Statement on the Cabinet meeting

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Pretoria yesterday, 29 July 2009.

Cabinet condemns the violence, destruction to property, vandalism and intimidation of innocent citizens that characterised some of the recent community protests and strikes that took place in some parts of the country.

Government reiterates its commitment to guarantee the right to protest as guaranteed in the constitution, as long as such protest is conducted peacefully and within the framework of the law.

While Government acknowledges the service delivery challenges and other genuine concerns raised by communities and their right to protest as a means of highlighting grievances, thrashing of our cities, destruction of property and the infringement of the rights of others is an unacceptable way of highlighting grievances. Cabinet appeals to all leaders of these demonstrations to discourage communities and their members from such unbecoming behaviour. The law enforcement agencies have been instructed to act against those who break the law.

The community grievances and protests must be understood in the context of rapid migration that many of our cities are experiencing. This migration is also contributing to and placing tremendous pressure on the limited infrastructure in the urban areas. This will require special measures to enhance the capacity of municipalities.

The meeting noted that the Minister of Co-perative Governance and Traditional Affairs had already taken steps to address community concerns. These measures include the establishment of a task team to visit all municipalities with a view to developing a turnaround strategy for these structures. He will also convene a multi-stakeholder service delivery summit to develop a partnership with stakeholders to address factors that contribute to community discontent.

The meeting noted and welcomed the offer by musicians and soccer players to actively support the campaign against criminal elements that are seeking to exploit genuine community concerns to sow xenophobic seeds in some communities.

Government will continue to hold meetings with public sector union leaders to discuss ways of reducing tensions between the State and the unions in the different spheres of government. These meetings will also provide an opportunity for discussions on the state of the economy so that both sides can understand each other's respective positions.

Cabinet would like to clarify its position regarding the purchase of official vehicles for political office bearers (POBs). The political office bearers have not broken any rules and are not at fault for following the rules. The official vehicles, which belong to the state, have been acquired for them by their departments in strict compliance with the regulations as contained in the Ministerial handbook.

The handbook provides that the state shall provide POBs with vehicles in Cape Town and Pretoria. The price of the vehicles must not be greater than 70 % of the member's annual salary. It should be noted that the re-basing of the salary packages of Ministers, Deputy Ministers, MPs and MPLs - developed by the Moseneke Commission and adopted (earlier this year) - has affected the categories of cars that all these political leaders can acquire.
In most instances, the state sources the vehicles from service providers on a full maintenance lease and the vehicles are used at a pre-determined rate. This rate includes financing of the vehicle, insurance, extras and maintenance costs. Once the contract expires, at 120 000 km or five years, the service provider is responsible for the disposal of the vehicle and carries the risk for any losses. Thus, the state receives the benefit of flexibility of choice of vehicle in terms of acquisition and disposal of these official vehicles.

Having said that and recognising the sensitivity of this matter, Cabinet has established a Ministerial Task Team to look at government expenditure in the context of the economic meltdown. The Task Team comprising of Minister of Finance, Minister for Performance Management and Evaluation in The Presidency, and Minister of Public Service and Administration, will advise Cabinet on how matters of this nature can be handled. The work of the task team forms part of the comprehensive expenditure review that government announced a few weeks ago; and the outcome of its work will help inform preparation of the medium-term expenditure framework.

Cabinet wishes to put it on the record that, as elaborated in the Medium Term Strategic Framework released a few weeks ago, its Strategic Priorities, including growing the economy and creating jobs, alleviating poverty and creating sustainable livelihoods for all our people, remains the central focus of our work.

The draft Policy Papers on the Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System and on National Strategic Planning were tabled and noted. These draft papers will be considered at the next Cabinet meeting before submission to Parliament and publication for public comment.

Cabinet condemned illegal mining, which has claimed more than 90 lives and welcomed the arrest of more than 300 alleged illegal miners. Cabinet further welcomed the establishment of a Stakeholder Forum led by the Department of Mineral Resources to address this issue. The Inter-Ministerial Security Committee was mandated to develop a coordinated response to this illegal activity.

