Transcript: Post Cabinet briefing by Jimmy Manyi, Government Spokesperson

23 June 2011

Questions and answers

Journalist: Mr Manyi there was speculation and you also mentioned it at the last cabinet briefing that there might be changes to the CEO of Transnet. What transpired at the Transnet Annual General Meeting (AGM) and did the Minister decide not to make any changes in light of the outcry that followed his announcements with regard to Denel and Eskom where people said he was acting without warning and without consultation? Thanks.

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: Okay I just want to understand the question is it in Transnet or Denel?

Journalist: Transnet, the CEO of Transnet that he was going to change but now there is no change.

Journalist: I know it is not in your document but considering the importance of the revelations by the Chairman of SAAB that millions of rands were paid to South Africa in terms of the arms deal. Was this discussed and are they going to call General Dramat in to explain.

Journalist: The report on the Africa Youth Day Festival - when will it be made public.

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: Let’s clarify the Transnet issue. I’m not sure where you got your facts from but here is the situation. The issue around the CEO of Transnet has never been a question and I don’t know why you are saying it is Mafika Mkhwanazi; the CEO of Transnet is Brian Molefe and there hasn’t been issues around the CEO of Transnet. The Chairman of Transnet last time when we met was Mafika Mkhwanazi, I can confirm with you today that Mafika Mkhwanazi continues to be the Chairman of Transnet. The only changes that we are announcing today are the two additional people because of vacancies I think you would know that one of the people that left is Mr Shrimp (ph) and some other person - the two people that left creating vacancies so what has just been done is to close those vacancies.

Journalist: (speaking off the microphone)

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: What happened around Mkhwanazi, I don’t know about speculation; I can’t respond to speculation, I will tell you facts. The only thing that has happened was that Mr Mkhwanazi was appointed also to the Eskom board, that’s all that happened. The fact that he was appointed there has got no bearing on what else he does so the two are not necessarily linked.

On the Arms Deal: it was not discussed, are there any colleagues here from Treasury that can shed more light on this one? The Arms Deal story was not discussed. There will be a press conference at 12:30 and the Minister will be in a much better position to perhaps deal with that but Cabinet did not discuss Arms Deal.

The Africa Youth Day Festival, is Bernice here to give more details on this but will the report be public - indeed the report will be public. When will the report be public I can’t answer but I think as soon as possible.

Journalist: Mr Manyi I am very sorry your press statement says it was approved by Cabinet yesterday; it will be distributed to the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). When will we have access to that report as soon as possible that can be like after we go out here today?

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi:  What you are asking is an operational question but all I’m saying when we say it is approved, it is available immediately, subject to efficiencies so basically you should have it today for that matter because if it’s approved it means it’s there. So I think it should be available as of today. If it’s not done somebody are not doing what they should be doing.

Harold Maloka: With regard to the report you can liaise with me later on after the briefing, we will brief you on what the issues are there. Is that okay? I am saying it will be distributed from the ministry, from our department [Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in The Presidency] so they can liaise with me after the briefing.

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: Thank you.

Journalist: Just a point of clarity is this the report on the Youth Festival is that the World Festival on Youth and Students? Or is this a different report completely? Not the same?

Journalist: Maybe this is for Harold or Jimmy but if this is not the World Festival of Youth Report, I mean a couple of Post Cabinet briefings ago it was said that the report is on the verge of being finalised. So when will that report on the World Festival of Youth that was held at the Tshwane show grounds last year be available then if this report is not that one.

Harold Maloka: Okay, if I may respond to that. If you remember last week during the budget vote we indicated that the report was going to Cabinet, it has gone through Cabinet, it has been finalised, it’s going to be presented to the portfolio committee that is responsible for women, children and youth and that’s when it will be made public. We have an obligation to present it to Parliament and we’ve made that commitment so we are liaising with the committee to find the right date and then you will have access to it.

Journalist: Another issue that is not in here but has been dominating newspapers, is this strained relationship between the media and Government Communications (GCIS). Has this come up at Cabinet? Have Cabinet expressed a view on it?

Journalist: Can you give us more information or details on the progress report on the conditional reopening of the commercial abalone fishery. Thanks.

Journalist: Has Cabinet taken note of the independent war on drugs report that was released about two weeks ago essentially calling for a different sort of approach to combating drug abuse. It is a rising scourge in South Africa - will South Africa possibly rethink its policies to fight drug abuse. Will it make available methadone for example at clinics? Will it decriminalise a softer drug such as ‘dagga’ etc?

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: (Laughing) I can only say ahoy. I’m sure I’ve got colleagues here that can answer much more competently on the details of these questions. Do we have somebody from fisheries here?

Johan Augustyn (Chief Director for Marine Resource Management in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: I am going to briefly summarise what was in the Memo at the previous Cabinet meeting about this issue. 

