Own your free­dom

The NDP is a bedrock for build­ing a bet­ter SA, writes

CityPress - - Voices -

As the na­tion cel­e­brates Free­dom Day on 27 April, we can­not but think about the precipice we avoided. In­stead we chose mul­ti­party ne­go­ti­a­tions that brought about our demo­cratic elec­tions 23 years ago. We re­mem­ber im­ages of all South Africans travers­ing their way to polling sta­tions, wait­ing pa­tiently to ex­er­cise their demo­cratic right. We chose free­dom over con­flict and blood­shed. We gave birth to our as­pi­ra­tions for a demo­cratic, free and equal South Africa.

Fast for­ward to 2017 and we re­alise that the free­dom path­way to democ­racy and devel­op­ment has been an un­even one. Good progress has been made with our democ­racy restor­ing the dig­nity of mil­lions and chang­ing their lives for the bet­ter. But we are re­minded that more needs to be done as we tackle the un­em­ploy­ment, in­equal­ity, crime, racism, cor­rup­tion and sub­stance abuse that threaten to de­rail us.

How do South Africans, es­pe­cially the young, feel about their free­dom and Free­dom Day? Carol from Cape Town feels that she has “ac­cess to places that had been de­nied to me be­fore. My chil­dren will not be sub­con­sciously con­di­tioned to feel in­fe­rior be­cause they are non-white.” Hla­malani from Gaut­eng re­mem­bers “the day I was al­lowed to choose the gov­ern­ment I wanted; how­ever, I’m not sure if that vote means any­thing any­more. I think the peo­ple run­ning the gov­ern­ment are no longer com­mit­ted to the or­di­nary per­son who put them there. We need to re­visit the com­mit­ments made and en­sure that those that are charged with ser­vice delivery pro­vide qual­ity ser­vice and do not just waste re­sources due to greed.” For Deon in Pre­to­ria, Free­dom Day is “braai day”. A mixed bag of re­ac­tions due to that un­even path­way of democ­racy and devel­op­ment.

Gov­ern­ment is acutely aware of the im­mense chal­lenges to ac­cel­er­ate progress and build a more in­clu­sive so­ci­ety. Its vi­sion and pri­or­i­ties to ad­dress them are out­lined in the Na­tional Devel­op­ment Plan (NDP) Vi­sion 2030. The NDP is at the cen­tre of our free­dom as a bedrock for build­ing a bet­ter and more pros­per­ous South Africa. It is an over­ar­ch­ing plan aim­ing for all cit­i­zens to at­tain a de­cent stan­dard of liv­ing through cre­at­ing de­cent em­ploy­ment, elim­i­nat­ing poverty and re­duc­ing in­equal­ity.

The NDP en­vi­sions a coun­try where ev­ery­one feels free yet bound to oth­ers, and em­braces their full po­ten­tial; and where op­por­tu­nity is de­ter­mined not by birth, but by abil­ity, ed­u­ca­tion and hard work. Re­al­is­ing this will re­quire trans­for­ma­tion of the econ­omy and fo­cused ef­forts to build the coun­try’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The NDP lists sev­eral crit­i­cal fac­tors for its suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion, in­clud­ing a fo­cused lead­er­ship that pro­vides pol­icy con­sis­tency; own­er­ship of the plan by all for­ma­tions of so­ci­ety; strong in­sti­tu­tional ca­pac­ity at tech­ni­cal and man­age­rial lev­els; ef­fi­ciency of gov­ern­ment spend­ing; and pri­ori­ti­sa­tion and clar­ity on lev­els of re­spon­si­bil­ity and ac­count­abil­ity in ev­ery sphere of gov­ern­ment, as well as a com­mon un­der­stand­ing of the roles of busi­ness, labour and civil so­ci­ety. Young peo­ple are al­ready en­gag­ing with the NDP as they re­alise the im­por­tance of the plan and its im­ple­men­ta­tion for their devel­op­ment and free­dom. Gov­ern­ment has held and will con­tinue to hold di­a­logues with youth on their in­volve­ment with the NDP. Civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions pro­vide train­ing and en­gage­ment plat­forms to al­low young peo­ple to set the pri­or­i­ties for devel­op­ment in their com­mu­ni­ties and con­sider how the goals of the NDP align with them. Youth or­gan­i­sa­tions are de­vel­op­ing youth-cen­tric strate­gies that com­mu­ni­ties can use to re­alise the goals of the NDP. This is the work of the NDP as the cen­tre of our free­dom. Young South Africans may not con­nect to the raw emo­tions that im­ages of 27 April 1994 re­lease. But they must find ways to un­der­stand this well­spring of our democ­racy. What were the as­pi­ra­tions of or­di­nary cit­i­zens as they queued on that day? How can young peo­ple draw in­spi­ra­tion from this and keep the hopes alive in spite of the chal­lenges that the coun­try faces? There are some young South Africans who are cyn­i­cal of our 23 years of democ­racy. What has it brought me, they may ask. There is too much go­ing wrong in this coun­try, they may say. With the chal­lenges that we face there is a temp­ta­tion to bail out and pri­va­tise our cit­i­zen­ship through dis­con­nec­tion be­hind the big walls of gated es­tates, fol­low many South Africans abroad and not par­tic­i­pate in com­mu­nity devel­op­ment. Young South Africans must be en­cour­aged to be ac­tive cit­i­zens and work for democ­racy. Yes, democ­racy takes work. We must know what is hap­pen­ing in our com­mu­ni­ties and broader so­ci­ety and what the im­por­tant is­sues are. We must know our le­gal rights and ac­tively par­tic­i­pate in the plat­forms where de­ci­sions are taken. The NDP calls for ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship as we de­fend and ad­vance our free­dom. Ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship de­mands our sense of civic re­spon­si­bil­ity. It is broader than pay­ing our taxes and our in­volve­ment in com­mu­nity devel­op­ment work. Ac­tive cit­i­zen­ship de­mands ac­count­abil­ity and re­spon­sive­ness from the gov­ern­ment to its cit­i­zens. It re­quires South Africans to not only de­mand their rights but also mon­i­tor gov­ern­ment and pro­vide feed­back for a more so­cially in­clu­sive so­ci­ety. This is how we nur­ture our free­dom, how we own it for Free­dom Day and beyond. Manamela is deputy min­is­ter in the pres­i­dency

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