Media briefing by President Thabo Mbeki on Cabinet lekgotla
BACKGROUND NOTES ON THE CABINET LEKGOTLA
held its mid-year lekgotla from 19 to 21 July 2005. In addition to the national
Cabinet, Deputy Ministers, national Directors-General and advisers, the meeting
was attended for the first time by Provincial Premiers and Directors-General.
The decision to include provincial leaders and officials in the national
makgotla was taken earlier this year, in order to improve co-ordination and integration
of government work across the spheres.
Indeed, their presence ensured that
provincial perspectives were brought to bear on reflections regarding both the
development and implementation of national strategies.
The lekgotla reflected
on the implementation of the government's Programme of Action (PoA) and expressed
appreciation at the progress being made. While the detailed issues in each Cluster
were noted, Cabinet reflected on a few strategic questions in each sector.
Decisions on these issues will inform the content of the Medium-Term Strategic
Framework which in turn will guide the budgeting process for the next three years.
CAPACITY AND ORGANISATION OF THE STATE
A critical element
in the discussions was the question of the organisation and capacity of the state.
While work is continuing on comprehensive proposals in this regard, the lekgotla
paid particular attention to the following issues.
The meeting reflected on the experiences that have been
gained thus far in the implementation of Project Consolidate. This project, which
is aimed at assisting targeted (136) municipalities in dire need, affords government
a detailed picture of the situation at local level, to better devise strategies
to improve service provision.
The diagnostic assessments undertaken have
focussed on such performance criteria as institutional development, financial
viability and management, service delivery infrastructure, local economic development
and good governance.
On each of these performance areas, detailed action
is required which includes systematic action to stabilise administrative and political
components of municipalities, through careful selection and systematic upgrading
A comprehensive programme of capacity building will be introduced,
including recruitment and training in management, finance, engineering, information
and communications technology and other staff levels.
Linked to these interventions
is the need to ensure that the performance management system is put into practice
and strengthened, including in the implementation of the Municipal Finance Management
There are instances in many municipalities where basic services
are not provided to citizens, not on account of lack of resources, but because
of poor planning. For instance, some new settlement projects with formal housing,
water and electricity lack sanitation facilities; others suffer from ageing electricity
networks and unreliable refuse removal services.
These challenges call
for close monitoring of the content of Integrated Development Plans and their
implementation, including support to Ward Committees and speedier roll-out of
the Community Development Workers (CDW) programme. Further, national and provincial
governments will jointly develop a strategic infrastructure plan based on Integrated
Development Plan (IDP) hearings.
The lekgotla agreed that, in the immediate,
an intensive programme of interaction with the public should be undertaken, building
on the current Presidential municipal imbizo programme and involving Ministers,
Premiers, MECs and local leaders. Such interaction would help identify concrete
challenges for immediate concrete action.
Improving Capacity to Implement
The challenges identified in some of the municipalities
also attest to weak capacity at national and provincial levels to implement integrated
programmes. This applies to issues of leadership at management level, community
involvement and poor vertical integration.
A study specifically on capacity
in the area of housing, at national and provincial levels, has identified concrete
challenges with regard to skills, staff turnover, discrepancies in conditions
of service among spheres of government and public entities inhibiting staff mobility,
an excessive vacancy rate and so on.
The study also points to high rates
of success in instances where political leaders play a visible role, and where
communication with communities is optimal. The same applies to instances where
officials across the three spheres agree on feasibility of targets, correctly
interpret policies and translate executive decisions into concrete projects for
Confirming the central importance of building partnerships
across society, the study also found that such issues as reliable supply of materials
for infrastructure by the private sector, capacity in the Deeds Office, skills
among emerging contractors and community involvement are critical to the success
Cabinet agreed to develop a joint project between the housing
departments and the dpsa to address the weaknesses identified with regard to skills,
organisation and systems so as to improve implementation of the housing strategy.
It was agreed that a rolling programme would be put in place to conduct
similar research in other sectors, starting in the next six months with health,
education and justice.
