Statement on the Cabinet Meeting held on Wednesday, 11 March 2020 at Parliament, Tuynhuys in Cape Town
A. Issues in the environment
1. Coronavirus (COVID-19)
1.1. Cabinet reassures all in South Africa that every precaution is being taken to safeguard the country against any surge of the COVID-19. The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, reported to cabinet that there were 13 cases of COVID-19 in South Africa. This morning, the Minister of Health confirmed that another four new cases have been identified, bringing the number of COVID-19 cases to 17. He will provide further details during the course of the day.
1.2. Cabinet reiterates the call by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, for all people in South Africa to continually practice preventative measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus. The preventative measures include washing your hands often with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, they also include avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and covering your mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing following with disposing of the tissue.
Common symptoms of the virus include, fever, cough and difficulty in breathing. When displaying the symptoms as described above, individuals are advised to stay home and seek medical assistance.
1.3. We appeal to all to respect the privacy of CODVID-19 patients and their families. We also strongly caution against the dissemination of any false information related to the virus so as to prevent the spread of fear, stigma and discrimination within our society. Concerned individuals may contact the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) Hotline on 0800 029 999 for accurate information regarding COVID-19.
1.4. Cabinet joins President Cyril Ramaphosa in wishing well the repatriation team and the South African Airways crew who departed on Tuesday to the City of Wuhan, Hubei Province in the People’s Republic of China, to repatriate 122 South Africans. The medical team from the Department of Health and the Military Health form part of the repatriation team. Cabinet has expressed its appreciation to South African Airways for their valuable assistance in this repatriation exercise.
1.5. The repatriation team and the repatriated South Africans are expected back in the country this Friday, 13 March 2020. Upon their return, they will be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days, to a maximum of 21 days. During this period, the movement of people and goods in and out of the quarantine zone will be restricted.
1.6. We strongly caution people against attempting to make any physical contact or attempting to visit the quarantine zone. Once the quarantine period ends, and tests confirm no underlying COVID-19 virus infection of our compatriots, they will be released back into their respective communities.
1.7. Cabinet commends the work done by the Inter-Ministerial Committee tasked to deal with COVID-19, led by the Minister of Health and working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), in tracking and containing the virus, while assisting those affected by it and continuously updating the nation.
1.8. Cabinet appreciates that most provinces have deferred communication on this COVID-19 matter to the Minister of Health because of its national and international importance. We urge all other provinces to also follow suit to ensure centralisation of communication and therefore avoid any unintended confusion and uncoordinated messaging.
1.9. President Ramaphosa will soon update political parties represented in Parliament as well as church leaders on COVID-19. A special Cabinet on COVID-19 is being convened for this Sunday, 15 March 2020, in Tshwane.
2. The Economy
2.1.Cabinet reflected on the release of Statistics South Africa’s report on the Gross Domestic Product which revealed that our economy slipped into a technical recession. Figures showed GDP decreasing by 1.4% in Quarter 4 of 2019. This follows a contraction of 0.8% in Quarter 3 of the same year.
2.2. Despite acknowledging the debilitating effects of load shedding, Cabinet remains resolute in fixing the fundamentals, pursue critical areas of growth and drive collaborative solutions with all social partners so that together we set the country on a path to economic growth.
2.3. We are intensifying our investment and to date projects with an investment value of R9 billion have been completed and 27 projects worth just over R250 billion are in implementation phases, with more coming on stream this year.
3. Vodacom Data Prices
3.1 Cabinet welcomes the announcement by the Competition Commission on the landmark consent agreement reached with Vodacom regarding the reduction of the operator’s data-prices. This follows the Competition Market Inquiry into data services requested by the then Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel in 2017, which found that data-prices were higher than many other countries and discriminated against poorer consumers.
3.2 The agreement with Vodacom comes into effect on 1 April 2020 and will see cost of data decrease across all monthly bundles, with the 1GB bundle prices dropping from R149 to R99 (a reduction of 34%), with further discounts in the next year. Vodacom will also enable data-free access to consumers to certain public interest websites (like GCIS, the new BizPortal and Wikipedia) and access to South Africans university websites. Further discounts will apply to consumers in over 2000 poorer communities and users will have a ‘basic package’ of two free daily sms messages.
4. PEPSICO acquisition of Pioneer Foods
4.1 Cabinet also welcomes the groundbreaking worker empowerment deal with PepsiCo as a part of the company’s acquisition of South African food company, Pioneer Foods. PepsiCo has committed to jobs, investment as well as local empowerment and procurement. It also agreed that its Sub-Saharan Headquarters would be located in South Africa.
