Minister Collins Chabane,
Mr Donwald Pressly and all Members of the Press Gallery Association,
Thank you for joining us for this briefing on a few matters.
We meet on the 12th of September, which is the anniversary of the brutal murder of Steven Bantu Biko by apartheid security police.
His death, which caused enormous pain and anger amongst our people, entrenched the resolve to never rest until the cruel, inhumane system of apartheid colonialism was eradicated from our country.
On this day, we think of Steve Biko and all patriots who lost their lives in the struggle for a free and democratic South Africa, and recommit to working harder each day to bring about a better South Africa and a better life for all.
We meet under a difficult economic climate. Global growth is still somewhat slow. Emerging economies are showing signs of recovery but at a slow pace.
Advanced economies on the other hand are picking up from the sluggish growth we have seen in recent times.
Domestically, South Africa's growth rose to 3 percent in the second quarter of 2013, up from a tepid 0.9 percent growth in the first quarter. The recovery in GDP growth in the second quarter can be attributed to robust activity in the manufacturing, finance and trade sectors.
However, the primary sectors, including mining and agriculture, contributed negatively to GDP growth.
The drop in agriculture was due to lower commodity prices in the second quarter, while work stoppages led to a reduction in mining production. We urge business and labour once again to endeavour to resolve labour disputes amicably and speedily at all times.
Recognising that our economy can no longer rely heavily on the global economy to reignite growth and create jobs, South Africa will have to focus more on implementing domestic plans.
We are focusing more on promoting the job drivers mentioned in the New Growth Path.
These are infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the green economy and tourism, and the Industrial Policy Action Plan. We will also continue focusing on the continent for opportunities.
UPDATE ON LEGISLATION
The Protection of State Information Bill was passed by Parliament and referred to me for assent and signing into law.
The Bill is intended to repeal an old apartheid law, the Protection of Information Act of 1982 which is not in line with the Constitution.
It must provide for a coherent justifiable system of regulating classification, reclassification and declassification of sensitive government information.
It is also intended to protect valuable information.
This is information relating to citizen's personal information such as identity documents, drivers licences, birth and marriage certificates, company registration information and others. This will help to ensure that this information is not altered, lost or destroyed.
The second information that will be protected is sensitive information which relates to national security.
I have given consideration to the Bill in its entirety and the various opinions and commentaries regarding the constitutionality and tagging of the Bill.
After consideration of the Bill and having applied my mind thereto, I am of the view that the Bill as it stands does not pass constitutional muster.
The Constitution requires that the President must assent to and sign the Bill referred to him or her by the National Assembly.
However, in terms of section 79(1) of the Constitution, if the President has reservations about the constitutionality of the Bill, he or she may refer it back to the National Assembly for reconsideration.
In this regard, I have referred the Bill to the National Assembly for reconsideration insofar as sections of the Bill, in particular Sections 42 and 45, lack meaning and coherence, consequently are irrational and accordingly are unconstitutional.
We attended the G20 last week and were happy with the outcome.
The G20 agreed on the St Petersburg Action Plan, which sets out strategies to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth.
There are some specific issues that were agreed upon that South Africa is particularly pleased with.
We were in particular happy with the acknowledgment by the G20 of the link between growth and jobs, and agreeing to exchange best practices to improve employment creation.
We also appreciated the focus on prioritizing financing for investment. We are pleased to see the G20 committed to addressing the investment in infrastructure deficits we experience especially on the African continent.
We were also happy to see the G20 agreeing to take action against cross border tax evasion and avoidance.
The G20 committed itself to work through development partners, to increase capacity building in order to increase the capacity of tax administrators to deal with these issues.
Of most relevance to South Africa, was the commitment to the Automatic Exchange of Information by tax administrators, which will help them catch tax dodgers.
While this is an economic forum, peace and security issues were also discussed prominently especially the question of Syria.
South Africa raised sharply the need to respect the United Nations and multilateralism in issues of global security.
We emphasised our view that the United Nations Security Council is better placed to handle the Syrian question within the ambit of international law.
We travel to the United Nations General Assembly in a week's time to focus on development issues ahead of the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015.
We look forward to engagements that will further enhance and promote the role of the United Nations and multilateralism in world affairs.
I thank you.