National Planning Framework
a review of planning processes across the three spheres, the lekgotla agreed on
the need more systematically to ensure articulation among the horizontal and vertical
cycles. These relate to policy strategising, development of programmes and their
public announcement, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation.
approved a detailed planning cycle that brings together these various elements
within and across the spheres. Among others, critical in this regard is ensuring
that submissions of departments and provinces in the budgeting processes are based
on, and assessed in accordance with, the integrated strategic imperatives of government
as a whole.
It was also agreed that, in the same measure as national strategising
makgotla now include provincial leaders, the same should characterise such strategising
at provincial level - to include participation by the district/metro leadership.
Monitoring and Evaluation System
The lekgotla agreed on
a detailed process to set up a Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System,
which will not only provide accurate and reliable information on the implementation
of government programmes; but also ensure the optimal integration and utilisation
of current systems in The Presidency, national treasury, the dpsa and the dplg.
The system will be informed by output, outcome and impact indicators, the
broad framework of which was identified in the Ten Year Review.
which will take responsibility for the setting up and operation of the system,
will in the next few months work with the dpsa and StatsSA to start phasing the
system in: including developing principles to inform departmental structures and
systems, designing of formats, developing IT architecture and ultimately rolling
it out to the whole public sector.
Among the urgent challenges in this
regard is the capacitation of The Presidency and Premiers' Offices to lead the
SPEEDING UP ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
the past few years, government has initiated various measures to speed up economic
growth and job creation. These include the Microeconomic Reform Strategy (MERS),
decisions of the Growth and Development Summit (GDS), new infrastructure projects,
initiatives to lower the cost of production including telecommunications and other
input costs, and programmes in respect of the Second Economy.
is how to build on these programmes and take advantage of the positive domestic
environment to spur the country onto a higher growth path.
The lekgotla reflected
on some of the binding constraints across the whole of the economy and identified
broad interventions required to catalyse the desired "lift-off".
Environment and Long-Term Cutting Edge Interventions
The meeting reaffirmed
the approach of government on such major indicators as the fiscal deficit, interest
rates, inflation and the exchange rate.
While recognising that some of
the indicators are impacted by factors beyond the control of government, the lekgotla
agreed that both the fiscal and monetary authorities need to continue working
together in pursuit of a stable and competitive exchange rate.
was expressed of the consistent growth in the rate of fixed investments by both
the private and public sectors - but it was emphasised that this needed to be
ratcheted up at a faster rate, with particular focus on labour-intensive sectors.
of the interventions required in this regard are contained in the government's
programme and in the agreements reached at the GDS, including the commitment to
plough 5% of investable capital into productive investments.
It was agreed
that consideration needed to be given to long-term strategic initiatives that
would place SA at the cutting edge of the global economy. These include the speeding
up of the work on Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) technology, including strengthening
international partnerships in this regard.
Some of the issues that require
further investigation are: a broad-band backbone for the information super highway
and intensive Research and Development in the area of the hydrogen economy and
fuel cell technology.
With regard to such nuclear, hydrogen and fuel cell
technologies, SA occupies a unique global position in that it has the world's
largest reserves of platinum and other minerals critical to these sectors.
Rates of Investment in Specific Sectors
About twelve sectors have been
identified in the recent past for special attention, on account both of their
growth potential and labour-absorption attributes. It was agreed, in line with
the government's Programme of Action, that concrete work should be intensified
in all these areas so as to complete and implement relevant sector strategies.
For instance, concrete measures need to be put in place urgently to support
Business Process Outsourcing, and finalise plans for the chemical, agriculture
and agro-processing, ICT and telecommunications, tourism and so on.
the same time, consultations on clothing and textile and mining industries need
to be completed without delay, in order to address the challenge of job losses.
Major Infrastructure Projects and PGDS Initiatives
projects have been put in motion to spend R180-billion in public sector resources
in infrastructure projects in the national logistics system, energy and water.
