National Development Plan: What is it?

Tshepang Tlhapane

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“In 2030 we live in a country which we have remade. We have created a home where everybody feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential; a community that is proud to be a community that cares.” – Trevor Manuel at the launch of the draft National Development Plan, on the […]

“In 2030 we live in a country which we have remade. We have created a home where everybody feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential; a community that is proud to be a community that cares.” – Trevor Manuel at the launch of the draft National Development Plan, on the 11th November 2011. The final NDP launch then followed in 2012, on the 15 August.

The National Development Plan (NDP) is the blueprint that sets a vision for South Africa’s development over the next 20 years . It was adopted by the National Planning Commission (NPC) in 2012 under the leadership of chairperson Trevor Manuel with the aim of galvanising all sectors of South African society to contribute towards economic and social transformation, growth and sustainability.

It takes into consideration the role of the state, civil society and business in alleviating poverty and bridging the gap between the rich and poor by the year 2030. It calls for active citizenry and engaged leadership.

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Risk 2014 report, South Africa has the third highest youth unemployment rate in the world. It revealed that unemployment in that demographic stands at approximately 70%.

Subsequent to the NDP’s vision, in 2013 government passed the Employment Tax incentive Act which is aimed at helping youth enter the labour market. This is done through providing  companies with tax cuts for hiring young people to ensure they acquire work experience. Although this act aims to address youth unemployment, it has been met with some resistance from some sectors of society including The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA).

In October 2013, NUMSA argued that the bill would “in practice be a fundamental attack on workers’ security of employment, decent work standards and collective bargaining rights [and thus] would lead to a downward pressure on wages, as there would be considerable difference in costs for employing unsubsidised workers as opposed to subsidised workers.”

Ensuring employability, access to opportunities, skills transfer and wealth distribution are some of the important concerns of the vision document. But, creating accountability in society and the timing of the NDP, have also been major points of debate and argument from different sectors.

Interestingly, the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is known for always being critical of the ruling party but seem to have accepted the NDP as a good template for South Africa’s future. “The National Planning Commission’s National Plan points to an emerging consensus at the non-racial, progressive centre of South African politics. The developing policy coherence on the fundamental issues facing South Africa is an exciting and significant development,” the DA said in a press statement released two years ago.

Sternly in opposition to the NDP, however, is the Congress of South African Unions (COSATU) which has castigated the NDP. Cosatu’s General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has in the past labeled the growth strategy as “Neoliberal at its best” and “deja vu.” Vavi was referring to the 1996 Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) and likens it to the the NDP by pointing to the fact that as a result of GEAR, formal employment continued to decline yet wealth remained unequally distributed along racial lines.

The primary goals of GEAR were to increase the rate of economic growth, increase foreign direct investment and to bring about greater equality in the distribution of income and wealth.”

In its summary of critique released in March 2013, amongst other things, Cosatu finds fault in its complexity and length and that it is “often written in a highly inaccessible way.” The tripartite alliance also suggests that “huge effort has gone into packaging it in a supposedly sophisticated manner that appeals to various constituencies, by appropriating certain buzzwords and popular concepts but trying to avoid open controversy.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters have also criticised and rejected the NDP stating that “it does not speak to the fundamental change of property relations in South Africa, and will therefore not be a suitable solution to the unemployment, poverty and inequalities crises confronting South Africa.”

The NDP, importantly, also seeks to contend with issues affecting the youth – the largest demographic in SA – which include unemployment and skills development. As such a significant stakeholder, the following is a breakdown of all the key parts of the NDP that are relevant to and affect you, your peers and other young people in South Africa.

Though we would encourage you to scrutinize the National Development Plan yourself, the following is a guide to some of the areas that may be of particular interest to you:

Chapter 1 – Key drivers of change

Page 70 of this chapter deals with Science and Technology as a key driver of change. This section puts emphasis on the promotion of technological advances through investing in quality education for the youth and ensuring that knowledge is shared as widely and equally as possible.

Chapter 3 – Economy and employment

As already mentioned earlier in the article, South Africa is still battling with youth unemployment. We rank third as the third country in the world with the highest youth unemployment rate in the world.

Page 95 of this section outlines the proposals aimed at creating about 11 million jobs by 2030. It clearly sets out specific targets and numbers for each period until 2030. The three employment scenarios include the Baseline scenario, solid minerals scenario and the diversified dynamic economy scenario.

Chapter 4 – Economic infrastructure and communications infrastructure

In terms of Economic and communications infrastructure, South Africa is still battling with corruption, high cost of communication and a lack of skills.

Page 170 of the of this chapter proposes a seamless information structure that will meet the needs of citizens, business and the public sector , providing the wide range of services required for effective economic and social participation – at a cost and quality at least equal to South Africa’s economy.

Chapter 9 – Improving education, innovation and training

South Africa faces a great deal of challenges when coming to our education system, especially when coming to the quality of our maths and science education. Page 277 of this chapter addresses this and aims to revitalise mathematics and science through the increased number of school leavers who are eligible to study science and mathematics-based subjects at university by 2030.

Chapter 15 – Creating equal opportunities

Chapter 15 outlines the NDP’s need to bridge the gap of inequality in South Africa. It aims to do so through systems that have already be put in place which include creating employment equity and heightening the range of workplace opportunities available. It also aims to create equal opportunities through black economic empowerment and speeding up the land reform process which has been a rather slow process and is acknowledged as such.

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