  • Cabinet approved the Minister’s intention to conditionally reopen the Commercial Abalone Fishery with certain conditions. Some of those conditions to put administrative systems in place to issue permits and exemptions immediately upon the announcement of the lifting of the suspension. 
  • Strictly applies the law enforcement provisions of the Marine Living Resources Act (MLRA) relating to compliance and compliance by the Commercial Abalone Rights Holders.
  • Establishes a Section 28 Committee to ensure that the right holders who contravene the provisions of the MLRA or the recommendations of the Abalone Scientific Working Group on or the permanent conditions for that season have their rights, permits and licences cancelled.
  • Finalises a comprehensive integrated fisheries security strategy to combat the high level of poaching, And to ensure compliance and effective prosecution of transgressors. And present it to Cabinet for approval after other security structures have made their input.
  • Implement the integrated National Fisheries Development Plan in line with the Government Spacial Development Plans and Expanded Public Works Programme to address socio economic challenges of coastal communities whose livelihoods depend on abalone fishery.
  • This Integrated National Fisheries Development Plan (INFDP) should guide the sustainable management of fisheries resources and so on.
  • Also implements an abalone recovery strategy to ensure the recovery of abalone spurning.
  • The Abalone Scientific Working Group recommended that a 40% abalone recovery goal is possible if there is a 15% per annum reduction in the current levels of poaching over a 15-year period.
  • Ensures proper disbursement of interim social relief payments amounting to R60 million.
  • To alleviate the negative social and economic impact of the suspension of the fishing on the affected communities.
  • Engages and informs the right holders industry and the public on the conditions pertaining to the reopening of the fishery.
  • And submits a progress report to Cabinet within 6 months after the conditional reopening of the commercial abalone fishery.

So this progress report reported on all these conditions and in most cases there have been good progress son these conditions. In some cases there are some problems that we are dealing with. But we were reporting to Cabinet on the progress. All this information was already made available before the opening of the abalone fishing a year ago. It was opened on the 1st of July 2010 and after six months this report was due.

Journalist:  How long was the abalone industry closed for? Have you gone to the markets where a lot of these abalone was exported to and have engagement with them?

Johan Augustyn: The industry was closed I think it was towards the end of 2007 and remained closed until the 1st of July 2010. The markets issue has been investigated as part of the compliance strategy unfortunately I don’t know the detail around that but we could have a further discussion about that if you contact the Department.

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: Anybody from Health, can you just talk to the drug question?

Fidel Hadebe: I can commit to check with the Registrar of the Medicines Control Council (MCC) and then give feedback to the gentleman who posed this question immediately after this briefing.

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: On the famous question. Cabinet is very keen to ensure that going forward that there is smooth relations on all sides. There are planned engagements with media later in the year where Cabinet will come and sit on the one side and media on the other side. We will sit and agree issues of mutual consent, so that meeting later this year is in the pipeline to sit and deal with this thing properly and not superficially. I think the sentiment in Cabinet is that lets really with issues, let’s be frank with each other and deal with real issues and not paper over cracks. I think this is the sentiment of Cabinet that we need to sit down, look each other in the eye and be honest with each other and say what it is that we need to fix to get this thing right once and for all. So Cabinet is very encouraged that there is willingness on both sides to sit and deal with this issue at a much more strategic level and in a very honest and transparent manner. So that meeting will happen in the course of the year. But then of course tomorrow there will be call it a precursor meeting where the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) will be speaking to the Minister and I will be part of that meeting where they will be raising issues and so on. So we will have that discussion. But I think a bigger discussion is where most members of Cabinet, not all of Cabinet will be engaging with media in general to really go to the nuts and bolts and deal with these issues both at systemic issues, just to ensure that we really are operating in a manner that is constructive going forward. So that meeting is blend later in the year, it will happen.

Journalist: I just want to know I see the South African Official Languages Bill is returned to Cabinet, I think the last one was gathering dust for seven years. One of the reason if I recall is that all institutions and businesses etc that were to implement the Bill meaning documents need to be going out in all 11 languages. Assistance in shops need to be in all 11 languages etc was just too costly. I was just wondering if Minister Mashatile yesterday gave some explanation what this Bill will try and do differently.

Journalist: With regards to RICA Legislation. I wanted to ask are there available figures in terms of so far how many cellphone sim cards have been RICA’d. What is the outstanding backlog?

Journalist: Can you give some details on the progress in the intervention in the Eastern Cape Education Department? Just what kind of progress has been made?

Jimmy Manyi: Bobby are you there? Can you talk to the question on the progress in the Eastern Cape?

Granville Whittle:  The four matters that have been raised on the basis on which Cabinet decided to implement the Section 100 were the reinstatement of the Learner Transport System, that has now been done. The reinstatement of the National School Feeding Scheme that has been done. The distribution of stationary to about 1 000 schools, the Department started distributing I would have to check whether that has been completed. But certainly service providers have been appointed to do that. Then there is a fourth one that (mic cut off). We are just changing the (mics).

So it is really about ensuring that the matters have been identified, those matters have been addressed. Then of course the Department, the different Departments identified in the statement are working very closely to ensure that the issue of budgetary overspent of the Eastern Cape Department of Education is addressed as a matter of urgency.

Granville Whittle: Liezil just remind me one on the budgetary overspent?

