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Source: Government Communications
Title: Mbeki: Briefing on Cabinet lekgotla
Media briefing by President Thabo Mbeki on Cabinet
BACKGROUND NOTES ON THE CABINET LEKGOTLA
Cabinet held its mid-year lekgotla from 19 to 21 July 2005. In
addition to the national Cabinet, Deputy Ministers, national
Directors-General and advisers, the meeting was attended for the
first time by Provincial Premiers and Directors-General.
The decision to include provincial leaders and officials in the
national makgotla was taken earlier this year, in order to improve
co-ordination and integration of government work across the
spheres. Indeed, their presence ensured that provincial
perspectives were brought to bear on reflections regarding both the
development and implementation of national strategies.
The lekgotla reflected on the implementation of the
government’s Programme of Action (PoA) and expressed
appreciation at the progress being made. While the detailed issues
in each Cluster were noted, Cabinet reflected on a few strategic
questions in each sector. Decisions on these issues will inform the
content of the Medium-Term Strategic Framework which in turn will
guide the budgeting process for the next three years.
CAPACITY AND ORGANISATION OF THE STATE
A critical element in the discussions was the question of the
organisation and capacity of the state. While work is continuing on
comprehensive proposals in this regard, the lekgotla paid
particular attention to the following issues.
Local Government Challenges
The meeting reflected on the experiences that have been gained thus
far in the implementation of Project Consolidate. This project,
which is aimed at assisting targeted (136) municipalities in dire
need, affords government a detailed picture of the situation at
local level, to better devise strategies to improve service
The diagnostic assessments undertaken have focussed on such
performance criteria as institutional development, financial
viability and management, service delivery infrastructure, local
economic development and good governance.
On each of these performance areas, detailed action is required
which includes systematic action to stabilise administrative and
political components of municipalities, through careful selection
and systematic upgrading of personnel. A comprehensive programme of
capacity building will be introduced, including recruitment and
training in management, finance, engineering, information and
communications technology and other staff levels.
Linked to these interventions is the need to ensure that the
performance management system is put into practice and
strengthened, including in the implementation of the Municipal
Finance Management Act (MFMA).
There are instances in many municipalities where basic services are
not provided to citizens, not on account of lack of resources, but
because of poor planning. For instance, some new settlement
projects with formal housing, water and electricity lack sanitation
facilities; others suffer from ageing electricity networks and
unreliable refuse removal services.
These challenges call for close monitoring of the content of
Integrated Development Plans and their implementation, including
support to Ward Committees and speedier roll-out of the Community
Development Workers (CDW) programme. Further, national and
provincial governments will jointly develop a strategic
infrastructure plan based on Integrated Development Plan (IDP)
The lekgotla agreed that, in the immediate, an intensive programme
of interaction with the public should be undertaken, building on
the current Presidential municipal imbizo programme and involving
Ministers, Premiers, MECs and local leaders. Such interaction would
help identify concrete challenges for immediate concrete
Improving Capacity to Implement Integrated Programmes
The challenges identified in some of the municipalities also attest
to weak capacity at national and provincial levels to implement
integrated programmes. This applies to issues of leadership at
management level, community involvement and poor vertical
A study specifically on capacity in the area of housing, at
national and provincial levels, has identified concrete challenges
with regard to skills, staff turnover, discrepancies in conditions
of service among spheres of government and public entities
inhibiting staff mobility, an excessive vacancy rate and so
The study also points to high rates of success in instances where
political leaders play a visible role, and where communication with
communities is optimal. The same applies to instances where
officials across the three spheres agree on feasibility of targets,
correctly interpret policies and translate executive decisions into
concrete projects for implementation.
Confirming the central importance of building partnerships across
society, the study also found that such issues as reliable supply
of materials for infrastructure by the private sector, capacity in
the Deeds Office, skills among emerging contractors and community
involvement are critical to the success of projects.
Cabinet agreed to develop a joint project between the housing
departments and the dpsa to address the weaknesses identified with
regard to skills, organisation and systems so as to improve
implementation of the housing strategy.
