15 August 2012
South Africa belongs to all its peoples.
We, the people, belong to one another.
We live the rainbow.
Our homes, neighbourhoods, villages, towns, and cities are safe and filled with laughter.
Through our institutions, we order our lives.
The faces of our children tell of the future we have crafted.
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is our vision for South Africa in 2030, anchored in our Constitution. Today, we want to remind all South Africans that it is our future, let us build it!
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairperson of the NCOP
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable members of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
Guests and fellow South Africans
Today is an historic occasion. We are gathered here in a Joint Sitting of both houses of Parliament for the release of the first National Development Plan for South Africa. This plan is the product of thousands of inputs and perspectives of South Africans. It is a plan for a better future; a future in which no person lives in poverty, where no one goes hungry, where there is work for all, a nation united in the vision of our Constitution.
It is a plan for our collective future. It is up to all of us to make it work. We speak of a future with expanding opportunities. We speak of a future we must shape, because we care and because we cannot miss the opportunity to do so.
The plan we hand over today is about the actions that all of us must take to secure the future charted in our Constitution. The plan is about our dreams and aspirations and detailed actionable steps to achieve them.
Over the past two years, the Commission has listened to thousands of South Africans from all corners of the country, from all walks of life. We received comments from individuals and organisations and engaged with government departments, provinces, municipalities, state-owned enterprises and agencies.
The consultation process revealed three broad messages from citizens.
? In the first instance, South Africans from all walks of life expressed a deep patriotic commitment to South Africa, a love for their country, a desire to see it succeed. There is an incredible amount of goodwill out there that needs to be tapped and harnessed.
? Secondly, South Africans expressed concerns, honestly and frankly but constructively, that there are problems in our country that need strong, focused leadership from all. They spoke of joblessness, children who could not read or count, services that functioned on rare occasions and of public officials who were cold and uncaring.
? Thirdly, there was an overwhelming sense from all, including organisations representing millions of people, to be part of the process of making South Africa a better place and to take action to put collective interest ahead of narrow sectoral concerns.
These are the real strengths of our South Africanness.
We are humbled by this support and effort from South Africans who want to be part of the process of change by taking ownership of the plan and displaying a willingness to play their part in implementing the plan.
Mr President, it would be a profound wasted opportunity if we do not harvest the goodwill and determination and afford our people that opportunity to rise to greatness.
The Commission made a special effort to listen to young people. Young women and men talked of the difficulties of finding work, of the frustration at not getting their foot into the door, of their pain at not receiving a regular income and of basic things in life that being jobless excluded them from, such as starting a family. They also spoke to us about the ravages of crime on their lives and their communities. They expressed concern that good policies are poorly implemented and therefore fail.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are the voices of our youth expressing their frustrations that stem both from the inter-generational effects of apartheid and from shortcomings in our collective performance since 1994. The plan we present today focuses on how we can translate our political emancipation into social and economic benefits for all South Africans, but particularly for young people. That we change the life chances of young people is critical for the future of our country.
The methodology used in the plan was to set overarching objectives, to set key targets for various sectors and to make recommendations on how these targets can be achieved. This is a broad strategic plan, not a detailed Goss plan. The Commission has been careful to distinguish between a broad strategy, specific policies of government and the day-to-day actions of business, government or trade unions.
Honourable Presiding Officers, the Commission has drawn from our Constitution the perspective that the future we must construct is one where no person lives in poverty and where together we deal decisively to root out the deep inequality that we have inherited. We are convinced that our country can and must eliminate poverty. We have used a simple poverty measure of R432 per person per month in today’s prices. Modest as this amount is, there are still about 39 percent of South Africans who live below this line. By 2030, no one should live in poverty. The other measure which is much more difficult is inequality. Economists use a measure called the Gini co-efficient to measure income inequality – the higher the measure, the more unequal the income distribution is. South Africa has a very high Gini Co-efficient of 0.69; we seek to reduce that to 0.60 by 2030.
Honourable members, development is a complex process. Our approach to tackling poverty and inequality is premised on faster and more inclusive economic growth, higher public and private investment, improving education and skills, greater use of technology, knowledge and innovation and better public services all leading to higher employment, rising incomes and falling inequality.
