Tak­ing stock of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT -

Part 1: “Gov­ern­ment is at work to im­ple­ment the NDP, and there is progress”

THIS year be­ing the fifth an­niver­sary of the adop­tion of the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment Plan (NDP), it be­hoves us, as a coun­try, to re­flect on the sta­tus of the plan and its im­ple­men­ta­tion. We must start by ac­knowl­edg­ing there has not been any sys­tem­atic com­mu­ni­ca­tion on the progress of im­ple­ment­ing the NDP. This is in the process of be­ing changed, not least by this Busi­ness Re­port NDP col­umn.

In the ab­sence of in­for­ma­tion it is un­der­stand­able that a false nar­ra­tive can be ped­dled that the NDP is not be­ing im­ple­mented at all, and it is dead.

A less gloomy claim is that im­ple­men­ta­tion and lead­er­ship are in­ad­e­quate or weak. This short­com­ing in com­mu­ni­cat­ing what is tak­ing place must be ad­dressed.

For the sake of the coun­try and its fu­ture, fal­si­ties and am­bi­gu­i­ties about the NDP are dan­ger­ous, if only for the na­tional morale, which is al­ready chal­lenged in the cur­rent en­vi­ron­ment.

The sec­ond na­tional plan­ning com­mis­sion (NPC) ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma in Septem­ber 2015 and charged with pro­mot­ing and ad­vis­ing the gov­ern­ment and the na­tion on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NDP – af­ter the first NPC of 2010 – is aware of this com­mu­ni­ca­tion chal­lenge, to­gether with the Depart­ment of Plan­ning, Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion (DPME).

A tru­ism is that only demon­stra­ble ac­tion and hard ev­i­dence will be the proof that the NDP is alive and be­ing im­ple­mented, notwith­stand­ing the need for ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Even bet­ter, as we have pre­vi­ously ad­vo­cated, is demon­stra­ble col­lec­tive and co-or­di­nated ac­tion by the key role play­ers, the gov­ern­ment, busi­ness, labour and the cit­i­zenry at large.

A tru­ism too is that there are many ac­tions un­der way, in­spired by and seek­ing to ad­vance the NDP.

This work is re­flected in var­i­ous per­for­mance data re­leased pe­ri­od­i­cally by Sta­tis­tics SA (Stats SA). How­ever, these num­bers need to be ac­com­pa­nied by a story in or­der to demon­strate ac­tion and progress, as I shall try to show.

Nat­u­rally, our ac­count of the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NDP is from the van­tage point of what the gov­ern­ment is do­ing, while the role of other ac­tors still needs to come to the fore for a more com­plete pic­ture of na­tional per­for­mance to­wards re­al­is­ing the goals and vi­sion of the plan.

While the gov­ern­ment has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to lead the na­tion in im­ple­ment­ing the NDP (as is the norm in all coun­tries sim­i­larly pur­su­ing na­tional de­vel­op­ment plans), the chal­lenge for the gov­ern­ment and the NPC is to en­sure that all hands are on deck to im­ple­ment the plant.

The NPC is cur­rently grap­pling with this chal­lenge and will pro­nounce on it in due course.

It is also quite pleas­ing that I am writ­ing this in­stal­ment of the NDP col­umn af­ter the con­clu­sion of the re­cent na­tional pol­icy con­fer­ence of the ANC, which re­sound­ingly re-af­firmed the com­mit­ment of the party and the gov­ern­ment to the NDP, and to ac­cel­er­at­ing its im­ple­men­ta­tion.


To re­mind us of the bold goals we have set for our­selves as a na­tion, the NDP com­mits us, by 2030, to erad­i­cate ab­so­lute poverty by up­lift­ing the 39 per­cent of our peo­ple who live be­low the poverty line; to re­duce the un­em­ploy­ment rate to 6 per­cent by cre­at­ing 11 mil­lion more jobs, and to sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce in­equal­ity from 0.69 to 0.60 on the Gini-co­ef­fi­cient through a range of pol­icy in­ter­ven­tions.

