Govt says R1,5bn cost of settlement will have to come from elsewhere in budget
Cabinet held its ordinary meeting in Cape Town on 01 September 2010.
Cabinet expressed concern about the ongoing public sector strike and the negative effect it was having on public services. Cabinet urged the negotiators to find an amicable and ‘win win' solution sooner so that life can return to normal for the thousands of South Africans who are unable to access essential services such as medical care and preparations for the end of the year examinations.
Government is particularly concerned about the disruption of services in places such as hospitals and schools. No nation can allow the sick to die because health care workers are on strike. No nation can prevent families from burying their dead. No nation can afford to put the future of thousands of young people on hold because of strike action.
Government will continue to do all it can to bring an end to the strike. While the workers' demands are fully understandable, this does not take away the fact that the state can only agree to a wage settlement that it can afford. While the draft settlement proposal of 7.5 % and R800.00 housing allowance was unaffordable, Government was and still is willing to accept the settlement even though this will add another R1.5 billion to current expenditure, which will have to be taken from somewhere.
It is a complete misunderstanding to suggest that our willingness to accept the draft agreement is proof that there is money lying somewhere in the fiscus. Simply put, there is no money available. The resources to cover the draft agreement proposal will have to come from reducing expenditure in other areas in the budget.
Government has a mandate to deliver a variety of services to communities including building more houses, roads and clinics, employing more teachers and nurses, supplying books and other learner support materials, supplying equipment and medicines to hospitals, continuing with our infrastructure investment programmes to grow the economy. Salaries already consume 40 % of all tax revenue collected and increasing the salary bill will have a negative impact as it will mean less resources were available for other services. The Minister of Finance will provide more details on the source of funding and the financial implications of the current draft agreement that is before the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC).
This does not suggest that government does not acknowledge the need to improve the salaries of state employees. While we understand the economic hardship facing state employees and the rest of the population, it is important for everyone to understanding the negative effect of higher salaries on other services.
Government remains optimistic that a settlement will be reached soon. The unions have requested more time to consider the settlement contained in the draft agreement and to consult with their members. The unions are expected to return to the bargaining council with their final response to the draft agreement, hopefully by the end of the day. The Minister of Public Service and Administration will comment on the formal responses from the unions as soon as he receives them.
Cabinet condemned the violence that has characterised the public sector strike in parts of the country. The behaviour of some of the strikers that we condemn include acts such as leaving babies in Intensive Care Units un-attended, preventing pregnant mothers from accessing medical facilities to deliver babies, attacking and intimidating nurses and doctors with a view to stopping them from treating patients, preventing and attacking learners in schools, intimidating and preventing teachers who want to continue with their work and intimidation of volunteers. The abuse and personal attacks during the demonstrations is something that the union leaders are expected to discourage at all costs as all these things divert attention from the real issues on the table.
The meeting decided that urgent talks must be held with unions and other professional bodies after the strike to reach agreement on rules of engagement and on what is acceptable protest action during strikes.
Cabinet approved the proposal to end the Special Dispensation for Zimbabwean Nationals that was introduced in April 2009. This decision follows a bilateral agreement between the Ministers of Home Affairs from South Africa and Zimbabwe. The special dispensation will end on the 31st December 2010. As part of this agreement, the Zimbabwean Government has undertaken to issue documents to all their undocumented nationals.
The decision seeks to ensure that all foreign nationals who reside in South Africa are documented and their presence is regularised. After the 31st of December all undocumented Zimbabweans will be treated like all others and their deportation will resume.
Zimbabwean nationals who are working, conducting business or studying in South Africa will be issued with a working permit, business permit or a study permit respectively provided they have valid Zimbabwean documents.
There will be an amnesty for the Zimbabweans who may have obtained South African Identification documents fraudulently on condition that such documents are returned to the Department of Home Affairs with immediate effect. Those who return the illegal documents will be issued with the relevant permits.
The two governments will establish a Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Committee that will oversee the implementation of this policy decision. The Issuing of the various permits will commence between now and December 31 and the deportation of undocumented Zimbabweans will resume after this Date. A similar process will be initiated for nationals from other Neighboring countries in the future.