The National Development Plan affords us an opportunity to rethink our strategy. A holistic approach is required, with progress across several fronts simultaneously over a long period of time. While we can measure income and income inequality, the concept of a decent standard of living is much broader than income. A decent standard of living includes healthy nutrition, access to household services such as water and electricity, available public transport, quality education and skills, safe communities, decent healthcare, full employment, accessible recreation and leisure and the entitlement to a clean environment. The Commission’s approach is to address living standards inclusively for all South Africans. It recognises that government on its own cannot improve living standards. We require determined and measurable action by all social actors and partnerships across society to raise living standards.
Development planning is about building linkages between these various strands of everyday life. For example, better quality schooling will make it easier for young people to access the labour market. But it also enables workers to improve their productivity, to learn faster on the job and to raise their incomes and living standards. Poor quality education, on the other hand, locks people out of the labour market and when people do find work, traps them in low-paying, low-productivity work. There are other dimensions of this story as well. Good quality public transport helps people search for work over a wider area; it helps them get to work faster and more cheaply, but it also assists in permitting people to live fuller lives with more recreational and family time, and it reduces the harmful environmental effects of traffic jams. Social protection helps shield families and workers from unforeseen events such as death, illness or injury, its key objective is to level the impacts of shocks between those who, for example earn sufficient to insure against unforeseen events and those who are too poor to do so. Public investment complements private investment, which is critical for job creation and for employment. We argue strongly that the harmful effects of spatial separation, one of the pillars of apartheid that we have not yet succeeded in demolishing, be broken down. Our towns and cities must house us differently, must connect us differently, must afford us space to play and pray. We must retain the option to remain in the countryside because we should be able to have access to a sustainable livelihood there. The Commission takes a holistic approach to development with detailed plans in thirteen areas that link and interact with each other.
In addition to the physical aspects of development, the plan also recognises the social such as the need for social cohesion to underpin faster progress, the need for greater accountability of leaders in both the public and private sectors, for citizens to be active in their communities and in public life and for a capable and developmental state that is effective, caring and innovative. The plan must bind us, strand by strand, into one united and successful nation.
Honourable Members, a point worth noting is that the Commission is making a case for what needs to be done by all, regardless of political persuasion or station in life, if we are to live out those great values in our Constitution. When we raise targets – the numbers we use are precise targets, that which we must aim for! Now we are aware that we will not hit all of these, but all of us need a consciousness of how wide off the mark we actually are. It is also important to introduce into this discussion the reality that no nation has attained all of which it desires – there needs to be public discussion that is sufficiently inclusive and mature to construct the trade-offs between what we can do immediately and what can be deferred. This process only works if there is both honesty and accountability.
The Commission has also identified other enabling milestones to achieve the broad objectives of the plan. For example, we would have to create an additional 11 million jobs over the next two decades. Per capita income should rise from about R50 000 per person to about R120 000, but distributed more evenly across the population. The economy would have to expand to almost three times the present level. The share of income accruing to the bottom 40 percent of the population should rise from 6 percent to 10 percent. Ninety percent of children in grade 6 should be able to read, write and count at the appropriate level, and all children should have access to proper nutrition from birth to ensure proper formative development.
Now, it is worth digressing to remind all South Africans that between that desirable state and the present, where even the school nutrition programme is difficult to implement, lies a huge chasm. The object of the plan is to bridge such a chasm – why does food not get delivered to children? Is it the capacity of officials charged with the responsibility? Might it be that food is too expensive and impossible to secure? Might it be that tenders get in the way of the objective of feeding children? Or might it be that decision-makers are too wealthy to care? Whatever the issue, a plan must boldly raise the breakdown and invite all South Africans to become part of the solution.
Honourable Speaker, these targets are more than just arbitrary or distant points on a road map. They are carefully calibrated milestones along a path to prosperity and equity for all.
Despite massive progress since 1994, on the present trajectory, we will not achieve our target of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality by 2030. Without faster progress, there is a real chance that South Africa could slide backwards while dealing with the immense challenges overwhelming our capacity to succeed. For these reasons, we must accelerate the pace of change, work harder and better to move towards the vision we all aspire to. It is possible. We are capable as a nation of achieving these bold and ambitious but realistic objectives. When we unite and work together, we can achieve miracles. Our history is testament to this.
Our plan to eliminate poverty and inequality rests on six pillars.
The first is to unite all South Africans around a common programme to fight poverty and inequality and to foster a spirit of unity. But this will remain a hollow call unless we can improve the lives of young black people. To promote social cohesion, the Commission proposes that the preamble of the Constitution be displayed in all workplaces and schools and that all South Africans are encouraged to learn at least one indigenous African language. We also propose ways to improve the efficacy of redress measures such as black economic empowerment and employment equity.
