Cabinet Meeting of 3 December 2008


03 Dec 2008


Statement on the Cabinet Meeting of 3 December 2008

Cabinet held its last ordinary meeting of the year in Pretoria yesterday, 3 December 2008.

Cabinet expressed condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Dr Nthato Motlana who passed away on Monday morning. Dr Motlana will be remembered as a true veteran who was among those leaders who carried the torch of freedom when many other leaders were either incarcerated or in exile. The meeting called on all South Africans to observe the days of mourning as declared by President Motlanthe.

Government is extremely concerned about the recent developments in Zimbabwe, particularly, the reported food shortages. In this regard, President Motlanthe will convene a meeting of key Ministers to consider ways in which South Africa could work with other countries in the region, donor organisations and NGO’s to address the urgent need for food and other humanitarian needs. Our primary objective is to save innocent lives in that country. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely and we will keep South Africans informed about what we are doing to reduce the burden that many South Africans, especially in cities bordering Zimbabwe, are already experiencing.

Cabinet received a report on the extensive interventions that were implemented by the Interdepartmental Task Team to address the cholera outbreak. These interventions included provision of clean water and medical supplies. The Task Team is working very closely with SADC Ministries of Health and the World Health Organisation to prevent the spread of cholera and other communicable diseases to the rest of the region. Government will continue to monitor the situation in Zimbabwe very closely and to make all the necessary interventions.

The meeting noted that the Zimbabwean negotiators had reached agreement on the draft constitutional amendment that will pave the way for the establishment of a representative government. The leaders of the political parties are expected to approve and sign the draft constitutional amendment as soon as possible. The South African government reiterates its call to the Zimbabwean leaders to put the interest of their people and country first by finalising the constitutional amendment and reaching agreement on the outstanding Cabinet posts as a matter of urgency.

The Constitution Nineteenth Amendment Bill and the Cross-Boundary Municipalities Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bills were approved.  These Bills give effect to the decision to re-incorporate Merafong City Local Municipality into the Gauteng province. This decision follows extensive consultations between the affected community and the Minister of Provincial and Local Government. The Bills will be published for public comment and will be submitted to Provincial legislatures of Gauteng and the North West. The Bills will then be submitted to Parliament for consideration.

Cabinet received a progress report on the review of the Criminal Justice System and the following decisions were taken to address some of the urgent weaknesses in the system.

Firstly, Cabinet gave special approval for the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill, to be submitted to Parliament for consideration during the final session of this Parliament. This Bill provides the South African Police Services (SAPS) with essential crime fighting tools which include access to finger-printing databases of other government departments for criminal investigation purposes and gives them powers to take and retain finger-print and biometric materials. The Bill also provides for the establishment, administration and use of DNA as a tool to assist with suspect-to-crime-scene matches.

Secondly, The Bail Protocol on the Procedure to be followed in applying section 63A of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 was approved for speedy and immediate implementation. This protocol allows the court, on application by a Head of a Prison and if not opposed by the Director of Public prosecutions concerned, to order the release of a certain accused persons on warning in lieu of bail or to order the amendment of bail conditions. 

Thirdly, Cabinet approved the proposal to implement an integrated, seamless and national Criminal Justice business information system. All departments and agencies in the criminal justice system will implement the system with immediate effect. This work will be coordinated by the Office for Criminal Justice System Reform (OCJSR) which reports to the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

The progress report on the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommendations was approved and will be submitted to Parliament. The meeting noted that the following TRC related initiatives were still under way: development of regulations on medical assistance; investigation of possible assistance relating to housing and skills development; and the development of a community rehabilitation model.

The Exhumation Policy that was developed in accordance with the TRC recommendations was approved and will be published in the government Gazette for public comments.

New regulations on exhumations, reburials and symbolic burials of deceased victims were approved and will be published in the government Gazette for public comment.

The proposed plan for the management of the transition between now and the election of a new government in 2009 was noted and approved. The plan seeks to ensure that the transition after the elections is smooth and does not disrupt service delivery. The plan includes, inter alia, matters such as: all departments should ensure that policies and procedures are institutionalized; that the contracts of Directors Generals that expire immediately after elections be addressed in consultation with the President or the President-elect after the elections with a view to achieving continuity; preparation of hand-over reports by all departments for the incoming ministers and ensuring that a critical mass of staff are retained in the offices of the Ministers to ensure continuity. The Director’s General forum (FOSAD) will ensure that there is proper planning in all departments in this regard.

