Jackson Mthembu Steenhusien

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu / Photo: GCIS

Ending farm violence and reviving economy ‘high priorities’ – Mthembu

Mthembu also warned that South Africans must remain vigilant of the threat posed by COVID-19, and must continue to follow safety protocols.

Jackson Mthembu Steenhusien

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu / Photo: GCIS

Minster in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has on Thursday 22 October provided an update on the outcomes of a meeting of Cabinet that was held on Wednesday, saying, among other things, that government remains wary of a second wave of COVID-19 impacting South Africa and that rooting out corruption remains a top priority. 

He said that Cabinet has identified priority areas in terms of economic recovery that will “contribute towards building confidence and placing South Africa on a new path for investment and economic growth” following the devastation caused by the pandemic. 

He also said that putting a stop to recent increases of violence plaguing South Africa’s farmers is a priority of government. 

Mthembu warns to remain vigilant of COVID-19 resurgence 

Mthembu said that extending the state of disaster to 15 November was necessary to “enable government to further minimise the spread of the virus”. 

“While South Africa has experienced a massive decrease in the transmission and spread of COVID-19 over the past months, the virus remains with us,” he said. “As the country adapts to the new normal of co-existing with COVID-19 – and a possible resurgence – Cabinet once again urges all South Africans to continue adhering to the health protocols of wearing masks.” 

He appealed to all South Africans – particularly to those living in townships – to wear masks, saying that a disturbing complacency is creeping in. 

“We are very concerned that in many areas, people have stopped wearing masks. Throughout the length and breadth of the world, masks are an important element in stopping the spread o the virus,” he said. 

“We urge all our communities to wear masks, that is the only arsenal we have against COVID-19.” 

He said that the recovery rate in South Africa is over 90% and that the fatality rate is currently 2.6%. 

Economic Recovery Strategy approved  

Mthembu confirmed that the National Economic Recovery Council was approved by cabinet, and said that it will consist of President Cyril Ramaphosa as chair, Deputy President David Mabuza and all ministers in the economic cluster. 

“Of course, other ministers will be invited from time to time when the need arises. The council will meet monthly to oversee implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan and also to interface with our social partners in Nedlac.”

He said that these interventions will be crucial in the effort to haul the country out economic turmoil and long-standing debt shortfalls. 

Cabinet ‘prioritising’ stemming of farm attacks  

Mthembu said that the recent arrests of those responsible for the spate of farm attacks and murders that are currently sowing intense fear, anger and division in the country are supported, and said that putting a stop to the violence plaguing farming communities is a priority of government. 

“Cabinet fully supports the work of the South African police force in arresting those who commit heinous crimes including the killing and maiming of farmers and farm workers throughout the country,” he said. 

“The farming community is an integral part of our community and such crime poses a threat not only to the personal safety of farmers and workers, but to the country’s food security.”

He said that Government is fast-tracking the implementation of the rural safety strategy to respond to the safety needs of rural communities and support socio-economic development. 

He added that Cabinet called on the nation to assist police in the fight against crime by joining community police forums and to report crimes to the nearest police station. 

With a spree of arrests having been made relating to various incidents of state looting, Mthembu said that bold steps are being taken to eradicate the scourge of corruption.

“Cabinet welcomes the arrest of persons allegedly involved in cases of corruption, fraud, money laundering, and theft,” he said. “These cases relate to – amongst others – the looting of COVID-19 social relief funds, the fraudulent procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE), the scandal related to the asbestos housing project, and failure to report to the South African Revenue Service (Sars).”

He said that Cabinet supports effort to recover funds related to these crimes, and said that a strong message is being projected to anyone involved in corruption. 

“The recent arrests are a testament that no one is above the law, and they demonstrate government’s commitment to hold to account those who continue to break the law by robbing our south africans of much needed government assistance and aid,” he said.