Statement on the Cabinet Meeting held on 1 July 2009

Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Cape Town yesterday, 1 July 2009.

Government calls on all the medical professionals who are still on strike to return to work and resume their duties with immediate effect with the knowledge that Government has listened, understands their plight and that conditions in our public health facilities will improve with time. As we work together to address the challenges, we all have the responsibility to ensure that our citizens do not end up being deprived of their constitutional rights to quality healthcare.

Cabinet welcomed the news that some progress has been made in the negotiations with the unions regarding the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) for the medical sector. The government’s final offer has been tabled and negotiated in the Public Service Bargaining Chamber, while the unions have agreed to communicate the details of the offer to their members for consideration. The meeting expressed the hope that the unions will do all they can to ensure that details of the offer is properly explained to their members so that an agreement could be signed sooner rather than later as the offer represents an improvement in the salaries of the medical staff.

The labour dispute is doing considerable harm, adding more strain to an already strained public health sector and in the process, depriving ordinary South Africans access to desperately needed healthcare.

Government acknowledges the challenges regarding the working conditions of our medical professionals. Government would like to reiterate that the salary level of doctors is not in dispute and we acknowledge that the working conditions of our doctors need to be addressed. Our offer demonstrates willingness to begin the process of addressing the low salary levels. Government believes that a lot of work still needs to be done to improve the pay issues as well as the broader challenges regarding the provision of access to quality health care to the majority of South Africans. That is why we have identified healthcare as one of the key priorities of the new government as stated in the electoral mandate.

Government will continue to work tirelessly, in partnership with the representatives of the medical staff, to ensure that the working conditions in our public institutions are improved over time as these facilities provide essential services to South Africans, especially those who cannot afford private healthcare.

Cabinet congratulated the Local Organising Committee for organising and hosting one of the most successful FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments ever. The successful 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup tournament served to project our country positively to the world and demonstrated, without any shadow of doubt, that we have the capability and the capacity to host international events of this magnitude.

The meeting noted that this was one of the most important milestones as we get closer to hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals. The meeting expressed gratitude to the thousands of South Africans who attended the games in large numbers. Cabinet also paid tribute to all South Africans for their hospitality to all who visited our shores, including the participating teams.

Cabinet congratulated Bafana Bafana for their sterling performance against the best teams in the world during the tournament. The performance of the team showed that South Africa will not only be the tournament host but will also be a worthy contender in the games.

The meeting decided that the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals will be a standing item on the Cabinet agenda to monitor preparations for the tournament.

Cabinet endorsed the call to declare 18 July, former President Nelson Mandela’s birthday, as global Mandela Day. This campaign is led by the Nelson Mandela Foundation and seeks to encourage all of humanity to spend 67 minutes of their time doing something that would make a difference in their communities. This is in recognition of the 67 years that Madiba spent fighting against the evils of apartheid. Cabinet calls on all South Africans, civil society organisations and the citizens of the world to support the Mandela Day initiative by doing good in their communities. It is important to note that Mandela Day will not be a public holiday.

The Minister of Finance briefed Cabinet about the state of the economy and the fiscal outlook for the rest of the year. The report indicated a decline in revenue collection which will lead to a larger than anticipated budget deficit. Cabinet endorsed the proposed approach to maintain the current spending levels through borrowings to offset the budget deficit. The Minister of Finance would explain the details in his budget speech. Departments will also be required to review their spending plans to ensure effective and efficient use of the limited public resources.

The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) for the period 2009-2014 was approved. The MTSF is informed by the electoral mandate and will guide government’s Programme of Action for the mandate period (2009-2014). The framework builds on the successes of the past fifteen years of democracy, draws lessons identified in the Fifteen Year Review, identifies development challenges facing South Africa and identifies the medium-term strategies to improve the conditions of life for all South Africans.

The five-year framework will be reviewed annually during the mid-year Lekgotla to take into account the new developments. The framework will be distributed to all Government departments and will soon be published on the government website. A simplified version will be also be published for wider distribution.

The progress report on the national macro-organisation of the state project was noted. This report outlined the progress regarding the reorganisation of state departments following the establishment of the new Government. The report indicated that progress was made in key areas such as the allocation and transfer of functions to new ministries, staff audits, consultations with labour, the creation of organisational structures, budgets and systems-related issues.

The meeting noted that President Jacob Zuma was participating in a number of international events to advance Africa’s development agenda. These events include the 13th Ordinary Session of the African Union which is taking place in Libya from 1-3 July under the theme “Investing in Agriculture for economic Growth and Food Security”. This Summit will be followed by the G8-Africa Outreach session which will be held in Italy from the 9-10 July.

A progress report on the development of the National Urban Development Framework was noted. This framework seeks to: provide a development policy framework between towns, cities and rural areas and between local, provincial and national spheres; improve the management of urban areas and service delivery in towns and cities; help cities to manage the rapid urbanisation; and align Integrated Development Plans (IDPs), Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDSs) and the emerging national plan. The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs will finalise the framework in consultation with the Ministries of Human Settlements, Rural Development and Land Reform and of Economic Development.

The following appointments were approved:

  • Assistant Commissioner RN Ntuli was appointed as Divisional Commissioner (Crime Intelligence) in the South African police Service.
  • Ms M Phetla-Lekhethe was appointed Deputy Director-General, International and Regional Economic Policy, in the National Treasury.
  • Mr KW Brown was appointed Deputy Director-General, Intergovernmental Relations in the National Treasury.
  • Noted the appointment of Dr A van Jaarsveld as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation (NRF) for a period of five years.

Enquiries:

Themba Maseko (Government Spokesperson)
Cell: 083 645 0810

Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
2 July 2009

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