The meeting noted the report on South Africa's participation at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial meetings, held in Geneva, Switzerland to resume the next Doha Round of WTO Trade Negotiations. South Africa will participate in these talks and assess their impact on our economy. South Africa will also work closely with other emerging and developing nations to ensure that the development agenda is advanced and achieve proper balance between the demand for industrial tariff reduction and agricultural negotiations. The Department of Trade and Industry will co-ordinate all departments to ensure a common South African position during these talks.

The draft Local Government Municipal Property Rates Amendment Bill was approved and will be published for public comment. The Bill seeks to extend the transitional period for a further period of two years in order to allow the 17 municipalities to continue to levy rates based on the old Act as they did not compile valuation rolls by the deadline of 1 July 2009. The bill will be submitted to Parliament shortly.

The South African National Defence Force Specialist Contingent (SANDFSPECC), which was deployed as part of the African Union (AU) Special Task Force in Burundi, will be formally withdrawing its troops and lowering its flag with effect from 8 August 2009. The primary function of this military force was to provide VIP protection to the returning leaders participating in the Burundi Transitional Government. The signing of a number of ceasefire agreements between the belligerents involved provided a new momentum for the implementation of the peace process in Burundi. The withdrawal of troops will be completed in September 2009. The withdrawal signifies a proud moment in South Africa's and Africa's history as we move towards resolution of this long-standing and violent conflict.

Government would like to thank all those who were also involved in facilitating the peace talks in Burundi. These include the Mr Jacob Zuma when he was the Deputy President of the Republic, Mr Charles Nqakula and all those who provided support to the negotiations process.

The proposal for co-ordinated participation of Ministers and Deputy Ministers at National Day celebrations hosted by accredited Foreign Missions was approved. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation will distribute a schedule of these days to all Ministries to facilitate their participation at these celebrations.

Cabinet congratulated the Springbok Rugby Team for regaining the number one spot in the rugby rankings following their excellent performance over the past few weeks. The meeting took the opportunity to wish the Springboks well in their forthcoming game against New Zealand at the weekend. Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs were also congratulated for their performance against Manchester City during the Vodacom Challenge. Their performance will serve to inspire young South Africans to do better in sports.

The performance of our athletes at the World Athletics Championships currently taking place in Monaco was also noted and welcomed. LJ van Zyl, Khotso Mokoena and Rueben Molefe excelled in the 400 m race, long jump and steeplechaser respectively.

The performance of our swimmers at the FINA World Championships in Rome was noted. The latest gold won by Cameron van den Bergh has placed South Africa in position 9 on the medals table.

Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba's employment contract as Director-General in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation was extended for a further three years. Cabinet expressed its full support and confidence in the Dr Ntsaluba.

Mr GNV Magashula was appointed as the new Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Mr Magashula holds a BSc degree in oceanography and chemistry from the University of Cape Town. He served as Chief Officer for Corporate Services and headed the Business Enablement and Delivery Services at SARS. He was appointed acting Commissioner of SARS following Mr P Gordhan's appointment as Minister of Finance.

Cabinet endorsed the appointment of Major General DD Mdutyana of the South African National Defence Force as Deputy Force Commander in the African Union/United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). This appointment follows a request from the UN to South Africa. This represents a vote of confidence in South Africa's role as a reliable and strong partner in the creation of stability on the Continent.

The following appointments were also approved:
* Ms Lakela Kaunda was appointed Deputy Director-General in the Private Office of the President in The Presidency.
* Mr Vusi Mona was appointed Deputy Director-General in charge of Communications in The Presidency.
* Mr TB Maqubela was appointed Deputy Director-General in the Department of Energy.
* The following were appointed to the Board of the Export Credit Insurance of South Africa limited: Mr T Ditshego; Mr I Sharma; Ms L Mvanana; Mr Z Fihlani; and Mr J Lesejane.

Themba Maseko (Government Spokesperson)
Cell: 083 645 0810
Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)
30 July 2009