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New plan for a more prosperous South Africa

Written by Stephen Timm
South Africa needs outstanding leaders in sport, business, civil society and the public sector if it is to overcome many of its challenges, says acting head of the National Planning Commission Secretariat Khulekhani Mathe. The challenges facing the country include unemployment, a poor education system, water and energy constraints, a lack of social cohesion and rising inequality.

This is according to the National Development Plan (NDP), which has been approved by Cabinet. The new vision of the NDP means that every South African must take owner- ship of the plan, Mathe said. The plan aims to reduce unemployment from 25% to 6%, eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.

Mathe added that government will have to implement certain parts of the plan, while the private sector, including civil society, will have to implement other sections. Strong leadership is one of the three central pillars of the plan; the other two are an active citizenry and an effective government.

Mathe pointed out that you can’t “wait till everything is in place before you push the button”, but you need to start adding and adjusting details as you go.

However, he says while they still have to investigate some proposals (particularly those on institutional reforms) further, some departments have already introduced some of the targets into their annual performance plans. Mathe said his department and the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation would work with other departments to include targets in the next strategic plans for 2014 – 2019.

The plan also aims to encourage a more caring, active and responsible attitude among South Africans. Mathe said all South Africans should be active in their own development and not hold others responsible for everything. Citizens must send their children to school and see that they do their homework. They must also blow the whistle on bad services such as the delivery of faulty homes. Mathe gave an example of someone who stops his or her car when he or she sees a child in uniform walking around in the streets during school hours and takes the child to school. South Africa must change if we want to reach the target for 2030, he said. Without change, South Africa would see only slight improvement and there was no telling how much this would test the patience of South Africans.

“The National Development Plan is a plan for everyone and we all have a responsibility to make our contribution,” Mathe said. When it comes to the government’s role in the plan, departments, municipalities, provinces and state-owned enterprises, such as Eskom and Transnet, must play their part.

Nelisiwe Magubane, Director-General of the Department of Energy, says the NDP guides the department in improving socio-economic development in South Africa.

“The plan was compiled by a number of experts,” Magubane said. She pointed out that even before the NDP was finalished, her department had started drafting a long-term energy plan following the 2005 fuel shortage and load shedding of 2008. This culminated in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010-2030 for the energy sector, approved last year by Cabinet.

However, she emphasised that the NDP is a living document and that her department will continue to update its projections and plans around energy – but with at least two years fixed to allow for certainty. Her department is now working on the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), which will inform future IRPs and include the issues raised in the NDP, including shale gas in the Karoo. The department hopes to take the IEP to Cabinet at the beginning of next year.

Executive mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Zanoxolo Wayile said his officials have been developing a unique development plan for Port Elizabeth to complement the NDP. Wayile says the metro has already interacted with the Eastern Cape government around the city’s plan.

He will submit the plan to the city council shortly to ensure it is in line with the NDP. The Department of Water Affairs and Environment’s chief policy advisor on strategic environmental intelligence, Peter Lukey, says his department helped the commission to draft the plan. Lukey believes more South Africans will now assess the department’s plans on climate change to make sure they are in line with the NDP.