8 March 2007
Cabinet held its fourth meeting this year in Cape Town yesterday, 7 March 2007.
Cabinet noted that South Africa assumed the Chairpersonship of the United Nations Security Council at a time when the Council will be dealing with major global issues. This historic task comes with the communication challenge of ensuring that our role and votes in the Council are fully understood in South Africa and abroad. A communication strategy will be put in place to address this challenge.
Cabinet congratulates the people of Ghana on the occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the country's independence. The meeting noted that the President and Minister of Foreign Affairs represented South Africa at the anniversary celebrations. Ghana's independence was a historic milestone in the rebirth of Africa and played a seminal role in the anti-colonial struggles of many countries on the continent, including South Africa's struggle for liberation. Kwame Nkrumah's declaration that "the independence of Ghana is meaningless unless it is linked to the total liberation of the African continent," is a message of African Unity with enduring relevance.
The meeting noted that the Deputy President will be launching the Action Plan for 365 Days of Activism against gender and child directed violence. This launch will take place today (8 March 2007) at the Union Buildings and will build on the gains made by the 16 Days of Activism Campaign that we've been running for the past nine years.
Cabinet expressed its disquiet at the recent violent demonstrations in parts of the North West province. We once again reiterate our respect for the right of every citizen to protest peacefully and within the framework of the law. As is expected, law enforcement agencies must and will take all the necessary steps to ensure that all those who encourage and/or participate in unlawful and violent action are held accountable for their actions.
We call upon community leaders to show stronger leadership that encourages our communities to act within the laws of our land and promotes understanding of the parameters of acceptable protest in a democratic state. Our democratic system affords citizens various avenues for making our voices heard by those in authority without resorting to actions that infringe on the rights of others, and that cause injury to persons and damage to property.
Having said that, the protests highlight in some instances the need for all spheres of government to expedite implementation of government's Programme of Action, whose primary objective is to meet the basic needs of our communities. There is also a need for all spheres of government to deepen communication with communities regarding plans, timeframes, progress and challenges in implementing the Programme of Action.
The meeting noted and considered the report of the Support Intervention Team in the Department of Home Affairs. The meeting expressed its appreciation to the Minister of Home Affairs for initiating the process, aimed at finding a lasting and sustainable solution to the challenges faced by the department. Cabinet committed itself to support the Minister in her efforts to turn the Department around. The Minister will be issuing a statement today, 8 March 2007, on the findings of the Team and the steps she intends to take to address the delivery challenges in the department.
Cabinet conveyed its best wishes to the Minister of Health, who is still in hospital, and on behalf of all South Africans, wished her a speedy recovery.
Cabinet noted that the development of the National Strategic Plan, updating the comprehensive programme to combat HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, is nearing completion. The extensive consultative process led by the Department of Health on behalf of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) is due to culminate in a national consultative conference on 15-16 March 2007. We take this opportunity to thank all stakeholders for their constructive contribution and continuing work in reviewing and updating the comprehensive plan.
The meeting approved a request from the African Development Bank (ADB) for South Africa to contribute to clearing Liberia's unpaid debt to the Bank. The Liberian economy deteriorated following the civil war in 1989. However, since the election of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in 2005, the economy has shown signs of recovery, with real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 5,3% in 2005 and a projected growth 7,7% in 2006/7. South Africa will avail US$3,6 million (approximately R26,28 million), amounting to 6,25% of the amount requested from bilateral donors as our contribution to the clearance of Liberia's unpaid debt to the ADB. This amount will be drawn from the National Treasury's 2006/7 budget for fiscal transfers.
Cabinet noted the Youth into Science Strategy proposed by the Department of Science and Technology. Its main objectives are to increase science and technology literacy in South Africa. It seeks to contribute towards the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (AsgiSA) through the development of high level priority skills among our youth and undergraduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A network of science centres has been established which will enrol about 5 000 disadvantaged youth in science, engineering and technology based careers. The Department has signed a collaboration agreement with the Department of Education and will sign similar agreements with the Departments of Trade and Industry; Transport; Communications; and Minerals and Energy to enhance co-ordination.
The meeting approved the Municipal Fiscal Powers Bill for tabling in Parliament during the 2007 session. This Bill promotes predictability, certainty and transparency in respect of municipal powers and functions. It provides for the phasing out of the Regional Services Councils (RSC) and the Joint Services Board levies. It will also regulate the authorisation of municipal taxes by the Minister of Finance and ensure that municipal fiscal powers and functions are exercised in a manner that will not materially and unreasonably prejudice national economic policies or national mobility of goods and services. The Bill deals with municipal surcharges and municipal taxes referred to in Section 229 of the Constitution other than the property rates taxes which are covered in the Municipal property Rates Act No 6 of 2004.
Cabinet noted that the first Izimbizo Week will be held from 10-17 April 2007. It will focus on Government's Programme of Action and will contribute to social mobilisation of communities in the fight against poverty and for safer communities.
The meeting noted the decision of the Pretoria High Court regarding the processes followed in the awarding of the Lottery Licence. The Minister of Trade and Industry will make a statement in this regard after studying the court decision.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)