Statement on the Cabinet Meeting of 17 September 2014
1. Cabinet’s position on current issues
Cabinet appreciated the initiative by President Zuma together with SADC to restore peace in Lesotho. Cabinet supports the recent Summit’s resolutions which mandated the Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, The Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa, supported by the Secretariat and a team of experts from Troika Member States, to act as SADC Facilitator to the Kingdom of Lesotho. The Deputy President, Secretariat and experts have clear Terms of Reference to facilitate the restoration of political and security stability in the Kingdom of Lesotho, in the short and long term.
1.2 South African companies exhibition in Russia
Cabinet congratulates the South African companies that were awarded the best standing at the World Food Show in Moscow. Working with the Department of Trade and Industry South Africa’s local Food Products have been well received amongst Russian Food importers. This international accolade comes against the backdrop of President Zuma’s recent visit to the Russian Republic. This year 3 000 exhibitors showcased their produce. Under the Export Marketing and Investment Assistance (EMIA) scheme, 21 South African companies showcased the agro processing sector.
1.3 Essay competition on Nat Nakasa and Freedom and Democracy achievements
Cabinet congratulates the winners of the inaugural essay competition on the life of Nat Nakasa, a prominent journalist whose remains returned to South Africa after fifty years on 19 August 2014. This initiative by the Department of Arts and Culture reminds our young generation about our struggle for freedom and exposes them to the history of writing and journalism in South Africa. The journalism students Sbongakonke Mbatha, Qiniso Mbili and Nkamogeleng Lebeloane each won an internship placement and a laptop.
Another category was the learners’ debate which reflected on the achievements attained through Freedom and Democracy. Competition objectives included creating awareness on the role of journalists during the liberation struggle in South Africa. The winners Mfundo Radebe, Dumisa Nzama, Danielle Dallas, Olivia Habonimana, Faith Marthinussen and Cebisa Ncube each won a laptop.
2. Key Cabinet decisions
2.1 Transfer of Department of Health Shares in Biovac Company
Cabinet approved the transfer of Department of Health‘s shares in the Biological and Vaccines Institute (Biovac) of Southern Africa to the Department of Science and Technology.
Biovac is a public-private partnership between the South African Government and the Biovac Consortium. The South African Government shares comprised of 12, 5% owned by Department of Science and Technology and 35% owned by Department of Health. The transfer of shares is a response to the concerns raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) that Department of Health in the current arrangement may be conflicted as it acted as a shareholder and a buyer.
The WHO requires the regulatory authority (in this case the Medicines Control Council which is part of the Department of Health) and its oversight role be separated from that of any manufacturer of medicine – in this, Biovac. The transfer of Department of Health shares to Science and Technology, will enable Biovac to export its manufactured products to countries benefitting from the WHO and UNICEF vaccines programmes.
Biovac is a company that supplies high-quality, safe and effective vaccines to the public sector, and is a leading supplier of paediatrics vaccines to government's Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI). Through the Department of Science and Technology, government will now own 47,5% of Biovac shares while 52.5 % will be held by the Biovac Consortium.
As announced this past weekend, Cabinet has approved a package of measures to secure the sustainability of the electricity industry, strengthen Eskom’s finances, and ensure that the energy security of the country is maintained.
All of this will have to be done in a manner that does not add further pressure to the nation’s finances. At the same time, government would like to ensure that poor households are cushioned as far as fiscal resources allow from the impact of the tariff adjustment.
The Cabinet decision is based on the recommendations of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) which reviewed an extensive set of options available to ensure energy security. The IMC will continue to monitor the industry closely.
Details of the package can be accessed via the National Treasury website.
In summary the package consists of, among others, an injection by government of additional equity into Eskom to help the utility strengthen its balance sheet, enabling it to borrow more from financial markets. To ensure that government’s financial resources are not strained, the equity injection will be funded by leveraging non-strategic government assets. Further details in this regard will be provided when the Minister of Finance tables the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on 22 October.
