9 June 2004
At its meeting today, Cabinet formally confirmed the government's Programme of Action, bringing together the detailed decisions of the Cabinet lekgotla and the public commitments contained in the President's May State of the Nation Address. An improved system of monitoring and evaluation of implementation is being put in place, and it will include reports by Ministerial/DG Clusters to Cabinet on a two-monthly basis.
The meeting received a report on the meeting of the SA-Botswana Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security, and it welcomed the progress being made to strengthen our relations with Botswana in this area of mutual interest.
Cabinet noted the court case in the Pretoria High Court regarding alleged mercenary activity by South African citizens being held in Zimbabwe. Government welcomes the decision of the Court, which is consistent with our own legal instruments and diplomatic relations with countries on the continent. Government will continue to play its role in respect of the consular services that these citizens deserve, and we do recognise the right of those affected to pursue any other legal options open to them.
The following appointments were approved:
- Richard Levin as Director-General of the Department of Public Service and Administration;
- Renewal of the contract of Pravin Gordhan as Commissioner of SARS for a period of 5 years;
- Trevor Fowler as Chief Operating Officer (COO/Deputy Head) in The Presidency;
- Martin Kuscus as new Chief Executive Officer of the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS); and
- A DDG to head the Multilateral Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Cabinet approved a programme to develop human capital and improve research and innovation in relation to the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project. This will ensure that SA maintains its competitive edge in, and broaden participation by the country's youth and tertiary institutions in the development of, this project. It also approved the principle of setting up a Board of Directors for the envisaged National Energy Research Institute, and further clarified details pertaining to the mandate of the institute.
The meeting was briefed on trends in research and development across society. Among other findings, an audit on this issue has established that there has been a welcome improvement in R&D spending as a percentage of GDP - from 0,69% in 1997/98 to 0,76 in 2001/02. This however needs to be further increased, along with an increase in the proportion of the country's workforce involved in R&D in government, tertiary institutions and the private sector.
The following Bills were approved for submission to Parliament:
- Financial Services Ombudschemes Bill, which provides for recognition and regulation of such schemes in the financial sector and for the setting up of a Council which would function as a committee of the Financial Services Board and include representatives of consumers; and
- Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill which improves health regulations contained in the 1972 Act pertaining to these issues.
Cabinet noted recent developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and welcomed improvements in the security situation. Government is confident that these developments will not impact on the overall peace process in this country. On behalf of all South Africans, we salute the SANDF soldiers who died in an accident, after they had been involved in an operation around Bukavu. We convey our condolences to their next-of-kin, and wish those who were injured a speedy recovery.
Government is also confident that further progress will be made to bring peace and democracy as well as economic growth and development in Burundi.
On the occasion of Youth Development Month, and in commemoration of June 16, SA Youth Day, government calls on all South Africans to join the youth in celebrating Ten Years of Freedom and to assist them further to seize the opportunities of democracy. This period should be used for intensive campaigns to raise youth awareness on such opportunities as learnerships, the National Youth Service, Umsobomvu Youth Fund programmes and the campaign to register all young graduates so they can access employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
The meeting noted the first anniversary of the Growth and Development Summit, and it welcomed the progress that has been made in implementing most of the Summit's decisions. Government is working with the other partners in NEDLAC to conduct a comprehensive review and expedite the implementation of GDS agreements, as part of the people's contract for growth and development.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)