The National Development Plan (NDP) was adopted five years ago. Jeff Radebe, minister for planning, monitoring and evaluation, reminds us that the plan was a roadmap to a transformed future for South Africa.
Minister Radebe recently quoted the late Steve Biko saying, ‘In a bid for change, we have to take off our coats, be prepared to lose our comfort and security, our positions of prestige…’
“And it is in the unity of that struggle, in the battle of ideas, that Biko so majestically articulated that our true worth as a nation, as South Africa, would become timeless if we could ensure that our ideas, great as they were, were implemented, actioned and executed. It is purposeful action, impact and implemetation of our NDP that we require now, more urgently than ever before.”
Implementation of the NDP and Vision 2030 has not been easy and government calls on all South Africans to look upon the plan as theirs and to help, where they could, in implementing it. It is only through a shared sense of purpose that South Africa can build a better life for all. Government remains determined to live up to the vision of the NDP.
A focus on youth and gender equality
The NDP is built on six pillars – mobilisation of all people living in South Africa; a population involved in their own development; expanding and growing an inclusive economy; building capability; fostering strong leadership; and building a strong developmental state. It places a special emphasis on the development of and creating opportunities for youth in a society that offers women equal opportunities.
These groups, according to recent Statistics South Africa figures, remain the most vulnerable in the republic. While economic growth in the last quarter lifted the country out of a recession, Minister Radebe points out, youth unemployment remains a serious issue and is one of South Africa’s most intractable socio-economic issues. The personification of poverty in South Africa remained a young, uneducated black woman. This needs resolution
The department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation has set up the National Youth Development Ambassador Programme to boost entrepreneurship among young people. To be selected to participate, individuals must be between 18 and 35, and must be committed to driving change in their communities and the country at large. In addition, the government has built more technical and vocational education and training colleges and has made more funding available through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme for university students. The Employment Tax Incentive Act, passed in 2013, had helped young people enter the labour market and gain vital real world job experience.
These initiatives put youth empowerment at the centre of the NDP’s development strategy.
Over the past five years, there has been successes to which the government could point. These successes were across multiple sectors of the economy and in the social upliftment of the most in need.
Health, education, mining, agriculture and the ocean economy has all benefitted from interventions through Operation Phakisa, an NDP programme. Since 2014, the various Operation Phakisa initiatives have unlocked R7-billion worth of investments and created 6,903 new jobs. The establishment of six industrial development zones, through the Special Economic Zones programme, has attracted R10.7-billion in investment.
The NDP has targeted tourism as a growth industry. Initiatives have helped to grow the sector, and its contribution to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has increased from R372-billion in 2014 to R375-billion in 2015; tourist arrivals figures have increased by about 50%. Total tourist foreign direct spend rose from R67.9-billion to R189.2-billion.
Over the five years of its implementation to date, the NDP has improved conditions for millions of South Africans. Among the successes were:
- 331,000 new homes have been built;
- 305,00 new households have been connected to sources of clean water (12% of the 2019 target of 2.3 million) and a further 1.12 million homes now have access to decent sanitation (45% of the 2019 target);
- The 2019 target for access to refuse removal is 1.3 million households and the NDP has reached just over a million households;
- 724,430 households have been connected to the electricity grid since 2014 (58% of the 2019 target of 1.25 million) and 52,778 households have been connected to non-grid (50% of the 2019 target of 105 000 households);
- 3,455 schools have been connected to the internet and have received devices through Operation Phakisa ICT and the matric pass rate improved to 72.5% in 2016 from 70.7% in 2015 while Bachelor passes increased to 162,374 in 2016 from 150,752 in 2014;
- Improved access to healthcare has raised South Africans’ life expectancy by six years and maternal mortality has decreased from 158 per 100,000 live births to 154 over a year. The Child Mortality Rate (under five) has improved from 41 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 37 per 1,000 live births in 2016;
- More than 3.7 million HIV-positive people are receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy.
The mandate paper
The government’s embrace of the NDP has changed the way it thought about budgetary priorities. Adopted in August 2017, the National Planning Commission’s Mandate Paper aligned government spending to meet priorities in higher education, social security and job creation.
The new policy would help departments prioritise spending to meet not only priorities in the NDP but to ensure that budgets were more agile in meeting plans set out in the Medium Term Strategic Framework. The paper would, in future, precede the budgeting process and would help to identify priorities based on economic conditions.
The NDP is an opportunity for South Africa to recreate the future. It gives South Africans the chance to identify ways for each one to play a part and become active citizens.
SOURCE: BRAND SOUTH AFRICA