Statement on the Cabinet Meeting of 20 August 2014
1. Implementation of key government programmes
Cabinet commends the launch of another Sexual Offences Court in Bethlehem, Free State by Minister Michael Masutha. This forms part of government’s intervention programme in the fight against sexual violence against women, children and the vulnerable groups.
These dedicated courts are equipped to provide specialised victim-support services which in turn help to improve conviction rates. Government remains resolute to strengthen the criminal justice system so as to deal decisively with the violation of the rights of women and children.
Cabinet welcomes the launch by Minister Lindiwe Zulu of the Enterprise Development Academy based at the Gordon Institute of Business Science.
The Academy focuses on scholarship-based education and support to micro and small business owners by helping them grow sustainably to create further employment in the long term. The Academy is part of the solution to address youth unemployment and build a nation of entrepreneurs. It aims to provide practical and relevant business education and leadership training to entrepreneurs, followed by a comprehensive structure of support services.
This ensures that academic learning is applied to the business environment and that impact is achieved.
South Africa needs an entrepreneurial revolution in order to spark a shift in direction towards entrepreneurship and SMEs that will move the country forward. Government, big business and academic institutions need to collaborate when it comes to supporting job creation through enterprise development. In order to flourish, business creation needs an enabling environment where entrepreneurs have access to funding, best-practice tools and skills development.
2. Key Cabinet decisions
Cabinet approved the ratification of the signed Grand Inga Treaty between the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for tabling in Parliament.
The Treaty provides the framework for the facilitation of power generation from Grand Inga Project and its delivery to the border between the DRC and Zambia. Ratification of the Treaty enables development of Phase I of the Project, which will provide 2 500 Megawatts of electricity to South Africa and contribute to regional integration, energy security, access to energy and economic growth in an environmentally sustainable manner.
The project has the potential to supply clean and affordable imported hydroelectric power to meet the needs of the DRC, South Africa and surrounding countries. It entails the generation of approximately 40 000 Megawatt of hydropower on the Congo River, over seven phases. The project holds the potential to fast-track Southern African Development Community (SADC) development; alleviate energy poverty, stimulate economic growth and facilitate infrastructure development.
The Grand Inga project will seek to harness the power potential of the Congo River, sub-Saharan Africa's greatest waterway. This represents one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken on the African continent, and one which will long be a resounding symbol of the rise of Africa and her people.
Cabinet was briefed on the upcoming International Gender, Water and Development Conference. The conference will be hosted by the Department of Water and Sanitation, Water Research and its partners in the sector. The conference will be held from the 3 to 7 November in East London under the theme “The Untapped Connection”.
The conference follows a number of ongoing dialogues that started after the International Freshwater Governance Conference that was held in November 2012. The conference will provide a platform to forge partnerships that will address the challenges faced by the sector. It will also address the roll-out of the African Ministers Council on Water Gender Strategy.
3. Cabinet’s Position on Current Issues
Cabinet was briefed by the Minister of Health, Mr. Aaron Motsoaledi, on developments around Ebola and interventions made by South Africa. Cabinet wishes to reiterate that no person has been found positive with the disease. The country’s state of readiness and response on Ebola requires strengthen capacity in the SADC region and the rest of the continent which South Africa can offer. South Africa remains committed to provide support through screening, training and laboratory services for the SADC region. Minister Motsoaledi will give a full briefing on this issue today at 14h30.
Cabinet welcomes the plans by the South African Reserve Bank and a consortium of investors from the financial sector to restructure African Bank Limited (ABL). This will assist to appropriately safeguard retail depositors and minimise losses for investors in ABL.
This will also ensure the country’s financial sector remains strong and robust.
Cabinet emphasised, the importance of the financial services sector to economic growth and highlighted that government, through the National Treasury, will continue to strengthen the sector, its oversight, and improve regulatory coordination.