Indications are that, as expected, these initiatives have great potential to crowd
in private sector investments.
Other initiatives are being investigated
to further improve freight and passenger transport in the major metropolitan councils.
In this context, provinces have been asked to identify major projects in each
of their Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDS), which would be incorporated
into an integrated national programme.
At the same time, work is continuing
in accordance with the government PoA to complete guidelines on development of
PGDS and municipal IDPs, in line with the National Spatial Development Perspective
Second Economy Interventions and SME Development
interventions in the Second economy include the Expanded Public Works Programme
(EPWP), micro-credit, land reform, skills development and communication support.
Latest data from the Expanded Public Works Programme shows that government
is on track to create a million work opportunities in five years as planned. By
May 2005 at least 223 400 gross work opportunities were created, about 174 800
of which are a direct value addition from using labour-intensive methods, particularly
The meeting also received a report on work in the Social
Sector to introduce EPWP methods in the setting up of the Early Childhood Development
Programme (ECD). Detailed plans in this regard will be presented to Cabinet soon.
It was also agreed that resources would be allocated to speed up implementation
of this programme as well as other community workers initiative such as home-based
care and community care-givers.
Given the potential that this programme
has shown, it was agreed that the EPWP Project Team should present to Cabinet
options on how it could be scaled up. While such options should take into account
experience in the small-scale projects thus far implemented, consideration should
be given to incorporating some new large construction initiatives under the EPWP
Progress with regard to the operationalisation of micro-credit
and SME support institutions was noted. The meeting also underlined the role of
affirmative procurement, by both government and the private sector, in assisting
Second Economy communities.
The project being undertaken by The Presidency,
labour, the dti and national treasury to assess the tax regime and regulatory
burdens on small and micro enterprises will be speeded up, so as to ensure that
its outcome, if necessary, is incorporated into future budgeting.
Market and Skills Development
In principle, government is of the view
that the current labour market regime is appropriate in that it strikes a delicate
balance between the major role-players in the economy.
However, in order
to protect the rights of workers and to expand the space for job creation in the
economy as a whole, it is necessary to conduct research on issues such as casualisation,
collective bargaining as it impacts on small and micro enterprises and probationary
arrangements for young first-time employees. This work is continuing, and consultations
will be held with all role-players in finalising any proposals in this regard.
In view of the major infrastructure projects either planned or under way,
the issue of skills arises in even bolder relief in the current period. A combination
of learnership training, improvement in the work of training authorities, strategic
immigration measures and other interventions is required to address this issue.
It was agreed that the team dealing with the comprehensive programme on skills
development would report regularly to Cabinet on these issues.
SOCIAL COHESION AND SOCIAL SERVICES
In addition to the governance issues
raised above, as they pertain to the improvement of provision of social services,
the lekgotla reflected on major strategic interventions in this sector both in
terms of services and social cohesion.
A project-by-project report on the
implementation of the Rural Development and Urban Renewal Programmes was noted.
Critical lessons arising from this report relate to matters of both vertical and
horizontal integration in the work of government.
As indicated above, the
contribution of the Social Cluster to the Expanded Public Works Programme, through
the ECD and community care projects was also discussed.
Environment and Challenges
The lekgotla noted the Report on the Macrosocial
Environment and Challenges.
It noted progress in the improvement of material
conditions of especially sections of society that were neglected under apartheid.
More and more South Africans are moving from the lowest levels of income and expenditure.
However, large sections of society remain imprisoned in the poverty trap
of the Second Economy; and racial profiles persist in terms of ownership and control
of wealth, access to social services and public opinion on public policy issues.
The country also faces a challenge in terms of building a caring society,
particularly in the midst of an economic system that encourages individualism,
greed and unhealthy competition.
How we address this challenge, in the
context of fighting corruption and strengthening the moral fibre of the nation,
is a continuing challenge that needs to be attended to by society as a whole.
This has to be addressed at the same time as we encourage a culture of entrepreneurship
especially among Second Economy communities.