The second pillar is active citizenry. Working individually and collectively with others in the community, citizens have a critical role to play in their own development and in the development of our country. The idea that people sit back and wait for government to deliver is neither feasible nor consistent with ‘people-centred’ development. Honourable Speaker, citizens and communities have a responsibility to hold their leaders accountable for their actions; it is up to every single one of us to hold our leaders responsible for implementation of the plan.
The third pillar is a growing and inclusive economy. Without faster and more inclusive economic growth, it will not be possible to deliver on the objectives that we have set for ourselves. We need this to help pay for the development of capabilities such as education and infrastructure to improve the life chances of our people. The main change we seek is an economy that is more labour absorbing. We need to create more jobs, and make progress in broadening ownership of the economy.
Our economy is caught in a low growth trap. To reverse this, we require higher investment, better skills, rising savings and greater levels of competitiveness. We do not suffer a poverty of ideas; our weakness is in implementation. The Commission identified critical factors that contribute to this flaw and makes several proposals to deal with it. Among them is improving coordination within government and with other social partners to boost investment and employment. The plan also identifies a deficit in trust between business, labour and government that needs to be reversed if we are to build this economy.
The main target in respect of the economy is to raise employment by 11 million to 24 million by 2030. This will require an extraordinary effort and the plan provides a detailed account of how this can be achieved.
The fourth pillar of the plan addresses the urgent need to build capabilities. Capabilities apply to both people and the state. For some, capabilities might be adequate nutrition or a bus to get to a place of work. For others, it might be a college certificate to boost the chances of getting a job. Across the country, capabilities cover things like what broadband speed we would require, the amount of energy we would need to power a growing economy, port capacity to support a diversified economy or the water supply that meets the needs of households, industry and agriculture. The plan sets targets for energy consumption, the carbon intensity of the energy supply, water supply, rail and port capacity and internet connectivity.
The fifth pillar is a capable and developmental state. We define a developmental state as one that is capable of intervening to correct historical inequalities and to create opportunities for more people. A capable state needs to be professional, competent and responsive to the needs of all citizens. We seek a professional civil service which can weather changes in political administrations. The President has mandated the Commission to focus on 2030 – between the present and that date there will be at least 4 national and provincial elections, and at least three municipal elections. The Plan is for all South Africans and cannot therefore focus on electoral cycles. The Commission makes proposals covering the political administrative interface, personnel training and development, policy processes and coordination within and between spheres. Building a capable and developmental state means building the capacity of the state to effectively implement its key priorities and programmes. The tendency to outsource everything, including at times, our thinking, must end.
The sixth pillar is the responsibilities of leadership throughout society to work together to solve our problems. South Africa’s progress in navigating the transition from apartheid to democracy was built on the ability of leaders to put aside narrow sectarian interests in favour of national interest, leaders who were able to put aside short-term political agendas for long-term benefit. To achieve the South Africa that we all desire, we require leaders to put the country first, to put the future ahead of today.
Honourable Speaker, the approach of the Commission has been to scan the external environment with a view to understanding what is likely to have an impact on our future. Allow me to present a few of the highlights from this exercise. The global economy is changing, with a rising share of production and wealth generation occurring in developing countries in general and Asia in particular.
? There is a resurgence of development on the African continent, with the region enjoying its longest period of economic growth in half a century. Africa’s voice on global forums is becoming louder.
? Globalisation will continue apace with both risks and opportunities for all countries. Countries that position themselves to take advantage of the opportunities while protecting their economies (and the poor) from risks will do better over the next two decades.
? Science and technology have and will continue to shape development in ways that open up huge opportunities for humanity in general, including poor countries. Innovation is essential for a middle income country such as South Africa to progress to high income status.
? Climate change is and will continue to affect the world, with the worst effects likely to occur in Africa. We confront greater climate variability and more shocks such as floods and droughts.
The Commission also looked at demographic trends and their likely impact. The trends we identified offer opportunities as well as risks. On the positive side, our population growth is slowing and is expected to expand at less than 1 percent a year to reach 58.5 million by 2030 and life expectancy is rising again, quite rapidly. Also in our favour is the fact that we have a young population, which could prove to be a major boon but could also be a danger if we don’t address the problem of joblessness.