Cabinet received a report on water security in South Africa. Ms Lindiwe Hendricks, the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry, will brief the media on the country’s strategy to address water security immediately after this briefing.  A comprehensive and coordinated strategy on water supply and usage will be also tabled and discussed at the 2009 January Cabinet Lekgotla.

The meeting approved the commencement of preparations for the implementation of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project following the signing of the agreement with the government of Lesotho.

Measures to improve the outcomes associated with the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) were approved. These measures are firstly, to split MIG into two funding windows from 1 April 2009. One window for large urban municipalities and another for the rest of the municipalities. Secondly, Grant rules and conditions for large urban municipalities will be re-oriented from detailed individual project approvals to nationally monitored, medium term infrastructure outputs and outcomes. This new model will, inter alia, minimise, consolidate and streamline reporting requirements for large cities and remove constraints that hamper efficient delivery of infrastructure.

The report on the implementation of the Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation system (GWM&E) was noted as work in progress. The establishment of the monitoring and evaluation forum was approved. This forum will be convened by the Presidency and its objective will be to coordinate and align all M&E work in government, including protocols for data sharing and storage.

The Draft Port and Rail Plan was noted as work in progress and will be discussed with key stakeholders before finalisation. The final plan will be resubmitted to Cabinet following such consultations.

The Draft National Youth Policy for the period 2008-2013 was approved for publication and public comment. This policy makes recommendations on measures to advance youth development in the country.  A consultative youth indaba on the policy is scheduled to take place on 17-19 December in the North West province.

The policy framework for Overseas Development Assistance by South Africa was approved. This framework will be the basis on which the South African government provides development assistance to other countries.

The proposal to establish the National Centre for Human Language Technologies (HLT’s) was approved. This centre will facilitate and promote the use of electronic translation services throughout the country.

Cabinet gave an in-principle approval for Khula to introduce a retail platform (Khula Direct) to complement its wholesale mandate to meet the needs of the lower end of the market. The Department of Trade and Industry will develop an implementation plan for consideration by government in the New Year.

The National Space Policy and the National Space Strategy were approved.

The outcome of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Country Report on the South African Education System was noted. The Department of Education will make the report available to the public shortly.

The National Policy and National Minimum Norms and Standards on School Infrastructure were approved and will be gazetted for public comment. These norms and standards are aimed at developing a framework for the delivery of school infrastructure. The Department of Education will set up a specialist unit to focus on the efficient and effective delivery of school infrastructure.

The Hague Convention and Protocol on International Recovery of Child Support and other forms of Family Maintenance was approved. The Convention will be submitted to Parliament for ratification.

The formal launch and convening of the first meeting of the General Assembly of the Association of Africa Public Service Commissions, which will be held on 16-18 February 2009, was noted.

The Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill was approved together with the State Liability Bill for publication and for public comment. These Bills seek to regulate legal proceedings in matters relating to state liability. The Pretoria High Court had found that certain sections of the State Liability Act of 1957 were inconsistent with the Constitution to the extent that they did not allow for execution or attachment against the state.

Cabinet wishes the South African cricket team a successful tour in Australia.

Cabinet took the opportunity to wish all South Africans a safe, peaceful and happy festive season. All of us must not abuse alcohol, must not drink and drive and must not engage in risky sexual behaviour.

Cabinet wishes all Muslims well as they prepare to celebrate Eid.

The following appointments were approved:

