Government Spokesperson’s statement on Cabinet Meeting of 17 September 2008
18 Sep 2008
Presenter: Mr Themba Maseko
Briefing on the Cabinet meeting (17 September 2008)
Mr Themba Maseko, Government Spokesperson, welcomed all attendants to this media briefing on the continuation of the Cabinet meeting held on 17 September 2008 to 18 September.
Mr Maseko reported that the meeting had discussed the recent judgment in the Court case between the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Mr Jacob Zuma. Cabinet stated that they respected the judiciary and its decisions, but did not accept the suggestion that the President or the National Executive had interfered with the decisions of the NPA regarding the prosecution of the any persons. The inference regarding political interference was incorrect, as was the suggestion that the interaction between the Minister of Justice and the Director of Public Prosecutions constituted interference. Cabinet had decided to seek legal advice on the inferences made by Judge Chris Nicholson. Government would continue to work hard to defend the integrity of all constitutional structures and the country’s reputation as a
Cabinet welcomed the signing of the power sharing agreement by the leaders of the political parties of
Cabinet noted and congratulated Team South
The revised remuneration dispensation for the Senior Management Service (SMS) was approved and the resolutions of the Third Anti Corruption summit were noted and endorsed.
Mr Maseko reported that
South Africa’s Report on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) for the period 1998 to 2008 was approved and would be submitted to the United Nations (UN) CEDAW Committee.
The proposed South African Schools Football World Cup Competition (SASFWCC) was noted and approved.
The meeting noted that the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA63) would be held from 23 September to 1 October 2008, with the theme of “The impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world and the need to democratise the United Nations.”
Cabinet approved appointments to Statistics SA, the Industrial Development Corporation and the Independent Development Trust.
Q: A journalist asked what was the reason for the Cabinet meeting that morning, and whether it had been due to the NPA decision to appeal Judge Nicholson's ruling.
A: Mr Maseko responded that this matter had not been discussed at the morning session. The Cabinet simply could not complete their business on the previous day and therefore needed the morning session.
Q: A journalist asked on what basis Cabinet was rejecting the ruling in the NPA and Zuma matter.
A: Mr Maseko replied that Cabinet was not rejecting the judgment. Cabinet respected the judiciary. What they specifically took issue with was the inference the judge had made on the alleged interference of the President's and the Executive's in the issue. He stated that this was not true and added that Cabinet was seeking a legal opinion as to possible recourse.
Q: A journalist queried the basis on which Cabinet stated that the inference was incorrect.
A: Mr Maseko replied that at no stage did Cabinet or any member of the Executive discuss this particular case or try to influence the NPA on whether they should prosecute the President of the ANC. The Cabinet was simply saying that the comments were untrue. There was the suggestion that the Executive had breached the Constitution and the legal opinion would seek to clarify the inference made by the Judge that there was political interference.
Q: A journalist pointed out that a lot had been said concerning the Judge's comments. He asked whether Cabinet looked at one of the other significant comments of the Judge, in that he felt that a Judicial Commission of Inquiry should be set up to clear the air with regards to the Arms Deal.
A: Mr Maseko replied that the Cabinet meeting did note that the Judge had made a call for a Commission of Inquiry, but no decision had been taken on that.
Q: A journalist asked why, given the urgency of the matter, the advice had not been obtained and why was Cabinet not ready to move.
A: Mr Maseko responded that this was Cabinet’s first meeting since the judgment, and the legal advice would be sought with urgency.
Q: Mr Maseko was asked if Cabinet was going to take instruction from the ruling party about whether the President would stay in office,.
A: Mr Maseko responded that there was no decision taken on that. This was a discussion for the confines of the ruling party.
Q: There had been unconfirmed reports of a meeting between President Mbeki and Mr Zuma. The media wondered if this was this discussed in the meeting.
A: Mr Maseko responded that Cabinet were not aware of such a meeting. Furthermore, there had been no report on that alleged meeting tabled at Cabinet’s meeting.
Q: Cabinet had noted that the issue of the President stepping down was a political matter. A journalist thus asked whether Cabinet discuss the possibility of a call for that, given the upcoming National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting.
A: Mr Maseko responded that the pending decision was mere speculation. No decision had been made by the ruling party. That was for the NEC to decide. The business of government would continue and it would be premature for government to take a decision as there had been no formal communication.
Q: A journalist commented that according to the legal research he had done, Cabinet was not a respondent in the case. The most they could, therefore, do was lodge a complaint with the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
A: Mr Maseko responded that there were various options. Government could lodge an appeal or approach the
Q: A journalist asked what Cabinet thought the implications of the comments would be.