Granville Whittle: There is a task team that has been established for that purpose. Remember part of the difficulty with the overspend was the temporary teacher issue and those teachers have been reinstated. But that task team’s responsibility now is to address the outstanding matters that impacted negatively on the budgetary situation of the Department on the Eastern Cape.

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: Do we have somebody from Communication that can give us the latest update in terms of people that have been RICA’d?

Tiyane Rikhotso: As of 10 am this morning we received the following figures from the three mobile operators. Cell C indicated that they have so far RICA’d 91% of their total customer base. MTN indicated that they have so far done 98% of their post paid which is contract subscribers and remaining with a 100 000. And then so far as prepaid is concerned MTN has done 93% and there is still 1 million to go. Vodacom 94% the breakdown is 1.3 million prepaid customers to go and 105 000 contract customers to go. They all expressed confidence that come the 30th of June they would have rounded up all the subscribers on their data base.

Journalist: Is Cabinet satisfied that the network operators are doing whatever they can to RICA everybody because the penalties (speaking off the mic)

Tiyane Rikhotso: I think Mr Manyi can speak on behalf of Cabinet but in terms of the Department of Communications (DOC) we are very satisfied with the progress that has been made so far. You would know that the Department of Communications itself through the Deputy Minister Obed Bapela has basically driving a campaign in the past two to three weeks highlighting the importance of RICA-ring your cellphone accounts. As you have indicated the consequences are quite detrimental because indeed people are going to be cut off. We have received the number of questions around the possible shifting of the goal posts this time, the deadline and we have strongly emphasised that were are working on the 30th of June as the cut off date and there is no consideration for any deadline going forward. As you may be aware the deadline has been moved around for quite a number of times and we are working on a particular target so we need to make sure that we stick to our deadline so we can achieve what we want to achieve eventually. So we are confident that the mobile operators have put in place enough marketing and publicity campaigns’ to highlight the importance of this of course supplemented by the work that has been done by Government thus far.

Journalist: Did Cabinet discuss the possibility of extending the deadline?

Cabinet Spokesperson, Jimmy Manyi: No not at all, I think in line with what has just been said that deadline is very firm there is nothing that even indicates a shifting of the deadline. So we would encourage everyone, if you look at the RICA Centres there’s many of them we are really just calling on people to exercise a bit of discipline to make sure that they do register. I think people must remember if you get cut off it doesn’t mean that your obligations to pay, the various obligations they don’t stop. You get cut off but you have to pay whatever you have been paying to maintain that line as it were. So it is in everyone’s interest to make sure that you respect that deadline and also you know beyond that deadline if you take too long to register you might even lose your number so it is important that people must register so that you can keep your number.

On the Language Bill, I think the essence there is really to take into account the provincial dynamics if you want to know the new ones, what’s new is that there’s a lot more emphasis to say especially at provinces what are the prevalent languages in various provinces. So this Bill is trying to ensure that happens to cater in particular provincial dynamics so it is a Bill that seeks to be practical, pragmatic and taking the real situation at hand into consideration that’s what its seeking to do to fulfil the constitutional obligation.

Journalist: If I could come back to the issue about GCIS and the media, when you talk about cracks that can’t be papered over and systematic problems, are you referring to media ownership because you have certainly expressed views on those. Are those your personal views or are those the views of Cabinet? Does Cabinet think this is something it can and should act upon as it would upon bread price fixing or something like that?

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: The issue of relationship between Government and media is an agenda item that predates Jimmy Manyi so that must be very clear, it is a longstanding agenda item. There are various Magaliesburg meetings that happened, I was not even here so there is that agenda. The meetings that people make reference to have been happening between Government and the media happened long before I got here, so that is the agenda that is the premise of that comment and developments since then. So the issue of this relationship goes back many years so that’s why Cabinet is saying that we need to sit in a room and make sure that the matter is dealt with properly. We have to be frank with each other in those discussions and ensure that we come up with a product that is going to advance democracy that’s the issue. So yes its old discussions it didn’t start with me.

Journalist: Your views on media monopoly you said on radio where you referred to cartel-like tendencies - is that Cabinet’s view or was that a personal view?

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: (Laughing) Yes I heard you Peter, look the cartel-like tendencies that I said on 702 radio which I am not running away from, I said it yes and I did contextualise it.

Journalist: (speaking off the microphone)

Cabinet Spokesperson Jimmy Manyi: I’m saying that comment, I said it even on 702 that it was referenced on the comments that the Chairman of SANEF made on Maggs on Media where he was making a statement that sought to bring media in one part and government on the other, that was the premise of the comment based he was saying but that’s the stuff that we are going to talk about tomorrow. So I think let’s not pre-empt tomorrow’s discussions, I’m sure that point will come up and they will report how we responded more on that. That’s a discussion point amongst the points we will be discussing tomorrow. Okay it looks like we have come to the end of today, thanks very much.

Media briefing ends

Enquiries:
Jimmy Manyi (Government Spokesperson)
Cell: 083 645 0810

www.gcis.gov.za; www.gov.za
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)

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Year: 
2011
Media Statement date: 
Thursday, June 23, 2011