Media release

Statement on Cabinet meeting of 8 October 2008

09 October 2008

9 October 2008

Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Pretoria yesterday, 8th October 2008.

Cabinet received a detailed report on the limited outbreak of the suspected hemorrhagic fever in Gauteng which has claimed three lives. Firstly, Government wishes to convey condolences to the families and friends of the deceased. Cabinet is satisfied that the health authorities and health professionals have responded quickly, appropriately and with the highest levels of professionalism to contain the suspected virus.

The meeting was satisfied that the Department of Health, together with health professionals and experts from both the public and private sectors, were doing all that is necessary to prevent the spread of the virus and to ensure that there is no further loss of life. All South Africans must take comfort in the fact that our health professionals are skilled and ready to deal with any emergency.

The National Outbreak Response Team (NORT) is actively working around the clock to support the Provincial Outbreak Response Teams with guidelines, active field surveillance and the tracing of contacts. A Rapid Response Team (RRT) has been established, consisting of public and private health sector representatives, to co-ordinate efforts to deal with the situation promptly. This team meets on a daily basis to co-ordinate responses and to constantly monitor the situation in all our hospitals and clinics.

Government is already working with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in order to access their global expertise in dealing with outbreak responses. The CDC has undertaken to expedite the processing of samples to ensure that test results are made available as quickly as possible.

The Emergency Medical Services has established a hotline to deal with all enquiries. The 24-hour hotline number is 011 564 2083. Healthcare workers are being trained on how to deal with patients who present symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fevers. Port Health Services will be also be strengthened to deal with any situation. Members of the Border Control Operational Co-ordinating Committee (BCOCC) in provinces will also be trained.

Government's message to the public is 'do not panic; we are dealing with the situation'. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and we are confident that the test results will shed more light on this virus so that appropriate measures could be put in place as soon as possible.

Cabinet decided that the South African government, working with civil society, should participate in the global humanitarian assistance effort to support the people of Cuba in their hour of need following the devastation caused by hurricanes Gustav and Ike. The hurricanes left 7 people dead; 3.1 million people were evacuated, 444 000 houses were extensively damaged and agricultural fields were destroyed. The Cuban government and its people must be commended for the extensive evacuation effort which saved millions of lives. The South African government will work with civil society to ensure that a national humanitarian assistance programme is launched to assist the people of Cuba. The Department of Foreign Affairs, which has already pledged R3 million to this effort, will be the co-ordinating department.

The framework for the division of revenue for the 2009 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was approved. This part of the meeting was attended by the Premiers together with their Members of Executive (MEC's) in charge of finance. The division of revenue will be tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Finance when he delivers the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement on 21 October 2008.

The meeting noted that the third India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) Summit of Heads of State is scheduled to take place in India on the 15 October 2008. The summit will be preceded by ministerial and business meetings. The summit is expected to look at ways in which the three countries could jointly meet the challenges of energy, food security, global economic governance, and development, and ways to promote tourism.

The 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was approved, and will be tabled in Parliament for approval.

Cabinet expresses its condolences to the families and friends of those who died in the tragic bus accident in Piet Retief which claimed 31 lives and left many others critically injured.

The 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects was approved and will be submitted to Parliament for ratification.

The following appointments were approved:

  • Mr Baijoo, Prof MO Ndwandwe and Dr EM Zungu, were appointed to the Council of the KwaZulu-Natal Museum;
  • Prof DR Bagwandeen, Prof MS Bayat, Mr B Botma, Dr P Esterhuyse, Mrs J Lamprecht, Prof S Louw, Mrs KP Mokuena, Advocate MJ Ralefatane, Mr K Ranchod, Prof BS Rubidge and Mr MH Sabela, were appointed to the Council of the National Museum.

The draft Finance Bill was approved and will be tabled in Parliament for finalisation.

Themba Maseko (Government Spokesperson)
Cell: 083 645 0810

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)


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