8 August 2001
Cabinet today received a report on preparations for the World Conference Against Racism, in particular on the campaign for the Torches of Tolerance by municipalities on 21 August, security-related matters and members of the government delegation to the Conference, which will be led by President Thabo Mbeki.
On matters pertaining to demonstrations, Cabinet reiterated the position of our government that individuals and organisations have got the right to assemble and express their views, as long as this is done within the parameters of the law. Government therefore urges all organisations that intend to hold demonstrations in Durban during this period to lodge their applications with the relevant government agencies.
Cabinet was informed of the decision by the President to appoint Judge Thabani Sibusiso Brian Jali from the KwaZulu/Natal High Court as Commissioner to investigate a host of problems in Correctional Services. In this regard, a number of prisons will be prioritised for urgent investigation.
The meeting was briefed on developments regarding the recent spate of illegal land occupations in Khayelitsha, in the Western Cape. It commended the security agencies for the firm manner in which they have handled the incidents. It was agreed that a comprehensive strategy would need to be worked out across all spheres of government, to involve communities as well as their political representatives, to find a lasting solution to the specific problems in this area. In particular, the meeting urged Councillors to engage their communities on these issues, and to discourage them from breaking the law.
Further, Cabinet observed that invoking the spectre of "land invasions" in media and public discourse on these incidents creates an impression of massive orchestrated campaigns, in instances where the country is dealing with occasional incidents of "illegal land occupations" that have always been, and are being, managed within the context of our Constitution and laws.
Cabinet congratulated the Minister of Health for having been awarded the Malaria Control Health Minister of the Year Award for 2001/02 by the World Health Organisation.
The meeting approved the gazetting of the National Biotechnology Strategy for public comment, after which it will be finalised as government policy. The public is urged to take part in this discussion, on a matter that will have profound implications for science and technology, food security, health, research and development, human resource development and, broadly, the evolution of our economy.
Cabinet noted progress in the improvement of the management of the social security system. It approved in principle the implementation of norms and standards, including improvement in physical infrastructure at pension pay points.
The following Bills were approved for submission to parliament:
- Stock Exchanges Control Amendment Bill, which makes provision for price stabilisation in line with the rules of the Stock Exchange;
- Criminal Procedure Second Amendment Bill, which deals with regulation of plea bargaining;
- Petroleum Pipelines Bill, which deals with matters of regulation of construction and operation of crude oil and petroleum product pipelines;
- Land Affairs General Amendment Bill, which effects amendments to the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act and the Extension of Security of Tenure Act.
The following appointments were approved:
- Linda Mti (currently head of NICOC) as National Commissioner of Correctional Services (In this regard, Cabinet expressed its gratitude to Acting Commissioner Watson Tshivhase for the services he rendered in the last four months, and its confidence that he would remain an asset in the Service, as Chief Financial Officer);
- Extension of the term of service of Land Claims Court Judges for a further two years with effect from 10 August 2001;
- The Board of Cross-Border Road Transport Agency, which will be chaired by Mr George Negota; and
- Chief Financial Officer (DDG) in the Department of Defence.
Cabinet examined the Telecommunications Amendment Bill and telecommunications policy on which the Bill is based, in the light of on-going consultations with the industry. Cabinet agreed, in principle, to take on board some of the issues that have been raised; and the Minister of Communications and her colleagues in Trade and Industry and Public Enterprises will announce the details once these have been finalised, during the course of next week.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)