Cabinet noted with concern the misinformation about the various reforms regarding retirement funds (pension and provident funds). There is anecdotal evidence that some workers are resigning from work on fears that government will from next year prevent them from withdrawing their retirement savings when they change jobs, and that government wants to take over retirement funds. While government wants to encourage workers to preserve their savings until retirement, no laws have changed to stop withdrawal when workers change jobs. By contrast, the various retirement reform proposals seek to:
a) Encourage individuals to provide adequately for their own retirement and the needs of their dependents and to provide for retirement funding as part of the remuneration contract;
b) Make retirement funding arrangements cost-efficient, prudently managed, transparent and fair; and
c) Improve standards of fund governance, including standards of fund governance, including trustee knowledge and conduct, protection of members’ interest, accountability and disclosure of material information to members and contributors.
Cabinet wants to assure the public that people’s retirement savings remain safe. There is no reason for any worker (both in the private and public sector) to resign so as to access their retirement savings. It should also be noted that those cashing out their pension or provident funds before retirement will not only get less money than they would had they preserved, but they may be taxed on early withdrawals and no longer enjoy the tax advantages.
4. Upcoming events
Minister Nathi Mthethwa will launch Heritage Month in Gauteng on 31 August under the theme: “Celebrating 20 Years of Democracy: Tell Your Story that Moves South Africa Forward”.
Among the projects identified to advance the “Tell Your Story” campaign are the reburials of Nat Nakasa and Moses Kotane. Repatriations of unsung heroes provide South Africans with an opportunity to learn more about their personal struggles, the circumstances that led to them living in exile and the impact they had on the liberation of our country.
Other events include: National Book Week from 1 to 7 September under the theme: “Going Places” focusing on the power of books and how they can ‘figuratively’ and ‘literally’ take South Africans to places. Events are planned in all the provinces and will include reading in indigenous languages, storytelling and motivational talks, word-a-thons, poetry sessions and book debates.
Also, on 3 September South Africa will commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Vaal Uprising during which the Vaal Triangle community protested against rent increases, poor service delivery and an illegitimate, and defunct local government. The Vaal Uprising introduced a new period of sustained protest that spread to large parts of the country, prompting the apartheid authorities to declare a state of emergency.
Minister Derek Hanekom will launch Tourism Month on 26 August at Maboneng Precinct, Johannesburg, under the theme: “Tourism Transforming Lives”, which is derived from World Tourism Day (27 September) and focuses on the social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism to the country.
South Africans are encouraged to travel within our country during Tourism Month and to familiarise themselves on the importance of tourism to the economy.
National Arbor Week will be celebrated from 1 to 7 September under the theme: “Forests and People: Investing in a sustainable future”. South Africans are encouraged to plant the identified trees for 2014, either the Vepris lanceolata (commonly known as: White Ironwood/ Witysterhout/ Muruvula/ Muhondwa/ umZane/ umOzana) or the Heteropyxis Natalensis Harvey (commonly known as: Lavender Tree/ Laventelboom/ iNkunzi).
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) will, in collaboration with the Institute for Environment and Recreation Management and Total South Africa, run the National Arbor City Award competition. The purpose is to encourage Local Municipalities to green their areas of jurisdiction.
National Arbor Week and the National Arbor City Award is conducted in line with the DAFF greening strategy which defines greening as an integrated approach to the planting, care and management of all vegetation in urban and rural areas.
Cabinet approved the following appointments:
- Mr Themba Stanley Kojana as Deputy Director-General: Teachers, Human Resource and Institutional Development, in the Department of Basic Education.
- Mr Clifford Abraham Appel as Chief Financial Officer at the Department of Social Development.
Cabinet concurred with the following appointments to serve as members of the National Public Transport Regulator:
a) Mr Lesedi Dinte, and
b) Ms Divhani Edzisani Tshivhase.
c) Prof Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango
Cabinet approved the appointment of Semira Mohammed as a Non-Executive Member to the Board of the Cross-Border Road Transport Agency.
Cabinet noted the appointment of Mr Tshediso Matona as the Chief Executive of Eskom SOC Ltd as well as ex officio member of the Eskom Board of Directors.
Phumla Williams (Acting Cabinet Spokesperson)
Cell: 083 501 0139
Issued by: Government Communications
21 August 2014