Cabinet approves maintenance bill

OCTOBER 23, 2014

Cabinet has approved the Maintenance Amendment Bill, which will improve the maintenance system and enhance access to justice for women and children.

“Some of the provisions of the Amendment Bill include preventing maintenance defaulters from continuing to receive credit while they owe maintenance,” Minister of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe said.

Another provision included placing an obligation on mobile cellular operators to provide maintenance courts with contact particulars of would-be respondents and maintenance defaulters when the court was satisfied that all reasonable efforts to locate of their whereabouts had proven fruitless.

Defaulters would also be made to pay maintenance arrears, Minister Radebe said during the post cabinet media briefing in Cape Town on Thursday.

“The amendments alleviate the challenges, legal and administrative, experienced by maintenance beneficiaries, who are mostly women and children,” he said.

Controlling public sector spending

Minister Radebe said Cabinet welcomed the measures announced in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to curb spending in the public service.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene emphasised the need to restore fiscal credibility and sustainability by improving spending efficiencies, cutting out wasteful spending and boosting tax revenue, when he delivered his MTBPS on Wednesday.

“Cabinet reassures South Africans that even in this tough economic climate, government will continue to fund its social programmes, infrastructure investments and incentives to support important industries,” Minister Radebe said.

Energy security

He said Cabinet also welcomed measures that were put in place by the Department of Energy to improve the country’s energy security, meet the needs of the economy and create jobs.

An inter-governmental agreement regarding nuclear energy was signed between South Africa and Russia, which was one of over 60 different energy related co-operation agreements signed by the Department of Energy on behalf of government.

The agreement was signed on 22 September during Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s attendance at the 58th Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The agreements address different aspects of energy and the usage of different energy sources.

“The signing of nuclear intergovernmental relations agreements is a step in the right direction to secure the country’s energy needs.

“The signed agreements add to the pool of nuclear suppliers from which the country can choose for its nuclear procurement programme and mark another milestone in the country’s prioritisation of energy security,” Minister Radebe said.

Improving access to courts

Cabinet was also briefed on the Rationalisation of Magisterial Districts and Areas of Jurisdiction of the Divisions and Local Seats of the High Court of South Africa project.

The rationalisation of courts project reverses the legacy of inequality and injustice.

Minister Radebe said the rationalisation process ensures that there is an equitable distribution of courts in the country and enhanced access to courts, which was a fundamental right enshrined in Section 34 of the Bill of Right in the Constitution.

“Previously marginalised communities living in the former homelands, self-governing states and rural villages would benefit from the rationalisation process as they would be able to access courts at reduced costs,” he said.

Minister Radebe said the communities would be able to access courts at reduced costs.

“In providing access to justice, it is necessary to rationalise the old apartheid-drawn areas of jurisdiction of all the courts, including their composition and structure,” he said.

Minister Radebe said the Department of Justice and Correctional Services has a programme which is currently building a high court in Mpumalanga and Limpopo. –