Media release

Statement on Cabinet meeting of 31 March 2004

31 March 2004

31 March 2004

Cabinet today received a comprehensive briefing by the security agencies with regard to preparations for the general election on 14 April. The meeting expressed its appreciation of the work done by the agencies, including contingency planning hand-in-hand with the Independent Electoral Commission, to ensure that the elections are free and fair.

In this regard, Cabinet noted that there were no major security challenges pertaining to the running of the elections, and that all logistical matters were being attended to. In the isolated instances where individuals have broken the law, these have been firmly dealt with; and Cabinet has urged the security agencies and the IEC to continue with their work in this regard.

Government wishes to urge all South Africans who have registered, to exercise their democratic right on 14 April and ensure that the government that emerges from these elections is truly founded on the will of the people. Among other challenges, this will require that citizens plan their Easter Holidays taking into account the need for them to be at their voting stations on Election Day.

It is expected that members of the new National Assembly will be sworn in on 23 April, whereupon, on the same day, they will elect new presiding officers and the President of the Republic. The President will then be sworn in on Freedom Day, 27 April as we mark the tenth anniversary of freedom. Further briefings on the celebrations will be conducted in the coming weeks.

Cabinet received a report on the meeting held in February, of the India-Brazil-South Africa trilateral defence committee. Among areas of agreement reached in this engagement was co-operation in dealing with matters of military training, development of the defence industry, maritime security and joint navy activities as well as the fight against international terrorism.

Cabinet also noted progress in the work of the Bid Committee for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. Government wishes once more to reiterate its commitment to meet its obligations as required by FIFA, and to assist the Bid Committee in ensuring that the FIFA Executive fully appreciates the capacity and readiness of South Africa to host the event. In this regard, we call on all South Africans to unite behind the Bid.

At the recommendation of the Council of Statistics South Africa and in line with common international practice, Cabinet has agreed that a full population and housing Census (as conducted in 1996 and 2001) will now be carried out in a ten-yearly cycle. This means that the next Census will be carried out in 2011. In the intervening period and to ensure regular updates on major trends in social data, the following will be carried out:

  • a census of dwellings and the assignment and standardisation of physical addresses during 2005-2007; and
  • an extended annual household survey in 2006 and every three years thereafter with data representation at municipal level.

The following appointments were approved:

  • Extension of the contract of the DG of the Department of Land Affairs, Dr G Mayende;
  • One Deputy DG each in the Departments of Health, Education, Water Affairs and Forestry and Public Service and Administration.
  • Minerals and Mining Development Board, with the DG of the Department of Minerals and Energy as Chairperson; and
  • Board of Minerals and Technology (MINTEK) to be chaired by Mr M Khumalo; and
  • Filling of vacancies in the Central Energy Fund (CEF).

In order to take forward decisions of Cabinet on promoting South Africa as the preferred offshore destination for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO or Call Centres), the meeting approved an incentive package to make the country even more competitive in this regard. This will include the development of human resource capacity through Top-up Incentives and Company Specific Incentives. Some R200m will be allocated over the next three years in this regard.

The meeting was briefed on progress towards the setting up of an ICT Institute, to be known as the Africa Advanced Institute for Information and Communications Technology (AAIICT). It was agreed that the Institute should operate in the form of a public-private partnership, addressing issues of applied research and skills development, and taking into account the dual nature of the South African economy.

Cabinet approved the corporatisation of Channel Africa Radio as a subsidiary company of the SABC. Known as Channel Africa Network, the new company will have its own Board of Directors, with four Non-Executive Directors being: Mr Welcome Msomi, Ms Lyndall Shope-Mafole, Ms Swanzie Matthews and Prof Rok Ajulu.

The following bills were approved:

  • Petroleum Products Amendment Bill (for submission to Parliament), which seeks to bring the governance of the liquid fuel sector in line with government's policy objectives; and
  • Precious Metals and Diamonds General Amendment Bill (for public comment), which seeks to remove restrictions on access to precious metals for purposes of beneficiation.

Cabinet also agreed that South Africa should start the process towards acceding to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions. This Convention binds parties to full transparency in international commercial dealings, and seeks to root out corrupt business practices.

The meeting noted, and expressed its appreciation of, the work done by the South African National Defence Force in assisting the government and people of Madagascar following the recent cyclone.

Cabinet reaffirmed the process under way in the relevant Inter-Ministerial Committee to finalise Immigration Regulations in line with the Act and taking into account South Africa's security, diplomatic, trade and other interests.

This being the last scheduled Cabinet meeting before the end of this government's term, President Thabo Mbeki thanked all the Cabinet members, Deputy Ministers and the Cabinet Secretariat for the service that they have rendered government and the country in the past five years. The President also wished the Ministers and Deputy Ministers who would not be returning to Parliament well in their future endeavours.

Cabinet expressed its appreciation of the statement made by Minister of Home Affairs and leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (attached), in which he thanked President Mbeki for the leadership he had given to the country and the government since 1994 and during this term of government. The President expressed his gratitude to Minister Buthelezi for his generosity, and specifically thanked members of the IFP, Azapo and the NNP whose parties agreed to serve in government with the ANC, driven by the principle that South Africans should act together to forge one nation and build a better life for all.

