9 November 2005
Cabinet was today briefed on preparations for a workshop on racism which will be held on 15 December 2005, to reflect on the outcomes of the 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) which was hosted by our country. Under the theme, Towards Reconciliation and Nation Building: Is the Nation in Dialogue , the workshop will form part of the process of finalising a consolidated National Action Plan which will be lodged with the UN in due course. The Plan is one of the responses to the national and international obligations arising from both WCAR and the 2000 National Conference Against Racism.
The Presidency and the Departments of Justice and Constitutional Development, Foreign Affairs, Arts and Culture, Education and GCIS, as well as the Human Rights Commission have been charged with preparations for the workshop, which will bring together about 300 delegates from both the public sector and civil society. It is envisaged that, in conjunction with the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the country's Constitution next year, further interactions will be held to finalise the Action Plan and intensify implementation of its various elements.
This event will be followed on 16 December by activities to mark National Day of Reconciliation, which will include orchestral and choral presentations, messages of goodwill and a formal address by the President. The core themes for this year's event are Goodwill, Friendship, Tolerance and Reconciliation.
Cabinet received a detailed report on the utilisation of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, examining such issues as financing models, backlogs against set targets, case studies of municipal types in terms of performance and issues of capacity. It was agreed that work needed to be done to improve utilisation of the Grant and bring forward some of the service delivery targets. This will include a comprehensive financial overview of the Local Government sphere so as to improve, a.o., capacity for infrastructure development and maintenance, provision of free basic services and spatial planning.
The following statutes were approved for submission to Parliament:
- Superior Courts Bill which deals with rationalisation of High Courts and improved access to justice;
- Constitution of the RSA Fourteenth Amendment Bill which codifies the hierarchy of the Court system; and
- Carriage Air Amendment Bill and the related International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of International Carriage by Air.
Cabinet in principle approved a policy framework for the administration and governance of public sector institutions. This includes a classification framework, governance issues, shareholder interests, human resource management and financial management. Arising from this discussion, legislative proposals to effect the policy framework will be brought to Cabinet for consideration. These matters will also be handled in line with proposals on Shareholder Compacts, including Financial Distribution and Capital Structure Policies.
The meeting noted the process towards the finalisation of the issue of cross-boundary municipalities, which is being attended to by the legislatures. The principle of doing away with such municipalities is appreciated across the board, and most of the affected areas have accepted proposals from the Demarcation Board. However, the process is continuing, and communities are advised to submit their proposals through the relevant channels.
Government will continue to interact with affected communities; and we do recognise the right of citizens strongly to state their views on these matters. However, a firm warning needs to be issued, that violent action, destruction of property and other criminal acts will be dealt with resolutely. Law-enforcement agencies have been instructed to ensure that the state's commitment to democracy and a humane society is not taken advantage of to burn, to loot and to pillage, with impunity. Besides, it should be emphasised that such behaviour as in Khutsong may in fact result in the opposite of what the demonstrators wish to achieve.
Cabinet also wishes to reiterate that preparations for local government elections are in hand, and that these elections will be held within the time-frame provided for in the Constitution. There is no intention on the part of government to delay these elections.
The following appointments were approved:
- Extension of term of Members of the SAFCOL Board and appointment of two new members - both for one year - pending the 2006 Annual General Meeting; and
- One DDG in the Department of Education responsible for System Planning and Monitoring.
Cabinet noted reports in the media on details regarding the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (Asgi-SA); and it wishes to reiterate that the initiative remains work-in-progress, with detailed work and consultations still to be conducted. Once these processes are finalised, relevant announcements will be made.
The meeting was briefed on preparations for the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, including efforts to extend the reach of and draw more people into the campaign. It was noted that the joint efforts of government and communities would be further strengthened by the finalisation of the Sexual Offences Bill. The campaign will be extended beyond the 16 days, to incorporate elements of other initiatives, such as Arrive Alive, paying attention to common factors in these crimes such as substance abuse. Details on this year's campaign will be announced during the course of next week.
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Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)