It was agreed that a rolling programme would be put in place to
conduct similar research in other sectors, starting in the next six
months with health, education and justice.
National Planning Framework
After a review of planning processes across the three spheres, the
lekgotla agreed on the need more systematically to ensure
articulation among the horizontal and vertical cycles. These relate
to policy strategising, development of programmes and their public
announcement, budgeting, and monitoring and evaluation.
The meeting approved a detailed planning cycle that brings together
these various elements within and across the spheres. Among others,
critical in this regard is ensuring that submissions of departments
and provinces in the budgeting processes are based on, and assessed
in accordance with, the integrated strategic imperatives of
government as a whole.
It was also agreed that, in the same measure as national
strategising makgotla now include provincial leaders, the same
should characterise such strategising at provincial level –
to include participation by the district/metro leadership.
Monitoring and Evaluation System
The lekgotla agreed on a detailed process to set up a
Government-wide Monitoring and Evaluation System, which will not
only provide accurate and reliable information on the
implementation of government programmes; but also ensure the
optimal integration and utilisation of current systems in The
Presidency, national treasury, the dpsa and the dplg.
The system will be informed by output, outcome and impact
indicators, the broad framework of which was identified in the Ten
The Presidency, which will take responsibility for the setting up
and operation of the system, will in the next few months work with
the dpsa and StatsSA to start phasing the system in: including
developing principles to inform departmental structures and
systems, designing of formats, developing IT architecture and
ultimately rolling it out to the whole public sector.
Among the urgent challenges in this regard is the capacitation of
The Presidency and Premiers’ Offices to lead the
SPEEDING UP ECONOMIC GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Over the past few years, government has initiated various measures
to speed up economic growth and job creation. These include the
Microeconomic Reform Strategy (MERS), decisions of the Growth and
Development Summit (GDS), new infrastructure projects, initiatives
to lower the cost of production including telecommunications and
other input costs, and programmes in respect of the Second Economy.
The challenge is how to build on these programmes and take
advantage of the positive domestic environment to spur the country
onto a higher growth path.
The lekgotla reflected on some of the binding constraints across
the whole of the economy and identified broad interventions
required to catalyse the desired “lift-off”.
Macroeconomic Environment and Long-Term Cutting Edge
The meeting reaffirmed the approach of government on such major
indicators as the fiscal deficit, interest rates, inflation and the
While recognising that some of the indicators are impacted by
factors beyond the control of government, the lekgotla agreed that
both the fiscal and monetary authorities need to continue working
together in pursuit of a stable and competitive exchange
Appreciation was expressed of the consistent growth in the rate of
fixed investments by both the private and public sectors –
but it was emphasised that this needed to be ratcheted up at a
faster rate, with particular focus on labour-intensive sectors.
Many of the interventions required in this regard are contained in
the government’s programme and in the agreements reached at
the GDS, including the commitment to plough 5% of investable
capital into productive investments.
It was agreed that consideration needed to be given to long-term
strategic initiatives that would place SA at the cutting edge of
the global economy. These include the speeding up of the work on
Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) technology, including
strengthening international partnerships in this regard.
Some of the issues that require further investigation are: a
broad-band backbone for the information super highway and intensive
Research and Development in the area of the hydrogen economy and
fuel cell technology. With regard to such nuclear, hydrogen and
fuel cell technologies, SA occupies a unique global position in
that it has the world’s largest reserves of platinum and
other minerals critical to these sectors.
Higher Rates of Investment in Specific Sectors
About twelve sectors have been identified in the recent past for
special attention, on account both of their growth potential and
labour-absorption attributes. It was agreed, in line with the
government’s Programme of Action, that concrete work should
be intensified in all these areas so as to complete and implement
relevant sector strategies.
For instance, concrete measures need to be put in place urgently to
support Business Process Outsourcing, and finalise plans for the
chemical, agriculture and agro-processing, ICT and
telecommunications, tourism and so on. At the same time,
consultations on clothing and textile and mining industries need to
be completed without delay, in order to address the challenge of
Major Infrastructure Projects and PGDS Initiatives
Already, projects have been put in motion to spend R180-billion in
public sector resources in infrastructure projects in the national
logistics system, energy and water. Indications are that, as
expected, these initiatives have great potential to crowd in
private sector investments.