Our planning also has to take
into account the reality of massive migration to areas that are perceived to have
higher economic potential. This is a matter that relates both to the age and gender
demographics in various parts of the country as well as spatial planning.
meeting noted the fact that, in comparison to many other countries, South Africans
were quite active in civil society structures and belonged to social networks
that were supportive of individual endeavours. However, with regard to both social
attitudes and culture of organisation and mobilisation, improvements are required
in ensuring that young people - otherwise the most optimistic and confident in
the future - are optimally involved especially in political activity.
also welcomed the pre-eminence of a common national identity in the primary self-definition
of South Africans. This, research attests, does not mean the death of other identities
such as language and nationality, which in some instances assume a critical role
in public discourse.
Tasks arising from these and other challenges in the
Macrosocial Report include: building a people's contract in actual practice in
all social activity; speeding up programmes of transformation especially job-creation;
encouraging social solidarity and the role of the community and the family unit
in improving social cohesion; dedicated programmes to address youth aspirations;
intensification of the programme to build a non-racial and non-sexist society;
multilingualism and so on.
The Social Cluster will work on a Macrosocial
Strategy which integrates the various policy implications of the Report.
The lekgotla reflected on the issue of Social Health
Insurance (SHI), and it reaffirmed the principle that government needed to pursue
a health system which ensures that all South Africans are adequately cared for.
This requires, among others, the creation of structural linkages between
public and private sectors, minimum guaranteed packages to all, and the prevention
of unfair exclusion of low-income groups.
It was agreed in principle that,
in the immediate, measures should be introduced to ensure Risk Equalisation among
the various private medical schemes. This and other issues pertaining to a broader
SHI system will be canvassed with social partners.
IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Cabinet noted the progress being made in bringing
down the levels of crime and in improving the functioning of the Cluster as a
whole. Special focus was dedicated to reflections on the challenge of transforming
Some Specific Programmes
trends point to successes in meeting the target to reduce particularly contact
crime by 7% - 10% per year. However, the lekgotla noted, much more work needed
to be done in integrating the work of socio-economic and crime prevention sectors
in government to ensure that the combating of crime is effectively combined with
efforts to root out its social causes.
Work continues in such areas as
reduction in the number of illegal firearms within society, improved co-ordination
in border control, facilitating implementation of the Victims Charter, building
additional correctional services facilities, amendments to the Foreign Military
Assistance Act and so on.
The lekgotla noted that the terms of reference
for a comprehensive review of the "criminal justice system" had been
completed. An implementation programme is being finalised to ensure that the review
is concluded within 18 months.
Transformation of the Judiciary
discussing the issue of transformation of the judiciary, the lekgotla premised
its approach on the principle that such transformation should be informed by,
and conform to, the prescripts of our Constitution. It is appreciated that, given
the doctrine of the separation of powers, issues pertaining to transformation
of the judiciary, more than with regard to any other branches of the state, have
to be handled with due circumspection.
The meeting noted progress in the
past ten years to assert the supremacy of the Constitution and its humane philosophy.
Appointments to the judiciary are conducted in a transparent manner, and government
has always sought to protect the independence of the judiciary and to ensure that
the integrity of this institution is appreciated by society at large.
changes have taken place in the demographic composition of the judiciary - though
much more needs to be done especially with regard to gender balance.
was agreed that, in order to address this challenge, government as a major procurer
of legal services would need to play its role in terms of setting clear targets
for its own briefings in legal cases.
Consultations will be intensified
to develop a legal services charter, so that a final draft, developed in a consultative
manner is finalised in about two years. The process to identify more black and/or
female candidates will also include more acting appointments, allowing for magistrates
to qualify for judicial appointments and sustaining consideration of academics
and attorneys for such appointments.
The lekgotla confirmed the broad principles
contained in the pieces of legislation aimed at improving the functioning of the
Firstly, the Superior Courts Bill seeks to rationalise various
Superior Courts and consolidate laws relating to these Courts into a single Act.