4.2 Pioneer Foods 10 000 workforce is also protected from merger-specific retrenchments and PepsiCo has agreed to maintain aggregate employment levels at current levels for a period of 5 years. Employees in the company would also be issued with 1.6 billion Rands worth of shares in PepsiCo that will be used to acquire a 13% stake in Pioneer Foods within 5 years.
5. Fight against women and child abuse
5.1. Cabinet welcomes the Gauteng High Court ruling to turn down the request for leave to appeal in the case against convicted rapist Nicholas Ninow. Last year, Ninow was handed a life sentence after raping a seven-year-old girl at a Dros restaurant in Silverton, Pretoria in 2018.
5.2. The judgement, sentencing and rejection of leave to appeal, sends a strong message to perpetrators and would-be perpetrators of women and children abuse that, South Africa’s justice institutions will hold them accountable for their despicable actions.
5.3. Together we must eradicate the abuses that undermine the fundamental human rights of women and children. Through our collective actions we must ensure that no woman or child is sexually harassed, beaten, raped or attacked anywhere in our country.
6. Road safety
6.1. Cabinet expresses condolences to the 25 families of the passengers who died in the bus crash near Centane in the Eastern Cape earlier this month. It also wishes the 68 injured passengers a speedy recovery.
6.2. The investigations by the Road Traffic Management Corporation and the South African Police Service should assist in providing answers to the circumstances surrounding this tragedy. Transport providers have a duty to do everything in their power to ensure the safety of their passengers.
6.3. Cabinet has approved the submission of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill of 2019 to Parliament. Once passed into law, the Bill will contribute in reducing the carnage on our roads.
B. Cabinet decisions
1. Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) National Strategic Plan (NSP)
1.1. In December 2019, Cabinet approved the GBVF-NSP. It further directed a team of Ministers led by the Minister in The Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to do further work on the proposed GBVF institutional arrangement to oversee the implementation of the GBVF-NSP.
1.2. Appreciating the urgency of driving and overseeing the work to stop GBVF, Cabinet approved the establishment of the National Council on GBVF (NCGBVF). The structure will mobilise people nationally, provincially and locally to lead and support transformative GBVF interventions. It will also be responsible for the implementation of the GBVF-NSP.
1.3. The National Council on GBVF will report to the President through Minister Nkoana-Mashabane. Cabinet also approved the setting up of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) comprising of Police Minister Bheki Cele; Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola; Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu; Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu and Minister Nkoana-Mashabane as the convener.
1.4. Cabinet reiterated the urgency to seek decisive measures to stop violence perpetrated against the vulnerable members of our society. The IMC has been directed to move expeditiously in formalising the National Council on GBVF. They have further been directed to continue to explore the feasibility of legislating this current institutional arrangement.
1.5. The Commission for Gender Equality – as a chapter nine institution with a constitutional mandate to promote respect for gender equality and the protection, development and attainment of gender equality – will also be expected to continue to regularly assess and monitor progress being made in the implementation of the GBVF-NSP.
2. Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme (TREP)
2.1. Cabinet approved the implementation of the Township and Rural Entrepreneurship Programme (TREP) through the Township Entrepreneurship Fund. This is in line with the economic interventions to harness and grow the township and rural economies.
2.2. The fund will provide support and ensure self-sustaining economic hubs aligned to the District Development Model in those areas.
3. Revised National Evaluation Policy Framework 2019-2024
3.1. Cabinet approved the Revised National Evaluation Policy Framework 2019-2024, and the National Evaluation Plan 2020-2025, which enhances the evaluation system within government. It will enhance government’s capacity to implement the adopted 2020-2024 Medium Term Strategic Framework.
3.2. Both documents can be accessed through the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation website (www.dpme.gov.za).
4. Antarctic and Southern Ocean Strategy
4.1. Cabinet approved the publication of the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Strategy for public comment. South Africa is the gateway to Antarctica for 10 other international Antarctica programmes. All these programmes contribute to the South African economy.
4.2.The strategy proposes the following five pillars: (a) international engagements and cooperations; (b) research; (c) conservation and sustainable use; (d) capacity development and training and (e) people awareness. The strategy also responds to the Antarctic Treaty system.
1. National Road Traffic Amendment Bill of 2019
1.1. Cabinet approved the submission of the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill of 2019 to Parliament. The Bill proposes amongst others regulations for the driving-school industry and proposes appropriate standards under which learner drivers must be taught.