Other initiatives are being investigated to further improve freight
and passenger transport in the major metropolitan councils. In this
context, provinces have been asked to identify major projects in
each of their Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDS),
which would be incorporated into an integrated national
At the same time, work is continuing in accordance with the
government PoA to complete guidelines on development of PGDS and
municipal IDPs, in line with the National Spatial Development
Second Economy Interventions and SME Development
Major interventions in the Second economy include the Expanded
Public Works Programme (EPWP), micro-credit, land reform, skills
development and communication support.
Latest data from the Expanded Public Works Programme shows that
government is on track to create a million work opportunities in
five years as planned. By May 2005 at least 223 400 gross work
opportunities were created, about 174 800 of which are a direct
value addition from using labour-intensive methods, particularly in
The meeting also received a report on work in the Social Sector to
introduce EPWP methods in the setting up of the Early Childhood
Development Programme (ECD). Detailed plans in this regard will be
presented to Cabinet soon. It was also agreed that resources would
be allocated to speed up implementation of this programme as well
as other community workers initiative such as home-based care and
Given the potential that this programme has shown, it was agreed
that the EPWP Project Team should present to Cabinet options on how
it could be scaled up. While such options should take into account
experience in the small-scale projects thus far implemented,
consideration should be given to incorporating some new large
construction initiatives under the EPWP rubric.
Progress with regard to the operationalisation of micro-credit and
SME support institutions was noted. The meeting also underlined the
role of affirmative procurement, by both government and the private
sector, in assisting Second Economy communities.
The project being undertaken by The Presidency, labour, the dti and
national treasury to assess the tax regime and regulatory burdens
on small and micro enterprises will be speeded up, so as to ensure
that its outcome, if necessary, is incorporated into future
Labour Market and Skills Development
In principle, government is of the view that the current labour
market regime is appropriate in that it strikes a delicate balance
between the major role-players in the economy.
However, in order to protect the rights of workers and to expand
the space for job creation in the economy as a whole, it is
necessary to conduct research on issues such as casualisation,
collective bargaining as it impacts on small and micro enterprises
and probationary arrangements for young first-time employees. This
work is continuing, and consultations will be held with all
role-players in finalising any proposals in this regard.
In view of the major infrastructure projects either planned or
under way, the issue of skills arises in even bolder relief in the
current period. A combination of learnership training, improvement
in the work of training authorities, strategic immigration measures
and other interventions is required to address this issue.
It was agreed that the team dealing with the comprehensive
programme on skills development would report regularly to Cabinet
on these issues.
IMPROVING SOCIAL COHESION AND SOCIAL SERVICES
In addition to the governance issues raised above, as they pertain
to the improvement of provision of social services, the lekgotla
reflected on major strategic interventions in this sector both in
terms of services and social cohesion.
A project-by-project report on the implementation of the Rural
Development and Urban Renewal Programmes was noted. Critical
lessons arising from this report relate to matters of both vertical
and horizontal integration in the work of government.
As indicated above, the contribution of the Social Cluster to the
Expanded Public Works Programme, through the ECD and community care
projects was also discussed.
Macrosocial Environment and Challenges
The lekgotla noted the Report on the Macrosocial Environment and
It noted progress in the improvement of material conditions of
especially sections of society that were neglected under apartheid.
