8 August 2007
Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Pretoria this morning, 8 August 2007.
I'm pleased to announce that all our post-Cabinet media briefings are now available on audio streaming and can be accessed from our website.
Cabinet received a report on the Soweto Monorail Project which was announced by the Gauteng Provincial Government on 16 May 2007. The meeting noted that that there were major shortcomings in the process leading to the announcement of the project. These included lack of consultation with key stakeholders such as the Minister of Transport, the City of Johannesburg; the taxi industry and the South African Rail and Commuter Corporation and the fact that no thorough financial viability study was conducted.
The meeting reiterated that all commuter rail proposals from all spheres of government, including private sector initiatives, have to be subjected to the Multi Criteria Matrix Appraisal Framework, as contained in the Consolidated Passenger Rail Plan which was approved by Cabinet in 2006, and that Ministerial approval must be obtained prior to finalisation and announcements. Because of these considerations, Cabinet decided that the Soweto Monorail project will not proceed at this stage. The Gauteng provincial government has been advised accordingly.
Cabinet approved the settlement reached with the Richtersveld Community regarding the land claim against Alexkor and the State for land situated in Alexander Bay. The Deed of Settlement, which concludes a protracted court case in which billions of Rands were claimed from the state, was signed in April 2007. This settlement provides for restitution through the transfer of land and assets from Alexkor to the community and for the compensation of Alexkor by the State.
The settlement includes, among other things: the transfer of land to the community by the state and Alexkor; restoration of mineral rights to the community; establishment of a Pooling Sharing Joint Venture (PSJV), which will be a joint mining venture between Alexkor and community. In this regard, the state will capitalise Alexkor to enable it to capitalise the PSJV.
Alexkor's agricultural and mari-cultural assets will be transferred to provide the community with a basis for future development and wealth creation. This groundbreaking agreement demonstrates the possibility for broad-based and sustainable empowerment that exists in the process of land restitution and community empowerment.
Cabinet noted the raging fires that have engulfed many parts of the country over past few weeks. The affected provinces are Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Gauteng. These are the worst fires in the history of our country, and have led to the loss of life and have caused extensive damage to property, agricultural land and devastated many parts of the Forestry industry. Although it is too early to quantify the exact damage caused, the following can be noted:
- 26 deaths have been reported thus far
- over 50 000 hectares of commercial plantations (and a further 18 000 in Swaziland) and over 200 000 hectares of grazing land have been extensively damaged
- 4 sawmills and as yet to be determined number of houses and other buildings have been destroyed
- thousands of jobs have been lost
- loss of foreign revenue
- loss of yet to be determined number of livestock and game species.
At the end of this briefing, the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry will convey Cabinet's message to the communities, the non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil servants, security forces, disaster management committees and community leaders who have played a pivotal role during this difficult time. She will also outline key messages that Cabinet wants to convey to the country regarding the fires.
Cabinet noted the process by the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute members of the apartheid government. The meeting reiterated that this process is in line with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation that all outstanding cases should be investigated and that the law should take its course. Any suggestion that the state is waging a witch-hunt against any individual is rejected as baseless.
The meeting noted that the Ministry of Environmental Affairs and Tourism was in the process of finalising a Tourism Growth Strategy for 2008-2010, which will also address tourism potential for people with disabilities. The strategy will be finalised in the coming weeks. Progress on the implementation and continuous improvement of the revised Environmental Impact Assessment was noted. Quarterly co-ordinating meetings will be held with provinces to monitor implementation and address bottlenecks that may arise.
Cabinet approved the draft Nuclear Energy Policy and Strategy for the Republic of South Africa. The policy deals with issues of security of energy supply; climate change; greenhouse gas emissions; the need to diversify our primary energy sources; and creates a framework for safe and secure utilisation of nuclear energy. The policy will be published for public comment before finalisation.
The meeting approved the draft Energy Security Master Plan, which elucidates South Africa's energy security strategy and includes the Integrated Energy Modelling and Planning Approach. The development of Petronet's New Multi-Products Pipeline which will help alleviate capacity constraints in the petroleum supply chain before the 2010 FIFA World Cup was also approved.
Cabinet approved the Harmonised Assessment Tool for Disability Grants and Free Health Care, to determine eligibility for disability grants and free health care. The tool will be implemented in phases to allow for the amendment of relevant legislation and training of health and South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) staff.
The meeting noted a research studies into the potential of a culture of dependency on social grants. The studies found that there was no evidence suggesting a culture of dependence on grants. Further work will be done by the social cluster to link social grants with poverty alleviation initiatives, economic activity and other second economy interventions.
The release of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF's) Article IV Report on the state of the South African economy was noted with particular reference to the optimism about prospects for growth, rising employment, improvement in our fiscal position and the support expressed for our economic policies. The decision by National Treasury not to proceed with the Windfall gains tax on existing synthetic liquid fuel producers was endorsed.
The meeting noted the plans to celebrate Women's Day on 9 August. Cabinet calls on South Africans to join hands in celebrating South African Women's Day in recognition of the historic struggles and sacrifices of South African women, which helped bring democracy, progress and equal opportunities for all. The national celebrations in Kimberley and the various provincial celebrations are part of the national effort to ensure that women continue to build a country free from poverty and to consolidate the fight against gender-based violence. These celebrations reaffirm the role of women in advancing our society towards achieving a better life for all.
Cabinet noted progress made towards eradicating the bucket system by the end of December 2007. An Action Plan to accelerate the implementation of the bucket eradication programme was approved to meet the December deadline. The plan will include closer monitoring by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Department of Provincial and Local Government.
The next round of Ministerial briefings on the implementation of the Programme of Action will take place during the week of the 27th August 2007. Ministers and other senior government officials will also use that week to promote the use of African languages by discussing the Programme of Action in the different African languages radio stations.
The following Bills were approved:
- South African National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency Limited Bill (for tabling in Parliament)
- Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Bill. The Bill will be published for public comment after further consultation between the departments of health and social development
- The Second-Hand Goods Bill for submission to Parliament
- The Housing Development Agency Bill for public comment.
The request from the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development to extend the deadline to finalise the repeal of the Black Administration Act of 1927 to 31 December 2008 was approved.
The following appointments were also approved:
- Ms X Sibeko as Director-General in the Department of Sports and Recreation
- The following were appointed as Deputy Director-General (DDG) in the Presidency and will be seconded to the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) Secretariat: Dr ET Maloka and Mr G Mgidlana
- Members of the Central Energy Fund Board were also appointed (the list will be published separately)
- The following were appointed new members of the Board of the Public Investment Corporation to fill vacancies: General S Nyanda; Ms M Moses; Mr A Rhoda and Dr D Matjila (Executive)
- The following were appointed to the Board of the Independent Development Trust: Ms G Downing; Mr M Tom; Mr K Tiya; Ms T Mpulwana; S Chalklen; Ms P Radebe; Ms T Nkamba-van Wyk; Ms Z Mdhladhla; Mr V Mthintso; K Moletsane; Mr F Patel and Mr Z Ntsaluba (Department of Public Works).
Themba Maseko - Government Spokesperson
Cell: 083 645 0810
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)