It also abolishes the remnants of apartheid spatial divisions, and decentralises
the appeal system.
Secondly, draft legislation on judicial education and
training sets out a new education framework and governance structure.
addition, better relationships would need to be built with tertiary institutions
providing training in law. Such training would need to include, among others,
diversity and social context issues.
Thirdly, a framework for handling
complaints against judicial officers is to be introduced.
all these issues, government will consult as widely as possible, and ensure that
none of the legislative changes impinges on the independence of the judiciary.
As such, government will seek to achieve consensus with the judiciary on all the
It was also agreed that transformation imperatives would
need to be introduced in the legal profession as a whole, including matters such
as content of tertiary education and language framework in the Courts.
AGENDA AND GLOBAL ISSUES
The lekgotla noted progress in the implementation
of government's programme with regard to the challenge of promoting the African
agenda and building a better world. Steadily, the stature of South Africa as a
critical player in global relations is appreciated far and wide.
and Stability on the Continent
The lekgotla noted developments in the
DRC, Burundi, Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire where steady progress is being made to attain
peace and put in place popular democratic systems. In each of these countries,
SA has played and is playing an important role as part of the AU collective.
major challenge in all these areas is to ensure that the peace and democratisation
processes are not derailed; and continually to adapt our facilitation to changing
conditions as progress is made: with emphasis where applicable on capacitating
these states to cement national unity, entrench popular participation and implement
socio-economic programmes to improve citizens' quality of life.
issue of developments in Zimbabwe, the lekgotla reaffirmed SA's principled position
to assist the people of that country in finding a solution to the socio-economic
and political challenges that they face.
Reform of the United Nations
and Global Co-operation
The meeting was briefed on the dynamics in
diplomatic engagement around the issue of the reform of the UN. It reaffirmed
the positions of the AU which include:
- Declaration on UN Reform dealing
with issues such as sustainable development, collective security, conflict prevention
and strengthening of the UN General Assembly, Secretariat and ECOSOC;
of the UN Security Council proposing expansion to 26 members including 2 permanent
and 5 non-permanent seats for Africa; and
- An AU Follow-up mechanism to
negotiate with other regions and stakeholders on these issues.
meeting agreed that, both in the context of UN Reform and in pursuit of a developmental
global agenda, SA need to strengthen efforts aimed at consolidating South-South
The meeting also registered SA's repugnance of the acts of
terrorism in various parts of the world, which not only claim the lives of civilians
but also undermine efforts to build global solidarity around issues of eradicating
poverty and underdevelopment.
Assessment of NEPAD Implementation
lekgotla noted the work that is being done to realise the objectives of NEPAD.
The discussion was premised on the understanding that NEPAD is a long-term development
As such, a balance has to be struck in dealing with this issue
between its conception as a guiding framework and the need to show tangible progress
on programme and project implementation.
In this regard, the progress being
made in matters of peace, stability and democratisation, as indicated above, constitutes
a critical element of NEPAD implementation. Further, Africa is showing positive
economic trends which, more than before, not only show consistency but reflect
a promise of sustainability.
As shown in the outcome of the recent G8 Summit,
which includes concrete decisions on partnering Africa in terms of investment,
human resource development, debt cancellation, peace-keeping capacity, development
aid and so on, confidence in the continent across the globe is improving; and
Africa is better able to build partnerships on the basis of its own imperatives.
Among the challenges that need to be addressed, in order to improve NEPAD
implementation, is the mobilisation and alignment of resources and institutions
including AU structures, African development institutions, technical committees
and the NEPAD Secretariat. We also have to strengthen regional mechanisms (and
in our case, the institutions of SADC).
The lekgotla agreed that SA needed
to enhance its contribution to intra-continental efforts on such issues as market
access, bilateral relations, cross-border infrastructure development, facilitation
of South African outward investment and technical assistance.
Government Communications (GCIS)
24 July 2005