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Statement on the Cabinet meeting of 7 June 2017

1. Issues in the environment

1.1 Cabinet reiterates President Jacob Zuma’s call for South Africans to unite against violence and abuse of women and children, and calls on all South Africans to take urgent steps to eradicate this scourge in our communities. This follows the President’s visit to Elsies River in Cape Town in support of the Fight against Crime Imbizo. This visit once again highlighted the vulnerability of women and children in our society.

The President undertook to return to the area to look into the many challenges of crime and murder, especially of children and how law-enforcement authorities would improve their services to the community.

1.2 Cabinet welcomes the release of the General Household Survey (GHS) 2016, which continues to show progress in the implementation of government programmes to improve the lives of South Africans, especially the previously disadvantaged communities.

The statistics show that government is making inroads in providing housing, with South African households living in ‘RDP’ or state-subsidised dwellings increasing from 5% in 2002 to 13,5% in 2016. The survey also shows that government’s social-assistance programmes indicate an increase from 12,7% in 2003 to 29, and 7% in 2016.

There is also a marked increase in access to water, electricity and sanitation, which is an important marker for the South African Government’s ambition to redress the wrongs of apartheid and provide basic services to all the people.

Cabinet has, however, noted that while higher education enrolments are on the increase, albeit at a slow pace, only 3,3% of black Africans aged 18 to 29 years were studying as opposed to 18,8% of Indian/Asian individuals and 17,5% of the white population in this age group. Only 3,5% of the coloured population was studying during 2016.

The survey further indicated a decrease from 23, 8% to 11, and 8% of households that experienced hunger, which shows progress in addressing communities living in extreme poverty.

1.3 Cabinet noted the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the first quarter of the year that showed the economy adding 144 000 jobs. These numbers were offset by an increase in the number of job-seekers by 433 00 people. Cabinet reaffirms its commitment to continue partnering with the private sector and labour in its attempts to address the country’s unemployment challenges.

1.4 Cabinet welcomes the launch of the refurbished Babelegi Industrial Park in Hammanskraal as part of government’s plans to accelerate economic development and job creation in the area. The R42 million project is part of government’s Revitalisation of Industrial Parks Programme and one of six parks that are being revitalised across the country for broader economic and industrial development.

Cabinet encourages local industries and businesses to consider expanding operations to industrial parks to access the various support measures which are available to further develop their businesses.

1.5 Cabinet was briefed by Minister of Finance, Mr Malusi Gigaba, on the latest South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures, which contracted  by 0.7% in the first quarter of 2017. This worse-than-expected GDP outcome is significantly lower than the 2017 Budget Review, which projected 2017 GDP growth at 1.3%. This has been attributed to, among other things, the contraction of the manufacturing, trade, catering and accommodation industries.

The economy was nevertheless supported by growth in the mining and quarrying industry which increased 12.8%. The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry rebounded in the first quarter of 2017 with an increase of 22.2%.

There are green shoots that the country can leverage to boost its own economic growth outlook. These include improving global growth, stabilising commodity prices, more favourable climate conditions, reliable electricity supply and less volatile labour relations.

As a matter of urgency, Cabinet calls on business, labour and the broader society to partner with government to intensify our growth programme and improve confidence so as to arrest the decline and set the economy on a higher trajectory, to achieve inclusive economic growth. In this regard the Minister of Finance will meet with business leaders in a bid to formulate strategies to counter economic recession and achieve inclusive growth.

Cabinet endorsed a full media briefing by the Minister of Finance to share with South Africans the interventions government will embark upon within the current budget framework. Cabinet further reaffirms the adopted budget framework for the country.

1.6 The rating agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s affirmed South Africa’s long-term foreign currency debt ratings of ‘BB+’.

This comes amid the Minister Gigaba’s engagements with the private sector to ensure that the joint work of government, business, labour and the civil society continues, and that the pledges made are fulfilled.