A: Mr Maseko responded that that matter had not been discussed.
Q: A journalist referred to the Diaspora Conference, asking what the point of this was and what
A: Mr Maseko replied that the Diaspora Conference was an AU initiative to establish links between Africans in all parts of the world. It was also aimed at finding a way to create opportunities for all Africans to participate in the strengthening and rebuilding of the continent.
Q: The media asked why was former Minister of Justice Penuell Maduna present when Bulelani Ncguka (then head of the NPA) announced the NPA’s decision to prosecute Jacob Zuma. It wondered if Cabinet had expressed confidence in President Mbeki.
A: Mr Maseko replied by stating that Judge Nicholson had referred to that matter. Cabinet, however had not gone into the individual issues. This may also be covered in the legal advice. Cabinet was of the opinion that it would be unfortunate if the President was to depart. There was no formal resolution but informally, Cabinet did have confidence in the President.
Q: A journalist queried the mood of the Ministers and the President.
A: Mr Maseko responded that their primary concern was that the business of government would continue and that all the achievement of the nation would continue into the future. He had no sense that there was indignation or demoralisation among the Ministers.
Q: A journalist noted that Mr Maseko referred to the fact that no decision had yet been taken by the ANC, and asked if the President and Cabinet would be asked to vacate on the whims of the ruling party.
A: Mr Maseko responded that he was not in a position to comment for the ANC. It was important to note that all members of the Cabinet considered themselves deployees of the ANC working within government.
Q: A question was asked on the new pay dispensation, whether it would be a broad band within the departments, and whether it would be free-market based or subject to discretion.
A: Mr Maseko responded that researchers were asked to address this. He stated that they would be classifying departments, and remuneration would be based on that classification. The idea was to take into account the size and nature of individuals’ responsibilities and duties in determining the remuneration. This would be explained in an upcoming media briefing.
Q: A question was asked whether Cabinet had discussed the suggestion of the Judge in the NPA and Zuma matter that the role of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) should be redefined.
A: Mr Maseko responded that the Constitution gave the Minister of Justice oversight over the NPA. That was how the system had worked over the past 15 years. The Judge had expressed the opinion that the system needed to be changed. The possibility of a new model would need to be explored. The idea of the Director of Public Prosecutions being appointed in same manner as judges would be a policy issue.
Q: A journalist asked if the President would be in the country in the following week.
A: Mr Maseko responded that he was not sure of the President’s movements.
Q: A journalist queried the
A: Mr Maseko responded that this was contained in the President’s address. The rainy season in
Q: The question was asked whether there would be a review of party funding regulations, especially to avoid another scandal like Oilgate.
A: Mr Maseko could comment that the resolution had been taken at the
Q: The same journalist also sought clarity on the response that it was untrue that there was political interference in the NPA.
A: Mr Maseko responded that Cabinet had made it clear that there was no political interference. They would also decline to comment further until the Ginwala Commission report was released, as they could not presume to know what was contained in it.
Q: A journalist referred to the reports of an SMS being circulated in Cabinet.
A: Mr Maseko responded that he did have knowledge of these reports. Government was concerned about the rumour-mongering. It was time for all to be cautious and it appealed that people not to do anything that caused regret to the nation.
Q: Mr Maseko was asked why the breakdown of trust between Adv Pikoli and the Minister of Justice was considered to be grounds for dismissal.
A: Mr Maseko responded that they would have to wait for the findings of the Ginwala commission. He asked the media to hold on to that comment until after the report was released.
Q: A journalist noted Mr Maseko's comments that government was seeking legal advice and asked what Cabinet would consider the ideal outcome or recourse to be.
A: Mr Maseko replied that Cabinet would await the legal advice. He would imagine that it was desirable to have all the inferences of the Judge in respect of political matters removed from the judgment.
Q: A journalist queried where the legal advice was being sought, and added that names of lawyers would be appreciated.
A: Mr Maseko replied that he could not provide the name of the law firm. He could state that it was a private firm.
Q: The same journalist then asked if there were any time frames for completion of the government expenditure regulations, or whether would this be left to the next administration.
A: Mr Maseko responded that an important resolution of Cabinet supported the regulations. There were no time frames, as yet, but it was considered to be a matter of urgency.
