Statement on the Cabinet Meeting of 13 February 2019

15 Feb 2019

Cabinet met on Wednesday, 13 February 2019 at Tuynhuys in Cape Town.

A.   Issues in the environment   
1.    State of the Nation Address (SoNA)

1.1. Cabinet welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2019 SoNA, which marks 25 years since the first Joint Sitting of Parliament in the new democratic South Africa. A majority of South Africans also welcomed the address, which continues to provide hope and renewal. 

1.2.  President Ramaphosa reflected on the progress made in the past year. Building on these successes, the President outlined this year’s focus areas. These included the continuation of intervention measures to accelerate inclusive economic growth and create jobs; improve our education system and develop the skills for the future and step up the fight against corruption and state capture.

1.3. In the next week, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will unpack the financial plan when he delivers his Budget Speech.  Through the departmental budget votes, Ministers will unpack their operational plans that will give effect to the President’s SoNA. 

1.4.  Cabinet remains committed to steering our country towards the realization of Vision 2030 of the National Development Plan (NDP), the blueprint for eliminating poverty and reducing inequality and unemployment in the country by 2030.

2. African Mining Indaba

2.1. South Africa successfully hosted the 25th annual Investing in Africa Mining Indaba, which is the world’s largest gathering of mining stakeholders and decision-makers. In pursuit of attracting investment in mining, this year’s Indaba was held under the theme: “Championing Africa’s Sustainable Economic Development”.

2.2. Cabinet welcomes the signed mining stakeholder compact. The compact will go a long way towards promoting foreign direct investments in different sectors of the mining industry.

2.3. Government, through the Department of Trade and Industry’s (the dti) Industrial Policy Action Plan, has identified mineral beneficiation as an area that presents an abundance of opportunities that investors can take advantage of to grow the mining sector. This provides massive potential of contributing to growing the country’s economy, creating jobs, transformation and eradicating poverty.

3. ESKOM

3.1. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordan briefed Cabinet on the recent load-shedding that affected the running of the economy across the country. These disruptions have had an immeasurable impact on South African households and the economy.   

3.2. South Africa’s energy supply remains an absolute imperative and the current situation at Eskom poses significant risks to the country, its financial stability and the economy. The strategic unbundling of Eskom into three separate wholly  State Owned entities – generation; transmission and distribution -   is required for the long-term sustainability of the power utility and the country. 

3.3. To address the recent situation, President Ramaphosa has appointed a Special Cabinet Committee on Eskom led by the Deputy President and comprising the Ministers of Public Enterprises; Energy; Finance; Transport; Intelligence and Police. This committee will deal with matters of Eskom daily and deliver daily reports to the President on what actions need to be taken to secure energy supply.

3.4. The team is expected to meet with all stakeholders to help restore stability to the grid and chart a way forward whilst ensuring that there is minimal economic cost to the consumer and taxpayers.

4. Right to vote

4.1. Cabinet congratulates all South Africans, especially thousands of young and first-time voters, who participated in the last voter registration weekend on 26 and 27 January 2019 before the country holds its sixth democratic national and provincial elections on 8 May 2019. 

4.2. Cabinet calls on all eligible voters to exercise their right responsibly and appeals to South Africans who have not yet registered to vote, to do so at Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) offices which are open around the country. You can also check your voter registration status by sending an SMS with your ID number to 32810 (R1.00 per SMS) or install the IEC’s free mobile app for voters and use it to check your registration details.

4.3. Since the birth of our democracy, we have built a thriving constitutional democracy with institutions that ensure our basic rights and freedoms. Furthermore, programmes have been implemented to structurally transform the economy and address our many socio-economic challenges. The upcoming elections are an opportunity for a new generation of young South Africans to exercise their right to vote, and have a say in their future and that of our country.

5. Total oil and gas discovery
 

5.1. As part of the national effort to grow the economy and create jobs, government has – through Operation Phakisa for the Oceans Economy – facilitated opportunities in the country’s oil and gas sector for growth and investment. South Africa has potential resources of nine billion barrels of oil and 60 tcf (trillion cubic feet) or 11 billion barrels of oil equivalent of gas offshore.

5.2. Cabinet has lauded the offshore discovery of gas condensate by oil company Total that could contain one billion barrels of resources, which will significantly boost the country's oil and gas supplies.

5.3. The discovery was made by the company after drilling at its Brulpadda prospects in the Outeniqua basin, about 175 kilometres (km) off the coast of South Africa.

6. 32nd Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU)

6.1. Cabinet congratulates the appointment of President Ramaphosa as Chair of the AU for 2020. He will take over from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is currently serving his term for 2019.  

6.2. President Ramaphosa led a South African delegation to the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU, held in Addis Ababa, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia from 15 January to 11 February 2019, under the theme “Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”. This provided a platform to reflect on and address the root causes of forced displacement in Africa.   

6.3. South Africa submitted its Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) during the summit. Issues deliberated on included the institutional reform and financing of the continental body; Peace and Security on the Continent; developments related to the AfCFTA; and negotiations for a new cooperation agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific developing countries and the European Union Post-2020. 

6.4. During the course of this year, President Ramaphosa is also expected to take chairship of the meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC). CAHOSCC was established in 2009 by the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government to lead the African Common Position on Climate Change and in global climate change negotiations. 

6.5. When President Ramaphosa assumes chairship, he will work with other heads of state to ensure successful implementation of the landmark Paris Agreement to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Through CAHOSCC, Africa will make a significant contribution to the global effort for a low-carbon and climate resilient development.

7. Higher education 

7.1. Cabinet extends condolences to the family and friends of the Durban University of Technology student, Mlungisi Madonsela. The disruption of learning and closures of institutions of higher learning, especially in KwaZulu-Natal, which tragically led to the death of this student, are a cause for much concern.
 
