Ministers Manuel & Chabane on Strategic Planning Green Paper & Performance, Monitoring & Evaluation Policy Document

Briefing

03 Sep 2009

Minsters Trevor Manuel and Collins Chabane briefed the media on the release of two discussion documents, one a Green Paper on National Strategic Planning and the other a Policy Document on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. These documents had to be seen in the context of wider efforts led by President Jacob Zuma to improve the performance of government through enhancing coherence and co-ordination in government, managing the performance of the state and communicating better with the public. A National Planning Commission, comprised of external commissioners who were experts in relevant fields, would play a key role in developing this plan.

The media asked questions about the balance of power between the two Ministers due to the creation of the Commission, the rationale for choosing a Commission structured with civil society experts, and if the Commission would result in further
bureaucratisation of the government. The media wanted clarity on the membership of the Commission, whether there was space in the membership of the Commission for opposition voices and if it would be diverse. They also looked at whether the development of the Commission would make the country seem like a state within a state, how the public would view appointed versus elected Commissioners, and what the size of the Commission would be.

Statement by Minister Trevor Manuel
Minister in the Presidency for National Planning, Mr Trevor Manuel, stated that the government was releasing two discussion documents, one a Green Paper on National Strategic Planning and the other a Policy Document on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. The decision by President Zuma to appoint Ministers in the Presidency responsible for National Planning and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation was designed to improve the overall effectiveness of government, enabling it to better meet its development objectives in both the short- and longer-term. The two discussion documents had to be seen in the context of wider efforts led by the President to improve the performance of government through enhancing coherence and co-ordination in government, managing the performance of the state and communicating better with the public.

The Green Paper on National Strategic Planning was a discussion document that outlined the tasks of the national planning function, broadly defined. It dealt with the concept of national strategic planning, as well as processes and structures. The rationale for planning was that government required a longer-term perspective to enhance policy coherence and to help guide shorter term policy trade-offs. The development of a long-term plan for the country would help government departments and entities across all the spheres of government to develop programmes and operational plans to meet society’s broader developmental objectives.
A National Planning Commission (NPC), comprising of external commissioners who would be experts in relevant fields, would play a key role in developing this plan.

Statement by Minister Collins Chabane
Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Collins Chabane, stated that he was pleased to finally release the green paper on performance, monitoring and evaluation for public comment and discussion. The green paper paved a way for their desire to deliver on government’s mandate to the people of South Africa. The paper described a process that ensured that the mandate would be translated into a very clear set of outcomes and a few crucial output measures that would help the government to deliver on their commitment. The paper was put together after long and elaborate discussions and consultation to come up with agreed outcomes and an approach to measure performance.

He gave an outline of the document titled, Improving Government Performance: Our Approach, which showed the approach and the process the government would follow in delivering on its mandate. It recognised that while there were many advances since 1994 and while there was improved access to basic services, the outcomes that were produced, were often below standard.
Some of the reasons for this was a lack of political will, inadequate leadership, management weaknesses, inappropriate institutional design and misaligned decision rights.

The ministry would identify a limited number of delivery requirements which would be monitored periodically and serve as the basis of engagement between the President and Ministers or groups of Ministers and MECs. Report-back meetings with the President every six months would evaluate progress and provide guidance on how to overcome obstacles to delivery.

Minutes

Q: Where would the balance of power lie between the two Ministers and the other ministers that they would be dealing with regarding the National Planning Paper?

A: Minister Manuel stated that questions about balance of power inevitably arose. Ministers would be looking at problems that were going to arise way ahead in the future; this would build a better platform for monitoring and evaluation. The Constitution stated that Ministers were collectively and individually responsible for functions of government. There was a need to improve on the functions.

Q: What was the rationale behind choosing a Commission structured with civil society experts? What were the advantages of the structure?

A: Minister Manuel stated that the idea was to have a Commission made up largely of outsiders. Over time, this would be evaluated. There was a need for an entity that could link proposals, identify challenges and build toward changes. There was also a need to use the services of agencies in South Africa such as the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). There was also a fair amount of research that could be used from universities. This would make the inputs into the Commission.  

Q: A journalist noted that the ANC saw itself as the centre of policy. What would happen to the balance of power due to the creation of the Planning Commission? He wondered how this dynamic would play itself out regarding the different political parties.

A: Minister Manuel said that it was necessary to understand that parties participated in elections to get their policies implemented. In terms of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), it was taken from the ANC’s manifesto and turned in to a set of tasks for the next five years. The key priorities for monitoring and evaluation would be would be taken from the ANC’s manifesto. There was nothing unusual about this. Many countries demonstrated the ability to bring together issues differently. The government sought to sequence issues that arose from capabilities and responsibilities in the public sector between the Presidency and the ruling party.

Q: What did the Ministers think about people saying that the NPC would mean further
bureaucratisation of the government?

A: Minister Manuel stated that he did not understand the question. The Commission focused on efficiency. He did not know where bureaucratizing came in. The Commission was about good decision making, not about bureaucracy.

Q: How did inflation affect the government’s ability to deliver on services? How much of a role would the NPC play in it?

A: Minister Manuel replied he needed more time to answer that question. The government was still in the process of finalising the budget and the requests of all the government departments.

