Cabinet Thanks Voters, Talks Jobs, Virus, Miss SA

Ahead of the announcement of the final results, the Cabinet on Thursday thanked all eligible voters who cast their vote in the 2021 local government elections.

Monday’s elections marked the 21st anniversary of the establishment of a democratic local government system in South Africa.

“We applaud the tolerance, dignity, and patience with which the voters conducted themselves throughout Election Day,” said a statement on Wednesday’s virtual Cabinet meeting.

“The smooth way in which political parties contested the LGE and the emergence of young candidates, especially women, is testament to our vibrant and functioning democracy.”

The Cabinet also commended the Electoral Commission of South Africa, all political parties, members of society, media and the law-enforcement agencies in the country for their collective efforts to ensure peaceful elections.

The wide-ranging statement gave updates on progress regarding Covid-19 vaccinations, student loans, tackling gender-based violence, new jobs in the motor industry, apologies for load-shedding, and congratulations for 24-year-old Lalela Mswane on being crowned the new Miss South Africa.

Commenting in Mswane’s achievement Cabinet said: “Her triumph is an affirmation that success can be achieved through dedication and hard work”.

The Cabinet applauded South Africans who have chosen to protect themselves and their loved ones by vaccinating against the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Our country has already administered over 22 million vaccine doses,” said the statement issued by the Government Communication and Information System on behalf of the Cabinet.

“Three out of every five people aged over 50 years in our country are now vaccinated.

“We need to get to five out of five of such a vaccinated age group by the end of the year to kill the power of the anticipated fourth wave.”

On load-shedding, the Cabinet said it acknowledges the disruptions and inconvenience of intermittent load-shedding experienced by South Africans in recent days.

“The Department of Public Enterprises is working closely with the Board of Eskom and management to ensure that we limit the daily duration of load-shedding and the period for which this intervention will be required,” said the statement.

“National Treasury is working with Eskom to grant it the appropriate exemptions to acquire the spare parts needed for repairs and maintenance.

“Eskom is also making progress in re-employing skilled personnel – including plant managers – to help the power utility make headway at individual power stations and across various operations of the business.”

The Cabinet said South Africa continues to perform as an investment destination of choice, attracting some of the world’s top businesses to expand their operations in the country.

“Toyota South Africa has launched its R2,6 billion production plant in Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. The plant will manufacture the first generation of commercial-scale hybrid electric vehicles in South Africa,” said the lengthy statement.

The Cabinet said this development was part of the auto industry masterplan commitments by the company to increase its levels of investment.

The launch dovetails with the announcement by Swedish multinational food packaging and processing company, Tetra Pak, to invest R500 million to upgrade its production capacity of its packaging material factory in Durban.

Aspen Pharmacare opened its new anaesthetic line producing Diprivan locally as part of the R3,2-billion investment in creating world-class sterile production facilities, and turning the site in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape into the most advanced pharmaceutical precinct on the African continent.

The anaesthetic was previously imported and is used in a range of standard medical procedures and operations in South

African hospitals, and also used to treat Covid-19 patients on ventilators in intensive-care wards.

The Cabinet also welcomed the recent investment by vehicle maker, Isuzu Motors, into the economy of the country. Isuzu Motors South Africa launched the production facility at Struandale in Gqeberha.

Isuzu is investing R1.2 billion into its next generation bakkie programme in South Africa for the South African and Sub-Saharan Africa markets.

The Isuzu plant will create 1 000 direct jobs at its operations in Gqeberha, and across its national and international dealer network, and as many as 25 000 jobs at hundreds of suppliers across the country.

The Cabinet noted that National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) applications had opened and reminded learners and out-of-school youth from poor and working-class backgrounds to submit their applications for funding for the 2022 academic year.

Applications for NSFAS funding will close on Friday, 7 January 2022.

On gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), the Cabinet welcomed the triple life sentence handed down to rapist and murderer Mfanasibili Cornelius Mnisi (29) by the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court in Mbombela recently.

“This harsh sentence demonstrates the zero-tolerance approach against GBVF by the criminal justice system,” said the statement.

The Cabinet approved the submission of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill of 2021 to Parliament for processing.

The proposed amendments provide for the mechanism to enforce the taking of DNA buccal samples (samples from cells on the inside of the person’s cheek) from people convicted under Schedule 8 offences that include sexual offences, robbery, human trafficking and culpable homicide.

The Cabinet discussed the political situation in the Kingdom of Eswatini following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s meeting with His Majesty King Mswati III on Tuesday, 2 November 2021.

Ramaphosa visited the Kingdom in his capacity as Chairperson of the SADC Organ Troika comprising Namibia (incoming), South Africa (chair) and Botswana (outgoing) – directed the Special Envoys to engage with the Kingdom of Eswatini on security and political developments in the Kingdom.

“Cabinet welcomed the agreement that the Kingdom of Eswatini will embark on a process towards the establishment of a national dialogue forum,” said the statement.

“Cabinet calls on all stakeholders amongst emaSwati to work together to end violence and conflict, and maintain peace and calm in the Kingdom.”