1.2. It also deals with fraud and corruption within the road traffic environment, increases penalties for those who fail to comply with traffic rules; prohibits alcohol consumption by drivers and proposes the national number plate legislation.
1.3. The Bill also proposes the streamlining of the powers of the Minister of Transport and those of the provincial Members of the Executive Committee responsible for transport.
2. Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill of 2019
2.1. Cabinet approved the submission of the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Amendment Bill of 2019 to Parliament.
2.2. The Bill deals with proposed amendments to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA), 1993 (Act 130 of 1993). The Bill extends coverage for occupational injuries and diseases to previously excluded vulnerable workers as well as the improvement of compensation benefits to employees in general.
2.3. The Bill now includes amongst others domestic workers under the category of employees for purposes of benefits in terms of the COIDA of 1993. It also proposes the rehabilitation and reintegration framework of injured and/or diseased employees into the workplace.
3. Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Bill of 2020
3.1.Cabinet approved the publication of the Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Bill of 2020 for public comments. Once passed into law, it will repeal the current Local Government: Municipal Demarcation Act, 1998 (Act 27 of 1998.
3.2. The Bill provides for the among others, the establishment and operations of the Municipal Demarcation Board, the criteria and procedures for the determination and redetermination of municipal boundaries and ward boundaries as well as the establishment of an Appeals Authority.
D. Upcoming events
1 Human Rights Month
1.1 President Ramaphosa will deliver the keynote address at the 2020 National Human Rights Day commemorations to be held on Saturday, 21 March 2020 at the Colesberg Sports Stadium in the Northern Cape under the theme: “The year of unity, socio-economic renewal and nation-building.”
1.2 Human Rights Day in South Africa has its origins in the historic events of Sharpeville (Gauteng) and Langa (Western Cape) on 21 March 1960, where a number of people were gunned down fighting for their human rights.
1.3 Cabinet calls on South Africans to celebrate Human Rights Day and honour those who sacrificed their lives for us to achieve the freedom we continue to enjoy today.
1.4 One such exemplary and dedicated leader is Dr Alfred Bathini Xuma, one of the first African medical doctors in South Africa and former President of the African National Congress. President Ramaphosa commemorated Dr Xuma’s life by declaring a Special Official Funeral: Category 1 for his reburial from Brixton cemetery in Johannesburg to his birthplace in KwaManzana village, Engcobo in the Eastern Cape this past Sunday.
2 President Ramaphosa working visit to the Republic of Congo
2.1 President Ramaphosa is attending the Inaugural Meeting of the Contact Group on Libya taking place in Oyo, in the Republic of Congo on 11 and 12 March 2020. He is being accompanied by the following Ministers, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo.
2.2 His Excellency Denis Sassou N’Guesso, President of the Republic of Congo, invited President Ramaphosa to attend the meeting as Chair of the African Union.
2.3 The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union decided to establish a Contact Group, chaired by the Republic of Congo and include members of the AU High-Level Committee (HLC) on Libya to provide political leadership and promote coordination of international efforts in the search for a solution to the Libyan Crisis.
E. Condolence message
1. Cabinet sent condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of senior IPID investigator Mandla Mahlangu (47), who was killed this week. Cabinet also sends condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of two Hawks officers Detective Warrant Officer Delene Grobelaar Koonin (44), Sergeant Wynand Herbst (42) who were killed in a shootout in the North West.
2. Cabinet condemns the killings of these dedicated officials, who have a duty to protect all South Africans. As a nation we should all rise in condemning the killing of our police men and women.
F. Congratulatory message
Cabinet extends its congratulations and well-wishes to:
1.1. President-elect, His Excellency Mr Fauré Essozimna Gnassingbé, on his re-election as the President of the Republic of Togo during the Presidential Elections held on 22 February 2020. Cabinet joins President Ramaphosa in also congratulating the people of Togo for conducting peaceful elections.
All appointments are subject to the verification of qualifications and the relevant clearance.
1. Members to the Board of the South African Maritime Safety Authority:
a. Ms Nthato Minyuku (Chairperson).
b. Ms Lindelwa Nonjabulo Dlamini;
c. Mr Lucas Haluodi;
d. Ms Eva Dorothy Khosa; and
e. Mr Captain Bheka Clive Zulu.
Ms Phumla Williams
Acting Cabinet Spokesperson
Cell: 083 501 0139