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Published: 15 Aug 2012
|SA:Lindiwe Mazibuko: Address by the Democratic Alliance Parliamentary Leader, at the handover of the revised National Development Plan, Good Hope Chamber, Good Hope Building, Cape Town (15/08/2012)|
It is a rare moment when one can sense the hand of history.
Today’s official handover of the revised National Development Plan (NDP) to the government may be one such moment.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes this Plan. We believe that the Plan’s success or failure will entirely depend on if the President will rise to the challenge of aligning his policies with the goals and objectives of the NDP.
This Plan is the product of over two years of hard work by members of the National Planning Commission (NPC).
The DA would like to thank the 26 commissioners for volunteering their skills and expertise to craft a vision and strategic plan for our country.
We also thank every South African from every walk of life who took part in the public consultation on the Diagnostic Report and the Draft Plan. By expressing their views on how to solve the many challenges facing our country, the process was characterised by the magnanimity of the constitution-writing process.
This national Plan, carved out of shared values, can be South Africa’s ‘economic constitution’ to complement our constitution. Different party policies, enacted by the government of the day, would unfold within the context of a master plan.
International benchmarks like post-war Germany and modern day Brazil inspire us today. Consolidated by different governments, the consensual German Economic Miracle was based on rapid growth, reconstruction, and reconciliation.
Today, different governments in Brazil are using the rewards of growth to turn back poverty and inequality through its Bolsa Familia programme.
Both of these shining cases hinge upon a shared national Plan.
The establishment of a National Planning Commission (NPC) was therefore a welcome admission by the government that we must do more to develop a plan to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality of opportunity.
This mandate was crisply articulated in the second paragraph of the Green Paper on the NPC which states: (The) “Lack of a coherent long term plan has weakened our ability to provide clear and consistent policies.”
The final product is a realistic assessment of our country’s position. The DA agrees that our high level of unemployment, coupled with the poor quality of education for poor South Africans, are the country’s two most pressing challenges. They are, in fact, strongly correlated.
We also agree with the NDP’s push for diversity and reconciliation. The plans and goals, if enacted through precise policy mandates, would overturn apartheid’s legacy of asset-stripping at a scale and pace we have not witnessed.
Many of the ideas proposed in the NDP are rooted in an analytical framework that clashes with the beliefs and ideology of the ANC’s alliance partners.
The NDP, like the DA, for instance, promotes a smart role for the state in attracting foreign direct investment. This role prioritises economic growth and job creation, and does not try to manipulate opportunity outcomes.
This springs from a profound belief in the ability of people, helped but not dictated to by the state, to create a strong society.
The NDP acknowledges that the unemployment crisis affects South Africa’s youth most of all. Two-thirds of all unemployed people are below the age of 35. This adds up to around 3.2 million young people.
The NDP also forecasts that if a young person fails to get a job by the age of 24, they are likely almost never to gain full-time formal employment. This ticking time bomb poses the greatest risk to social stability in South Africa. The much less spoken of ‘opportunity cost’ of unused talent is also immeasurable.
The DA is concerned at the document’s ill-defined concept of the ‘developmental state’. We believe this is more of a nod to ANC ideology, rather than inspired by evidence-based policy-making.
We are also concerned that schools, rather than head teachers and teachers, will be held accountable for standards. Again, this appears to be a fudge to keep the lid on Cosatu’s dissent and hypocrisy. The inherent contradictions with the National Growth Plan (NGP) are also a matter of concern.
Yet, over and above this, the DA understands the value and virtue of consensus-building in developing this Plan.
The foundational question is ‘What next?’ The Constitution ascribes the responsibility for the implementation of the Plan with the President and his government.
While distinct policies will be pursued by successive parties of government, the Plan will provide a blueprint for all political parties to measure the successes and failures of their policies by.
Simply put, it is now up to President to align his policies with the NDP. This is the hard part. This requires more than the NDP simply being accepted as a planning framework by the government. Each annual budget must have precise targets and timeframes that correspond to the Plan.
Mr Speaker: today, the DA seeks the assurance of the President that the government’s performance in implementing the Plan will be monitored and evaluated regularly by the Presidency. The DA in Parliament will also hold each government department to account for its adherence to the Plan.
This is where, I fear, tensions will be inflamed. The DA is not convinced that the ANC subscribe to this Plan with their ‘hearts and minds’. Most alarming is the fact that the NDP did not feature in one significant policy motion at the recent ANC policy conference.
The resistance to the “the road less travelled” is the reason why the DA was concerned that, when the NDP was first released last year, factions within the ANC will attempt to block the plan. For this plan to succeed, the President must show the fearless leadership that he has lacked up to now.
They will have the DA’s unflinching support if they do so. Tomorrow the hard work must begin. We do not have a single day to waste.