Q: A journalist referred to Cabinet's position, in the NPA and Zuma matter, that there were no facts backing the Judge's comments, and added that he did not know what was meant by “no facts”
A: Mr Maseko responded that the comments made by the Judge were untrue. There was a view that the Judge presented his comments as the truth. Cabinet was not party to the case and therefore could not present facts to the court. It was Cabinet's view that it was a principle that the courts should not make comments on outside institutions that were not part of the proceedings. They were discussing these particular references and the suggestion of the interference with the NPA. They were seeking to clarify a particular situation that needed to be tested.
A: Mr Maseko responded that “African” referred to any African with allegiance to the continent. There were many campaigns to encourage all South Africans to see themselves as Africans. Anyone born on the continent who had such an allegiance would be part of the African Diaspora and be considered an African.
The briefing was adjourned.
Statement on the Cabinet Meeting of 17 SEPTEMBER 2008
Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in
The meeting discussed the recent judgment in the court case between the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Mr Jacob Zuma. Cabinet respects the judiciary and its decisions. However, Cabinet does not accept the suggestion that either the President or the Executive interfered with the prosecuting decisions of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regarding the prosecution of any person or persons. The untested inference that there was political interference with the prosecuting decisions of the NPA in this or any other case is untrue, unfounded and does not hold water.
The Constitution and the NPA Act give the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development political oversight over the National Prosecuting Authority. However, the Minister does not participate in decisions about individual prosecutions. Therefore, the suggestion that the interaction between the Minister of Justice and the National Director of Public Prosecutions constitutes interference is incorrect.
Cabinet has decided to seek legal advice on the inferences made by Judge Nicholson that President Thabo Mbeki and the Executive interfered with the NPA regarding the decision to prosecute Mr Jacob Zuma. Government will continue to work hard to defend the integrity of all our constitutional structures and the country’s reputation as a constitutional state.
Cabinet welcomed the signing of the power sharing agreement by the leaders of political parties in
The agreement represents the beginning of a process of restoring peace and stability for the people of
The meeting noted and congratulated Team South
performance at the Beijing Paralympic Games. The athletes demonstrated
character, hard work, commitment and pride as they represented
Their ‘gold run’ became a daily occurrence which made many South Africans to
look forward to each and every day of the Paralympics. Millions of youngsters in
and 6 bronze.) These stars have eclipsed the 15 medals they won in
South Africans should be proud of this achievement. The President will host the
athletes at a function that will be held to celebrate their achievements.
The revised remuneration dispensation for the Senior Management Service (SMS) was approved. The revised dispensation provides, among other things, for members of the SMS to be paid 75% of the market median and the introduction of a variable pay system that will take scope, size and responsibility of departments into account in the determination of SMS remuneration. The dispensation does away with the merit awards for SMS members and requires that the performance assessment of managers should be linked to the overall performance of departments. These initiatives are aimed at improving government’s ability to attract, recruit and retain high calibre professionals into the Public Service, and to improve performance and productivity.
The resolutions of the Third National Anti-Corruption Summit were noted and endorsed. The resolutions include the following: a clear articulation of the national integrity system; implementation of anti-corruption legislation; regulating and managing conflict of interests; legislative measures to ensure that companies involved in price fixing, market allocation and collusive tendering are prohibited from state tenders; ethical conduct and the need to expedite regulations for political party funding to encourage transparency. The leader of Government Business was given a mandate to expedite the drafting regulations on political party funding.
The theme of the
The proposed South African Schools Football World Cup Competition (SASFWCC) was noted and approved. This competition will, inter alia, promote knowledge of: the 2010 FIFA World Cup values of integrity, excellence, non-racism and anti-xenophobia, unity and tolerance. The symbols, flags and national anthems of participating countries will also be promoted.
Ambassador AS Minty’s candidature to the post of Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was noted and supported.
The meeting noted that the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA63) will be held from 23 September to 1 October 2008. The theme for this year’s Assembly Debate is: “The Impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world; the need to democratise the United Nations.”
The agenda will include the following matters; strengthening the mandate of the UN; reaffirming the role of multilateralism; global governance; consolidation of the African agenda; and the promotion of South-South co-operation.
The Handbook for the appointment of persons to boards of state and state controlled institutions was approved with amendments.
The following appointments were approved:
Mr RB Maluleke was appointed as a Deputy director General in Statistics South Africa (StatsSA)Members to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) Board of Directors; Ms W Luhabe (Chairperson), Ms B Njobe, Mr M Nkuhlu, Ms M Hlahla, Mr S Moloko, Mr J Mtshali, Ms L Dlamini, Ms L Bethlehem, Mr S Mapetla and Mr R Pitot.Concurred with the re-appointment of Ms TE Nwedamutsu as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Independent Development Trust IDT, for a further five (5) years.
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