National Development Plan, five years on
The NDP has made progress in key areas since its launch in 2012
It has been five years since the adoption of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the country has made gains in meeting the targets set out in the plan. The NDP, which was given the okay by Cabinet in September 2012, is a far-reaching strategy aimed at creating a better South Africa. Some of the targets include reducing unemployment to 16 percent by 2020 and six percent by 2030, and eradicating absolute poverty.
Although South Africa is still far from achieving many of the plan's targets, it has made notable progress in some areas, says Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe.
Pockets of excellence
In a briefing to Parliament recently, Minister Radebe singled out certain 'pockets of excellence' in the performance of government against the NDP 2030 targets, mainly in the provision of basic services, health and education.
For example, since 2014 almost 725 000 households have been connected to the electricity grid (58 percent of the 2019 target of 1.25 million), while more than one million households were given access to refuse removal between 2013 and 2016, just below the 2019 target of 1.3 million.
In addition, since 2014, 1.12 million households received access to decent sanitation (45 percent of the 2019 target) and 305 000 households have access to a reliable water service (12 percent of the 2019 target of 2.3 million).
In the area of health, South Africa's life expectancy has increased by six years, to 63.3 years in 2015. In addition, more than 3.7 million people living with HIV are receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy.
In education, the national matric pass rate improved to 72.5 percent in 2016, up from 70.7 percent in 2015. Bachelor passes rose to 162 374 in 2016 from 150 752 in 2014.
The results complement a 2015 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) report which reveals that, since 1994, more learners remain in school up to Grade 12. Research conducted by the Department of Basic Education last year found that in 2015 close to 60 percent of learners successfully completed 13 years of education, including Grade R. In 1995, only 39 percent of young people aged 25 years reported having completed Grade 12.
Another research report, published in 2016 by University of Stellenbosch's Dr Martin Gustafson, indicates that about 34 000 learners achieved a mark of 60 percent or more in mathematics in the 2016 matric exams, compared to figures of about 30 000 learners in 2014, and 31 000 learners in 2015.
The Minister also highlighted advances made in combating corruption.The number of people convicted for corruption in cases involving R5 million and more, doubled between 2013/14 and 2016/17, from 52 to 110.
Last year South Africa also improved its ranking on Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index – moving from 67 out of 168 countries in 2015 to 61 out of 176 in 2016.
The country has also made some progress with regard to land reform. In 1994 a total of 87 percent of land was owned by white commercial farmers, with 13 percent available for black people. As of 2016, 10.6 percent of the 30 percent target to distribute agricultural land to previously disadvantaged individuals had been achieved.
Despite these achievements, South Africa has battled to overcome the key challenges of poverty and unemployment.
The NDP targets the eradication of poverty for those living on less than R647 a month according to 2015 prices (the lower bound poverty line). Figures fell from 51 percent 2006 to 36.4 percent by 2011, but have started to rise again, reaching 40 percent in 2015. Statistician-General Pali Leholhla has attributed the reversal of those gains over the past few years to drought, low economic growth and rising unemployment.
Despite this, South Africa has made modest progress tackling inequality, with the country's Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality) having fallen from 0.72 in 2006 to 0.68 in 2015 (a level of zero represents perfect equality, while one represents perfect inequality), edging closer to the 2030 target of 0.60. However, while it has remained stable or dropped in the white, coloured and Indian populations, it has risen among black Africans to 0.65 in 2015, up from 0.64 in 2006.
Still, the slight decline in equality has helped South Africa increase the share of income going to the bottom 40 percent of income earners.The NDP projects that this should rise from six percent in 2010 to 10 percent by 2030. In 2015 it stood at 8.3 percent.
“Once, we uttered the dream of a rainbow.
Now we see it, living it.”
The challenge of unemployment
Unemployment, however, has worsened. With the economy growing at just 0.3 percent last year – against the NDP's growth target of 5.4 percent – job creation remains South Africa's key challenge.The unemployment rate was at 27.7 percent in the second quarter of 2017, the highest in 14 years.
To tackle unemployment and improve economic growth, Minister Radebe's department made five recommendations to Parliament in August.
These include: the government must engage more openly with the private sector and labour; partnerships should be set up between colleges and industry to ensure relevant TVET college qualifications; the policy position on the funding of Post School Education Training for the poor needs to be finalised; the government should engage with the private sector on the delivery of key infrastructure projects; and the government's Nine Point Plan must be implemented.
Programmes to grow businesses
Despite the slow economy, the government has made progress in some areas. For example, a R1.5 billion fund for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) has been established by big business and the fund is expected to make its first investments this year. Chief executives of the country's big companies have also committed to a youth employment programme to place one million youth in paid internships over three years.
In addition, the Department of Trade and Industry last year launched a new investment promotion agency, Invest SA.
To increase the number of black-owned manufacturing firms, the department also launched the Black Industrialist Programme in 2015. So far 46 black industrialists have been supported with over R2.1 billion in funding, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said in May.The department has set a target of reaching 100 by March next year.The support to date will allow black industrialists to undertake investment projects totalling R3.7 billion, creating almost 20 000 direct and indirect jobs.
Added to this, close to a trillion rand has been budgeted over the next three years for public-sector infrastructure in areas such as energy, transport and telecommunications.
Over the past two years, public and private investment totalling R17 billion has been targeted towards oceans economy initiatives, creating about 5 000 jobs. Investments support shipbuilding and training of marine engineers and artisans.
To help boost small businesses, the government will this year seek to finalise amendments to the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA) that are necessary before a 30 percent set-aside for small businesses can be introduced.
Key to carrying out the NDP is a more capable state. To improve the performance of the public sector, the Department of Public Service and Administration in 2015 introduced compulsory induction training for all newly appointed public servants by the National School of Government. In addition, the new amended Public Service Regulations, which came into effect in August last year, ban public servants from doing business with government.
However, the NDP is not just a plan for government but for the whole country. Its implementation requires the involvement of all sectors.The Medium Term Strategic Framework calls on everyone to come together to craft and implement social compacts that will propel South Africa onto a higher developmental trajectory.
By working together, South Africa may have a better chance of realising the hopes described in Vision
2030 that concludes: “Once, we uttered the dream of a rainbow. Now we see it, living it. It does not curve over the sky. It is refracted in each one of us at home, in the community, in the city, and across the land, in an abundance of colour. When we see it in the faces of our children, we know: there will always be, for us, a worthy future.”
Progress reports for each of the 14 outcomes outlined in the NDP can be viewed on the Programme of Action website (www.poa.gov.za) managed by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation.
Writer: Stephen Timm