More and more South Africans are moving from the lowest levels of
income and expenditure. However, large sections of society remain
imprisoned in the poverty trap of the Second Economy; and racial
profiles persist in terms of ownership and control of wealth,
access to social services and public opinion on public policy
The country also faces a challenge in terms of building a caring
society, particularly in the midst of an economic system that
encourages individualism, greed and unhealthy competition. How we
address this challenge, in the context of fighting corruption and
strengthening the moral fibre of the nation, is a continuing
challenge that needs to be attended to by society as a whole. This
has to be addressed at the same time as we encourage a culture of
entrepreneurship especially among Second Economy communities. Our
planning also has to take into account the reality of massive
migration to areas that are perceived to have higher economic
potential. This is a matter that relates both to the age and gender
demographics in various parts of the country as well as spatial
The meeting noted the fact that, in comparison to many other
countries, South Africans were quite active in civil society
structures and belonged to social networks that were supportive of
individual endeavours. However, with regard to both social
attitudes and culture of organisation and mobilisation,
improvements are required in ensuring that young people –
otherwise the most optimistic and confident in the future –
are optimally involved especially in political activity.
It also welcomed the pre-eminence of a common national identity in
the primary self-definition of South Africans. This, research
attests, does not mean the death of other identities such as
language and nationality, which in some instances assume a critical
role in public discourse.
Tasks arising from these and other challenges in the Macrosocial
Report include: building a people’s contract in actual
practice in all social activity; speeding up programmes of
transformation especially job-creation; encouraging social
solidarity and the role of the community and the family unit in
improving social cohesion; dedicated programmes to address youth
aspirations; intensification of the programme to build a non-racial
and non-sexist society; multilingualism and so on.
The Social Cluster will work on a Macrosocial Strategy which
integrates the various policy implications of the Report.
Social Health Insurance
The lekgotla reflected on the issue of Social Health Insurance
(SHI), and it reaffirmed the principle that government needed to
pursue a health system which ensures that all South Africans are
adequately cared for. This requires, among others, the creation of
structural linkages between public and private sectors, minimum
guaranteed packages to all, and the prevention of unfair exclusion
of low-income groups.
It was agreed in principle that, in the immediate, measures should
be introduced to ensure Risk Equalisation among the various private
medical schemes. This and other issues pertaining to a broader SHI
system will be canvassed with social partners.
IMPROVING CONFIDENCE IN THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Cabinet noted the progress being made in bringing down the levels
of crime and in improving the functioning of the Cluster as a
whole. Special focus was dedicated to reflections on the challenge
of transforming the judiciary.
Some Specific Programmes
Broad statistical trends point to successes in meeting the target
to reduce particularly contact crime by 7% – 10% per year.
However, the lekgotla noted, much more work needed to be done in
integrating the work of socio-economic and crime prevention sectors
in government to ensure that the combating of crime is effectively
combined with efforts to root out its social causes.
Work continues in such areas as reduction in the number of illegal
firearms within society, improved co-ordination in border control,
facilitating implementation of the Victims Charter, building
additional correctional services facilities, amendments to the
Foreign Military Assistance Act and so on.
The lekgotla noted that the terms of reference for a comprehensive
review of the “criminal justice system” had been
completed. An implementation programme is being finalised to ensure
that the review is concluded within 18 months.
Transformation of the Judiciary
In discussing the issue of transformation of the judiciary, the
lekgotla premised its approach on the principle that such
transformation should be informed by, and conform to, the
prescripts of our Constitution. It is appreciated that, given the
doctrine of the separation of powers, issues pertaining to
transformation of the judiciary, more than with regard to any other
branches of the state, have to be handled with due
The meeting noted progress in the past ten years to assert the
supremacy of the Constitution and its humane philosophy.
Appointments to the judiciary are conducted in a transparent
manner, and government has always sought to protect the
independence of the judiciary and to ensure that the integrity of
this institution is appreciated by society at large.
Welcome changes have taken place in the demographic composition of
the judiciary – though much more needs to be done especially
with regard to gender balance.
It was agreed that, in order to address this challenge, government
as a major procurer of legal services would need to play its role
in terms of setting clear targets for its own briefings in legal
cases. Consultations will be intensified to develop a legal
services charter, so that a final draft, developed in a
consultative manner is finalised in about two years. The process to
identify more black and/or female candidates will also include more
acting appointments, allowing for magistrates to qualify for
judicial appointments and sustaining consideration of academics and
attorneys for such appointments.