Cabinet reiterates that South Africans must continue to act in unison, especially during difficult times and work even harder to ensure that the country reclaims its investment grade status.
 
1.7 Cabinet welcomes deliberations at the inaugural Joint Administration Committee (JAC) for the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) and the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) recently held in the country.

The parties agreed to jointly consider opportunities to promote the MERCOSUR-SACU Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by including their trade promotion agencies, chambers of commerce, private sector, and their respective embassies and foreign missions. The MERCOSUR-SACU agreement provides local exporters with the opportunity to tap into a market of more than 280-million people.

Cabinet calls on all the country’s exporters to take advantage of the PTA as local products are now able to enter the MERCOSUR bloc at preferential duty rates.

1.8 Cabinet expressed regret at the decision of the United States of America (USA) to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement, which will be fully operational by 2020, is premised on contributions determined by countries themselves towards collectively agreed global goals.

South Africa has called on the USA to reconsider its position and recommit to the multilateral process.

1.9 The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Novartis, the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Department of Science and Technology, paves the way to boost the volume and quality of clinical trials and build research capability on the continent.

The agreement will allow for joint research programmes in selected communicable and non-communicable diseases, improve South African patients' access to innovative medicines, and build the country and continent's research and development capabilities.

Cabinet believes that there is room for more public-private partnerships, and is convinced that these can lead the way in addressing the many pressing challenges we face.  

1.10 Cabinet welcomes the 2017 Report from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) which continues to rank South Africa as the top business events destination in Africa and the Middle East. The report was released in May 2017 in Frankfurt.

South Africa remains one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and continues to top the rankings also on the World Economic Forum Travel’s global travel and tourism competitiveness index as released in April 2017.

Cabinet would like to see more of South Africa’s smaller towns and cities bidding for smaller meetings where they can meet the hosting requirements. This will help to improve the geographic distribution of tourism beyond the major centres and spread the wealth generated by these events more equitably.

1.11 Cabinet calls on South Africans to be vigilant of fake news, in particular the increase in false posts on social media over missing, kidnapped and abducted girls and women. The recent outbreak of violence in KwaMashu over fake reports of children being abducted in the area and the alleged abduction of a girl in Naledi, Soweto by persons in a Toyota Quantum with registration number included went viral on social media, which was later found to be untrue.

These hoaxes, fake news and the dissemination of false information cause panic among our communities and waste time and resources of the police. We appeal to people not to repost and disseminate fake news on social media, until they have verified the authenticity.

1.12 Cabinet has noted with serious concern the media reports on the ‘leaked emails’ that are purported to implicate Ministers, officials and private individuals in alleged wrongdoing.

Cabinet remains fully committed to good governance and at the same time, it also notes that all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in terms of our Constitution.

Cabinet urges all who have information about any wrongdoing by government officials or Ministers to inform the law-enforcement agencies so that investigations can be undertaken.

It is aware that some cases have already been opened, and the police are undertaking the necessary investigations. All who are affected by the emails are urged to cooperate with the law-enforcement agencies.

President Zuma has rebutted the allegation that was published by a Sunday newspaper that he owns a house in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

2. Cabinet decisions

2.1 Cabinet was apprised of the 4th performance quarterly progress reports for 2016/17 (January-March 2017) on the implementation of priority outcomes.

Cabinet’s oversight over the implementation of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014 to 2019, results in improved service delivery. This takes us closer to the realisation of the NDP’s Vision 2030.

Government has made considerable progress in implementing its 14 priority outcomes and advancing the objectives of the NDP. Challenges affecting implementation and action required to improve delivery were also identified.

The GCIS is coordinating cluster media briefings, which are scheduled to take place from 9 to18 June 2017. An updated schedule will be posted to www.gov.za.

3. Upcoming events

3.1 President Zuma launched Youth Month under the theme “The Year of OR Tambo: Advancing Youth Economic Empowerment”, with a meeting of the Presidential Youth Working Group. This brought together government and leaders of youth organisations, who took stock of progress in the socio-economic advancement of young people.