Other elements of the package include: a strong improvement in Eskom’s operational efficiencies which will reduce costs; a R50 billion increase in debt raised by Eskom which will be supported by the existing government guarantees; government support for Eskom’s application to NERSA for an adjustment to the tariff, which is in line with normal regulatory processes; demand management measures; refinements to energy policy; and the expansion of the independent power producer programme.
In terms of cushioning poor households, government will strengthen oversight of the free basic electricity grant. This will ensure that allocations are used effectively as well as to encourage municipalities to improve the efficiency with which they maintain their networks and supply power to consumers. These measures are necessary for South Africa to raise economic growth to a rate which is sufficient to create more jobs, reduce poverty and inequality.
2.3 Transfer of administrative functions to the Office of Chief Justice
Cabinet was briefed on the commencement of the initial phase of the transfer of administrative functions and staff relating to the Superior Courts from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to the Office of the Chief Justice. This gives effect to the Constitution Seventeenth Amendment Act, 2012 and the Superior Courts Act, Act No. 10 of 2013.
The Superior Courts Act enhances the administration of the magistracy by placing magistrates in every Division of the High Court under the control of the Judge President of the Division concerned. The Act assigns powers and functions to the Office of the Chief Justice which was established as a separate state institution equivalent to a department by a Presidential Proclamation in 2010. This affirms the Government’s commitment to the independence of the Judiciary as espoused in our Constitution.
2.4 Establishment of project management office for Presidential Infrastructure championing
Cabinet approved the establishment of the Project Management Office for African Union Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative which is led by President Zuma. This is an African-driven infrastructure programme meant to champion cross boarder infrastructure projects that will unlock the economic potential of the continent and provide development opportunities for communities, cities and regions.
Cabinet approved the establishment of the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative Project Management Office with the support of relevant government departments. The Project Management Office will be supported by the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee on AU Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative in South Africa. The Committee will be chaired by the Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
2.5 Establishment of Public Service pool of legal and labour relation specialist
Cabinet approved the establishment of an internal Public Service pool of legal and labour relations specialists to deal with the backlog of pending precautionary suspension cases in the public service. The intervention aims to get the Public Service to operate more efficiently and effectively by reducing the period for completing disciplinary processes, especially where personnel are suspended on full pay.
Furthermore, this initiative ensures proper management of discipline by institutionalising the maximum period of 3 months (90 days) to finalise cases. The legal and labour relations specialists’ pool will comprise Public Service officials who are experts in this field, including investigators, prosecutors and presiding officers to ensure that the full labour relations value chain is optimal.
3.1 Cabinet approved the tabling in Parliament of Disaster Management Amendment Bill, 2002 (Act No. 57 of 2002). The Disaster Management Act No. 57 of 2002 sets out an integrated and coordinated approach to disaster management and disaster risk reduction across all spheres of government and the involvement of all relevant stakeholders.
4.1 Cabinet endorsed the appointment of the 15 members and the Chairperson of the South African National Space Agency Board.
a) Ms Joy-Marie Lawrence (Chairperson)
b) Prof. Ramashwar Bharuthram
c) Mr Johan Prinsloo
d) Mr Willie van Biljon
e) Ms Mbaliyethu Mfeka
f) Mr Eugene Jansen
g) Mr Potlaki Maine
h) Ms Gaborekwe Khambule
i) Mr Lindelwa Simphiwe Hamilton
j) Mr Mmuso Riba
k) Mr Ashley Desmond Naidoo
l) Dr Nozibele Mjoli
m) Ms Matsie Matooane
n) Mr Vincent Gore (reappointment)
o) Mr Marius Rezelman (reappointment)
p) Mr Omar Latiff
Enquiries: Phumla Williams (Acting Cabinet Spokesperson)
083 501 0139
Issued by Government Communications and Information System (GCIS)
18 September 2014