  • Ms PS Hadebe was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of the Land Bank for a three year period 
  • Mr J Kotane was appointed as the Acting CEO of the Electronic Communications Security (COMSEC)
  • Mr V Menzeleni was appointed as an Executive Director at COMSEC
  • Mr N Behrens; Mr A De Villiers; Mr Charles Knott-Craig; Mr DR Hall; Ms T Mokgabudi;  Prof FW Petersen;  Mr M Sibanda; Mr M Silinga; Ms KL Thoka and Prof MJ Wingfield were appointed to the Board of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Council (CSIR), for a four year period
  • Dr CJ Augustyn, Mr N Baloyi; Prof ELJ Breet; Prof NH Casey; Prof FD Dakora; Dr F Dilika; Dr MM Dyasi; Dr JF Eloff; Mr OSD Garegea; Mr P Govender; Mr TP Govender; Dr WR Harding; Dr G Henry; Prof M Jeenah; Dr BH Koch; Ms GE Lombard; Mr BS Maloka; Ms NY Maluleke; Dr P Matutu; Ms KS Menon; Dr S Naidoo; Prof BK Reilly; Prof HJ Siweya; Prof DG Van der Merwe and Prof C Van der Westhuizen were appointed to the South African Council for National Scientific Professions (SACNASP), for a four year period.
  • The extension of term for Mr R Ntuli; Mr T Mhlambiso; Mr K Seitshiro; and  appointment Ms N Mesatywa; a National Treasury Representative and Public Enterprises as Trustees to the Board of the Board of the National Empowerment Fund (NEF); for a twelve month period
  • Mr C Fismer was appointed as Chairperson for a twelve month period and the following appointed to the National Gambling Board (NGB) for a five year period; Ms T Moja (Deputy Chairperson); Prof L De Vries; Mr A Keyser; Adv T Aboobaker and four designate members, namely; Ms N Maseti (Trade and Industry); Mr M Macabele (SARS); Assistant Commissioner JW Meiring (Safety and Security) and Ms V Nhlapho (Social Development).
  • Ms LB Mabaso was appointed as the Deputy Chief Commissioner: International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC) at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the part-time appointment as Commissioners for a three year period of Mr R Mkhwanazi, Mr C Viljoen De Lange and Mr M Marokolo.
  • Mr P Govender (Chairperson); Ms BL Marais; Ms M Magasa; Ms N Magwaza; Dr L Makuleni; Mr JP Malatse; Mr TLJ Jafta; Ms JM Rathebe; Mr MLS Saki; Ms EJ Steyn and Mr MA Peet (ex officio) to the South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) Board, for a five year period.
  • The re-appointment of Ms N Sihlali as a non-executive director to the Board of Sentech, for a three year period.
  • Mr N Nene as non-executive director to the Board of the Public Investment Corporation Limited (PIC)

Appendix: Also handed out at this briefing:

Media Statement: Outcomes of Cabinet Discussion on Water and Augmentation of the Vaal River System
Minister Lindiwe Hendricks:  Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
04 DECEMBER 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press

1. Introduction
The water situation in our country has been the subject of much public discussion over the past year.  Without going into the debate on whether this constitutes a crisis or not, I would like to outline the actions that are being taken to ensure that South Africa has sufficient water now and in the future for both social purposes and economic development, and the actions taken to ensure that this water is of good quality. 

Cabinet has discussed the challenges facing the water sector and has endorsed the actions that are being undertaken.

2. Addressing the Challenges
Universal access to water: Universal access to water and sanitation services to be completed by 2014. DWAF is looking at innovative ways of speeding up access to water and sanitation services especially in areas where communities live in close proximity to dams but do not receive water services.

b. Illegal water use (both illegal abstraction and the illegal discharge of effluents into rivers and dams): DWAF has a programme to deal with illegal abstraction (initially focused on the upper Vaal River) and combating pollution. The roll out of this programme commenced with a high profile water compliance ‘blitz enforcement week’ at end of November 2008.  Going forward DWAF is collaborating with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism to combat pollution.

c. Water Quality in Rivers and Dams: Implementation of the “River Health Programme”, dealing with polluters (as above), remediation in specific dams (already undertaken in Hartbeespoort Dam), more resources to be put into dealing with the polluters, and launch of the ‘Green Drop’ certificate to recognise cities and towns that comply with the required standards on the discharge of waste water.
d. Drinking Water Quality: The five percent of municipalities who do not comply with the health aspects of drinking water quality standards as well as those that do not report yet to be brought to the required standards of drinking water quality. DWAF is preparing to launch a ‘Blue Drop’ certificate to recognise cities and towns that comply with the required standards of drinking water quality.  This initiative is aimed at giving confidence to citizens and visitors that the water coming from their taps is safe for consumption.

e. Water conservation and demand management: Cooperation with and support to municipalities on the implementation of Water Conservation and Demand Management actions, such as leak minimisation, metering of water use, replacement of old infrastructure, effective billing and cost recovery, promotion of water efficient plumbing devices, (low water consumption shower roses, taps, etc), public education and awareness raising campaigns, all to conserve and to promote water conservation.  We are also working with industry regarding the introduction of a Water Efficiency Labelling System.
In the agricultural sector measurement of water use and water efficient irrigation systems will be promoted. Changes in attitude and behaviour towards water conservation and water use efficiency are required by all water consumers, including the industry, mining and power generation sectors.  Water conservation must be successfully implemented by all water users to optimise the use of our current water supplies and if successful could postpone the need for the augmentation of some of our water supplies.
f. Skills and Human Resources: The use of international experts, the deployment of engineers to municipalities, the establishment within DWAF of a training academy and internship programme for young graduates, awarding bursaries to study water related qualifications, and running a youth programme to create awareness and stimulate interest in water  issues has reached 460 000 learners. These actions are in addition to broader initiatives to increase the number of engineers, technicians, artisans and scientists in the country; and co-operation with DPLG and SALGA to ensure municipalities have adequate skills and capacity to deal with water and sanitation services.

g. Water infrastructure (reticulation / municipal): In addition to the MIG allocations and the use of own resources by municipalities, almost R4 billion has been allocated through the bulk infrastructure grant to deal with the upgrading and augmenting of municipal infrastructure. DWAF is also implementing compliance monitoring and enforcement of regulations to ensure infrastructure meets the necessary standards.
h. Water infrastructure (water resources): Between 2004 to 2012 major water resources infrastructure projects to the value of R10.1 billion would have been completed.

