8 December 2005
Cabinet yesterday (7 December 2005) held its last meeting of the year, and it wished all South Africans a restful festive season and a productive New Year. Government calls on all South Africans to exercise care on the roads especially during the holiday season, and heed the message for all of us to Arrive Alive.
The meeting welcomed the growing participation and awareness among South Africans with regard to the 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse.
It also received a report on preparations for the Day of Reconciliation, 16 December - coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission - and the Seminar Against Racism which will be held a day earlier. These events afford us an opportunity to review the progress that we have made in uniting our nation and building a better life for all. A critical challenge in this phase of social transformation is to ensure that all South Africans join hands to grow the economy and create work opportunities.
The meeting finalised preparations for the Cabinet lekgotla which will be held in mid-January to review implementation of the 2005 Programme of Action and finalise the programme for 2006. In line with new practice, the lekgotla will also be attended by Provincial Premiers and Directors-General. Decisions taken at this meeting will inform the State of the Nation Address by the President in February.
Cabinet received a briefing on the outcome of the Investment Climate Survey conducted with the assistance of the World Bank. Based on a sample of enterprises, the indicators in the survey are benchmarked against a few countries at the same level of development such as Malaysia , Kenya , Brazil , Poland and China.
The Survey reveals relatively high levels of confidence in our legal system, as well as other comparative advantages such as low cost of energy, low levels of bribery, moderate inflation and high labour productivity. However, there are areas which require improvement such as high exchange rate volatility, high salaries for managers and professionals, skills shortages and efficiency of port and customs facilities. Some of these areas have been targeted for special intervention in the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (Asgi-SA).
Related to the above, the meeting received a report on the programme of skills acquisition, including the recent visit by a government delegation to India . It was agreed that the critical priority in this regard is to equip South Africans with skills needed by the economy, and to recruit South Africans abroad. To complement these strategies, agreement has been reached with the government of India on assistance with regard to areas such as mathematics and science education, information and communications technology (ICT), human resource planning as well as monitoring and evaluation. This programme also forms part of Asgi-SA.
The following appointments were approved:
- Extension of term of service of DG: Minerals and Energy, Adv Sandile Nogxina for a period of three years;
- Chief Deputy Commissioner (DDG) at Correctional Services;
- Mr JR Modise as CEO of the Road Accident Fund;
- Members of the Transport Appeal Tribunal;
- Members of the Board of the National Arts Council;
- Board of the Scientific and Industrial Research Council (CSIR) with Ms N Shikwane as Chairperson; and
- Extension of the term of the Board of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) to 31 March 2006.
Cabinet examined progress in meeting employment equity targets in the public service. It was noted that, while in the past few years an increasing number of persons with disability had been employed, the target for 2005 had not been met. The meeting approved a 2% target for persons with disability by 2010.
With regard to gender equality, women make up 29% of management in the public service, only 1% short of the target for 2005. However, at the level of Directors-General, women account for 19%. It was agreed that issues such as training, addressing the work environment and dealing with high turnover rates among females needed to be addressed. Given the experience gained in the past few years in this area, Cabinet decided on a 50% equity target for women at all levels of the Senior Management Service by 2009.
The meeting received a report on the Interim National Passenger Rail Plan which identifies priority corridors, rail recovery initiatives and so on. The essence of the Plan was approved, and work is meant to start soon on regional business plans, including transport needs outside of the congested areas.
Cabinet also considered a detailed presentation on the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link project. National Government wishes to reiterate its support for the project, including matters such as an integrated ticketing system; inclusive feeder network comprising buses, taxis and rail; and where possible, integration of Gautrain with Metrorail. It should be noted however that, while mass transit and integrated systems should form part of the overall objectives of the project, some of these objectives will not be achieved immediately. Consultations are continuing with the aim of ensuring that implementation of the project starts within the timeframes already decided upon.
The meeting noted that 2006 would coincide with major anniversaries in the history of the struggle for democracy. These include the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, 30th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings, 50th anniversary of the Women's March to the Union Buildings and the centenary of the Bhambatha Rebellion. An Inter-Ministerial Committee led by the Minister of Arts and Culture has been set up to prepare for these events, working with civil society.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)