Lekgotla to assess progress on job creation, service delivery

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pretoria - Cabinet will tomorrow begin its annual mid-year lekgotla to review achievements and identify interventions needed to speed up progress on job creation and service delivery.

Zuma, his Cabinet ministers and the premiers of the nine provinces, will gather at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria from Tuesday to Friday to also deliberate on the implementation of the other key priorities including education, health, rural development, food security and land reform and the fight against crime and corruption, Government Communication and Information System CEO and Cabinet spokesperson, Jimmy Manyi, said on Monday.

In January, Zuma declared 2011 a year of job creation.

Manyi, who was briefing the National Press Club in Pretoria about current affairs, also hoped that the lekgotla will come out with more information on the National Health Insurance (NHI).

Cabinet is expected to finalise the long awaited NHI green paper. The document was first submitted to Cabinet in April, after which it was returned to the Department of Health so that changes could be made to the paper's outline and details of the "re-engineering" of South Africa's health system were added.

The NHI is set to be introduced over a 14-year period starting next year. It is expected to make provision for a government-managed central purchaser of healthcare services.

Only state-accredited healthcare providers will be permitted to contract their services with the NHI and, through a tax, membership of the scheme will be compulsory for all South Africans. Citizens will, however, be allowed to purchase additional private medical insurance.

In his wide ranging briefing, Manyi said although there were challenges, government has made "big progress" and remained committed to changing the lives of ordinary South Africans.

He spoke about crime, education and corruption, where he reiterated government's commitment to addressing and improving the current situation. Manyi also touched on the recently signed national skills accords, which he said will ignite SA's economy to reach the target of creating five million jobs and cutting unemployment to 15 percent by 2020.

Manyi also spoke on the Wal-Mart/Massmart merger, saying government was not considering a veto on the deal, but believes public interest concerns make a review essential.

The merger was approved with four conditions, including no retrenchments for the next two years. Three government departments - Economic Development, Trade and Industry as well as Agriculture and Fisheries - formed part of the proceedings when the Tribunal took a decision to approve the merger.

Government opposed the merger between Wal-Mart and Massmart on the grounds that it would lead to job losses and a flood of cheap imports, which would destroy small businesses and undermine industrial development.

"Government believes a ripple effect in the [deal] is inevitable... competitors of the merged entity will also import more and procure less from local suppliers," said Manyi

He emphasised that it was wrong to suggest it was unfair to impose conditions on Wal-Mart, and that in opposing the merger, government was not acting in the interests of poorer consumers.

"We believe it is absolutely essential that the public interest concerns are properly ventilated ... South Africa is still young, it's 17 years, and therefore we cannot be plunged with people who have been running this race for [a long time] ... we need time to think."

On the Public Protector topic, Manyi said all questions about the Public Protector had been centralised with newly appointed presidential spokesman, Mac Maharaj. Manyi said the decision was taken because government wanted to avoid confusion on communication around the matter.

Earlier this month, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released the second of her two reports into two controversial building leases, in which she found that the conduct of National Police Commissioner, General Bheki Cele, and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde amounted to maladministration.

Manyi also dismissed media reports that he will be appointed director general (DG) of Mineral Resources.
Reports speculated that Manyi will be deployed to the department after an expected Cabinet shake-up.
He said the reports were "pure rumor and nothing else."

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