Government notes the ongoing public debate on the Protection of Information Bill, which is currently being considered by an Adhoc Committee in Parliament.
Government welcomes the representations received from interested parties and appreciates the public's dedication and participation in the consultative processes enshrined in our Constitution. We reiterate that this process has not been completed and the Bill is yet to be finalised.
Government, through the Minister of State Security, is considering the valuable submissions and representations made during the public hearings and are committed to accommodate the views expressed as far as practicable and reasonable.
The Minister of State Security has been focusing on areas which may be broad and/or vague and which have the potential to infringe on other rights that are enshrined in the constitution. Following this involved and detailed process, the Minister will table a comprehensive response to Parliament, when the Committee working on the Bill sits for its next meeting. Government hopes that its scrutiny of the representations and its response will go a long way towards meeting the recommendations made in the submissions and representations during the consultative process.
September marks the beginning of Tourism month under the theme ‘South Africa - a one of the most bio-diverse destinations in the world'. Awareness programmes focusing on career opportunities especially for the youth in the tourism sector will be launched. The host province for this year's tourism month celebrations is Limpopo province.
The International Marketing Council's nation brand legacy campaign was noted and welcomed. The campaign's theme is ‘Put your soul into it'. This campaign aims to build on the momentum built during the world cup by mobilizing South Africans to cement the principles of national pride and patriotism.
The mandates for tenth meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP10) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Fifth Meeting of the Parties (MOP5) were approved. The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs is coordinating South Africa's participation at these meetings.
The proposed concept and preparatory process for the hosting of COP 17 and the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 7) in November/December 2011 was endorsed. The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Climate Change will be reconvened to over see the preparations for the conference.
Cabinet expressed condolences to the family and friends of Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk who lost his mother and to Minister Naledi Pandor whose father passed away recently.
The following Bills were approved for submission to Parliament:
Tax Administration Bill (TAB), 2010
The TAB seeks to provide a single body of law that outlines and harmonises common procedures, rights and remedies and to achieve a balance between the rights and obligations of both SARS and taxpayers.
The TAB benefits both the taxpayers and SARS in that:
It reduces the compliance burden on taxpayers as the TAB is drafted in plain language that sets out all the rights and duties regarding all tax laws, enables the taxpayer to understand compliance obligations better, thereby contribute to reducing red tape.
The administrative burden on SARS should reduce over time as unnecessary and duplicate provisions and systems are simplified and ineffective provisions are removed.
Implementation of the Geneva Convention Bill
The Bill seeks to incorporate the provisions of Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and their additional protocols of 1977, into the South African law. The Geneva Convention provides for, among other things, for the protection of wounded and sick combatants in the field irrespective of their nationality.
The following appointments were approved:
Mr Langa Zitha was appointed to the post Director General in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Mr S W Henderson, Deputy Director-General: EPWP Coordinator, Department of Public Works.
Mr G M Mnguni, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services, Department of Energy
Ms P Moleke, Deputy Director-General: Skills Development, Department of Higher Education and Training.
Dr R Mokate was nominated as the first Executive Director of the Africa Group 3 Constituency (AFG-3) at the World Bank in Washington DC.
The following were appointed as members of the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) Ms P T Sekati (Chairperson); Prof T Majozi (Deputy Chairperson); Mr F Johnson; Mr VV Mdwara; Dr C Ruiters; Mr C Campbell; Mr P Mashabane; Ms PE Scott; Mr HJ vd Hoven; Mr M Klapwijk; Mr C Israelite; Mr C Israelite; Ms Z Mvusi; Mr M Kubuzie and Ms EI Pieterse.
The following were appointed to the Board of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA): Mr Linda Mngomezulu (Chairperson); Mr Tsietsi Matang; Ms Tholi Nkambule; Professor Norman Faull; Ms Qeenith Mogotsi; Mr Martin Feinstein; Mr Dennis Thabaneng; Ms Precious Lugayeni; Advocate Thsidi Mayimela-Hashatse and Mr Thsilidzi Nemahaga (DTI Representative).