7 September 2006
At its bi-weekly meeting in Cape Town yesterday, Cabinet was briefed on the implementation of the Programme of Action. The next round of media briefings on the Programme of Action will be held during the week of 26 September 2006.
As part of the commitment to participatory democracy, the next Imbizo Week will be held from the 26 th -31 st October 2006. Members of the executive from all three spheres of government will interact with the public and communities across the country, with a special focus on local economic development.
Following comments by Judge Nicholson in the case concerning prisoner access to ART, Cabinet would like to re-iterate its unwavering commitment to the separation of powers and to the rule of law. The judiciary should not have any reason to doubt government's commitment in this regard. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and GCIS were directed to study recent court judgments with a view to understanding instances that could have led to perception that government was not complying with court decisions. Such a study will help government to educate its officials about the importance of complying with court decisions so that the matter could be put to rest, forever.
The meeting noted the imminent summits of the India-Brasil-South Africa Forum (IBSA) and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on the eve of the UN General Assembly. The Summits will enhance co-operation, strengthen economic ties between developing countries, and provide platforms to promote a multi-lateral order that is conducive to poverty eradication and international security.
Cabinet noted progress with regard to the initiative to enrich uranium as part of a strategy to meet our long term energy requirements. Concerns about the initiative are unfounded as there can be no doubt that our programme is for civilian purposes. South Africa is a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and an active member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We have neither the intention nor any reason to develop nuclear weapons. In developing the proposal, the government will ensure full compliance with international conventions and protocols. A final policy and implementation plan will be presented to Cabinet once a feasibility study has been conducted.
The meeting agreed to ratify the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ballast Water and Sediment. Ballast water, discharged from ships, poses risks to our marine species and leads to the introduction of foreign species which may result in drastic changes to our eco-systems. In the absence of legislation, the convention will assist our agencies to prevent the pollution of our sea waters.
Cabinet noted the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 2006 Article 1V Staff Report on South Africa . This is part of an annual survey of the state of health of the economies of IMF member countries. A detailed statement on this matter will be released this morning.
Cabinet approved the appointment of Members to the Board of the Council for Geosciences: These members are Professor Ngoepe (Chairperson), Mr. A.P. Nkuna, Ms T. Xaso, Ms. N.D. Ntombela, Ms. S. Bansi, Mr. K. Hodges, Prof. J.M. Barton, Ms D. de Nooy, Mr. D. Clarke, Mr. M.Riba, Ms. T.R. Mbassa, Mr. R. Hieber and Mr.S. Marius.
The following persons were appointed as members of the Board of the South African Special Risk Insurance Association (SASRIA): Mr. M.C. Ramaphosa, A. Samie, M.P. Pule, S. Ntsaluba, N.V. Beyers, M.M. Ramano, C. Da Silva, G. Matthee, J. du Preez, M.M. Louw, M. Lehutso-Phooko and A. Jules.
The following were appointed as members of the South African Diamond and Precious Metals Board: Mr. S. Phiri (CEO), Mr. L Delport, Mr.K Rana, Mr. M. Lotter, Dr. F. Peterson, Mr. R.A. Baxter, Mr. E Majadibodu, Mr. L Grobbler, Advocate Mononela, Mr. M. Groter, Dr. A.R.H. Colburn, Mr. R. Manoko, Mr. M. Luhlabo, Prof. B. Tuoane, Mr.E. Blom and Mr. L. Selekane.
The following people were appointed to the Board of the State Diamond Trader: Ms. L. Makhathini, Mr. P.P. Moeti, Mrs. H. Tyler, Mr. O. Temkin, Mr. M. A. Mngomezulu, Mr. M. Groter, Mr. T.S. Montoedi, Mr. S. Motloung, Mrs. D. Maphatiane and Mr L. Selekane.
The meeting continued discussions initiated at the previous meeting on the damaging allegations concerning our HIV and AIDS programme. These allegations received particular prominence since the International Aids Conference in Torronto. Cabinet agreed that there was a need to counter the allegations through improved communication so that our country and the world can fully understand our strategic approach to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Commensurate with the seriousness, scale and impact of the pandemic on our country, the budget allocation to our comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme has grown by no less than a hundred fold over the past twelve years. This is an indication that this government is indeed, serious about the fight against HIV and AIDS, and that anything to the contrary is nothing more than a misrepresentation of facts.
Cabinet rejected, unreservedly, all the unfounded claims that we don't have a comprehensive programme to fight the pandemic and noted that our programme is probably the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The meeting noted the progress the country was making in the areas of prevention, treatment, care and support.
The nutritional aspect of the programme plays a key role throughout the programme, particularly during the treatment stage, and it complements the various forms of treatment. Nutrition is not an alternative to ARV's or forms of treatment. This has always been government approach on this matter and it will continue to be part of our strategy. Equally, the misconception that ARV's are a cure for AIDS is not only misleading but dangerous as it creates false hopes. ARV's are indeed an important part of our strategy, and we will continue the ARV roll-out programme, but it would be irresponsible for anyone to create the impression that ARV's, alone, are a total solution to the pandemic. The government, once again, would like to emphasize the importance of advocating for a holistic approach that must include prevention, good nutrition, treatment, care, healthy and responsible lifestyles.
As we do all of these things, we should not fall into the trap of forgetting that prevention must remain a cornerstone of our national effort to overcome the disease because, because if we fail to reduce the infection rate, our gains will be reversed. Healthy and responsible lifestyles contribute to the efficacy of all aspects of the programme. Each and every one of us must take responsibility to prevent the spread of the disease by subscribing to the ABC principles i.e. Abstain, Be faithful and Condomise. This message, and not the virus, must be spread to all sectors of our society and to every corner of our country. Cabinet is convinced that a common message by all stakeholders is central to our success in the national effort against the pandemic.
Cabinet re-affirmed its commitment to fighting the pandemic in partnership with all sectors of our society, and resolved that concrete steps must be taken to strengthen joint action and co-operation among the various stakeholders. The nature of this pandemic requires that we act together and spread a message of hope and unity to all South Africans. In this regard, the Deputy President, as Chairperson of SANAC, was mandated to take concrete steps to strengthen SANAC, which is the embodiment of the national partnership against HIV and AIDS. After noting that the HIV/AIDS pandemic was not just a health issue but a government-wide challenge, the meeting decided that an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) will be constituted to strengthen the implementation of the comprehensive HIV/AIDS programme, improve co-ordination and communication, and to monitor the implementation. This committee will consist of Ministers who are members of SANAC, which include, the Ministries of Health, Education, Social Development, Presidency, Provincial and Local Government.
Cabinet would like to re-assure everyone that our commitment to fighting the pandemic remains firm and unshaken. Many of our Doctors, nurses, counselors, volunteers and health workers, health institutions and officials, NGO's, community care centers, families and friends, are doing their very best to provide assistance and care to those who are infected and affected by HIV and AIDS. All the political bickering can only serve to demotivate everyone. All the negative energy needs to be re-directed towards supporting and strengthening all these constituencies. There are challenges and we know that with all our best intentions in the world, we may not be able to assist everyone all the time, but we are turning the corner. We remain convinced that our chosen path, the comprehensive approach, remains the best and most viable response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic and we will spare no efforts in making sure that we succeed, together.
Themba J Maseko - Government Spokesperson
Cell: 083 645 0810
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)