7.2.Cabinet calls on all role-players to resolve issues in a peaceful manner. Our country needs educated young speople to contribute to our development. 

7.3. Government, through the Department of Higher Education and Training, is assisting institutions of higher learning where there are challenges. Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor has also directed National Student Financial Aid Scheme administrators to prioritise providing responses to all student queries.

8. Containment of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD)

8.1. In safeguarding the health of the nation, Cabinet is pleased with the response and interventions to avoid spillage of the FMD outbreak in the Vhembe District, Limpopo. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, along with the Red Meat Association and other stakeholders, are working to address the issue in an integrated manner. 

8.2. Vaccination started on 14 January 2019, with cattle in affected villages, as well as cattle in the 20 km radius around affected villages. To date, the total number of cattle vaccinated is over 10 000; they are being marked to distinguish them from others.

9. South African Film Summit

9.1. The South African film industry has long been recognised as a catalyst for economic growth and job creation in South Africa. The creative and cultural industry, particularly the film sector, also plays a key role in developing the South African story and contributing to the efforts of nation-building and social cohesion.

9.2. In line with this approach, Cabinet welcomes the first South African Film Summit, held in Johannesburg from 4 to 5 February 2019 under the theme: “Transformation and innovation in the South African Film/Audio-Visual Industry and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Are we geared for change?”

9.3. The summit’s outcomes are expected to contribute towards creating an enabling environment for the industry to thrive. Government remains committed to funding projects through the Industrial Development Corporation and the dti. 

B. Cabinet decisions    

10. Social cohesion and nation-building

10.1. While our nation has made massive strides since 1994, the artificial barriers based on race, class and cultural differences continue to undermine our advances. In this regard, Cabinet approved the Political Perspective, which provides a legislative and policy framework to support greater social cohesion and nation-building going forward. 

10.2. The framework will have a far-reaching effect on implementing the objectives of constructing “a united people and a more cohesive society are not only national objectives; they are also the means to eradicating poverty,” as set out in the NDP. 

10.3. All sectors of society are encouraged to support the policy framework by celebrating our differences and building a society that reverses the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.

10.4. The Department of Arts and Culture will be convening the Social Compact Convention at the end of March 2019 in Johannnesburg where various sectors of society – including civil, labour, business, academia and intelligentsia, religious fraternity and media – will commit to the project of social cohesion and nation-building. Consultations with sectors will be done during February and mid-March 2019.

C. Bills

11. Children’s Amendment Bill of 2019

11.1. Cabinet has approved the submission of the Children’s Amendment Bill of 2019 to Parliament to strengthen our nation’s work in protecting the rights of children. 

11.2. In 2017 the Centre for Child Law litigated the Department of Social Development on foster-care backlogs.

11.3. The High Court directed the Minister of Social Development to, amongst others, prepare and introduce before Parliament the necessary amendment to the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act 38 of 2005) and/or the Social Assistance Act, 2004 (Act 13 of 2004) to provide comprehensive legal solution to address foster-care challenges.

11.4.    All children should enjoy access to services that are aimed at facilitating their safety, care and protection; and an effective social welfare system. There are multiple inadequacies in the current child care and protection system.  The Bill addresses, amongst others, the challenges relating to the provision and administration of foster care, and other related child care and protection matters.

D. Upcoming events

12. Digital Economy Summit

12.1. The global move towards technology inspired by the 4IR brings with it new opportunities to build our society and economy. To remain at the forefront of new technological trends, the country will host the Digital Economy Summit in March 2019. 

12.2. The summit is convened under the banner of the 4IR South Africa (4IRSA), a partnership between the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Telkom, University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg and University of Fort Hare.

12.3. The #4IRSA aims to address the challenges facing South Africa in the Digital Age so as to find a coherent and collective response for the country. 

13. 2019 Southern African Development Community (SADC) Media Awards

13.1. As part of promoting regional integration, cooperation and recognising excellence in journalism, South African media are invited to submit their entries for the 2019 SADC Media Awards competition by 28 February 2019. The awards are in the fields of print, radio, television and photo journalism. 

E.  Messages    

14.  Condolences
14.1. Cabinet joins President Ramaphosa and all South Africans in extending condolences to the families and friends of learners who died after a walkway collapsed at Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark on Friday, 1 February 2019. Cabinet also wishes all injured learners a speedy recovery. 

15. Congratulations

15.1.Cabinet has congratulated:

  •  the Soweto Gospel Choir for making South Africa proud again after winning the Grammy for the best world music album. The group won for its album Freedom – renditions of well-known liberation struggle songs.  This is the choir’s third Grammy Award.
  • the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) for winning the African Renewable Energy Programme Award from London-based institution, Project Finance International. The DBSA was recognised for its innovative financing of 14 renewable energy projects in the country’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme.
  • two of our scientists who won the prestigious AU Kwame Nkrumah Awards for Scientific Excellence 2018 edition in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 11 February 2019:

 Prof Aletta Schutte won the regional prize for Women Scientist US$20 000 for the Life and Earth Sciences category. She is a Professor of Physiology at North-West University. Prof Schutte holds a SARChI in the Early Detection and Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Africa, the research chair is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Her research focus is on hypertension and its development in African populations. 

Prof David Mark Richardson won the continental award of US$100 000 for the Earth and Life Science category.  He is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology at Stellenbosch University, and Director of the DST-National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology. His research deals with understanding issues pertaining to invasive alien tree species.

  • South Africa’s Under-20 football team, Amajita, for qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, to be held in Poland in May 2019.  Amajita booked their spot after making it through to the semi-finals of the Confederation of African Football Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations currently underway in Niger. 

Enquiries: Ms Phumla Williams – Acting Cabinet Spokesperson (GCIS) 
Mobile: 083 501 0139