3.  Augmentation of the Vaal
As part of its planning work DWAF has developed an Integrated Strategy to  effectively manage the system.  Our main findings is that in order to avoid shortage of supply in the future and meet the growing water demand and water security within the Vaal River System the following actions need to be implemented:  eradicate unlawful irrigation; implement Water Conservation and Demand Management with a focus on loss management; treat and use effluent; implement water quality measures and very importantly prepare for the next augmentation scheme.
Detailed investigations have indicated two competitive water transfer schemes to augment the water resources of the Vaal River System, viz. a second phase of the existing Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and second phase of the existing transfer scheme from the Thukela River. 
I am pleased to announce that as part of our efforts to ensure greater water availability for the Vaal River System Cabinet yesterday approved a major new water infrastructure project, namely the implementation of Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.  This project, subject to the conclusion of a protocol with the Government of Lesotho, will at a projected cost of R7.3 billion include construction of the Polihali Dam in Lesotho and is a strategic intervention to ensure the water security of Gauteng and the rest of the Vaal River water supply area
in the most cost effective manner.  The construction of this dam and other infrastructure will take place alongside water conservation measures in the Vaal, improving water quality and curbing of illegal water use.
The Vaal River System is considered the most important water resource in  South Africa as it supplies water to 60% of the country’s  economy, 45% of the population of the country, the whole of Gauteng and Northern Cape (Kimberley and Upington), mines and industries on the Mpumalanga Highveld, the bulk of  ESKOM’s coal-fired power stations on the Western Mpumalanga Highveld, North-West and Free State goldfields, agricultural users in the Gauteng, North-West, Free State and Northern Cape Provinces and it also supplies the strategically coal-to-liquid facilities on the coal-fields of the Highveld.
Gauteng and adjacent urban areas continue to experience rapid growth in water demand and it is projected that Gauteng could increase its water requirements by more than 30% in the next twenty years, and significant intervention measures are necessary to ensure sufficient water, of the required quality, is made available to support community and industrial water needs, including associated energy generation, and agriculture.

There is significant unlawful water use in the catchment of the Vaal Dam and DWAF is implementing a programme to have this unlawful use removed by 2011. A well structured water conservation and water demand management programme will also be implemented in the Vaal area with a focus on water losses in the system as well as in individual households, with a target to reduce losses by 15%. It will start before the middle of 2009 with completion by mid 2013.
The motivation for selecting the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase 2 as the preferred option for the augmentation of the Vaal include: the project has a low energy requirement in that water can be transferred under gravity to South Africa without pumping - unlike the Tugela option, which is energy intensive as water must be pumped from the Thukela River over the escarpment. Furthermore the existing hydro-power generation capacity of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase 1 can also be increased.  The project would bring substantial benefits to Lesotho as well as a regional benefit, as it will mean the prevention of increased carbon emissions.  We have been in discussions with the government of Lesotho who are strongly in favour of the project. 

The Vaal is part of an international river system and the other countries (Namibia and Botswana) that form part of this river system have already had been notified of the joint intention of South Africa and Lesotho regarding this project. These countries will be kept abreast of further developments.

The next steps would require the development of a detailed project implementation plan, to be approved by both countries, and the necessary Protocols between the countries concluded.  Like with Phase 1 the project would funded off-budget i.e. funds would be borrowed from capital markets.

In conclusion, there has been much speculation about the quality of drinking water in the country. South Africans should not worry. Our tap water is still rated among the best in the world. In addition South Africa is one of only a few countries where one can drink water directly from tap.
On the availability of water, while South Africa is the 30th driest country and is subject to sporadic droughts, there is currently sufficient water in our rivers, dams and our underground water to provide for socio economic growth and development. In addition to the Phase 2 of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project there are other projects in place to ensure the timely development of infrastructure to ensure future water supply to the growing economy. We must however take care and conserve this precious resource so that there is some for all forever.

Thank you 


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