Media release

Statement on Cabinet meeting of 6 August 2008

07 August 2008

7 August 2008

Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Tshwane yesterday, 6 August 2008.

The meeting received a progress report on the “KHA RI GUDE” ( Let us Learn) mass literacy campaign. Government will spend R6.1 billion over five years to enable 4.7 million South Africans to achieve literacy by 2012. Progress thus far includes the enrolment of 360 000 learners; recruitment and training of 24 000 volunteer educators, 2800 supervisors and 150 coordinators. The Deputy Minister of Education will join me to elaborate further on the achievements of the campaign.

The meeting noted that preparations for the launch of the ‘War on Poverty’ campaign were at an advanced stage. The Deputy President will launch the campaign in the Xhariep District in the Free State. The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on rising food prices also tabled a progress report on possible interventions to mitigate the impact of the rising prices. Short-term interventions considered by the IMC include the possible expansion of the school feeding scheme to reach more learners; increasing the value of starter packs; increasing the number of households receiving starter packs from 70 000 to 140 000; and the possible increase and extension of social grants. The IMC will table concrete proposals to the Ministers Budget Committee to determine the cost implications of the proposed interventions.

The meeting noted that existing government interventions are already reaching millions of people in need of a social net. For instance, over 12 million people are receiving social grants while expenditure on social assistance will be over R75.3 billion by 2009. One of the key challenges is to ensure that those in need can access the available government services; and for government to ensure that its support is better coordinated and organised to reach those in need on an ongoing basis.

The rising food prices also present a window for the development of a vibrant and sustainable agricultural programme to meet the country’s food requirements and to make South Africa a net exporter of food. The medium to long term strategies to deal with rising food prices include measures to increase the country’s food production capabilities through, inte alia, support and strengthening of small and emerging farmers and cooperatives; development of agricultural trade and tariff policies; enhancing freight rail infrastructure to support the movement of agricultural products; implementation of the Llima/Letsema campaign; and the creation of food gardens by communities and households. These are some of the measures needed to increase food production and strengthening the value chain with a view to reducing reliance on food imports.

Cabinet also clarified the role of the proposed National Food Control Agency that was announced by President Thabo Mbeki at the post lekgotla media briefing. This Agency will not regulate food prices. It will deal with issues such as strengthening the agro-processing industry; food safety; sanitary and phyto-sanitary certification and promote industry exports. The legislative framework will be finalised by the end of March 2009, after consultation with the relevant stakeholders. The name of the agency may have to be re-considered as it is complete misnomer.

The Digital Migration Policy for South Africa was approved. This policy provides a framework for South Africa to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting. The digital signal will be switched on at the beginning of November 2008 and the analogue signal will be switched off in November 2011.

The meeting noted that the technical specifications for the digital terrestrial Set-Top-Boxes (STBs) have been developed and submitted to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for finalisation. In addition to receiving the digital signal, the set-top boxes will be designed to enable the delivery of e-government services directly to the citizens. The Department of Communication will develop a strategy for the disposal of existing television sets in preparation for the analogue switch off.

The Scheme-for-Ownership-Support (SOS) of the set-top boxes for poor households was approved. In terms of the proposed scheme, government would provide a 70% incentive for the set-top-box to the 5 million poorest TV owning households at a cost of R2.45 billion during the three years of dual illumination.

The Minister of Communication is here to elaborate further on these initiatives.

The theme for this year’s Women’s Day celebration is “Business Unusual: All power to women”. President Thabo Mbeki will lead the country in celebrating women’s achievements when he addresses the national event which will takes place on the 9th August 2008 at Ga Motlatla Village in the North West Province.

The meeting noted that the deadline for the closure of shelters for the displaced foreign nationals was approaching and that the two provinces that have the shelters, viz; Gauteng and the Western Cape, were making progress in implementing the re-integration policy. Although some challenges are being experienced in this regard, we remain optimistic that reintegration will succeed. Government takes the opportunity to thank communities for welcoming back the victims of the xenophobic violence, and appeals once again to all communities, civil society, community and religious organisations to work with government to achieve the goal of re-integration. In the Western Cape Province, about 4000 of the original 20 000 displaced persons remain in the shelters and in the Gauteng Province, the number is +- 3000 out of the original 9000 are still in the shelters.

The meeting approved the proposal to retain 22 402 ha of the original 44 763 ha of plantation forest that was destined for exit and conversion to other land uses in the Western Cape Province (Boland and Southern Cape). This retention will make this land available for forestry purposes to address the shortage of timber supply in the country. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) will develop a model to ensure that forestry contributes to socio-economic development in the Western Cape.

South Africa will host the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit of Heads of State and Government on 16-17 August 2008. During the Summit, South Africa will assume the position of Chair of the Community. Government welcomes the opportunity to assume the Chair of SADC as it gives us the opportunity to play a key role in the strengthening of regional socio-economic and political integration. One of the key highlights of this Summit will be the launch of the Free Trade Area (FTA), which will be a stepping stone towards a SADC common market.

Cabinet took the opportunity to wish Team South Africa success in their search for gold medals as they represent the country at the Beijing Olympics. A total of 131 athletes will participate in 19 sports codes at the games. These Olympics also present an opportunity to profile our readiness to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup and for this reason, a number of exhibitions, cultural performances and media events will be held in China to showcase our country and its readiness to welcome the world in 2010.

Cabinet also congratulated the Proteas for the spectacular series win against England last week. Once again, our team demonstrated that South African sports men and women are indeed amongst the best in the world. The hosting of the 2009 Committee Meeting of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Ministers responsible for Employment and Labour and Social Partners was approved. The meeting will take place in February 2009, in Cape Town.

The following appointments were approved:

  • The following were appointed to the Board of the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA): Ms Zodwa Manase (re-appointed as Chairperson); Ms Dhevcharran; Mr CCW Kruger; Mr G Rothschild (new); Ms A van der Merwe (new)
  • Mr ME Nhlapo was appointed Deputy Director General for the National Commission on Information Society and Development (ISAD), in the Department of Communications
  • Mr C Hickling (Chairperson), Dr Y Muthien and Mr T Mashigo were appointed as non-Executive Directors to the Board of Sentech. Dr L Konar and Mr T Leeuw were reappointed as non-Executive Directors to the Board
  • Ms T Dingaan, Ms TT Ngcobo and Mr HC du Toit were appointed to the Board of the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa Limited (ECIC). Ms AJ Lapan’s term in the Board was extended for a one year period.

Themba Maseko (Government Spokesperson)
Cell: 083 645 0810

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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