Ministers and Deputy Ministers will engage in various activities aimed at promoting youth development and empowerment. The National Youth Day commemoration event will take place in Ventersdorp, North West on 16 June 2017. This year marks the 41st anniversary of the Soweto Uprising and the commemoration serves as a reminder that young people in the country were at the forefront of our Struggle.

Cabinet encourages all young people to participate in Youth Day activities and to make use of all the support and resources that government has made available to improve their prospects and advance their participation in the economy.

3.2 Local Government Youth Conference

The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Des van Rooyen, will convene the Local Government Conference from 19 to 22 June 2017, under the theme “Young people taking charge in development”. The conference will launch the Local Government Youth Development Forum.

This will enable young people to review the progress of local government against the achievement of the National Youth Policy 2020. It will also strengthen partnerships between government, business and civil society in developing young leaders in the local space.

3.3 Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Faith Muthambi will lead the South African delegation to attend the Africa Public Service Day (APSD) in Kigali, Rwanda on 21- 23 June 2017. The theme for this year is “Entrenching a Citizen-Centred Service Delivery Culture: Partnering with the Youth for Africa’s Transformation”. The theme offers opportunities to scrutinise on how the public service define and respond to a citizen-centered service delivery culture that is defined by the way things are currently done.

4. Condolences

4.1 Cabinet extends its condolences to the family and friends of the commuter who died when two Metrorail trains collided near the Elandsfontein station in Ekurhuleni and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured in the accident.

Cabinet calls for the investigation into the root cause of the accident to be fast-tracked to prevent a recurrence of such fatal accidents.

4.2 Cabinet joined the international community in strongly condemning the latest terrorist attack in the United Kingdom (UK). The attack, which took place on the night of 3 June 2017 in the city of London, claimed the lives of several people and left others injured.

The attack in London occurred within a fortnight of the one in Manchester, where many civilians, mainly youth and children, lost their lives.

Cabinet extended its condolences to the government and people of the UK, in particular the families and loved ones of the deceased, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

4.3 Cabinet extend its condolences to the family and friends of Professor Babatunde Osotimehin who passed away this week. Professor Babatunde Osotimehin was the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund. He was key in driving the issues of sexual and reproductive health in Africa in recent years.

He worked tirelessly to promote the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and young people in Africa and worldwide. He campaigned actively for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTI) rights.

4.4 Cape storms and Knysna fires

Cabinet noted the storms that have affected most parts of the Western Cape and the subsequent damage. Cabinet sends its condolences to the families of those who lost lives and property during these disasters, the latest figure reported is eight (8). The Cape Town Disaster Risk Management Center is encouraged to do its best in saving lives and property, including in the Knysna area where there are raging fires. We call upon the people to adhere to safety measures.

5. Congratulations

5.1 Cabinet congratulates our athletes and sportsmen and women for being nominated in eight categories of the 2017 Regional Annual Sport Awards, which was hosted by South Africa.

The African Union Sports Council Region 5 is one of the five regions entrusted with the responsibility to develop sport under the African Union. Members of the region are: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Wayde van Niekerk won Sportsman of the Year
Caster Semenya won Sportswoman of Year
Anna Botha won Coach of Year
Mamelodi Sundowns won Team of the Year

5.2 Cabinet congratulate the people of Lesotho for the peaceful elections and further congratulate the Prime Minister-elect Mr Thomas Thabane and his party on winning the elections.

6. Appointments

All appointments are subject to the verification of qualifications and the relevant clearance.

6.1. Acting National Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba
6.2. Director-General (DG): Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ms Nompumelelo Zandile Mpofu
6.3. Director-General (DG): National Treasury, Mr Dondo Mogajane.

Enquiries:
Ms Phumla Williams
Acting Director-General (GCIS)
Cell: 083 501 0139