The meeting formally expressed its condolences to the family of the late Minister Dullah Omar, as well as to Minister Mosiuoa Lekota for the loss of his mother and Deputy Minister Cheryl Gilwald for the loss of her brother.

Last meeting of Cabinet statement by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, MP, Minister of Home Affairs and President of Inkatha Freedom Party

As this is the last meeting of the Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa appointed by the President, who was elected in the elections of July 1999, I feel compelled to say a few words to express my personal sentiments and the sentiments of my Party for the five year period which now conclude.

At the outset, I wish to thank his Excellency President Thabo Mbeki for having given us the opportunity to serve in his Cabinet. I think history will credit him for his vision in promoting reconciliation between the IFP and the ANC in this manner. We have been deeply aware that we served at his invitation and at his pleasure and that at times our presence in his Cabinet has not been easy for him. At times it has also not been easy for us to participate in his coalition Cabinet. However, I feel that the value of our participation for the cause of reconciliation and the progress in nation building has outweighed any personal or collegial difficulty which we may have experienced. History will, undoubtedly, record many achievements of the Mbeki Presidency in the period 1999 to 2004 and, I am sure, that amongst them it will mention and place in a special light the efforts made to reconcile the great wound which was caused during the black-on-black conflict which divided so much of our population and exacted such a huge toll of lives and human suffering.

I also feel that our participation in this Cabinet has enabled all of us to learn from one another. I, for one, have no problem in recognising that I have learned enormously during the past five years and I have fully enjoyed the opportunity of providing my contribution to our deliberations. There have been high moments and low moments, but I think that is typical of any relationship, and it would be unfair and ungenerous to judge the historical importance of the IFP-ANC relationship by its low moments. It would also be unkind of me on an occasion such as this one, to mention the low moments and the times when I felt that this Cabinet or my own President was unfair with me or not sufficiently confident in my competence, expertise and good faith in the exercising of my Ministerial functions. I would rather mention the many positive moments which we shared in this Cabinet, as together we attended to the concerns of the country.

Most of us have been sitting in this Cabinet for ten years and we have all been the midwives of our democracy. As we prepare to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our liberation, we are, undoubtedly, mindful that democracy may have been born on April 27, 1994, but it really proved its viability and its capacity of survival during the ten years of tenure, work and dedication. I hope that I would not be out of place if I were to try to express the sentiments of all the Members of Cabinet for the leadership that President Mbeki provided to our work during this crucial time of our history. I spent more than twenty years sitting in the same chair as he does, as the Head of a Cabinet, and I know how often people do not fully appreciate just how difficult it is. It is not so much that all the problems stop with the President, but the fact is that all the problems get referred there, one way or the other. The sheer volume of work is beyond what most people appreciate. Therefore, I feel compelled to express my immense sympathy and appreciation for the work the President has performed in the past five years. I want to express my respect, appreciation and admiration to His Excellency President Mbeki for his work because I feel that coming from me, especially in light of the heated tones of the present juncture of the political campaign, such expressions of appreciation may, indeed, be felt and received for what they are, which is genuine and without any ulterior agenda.

I have reached a stage in my life where I do not expect anything from anyone and, therefore, I can have the full luxury of telling the truth. I wish to utilize the privilege I now have, to tell the truth in expressing my gratitude to President Mbeki, as well as my admiration, congratulating him for having performed his work as the Chairman of this Cabinet and the Leader of the Executive in a dignified, efficient and competent manner. Both I and my IFP colleagues have enjoyed the opportunity of serving under him and thank him for the opportunity he gave us. South Africa thanks him for the wisdom he had in bringing us on board after 1999, when we were no longer entitled to participate in the Executive in terms of the interim constitution.

We are at the closure of a cycle which, in spite of its many conflicts and ups-and-downs, has served South Africa and has brought us closer to the point where our democracy can finally be regarded as having come out of the woods of the transition. Much more remains to be done. What remains to be done will be the legacy that this Cabinet sends onto the next Cabinet. As we close this cycle, we do not want to anticipate what challenges will be confronting the next Cabinet, and how the next Cabinet will be best suited and composed to face those challenges. We wish to pause to thank President Mbeki and reflect positively on what has been done and the great experience we have shared.

On a personal level I wish to thank all my colleagues for the friendship, cordiality and support. Also in respect of my colleagues, there have been ups and downs, but on this occasion I wish to remember the many wonderful moments we spent together. It has been a great, marvellous and exciting adventure that we shared in being the first and second Cabinet of the Republic of South Africa. A thought must also go to all the absent friends who are not with us today, especially those who have passed away. I am mindful of their contribution and their memories will remain with me for as long as I live.

I thank all of you and I pray that God may bless all of you, especially His Excellency President Mbeki, and keep you all safe and happy in your future endeavours. May God continue to bless this Cabinet and protect the next Cabinet of South Africa, inspiring it to face up to the challenges which will confront it. May God bless all of you.

Joel Netshitenzhe
Cell: 082 900 0083

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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