The lekgotla confirmed the broad principles contained in the pieces
of legislation aimed at improving the functioning of the
Firstly, the Superior Courts Bill seeks to rationalise various
Superior Courts and consolidate laws relating to these Courts into
a single Act. It also abolishes the remnants of apartheid spatial
divisions, and decentralises the appeal system.
Secondly, draft legislation on judicial education and training sets
out a new education framework and governance structure. In
addition, better relationships would need to be built with tertiary
institutions providing training in law. Such training would need to
include, among others, diversity and social context issues.
Thirdly, a framework for handling complaints against judicial
officers is to be introduced.
In addressing all these issues, government will consult as widely
as possible, and ensure that none of the legislative changes
impinges on the independence of the judiciary. As such, government
will seek to achieve consensus with the judiciary on all the major
It was also agreed that transformation imperatives would need to be
introduced in the legal profession as a whole, including matters
such as content of tertiary education and language framework in the
AFRICAN AGENDA AND GLOBAL ISSUES
The lekgotla noted progress in the implementation of
government’s programme with regard to the challenge of
promoting the African agenda and building a better world. Steadily,
the stature of South Africa as a critical player in global
relations is appreciated far and wide.
Peace and Stability on the Continent
The lekgotla noted developments in the DRC, Burundi, Sudan and Cote
d’Ivoire where steady progress is being made to attain peace
and put in place popular democratic systems. In each of these
countries, SA has played and is playing an important role as part
of the AU collective.
The major challenge in all these areas is to ensure that the peace
and democratisation processes are not derailed; and continually to
adapt our facilitation to changing conditions as progress is made:
with emphasis where applicable on capacitating these states to
cement national unity, entrench popular participation and implement
socio-economic programmes to improve citizens’ quality of
On the issue of developments in Zimbabwe, the lekgotla reaffirmed
SA’s principled position to assist the people of that country
in finding a solution to the socio-economic and political
challenges that they face.
Reform of the United Nations and Global Co-operation
The meeting was briefed on the dynamics in diplomatic engagement
around the issue of the reform of the UN. It reaffirmed the
positions of the AU which include:
* a Declaration on UN Reform dealing with issues such as
collective security, conflict prevention and strengthening of the
UN General Assembly, Secretariat and ECOSOC;
* reform of the UN Security Council proposing expansion to 26
members including 2 permanent and 5 non-permanent seats for Africa;
with other regions and stakeholders on these issues.
The meeting agreed that, both in the context of UN Reform and in
pursuit of a developmental global agenda, SA need to strengthen
efforts aimed at consolidating South-South co-operation. The
meeting also registered SA’s repugnance of the acts of
terrorism in various parts of the world, which not only claim the
lives of civilians but also undermine efforts to build global
solidarity around issues of eradicating poverty and
Assessment of NEPAD Implementation
The lekgotla noted the work that is being done to realise the
objectives of NEPAD. The discussion was premised on the
understanding that NEPAD is a long-term development programme. As
such, a balance has to be struck in dealing with this issue between
its conception as a guiding framework and the need to show tangible
progress on programme and project implementation.
In this regard, the progress being made in matters of peace,
stability and democratisation, as indicated above, constitutes a
critical element of NEPAD implementation. Further, Africa is
showing positive economic trends which, more than before, not only
show consistency but reflect a promise of sustainability.
As shown in the outcome of the recent G8 Summit, which includes
concrete decisions on partnering Africa in terms of investment,
human resource development, debt cancellation, peace-keeping
capacity, development aid and so on, confidence in the continent
across the globe is improving; and Africa is better able to build
partnerships on the basis of its own imperatives. Among the
challenges that need to be addressed, in order to improve NEPAD
implementation, is the mobilisation and alignment of resources and
institutions including AU structures, African development
institutions, technical committees and the NEPAD Secretariat. We
also have to strengthen regional mechanisms (and in our case, the
institutions of SADC).
The lekgotla agreed that SA needed to enhance its contribution to
intra-continental efforts on such issues as market access,
bilateral relations, cross-border infrastructure development,
facilitation of South African outward investment and technical
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)
24 July 2005