing of the Sexual Offences Bill will strengthen our ability to address the challenges in this regard.
Cabinet noted that the negotiations with the public sector unions were in full swing and expressed the hope that an agreement will be reached sooner rather than later. South Africans should take comfort in the fact that the government is doing all it can, by negotiating in good faith, to ensure that the benefits of our employees are addressed systematically. We reject any insinuation that government is insensitive to the plight of its employees. In the event of a public sector strike on Friday, 1 June 2007, measures will be put in place to ensure that government business continues.
The protests in some parts of the country over the past few weeks were noted. Without detracting from citizen’s right to express their concerns through protest action, Cabinet took the view that violence against persons and destruction of property is an unacceptable way of raising concerns. No one has the right to take the law into their own hands. Numerous channels exist in our democratic society for people to raise their concerns and there can never be any justification for violence and lawlessness. Law enforcement agencies will be called upon to ensure that those who break the law are dealt with.
However, having said that, members of the executive and government officials have a duty to interact with communities in a manner that gives confidence that government cares about the needs of our communities. We will continue to ensure that communities are well informed about the measures we are taking, through the Programme of Action, to ensure a better life for all. The tireless implementation of government’s Programme of Action and the Local Government’s Strategic Agenda will ensure that the lives of our communities are improved. We call upon leaders in all sectors of our society to provide the kind of leadership that will ensure that the gains we’ve made in building a democratic society are not undermined by the violence that has characterised some of these protests.
The meeting also took exception to the ill-informed and misleading comments that have been attributed to the General Secretary of COSATU, elaborated on in a COSATU statement, suggesting similarity between government communication of the country’s successes, to Nazi propaganda. Such comments are a denial of the progress we are making in the fight against poverty as documented in the 10-Year Review Report and the Macro social Report, as well as the regular reports on the implementation of the Programme of Action.
We would like to reiterate that the fight against poverty is a historic task that this government is tackling with the participation of millions of South Africans and at no stage should anyone pretend that the poverty that our people are facing will be eradicated over night. Our goal, in line with the globally agreed Millennium Development Goals, is to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014. This government is unwavering in its commitment to ensure that these targets are met.
The meeting noted that during his visit to South Africa, the President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr Jacques Rogge, had expressed his unqualified confidence in South Africa’s ability to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This, in our view, refutes the pessimism that exists in some quarters locally and abroad and, once again, reaffirms the enthusiasm that exists around the world about South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Government will continue to monitor progress to ensure that 2010 World Cup is a resounding success.
The meeting welcomed the GDP numbers that were released yesterday, noting that South Africa’s economic expansion remains exceptionally robust and sustained. Although the 4.7 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2007 was slower than the previous quarter, it was the ninth consecutive quarter in which our economy registered a growth rate above 4 per cent. It sustains the lifting of the annual average growth rate of the economy from 3 per cent in the period from 1994 to 2003, to around 5 per cent since 2004.
Cabinet congratulated the under-14 South African boys team and the under-14 Ghanaian girls team on their success in winning the soccer tournament that was held in Zurich to celebrate the official opening of the new FIFA head office.
The President briefed Cabinet about his successful official visit to Vietnam and conveyed warm and friendly greetings from the Vietnamese government to the government and people of South Africa. The visit will go a long way towards building strong socio-economic ties between the two countries.
The following appointment were approved/noted:
- Concurred with the extension of the employment contract of Dr Kohlo as the CEO of the Export Credit Insurance Corporation (ECIC) for a five year period.
- The following were re-appointed to the Board of Alexkor: Mr Moloi and Ms V Mahlathi as non-executive Directors for a three year period. Mr M Mdaka (Executive) was also reappointed to the Board. The following new appointed as new members of the Board for a three year period: Ms K McClain, Dr R Paul, Prof V Makin and Mr R Muzariri.
The Local Government Laws Amendment Bill was approved for public comment prior to submission to Parliament. The Bill seeks to refine and align policy provisions reflected in different laws, strengthen enforcement measures and improve technical and legal provisions. The affected legislation will include the Demarcation Act (1998), Municipal Structures Act (1998) Municipal Systems Act (2000), Municipal Finance Management (2003) and the Municipal property Rates Act (2004).
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)