Honourable Speaker, these trends will have an impact on our development, in the same way, the world today is different from the one into which our democracy was born 18 years ago.
The world is changing at breath-taking speed. Countries are steaming ahead, taking extraordinary measures to boost their economic performance, develop their industries and invest in research and development. But, the global environment is also fraught with risks – we observe that much of the world is caught in a wave of low economic growth right now. Much of this will linger for some time. This will impact on our plans for higher growth. We need to understand these trends in order to minimise risks and to explore opportunities. A failure to act will not just see us being left behind. It will also confine future generations to poverty and hopelessness.
The single most frequent comment or question from the public has been about implementation. Given weak capacity in the state and low levels of trust and cooperation between major social partners, how will this plan be implemented? The Commission stresses that implementation rests with society as a whole, led by government and the executive. But we do believe that, during the course of our work, we have come a long way in forging the beginnings of a common approach. Discussions between the Commission and government departments were often robust and frank. There were areas where departments were able to convince us that we were wrong on certain issues. There were also several areas where we were able to persuade and convince departments of the correctness of recommendations in the draft plan when departments did not originally support the recommendations. There are areas where our plan differs from existing plans or policies. It is very much in the nature of planning that, going forward, there will need to be an alignment of plans both within and outside of government to the broad strategic plan being proposed today. Parliament and society at large have a critical role to play in promoting such alignment and in holding various parties accountable for implementation.
Let me set out how we see the next steps. In the first instance, it is expected that Cabinet, led by the President, will consider this plan, adopt the key recommendations of the plan and set in motion a focused programme to implement the plan. We must stress that this is not just a plan for government. There are actions and responsibilities for business, for labour, for civil society and for individuals. The Commission outlines the factors critical for the success of the plan. These include the need for careful sequencing, prioritisation and to mobilise all of society.
The plan will only succeed if we share collective responsibility to hold one another accountable to get things done. As the Commission, we will play our part. The life of the Commission does not end with the handing over of the plan. The President has appointed the Commission for a five year period and we are only about half way through our term. The Commission will continue to mobilise society in support of the plan, conduct research on issues impacting on the country’s long term development, advise government and other social partners on implementation of the plan and work with relevant institutions to monitor and report on progress in achieving our long term objectives. Outside of government, the Commission will meet with social partners to discuss their role in implementing the plan and construct an accountability chain for key recommendations.
In addition to the thousands of comments from the public and hundreds of meetings, this plan is made possible because of the time, dedication and selflessness of the Commissioners. These are indeed outstanding South Africans who have risen to the difficult challenge set by the President. The Commissioners are experts who come from different backgrounds. The manner in which they worked together to achieve consensus on complex issues provides hope that leaders from diverse backgrounds throughout our country can rise to the challenges of our time and resolve our complex problems. For me, it has been a privilege to work with such passionate and hardworking South Africans.
The Commissioners will join me in applauding the diligence and tirelessness of our small but exceedingly effective Secretariat. The Secretariat has been led by Kuben Naidoo since its inception. He is an absolutely wonderful, bright, honest, committed and diligent public servant. We are sad to take leave of him at the end of this month – we want to assure him of the best wishes of each and every Commissioner in his new endeavours.
The President did not issue a tough challenge and then walk away. He has provided constant guidance and support to the Commission through difficult and at times daunting periods. The Commission would not have been able to produce work of this quality without that support and encouragement and we thank him for it.
Honourable members, ladies and gentlemen, our future is under construction and we now have a plan for its construction. Building on our history and our collective achievements since 1994, our challenge is to build a future fit for our children, a future that our people deserve. We have an opportunity to construct a future we all want. We must not squander this opportunity. The decisions we make today, the actions we take over the next five, ten, fifteen and twenty years will determine where South Africa’s future is successful or whether we are just another hopeful but ineffective state unable to satisfy its people’s dreams. Fellow South Africans, the changes we seek and the outcomes we all desire will not happen on their own. In fact, we can confidently say that without a change in pace and approach, our vision will remain elusive.
The National Development Plan is an opportunity to remake the future, to re-energise our people to strive for a future that is worthy of our proud history, built in the vision of our Constitution. The National Development Plan is a call to action to unite as a country, to unleash the energies of our people to build a better future. It is our future, we have to make it work!
As a Commission we enjoin all South Africans to grasp this opportunity. The plan is here. Let us join forces to make it a reality.
For the full National Development Plan document – access the Planning Commission site