Statement on Cabinet Meeting of 5 March 2008

Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Cape Town yesterday morning, 5th March 2008.

Cabinet took a dim view of a number of incidents that have the potential to undermine the country’s goal of building a democratic, non-racial and non sexist society. The meeting strongly condemned the production of a racist video by four students at the University of the Free State. The humiliation of workers who are old enough to be their parents is totally unacceptable and cannot, under any circumstances be condoned by anyone. This incident highlights the fact that racism still remains one of the major challenges that face our young democracy.

This shocking video exposes deep-seated racist stereotypes that are harbored by a section of our population and constitutes a complete disregard for the rights not only of the workers of the institution but a total disrespect for adults. All South Africans must condemn such conduct and ensure that no South African, either black or white, can be subjected to such dehumanizing and disrespectful behavior. Government believes that the majority of South Africans are trying hard to emerge from the apartheid legacy of racial discrimination and no effort must be spared in ensuring that the South African project of building a united nation is not undermined by individuals who are opposed to transformation. The University of the Free State must show strong leadership by bringing those responsible to book and setting an example to all institutions of higher learning by adopting concrete measures to abolish all forms of racism in the institution.

All heads of public and private institutions have a responsibility to create conditions that would entrench constitutional values  in their institutions and they must urgently take steps to ensure that all vestiges of apartheid are removed henceforth. It cannot be acceptable that our universities, schools and other public ad private institutions can continue to tolerate apartheid practices such as racially segregated residences and other facilities. Government calls on all our institutions to review their policies and practices with a view to making sure that the values as enshrined in our constitution such as non-sexism, non-racialism, and human dignity are observed by all.

Cabinet condemns unreservedly the recent harassment of a young woman by taxi drivers in Johannesburg for wearing a mini-skirt. Such an attack represents the most backward and the worst form of gender-based abuse and deserves the condemnation by all South Africans. Government calls on all men, and taxi drivers in particular, to stop harassing women and to distance themselves from any sexist and disrespectful behavior against our mothers and daughters.

The meeting also condemned the use of the ‘’Kaffir’’ word by a senior soccer official at a press conference recently. We should take care not to use  derogatory words that were used to demean black persons in this country. Words such as ‘Kaffir’, ‘coolie’, ‘Boesman’, ‘hotnot’ and many others have negative connotations and remain offensive as they were used to degrade, undermine and strip South Africans of their humanity and dignity.   

The only good that must come out of these unfortunate incidents is that South Africans, irrespective of race, gender, religion, colour, or creed must openly confront the scourge of racism, sexism and other undemocratic practices that continue to surface from time to time. All institutions must develop diversity programmes aimed at training and educating both young and old about the country’s history and the reasons why the principles of non-racialism, non-sexism, discrimination had to be enshrined in our constitution.

Whilst these diversity management programmes are important, those who engage in activities that undermine the constitutional rights of others must face the full might of the law. The public, particularly the victims of abuses, are encouraged to fully utilize institutions that were created by the Constitution such as the Courts, the Human Rights Commission, the Gender Commission and others, to enforce their rights. The transgressors must know that there will be legal consequences for undermining the cosntitution and trudging the rights of others.        

Cabinet condemns the latest Israeli military onslaught on the Gaza strip in which over a 100 innocent civilians, half of whom are children, were killed. This response to rocket attacks from militant groups within Gaza is a totally disproportionate use of force and constitutes, as does the siege of Gaza itself, collective punishment on Gaza’s 1. 2 million people. South Africa also condemns the indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israel by the militants. Government calls on both the Israeli government and the Palestinian people to continue to work for a peaceful resolution of the crisis to prevent any further killing of innocent people.

The meeting welcomed the outcome of the Presidential Joint Working Group meeting that was held on Friday 29 March 2008. The meeting noted that extensive discussions were taking place between Ministries of Public Enteprises, Minerals and Energy and the mining industry with a view to considering steps that must be taken to support the industry and to ensure that the industry’s electricity needs are met. Government is committed to working with mining and other industries to ensure that industry challenges emerging from the electricity emergency  are addressed without any job losses. Further, the meeting resolved that concrete steps should be taken by Eskom and municipalities to accelerate the maintenance of the electricity infrastructure to secure the distribution and transmission side of the electricity supply chain. However, the main message is that we must continue to save energy and not become complacent because no extensive load shedding took place over the past few weeks.

The negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the recent session of Southern African Development Communnity (SADC) Ministers to discuss the agreement were noted. The Minister of Trade and Industry will arrange a media briefing shortly to elaborate on South Africa’s concerns regarding the current EPA proposals.

Cabinet was briefed about the current discussions with the British government regarding the reports that the British government was considering the introduction of visas for South African travelers to the UK. Government would like to clarify that there is no decision by the British government at this stage to introduce visas to SA travelers and we would like to re-assure South Africans that everything is being done to address the British government’s concerns about the security of South African passports. South African passports are among the safest and most secure passports in the world and that’s the reason why they are being targeted by the criminals. Government will continue to introduce additional security measures to ensure that South Africans are not inconvenienced during their travels.

Furthermore, the meeting approved the proposal to establish a national department for traditional leadership. This department will play a key role in the restoration of the dignity of traditional leadership which is the custodian of African customs and heritage. The process will begin in the 2009/10 financial year and it is expected that the department will be fully established and operational by the 2010/11 financial year. The department will report to the Minister of Provincial and Local Government.

The Moloto Rail Corridor Development Initiative was approved following the consideration of the feasibility study that was conducted. A project implementation and management office will be established by the Department of Transport to take the project forward. The project will be implemented jointly with the Mpumalanga Provincial Government at a cost of R 8.6 billion and will include rail, road and transfer facilities. An Environmental Impact Aassessment study will be undertaken shortly and all affected municipalities will be required to update their Integrated Development Plans and Integrated Transport Plans to ensure alignment with this initiative.

The updated government Programme of Action which is informed by the decisions of the January Cabinet Lekgotla and the President’s State of the Nation Address was approved and will be posted on the government website shortly.

The HIV and AIDS country progress report to the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV and AIDS was approved. This report  uses a set of 25 national indicators that were prescribed by the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) to assess progress made during 2006 and 2007 in implementing the country’s National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS. The report uses data from a variety of public and private sources to ensure reliability of the information. Members of the SANAC Programme Implementation Committee were fully briefed about the data collection and report writing process and the draft of the report was discussed at the December meeting of this committee.

The meeting noted that civil society will also be submitting an additional report to the Assembly. The final Country Report will be published on the Government website as soon as it is submitted to UNAIDS. UNAIDS will also publish all country reports it receives. Cabinet is satisfied that the process of drafting the report was inclusive and transparent and would like to expresse its appreciation to SANAC members and all stakeholders for their participation and contribution to the process.

Cabinet endorsed the Bid by Ethekwini Municipality to host the 123 session of the International Olympic Committee session in 2011, subject to a review of the financial implications.

Policy Framework on the South African Traditional Justice System under the Democratic Dispensation and the draft Bill on Traditional Courts were approved.

Cabinet noted that South Africa will be hosting the International Conference on Comprehensive Social Security in Africa on 10-14 March 2008 in Cape Town, and the African Union Regional Workshop on Mortality Assessment from 14-18 April 2008. The latter workshop will focus on mortality assessment and data collection tools for the continent.

The following appointments were approved:

  • Mr. TT Gwanya was appointed as the Director General in the Department of Land Affairs
  • Mr VR Shabalala was appointed as Deputy Director General in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
  • Ms FN Legoabe was appointed as Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DDG) in Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)
  • Professor TP Auf der Heyde was appointed Deputy Director General in the Department of Science and Technology 
  • The following were appointed to the Board of the Land and Agricultural development Bank of South Africa; Rev FO Mbangula, Mr MH Zilimbola, Mr BP Mathidi, Mr MJ Motloba, Mr J Mthimunye and Mr M Sindane. Ms P Mnxasana and Ms J Boggenpoel. The following were re-appointed to the Board: Ms TH Ramphele, Dr ATM Mokgokong, Ms N Qata, Mr TB Langa (Chairperson), Mr JT Potgieter and Mr HD van Schalkwyk (Deputy Chairperson)

The following Bills were approved for submission to Parliament:

  • The Expropriation Bill.
  • Land Use Management Bill.
  • The Social Assistance Amendment Bill.
  • Agricultural Debt Management repeal Bill
  • Medical Schemes Amendment Bill
  • The Protection of Information Bill
  • The National Space Agency Bill

ISSUED BY GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS (GCIS)

Enquiries: Themba Maseko (Government Spokesperson)
Contact: 083 645 0810

Date: 06 March 2008

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