Partly due to doubts that may be lin­ger­ing, it bears re­stat­ing that af­ter Par­lia­ment’s unan­i­mous adop­tion of the NDP on be­half of the na­tion the cab­i­net en­sured that the goals and tar­gets of the plan are in­te­grated into the gov­ern­ment’s medi­umterm strate­gic frame­work (MTSF) for the elec­toral pe­riod 2014-2019, as the first fiveyear im­ple­men­ta­tion pro­gramme for the NDP.

The aim of the MTSF is also to en­sure pol­icy co­her­ence, align­ment and co-or­di­na­tion across gov­ern­ment plans as well as align­ment with bud­get­ing pro­cesses.

As stated in my pre­vi­ous col­umn, the DPME has the task to en­sure that the strate­gies and an­nual plans of na­tional and pro­vin­cial de­part­ments are aligned to, and ad­vance, the long-term goals and pri­or­i­ties of the NDP. On this ba­sis, the depart­ment mon­i­tors the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NDP and reports quar­terly to the cab­i­net, and to the pub­lic through our web­site, as well as through a brand­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion cam­paign that is be­ing rolled out.

As is tra­di­tion, at the mid-point of the five-yearly MTSF ac­tion pro­gramme, a mid-term re­view of per­for­mance against planned tar­gets is con­ducted with a view to as­sess­ing progress and propos­ing reme­dies for short­com­ings and pri­or­i­ties for ac­cel­er­ated im­ple­men­ta­tion.

In this re­gard, the per­spec­tive of the gov­ern­ment is that the as­sess­ment of our per­for­mance dur­ing the medium-term pe­riod of 2014-2019 is against the back­drop of, and builds on, the suc­cesses of our post-apartheid so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes, as in­spired by our demo­cratic con­sti­tu­tion.


The NDP is de­signed to con­sol­i­date, sus­tain and en­hance these suc­cesses. In­deed, we have adopted the NDP pre­cisely to help us fo­cus and strengthen our ef­forts in tack­ling the core chal­lenges of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment which are ob­sta­cles to the at­tain­ment of a just, in­clu­sive and pros­per­ous so­ci­ety. The plan pro­vides us with a more co-or­di­nated and con­sis­tent way to steer our pro­grammes and in­ter­ven­tions, based on mea­sur­able ev­i­dence.

Jeff Radebe, the Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency for Plan­ning, Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion, put it suc­cinctly dur­ing the de­bate on the Pres­i­dency’s bud­get vote in Par­lia­ment in May 2017: “We are on course to­wards re­al­is­ing (for­mer ANC pres­i­dent) Oliver Tambo’s vi­sion (which) is in­scribed in our con­sti­tu­tion, which he in­spired so much. South Africa is a sta­ble and peace­ful coun­try to­day. “Our democ­racy is thriv­ing; our con­sti­tu­tion pro­tects the rights and free­doms of cit­i­zens.

“Our econ­omy is func­tional and con­tin­ues to at­tract global in­vestor in­ter­est, be­cause it has un­lim­ited op­por­tu­ni­ties and huge po­ten­tial to grow faster, and to be in­clu­sive of all South Africans (notwith­stand­ing re­cent set­backs). Our pro­grammes for so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment are in mo­tion, in­clud­ing our in­fra­struc­ture cap­i­tal in­vest­ment pro­gramme. We have ex­panded ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices, to health, ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial pro­tec­tion, and through this we are con­tain­ing ex­treme poverty.”

Part 2 of this col­umn will run next month. Tshediso Ma­tona is the sec­re­tary for na­tional plan­ning.


Jeff Radebe, SA Min­is­ter in the Pres­i­dency for Plan­ning, Mon­i­tor­ing and Eval­u­a­tion, says the pro­grammes for so­cial-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment are in mo­tion.

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