Statement on the Cabinet meeting held on 4 November 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Cape Town yesterday, 4 November 2009.

Cabinet decided to terminate the contract to purchase eight A400 Airbus strategic lift aircraft. This decision follows a review of the contract by the Ministries of Defence and Military Veterans, Finance, Trade and Industry, Science and Technology and Public Enterprises. The termination of the contract is due to extensive cost escalation and the supplier's failure to deliver the aircraft within the stipulated timeframes. Armscor will be instructed to terminate the programme as soon as possible.

The cost escalation would have placed an unaffordable burden on the taxpayer at a time when the national fiscus is under pressure due to the economic downturn. An amount of R2.9 billion will be refunded to National Treasury as per the contract provisions. Cabinet believes that the interests of the South African taxpayer will be best served by not proceeding with the contract.

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans will brief the Portfolio Committee on Defence about this decision this morning.

The proposal to issue a temporary Mobile Television Broadcasting Licence was approved. This decision is in line with South Africa's commitment to provide Mobile Television Broadcasting during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The licence will expire two weeks after the World Cup Finals. The issuing of a temporary licence will allow the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) the time and space to design a licensing process that will encourage greater competition in the sector,

South Africa's readiness to participate in the various multilateral forums on global warming ahead of the Copenhagen Conference of Parties was discussed. South Africa, as a responsible global citizen, will engage in these negotiations to support the strongest possible outcome at the Copenhagen conference. Adaptation to the impact of climate change must be given high priority and national adaptation plans and actions must be supported internationally. Minister Buyelwa Sonjica will join us later to elaborate on the climate change discussions and processes.

Cabinet noted Eskom's multi-year price determination application to the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (NERSA). The meeting agreed that there are a number of areas that need further consideration, particularly, the social, micro and macro impact of the price increases, before Government can provide the necessary guidance to the industry. The Minister of Public Enterprises will continue to meet with the relevant Ministers, including the Minister of Finance, to consider other options that may mitigate the extent of the proposed electricity tariff increases. The Minister will report back to Cabinet in due course.

The revised Policy on the Health Classification and Selective Deployment of Stable HIV Positive South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members was approved. The new policy provides for the recruitment and selective deployment of HIV positive persons into the SANDF. This decision marks the culmination of a policy review process that was initiated in 2006 and is in compliance with a 2008 High Court decision that ruled that the existing policy was unconstitutional. The old policy excluded HIV positive persons from being recruited and external deployment. The Military Health Services structures will provide the necessary support to SANDF personnel.

The report on the challenges facing the Department of Home Affairs was discussed and noted. The Department's interventions to address the challenges were approved. These interventions include: the launch of a national campaign to encourage citizens to apply for birth certificates and identity documents; the launch of an anti-corruption drive; the introduction of severe penalties for those who sell identity books; replacement of the old passports with the new and more secure passport; and the extension of the track and trace system to all enabling documents for better security, management and improved service delivery.

Cabinet approved the new international marketing logo for South Africa. The new logo replaces the logos that were primarily used by the International Marketing Council and SA Tourism to market South Africa abroad. This decision marks the beginning of a new era in nation branding as South African entities will now go out to the world under a single, colourful, dynamic logo and positioning. This decision takes the country's marketing to new heights, as we get ready to welcome the world to our shores as hosts of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals. (A copy of the new logo is attached)

The meeting welcomed and supported the Minister of Basic Education's initiative to introduce changes to the National Curriculum Statement. These changes flow from the report by a panel of experts that was appointed to review the curriculum statement. The panel recommended the development of a coherent five year plan to improve teaching and learning across the schooling system; streamlining and clarifying policies; clarifying the role of subject advisors; addressing teacher workload and administrative burden; assessment; transition and overload in the Intermediate Phase; Learning and Teaching Support Material; and teachers and training. Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to make a statement on the curriculum changes in the National Assembly this afternoon.

Cabinet believes that these changes will go a long way towards improving the quality of education across all our schools as they address the concerns from various stakeholders, particularly teachers, parents, learners and academics.

The extension of the concession to treat Rwandese students studying at South African universities as home students for purposes of fees was approved. The three-year concession will apply to a hundred students who are on the Rwandese government funded scholarship programme studying science, commerce and engineering. The concession will cost approximately R5.5 million over the three-year period. This concession will be part of an agreement to be signed between the Ministry of Higher Education and Training and the Rwandese authorities. Universities will be informed accordingly
Government calls on all South Africans to support this year's 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. The Campaign will be from 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) to 10 December (International Human Rights Day).

The launch of the 'Football Friday Campaign' for the public service by Deputy President Mr Kgalema Motlanthe was welcomed. Cabinet endorsed the call for South Africans to support the campaign by wearing Bafana Bafana jerseys every Friday until the end of the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals.

The Public Participation programme will be from 9 to 15 November 2009 in various parts of the country. This programme is aimed at providing platforms for members of the Executive to interact with communities to discuss ways to improve service delivery. No less than 25 events will take place around the country at which Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers, MEC's, Mayors and councillors will be interacting with communities. The list of events will be published on the government website by midday on Friday, 6 November 2009.

The Ministerial Clusters will be holding media briefings on government's key priorities. The briefings will take place over the next week. Details of the briefings will be announced later. There will be a link-up between Pretoria and Cape Town for the briefings.

Ministers committed themselves to ensure that all outstanding parliamentary questions are answered before Parliament rises. However, the total number of outstanding parliamentary questions stands at 396 as opposed to the reported number of 510 that was mentioned in the National Assembly. The Deputy President's office will continue to monitor this matter to ensure that questions are answered within the stipulated timeframe.

Cabinet wishes Ms Zou Kota-Fredericks, the Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, a speedy recovery following her involvement in a car accident. Cabinet also extends its condolences to the family and friends of the father and son who lost their lives in that accident.

Cabinet wishes Ms Gill Marcus well as she assumes her role as the new Governor of the South African Reserve Bank.

Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)
Enquiries: Themba Maseko (Government Spokesperson)
Contact : 083 645 0810
05 November 2009;