Q: When did the Ministers expect to have the final draft of the NPC plan? What would be the relationship between planning equipment and budgetary constraints?

A: Minister Manuel said that he struggled with the question of a final draft, as there were planning dynamics to be taken in to account. Circumstances changed over time. In terms of planning equipment and budgetary constraints, the Minister used the example of food security and rural development. Bringing these issues together required a lot of ongoing work. These were issues that could be taken further; however, it was important to understand planning concerns.

Q: A journalist asked the Ministers to talk to the membership of the NPC. He had heard that the National Health Insurance scheme could be ready for legislation by March. He wondered if the government was ready to go ahead with the scheme.

A: Minister Manuel stated that it looked as though they had taken the manifestos of all the parties and identified all the common priorities. However, it was important to realise that the voters had spoken. A function such as the NPC worked because of diverse views and people in it. A list of names had not yet been considered for NPC membership. It was more important to talk to the country about the planning function first. The membership of the NPC would be dealt with over time.

Regarding the National Health Insurance scheme, the issue had not yet come to Cabinet. The costs of the scheme were very divergent and would require careful planning and sequencing. He was not in a position to comment on the implementation date.   

Q: A journalist wanted to know if there was space in the membership of the NPC for opposition voices and if it would be diverse. Minister Chabane was asked to clarify what was meant by the NPC not being implemented to “police” the executive.

A: Minister Chabane replied that the main reason for the monitoring and evaluation committee was so government could perform better than it currently was. They were not looking for specific people yet for the membership of the NPC. They were putting systems in place to improve policy. In order for this to happen, reform was needed in the way that the government delivered services. The NPC would not be “policing” the executive; it would be ensuring better government performance. 

Q: The Ministers were asked for more information about the Cabinet committee and how it related to the Cabinet more broadly. How far were they with the costing of the NPC? Who would have the ultimate say in the NPC regarding the way forward?

A: Minister Manuel replied stated that the Ministers that would be involved in the NPC would be appointed by the President. There might be an overlap on the Ministers’ Committee on the budget; however, in light of bureaucracy fears, he stated that it did not create a two-tier system.

He was not quite sure about the costing of the Commission yet; however, there were plans going forward. The responses from all spheres of government were that they were very keen to have the NPC. Leadership was what the Constitution required of the National Government. But, the problem that arose all the time was that there were not enough resources for all government projects. There was a need to sequence trade-offs, a need for skills capacity, a need to look at what happened in schools and universities, and a need to see how provinces made their decisions.

Q: A journalist noted that there was criticism that there would be too much state involvement in the economy in the future. What were the Ministers’ views on this? The Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel, had stated that the economy would need more stimuli in the economy. The Ministers were asked for their view on this.

A: Minister Manuel said that this was a difficult question to answer. He asked the media to look at page 9 of the Green Paper at the quote by economist, James H Galbraith. The Minister agreed with his statement, saying that the government wanted to intervene where people were left out of the system. The government had to answer to what the country’s commodities were and where there were inefficiencies in the system. He did not know what the origin of the question was and why the state should not play a role.

Whether the economy needed a lot of stimuli was an important question. Other countries were also evaluating the situation after months of stimulus and these findings were being factored into their plans. There was an attempt to secure a commitment that government spending was not going to result in a stop-start economy.

Q: Did the Ministers foresee any legislative changes or amendments? Was not a bit of policing needed to improve service delivery?

A: Minister Chabane replied that he was of the view that there were sufficient instruments and legislation in place that would enable the NPC to do what it needed to do. The document on improving government performance explained the need for better policy and service delivery. There was no need to call this “policing”.

Q: Would the development of the NPC not seem like a state within a state in terms of bureaucracy? How would the public view the fact that the NPC committee would be appointed and not elected? What route would be taken by the NPC if ministers were found to be under-performing? 

A: Minister Chabane addressed the issue of underperformance. He realised that the media had not had the time to peruse the documents that were handed out; therefore, they did not know the systems of monitoring and evaluation that were going to be put in place. There were limitations to what the government could do. 

Minister Manuel added that it would not seem like a state within a state; however, a faculty was needed within government that could improve alignment as well as monitoring and evaluation.

Minister Manuel stated that the issue of the appointment of members to the NPC was a point that was well-taken and would be considered. 

Q: A journalist noted that most planning and implementation was done, in general, at provincial level. What would be done to improve things at provincial level? Would not a legislative framework be needed for this?

A: Minister Manuel stated that Chapter 5 of the Green Paper looked at the entire government system, and not just the Cabinet on its own. There was no cut and dried model on which to base the new project. The NPC would have to test how things were going as they went along with their functions.

Q: A journalist noted that 107 out of 108 government departments filed financial misconduct reports. How would financial tools and service delivery be improved?

A: Minister Manuel stated that the planning function would be considered and monitoring and evaluation systems would be improved. It was the President’s coordinated functions that would hold tools and service delivery together.

Minister Chabane stated that tools and service delivery were interlinked. These two had to work together. 

Q: What do you envisage the size of the Commission to be? There did not seem to be guidelines on how monitoring and evaluation could be improved?

A: Minister Manuel stated that for the NPC to work, he envisioned that about twenty diverse and skilled members were needed.

Minister Chabane stated that they would draw up guidelines with a monitoring and evaluation function. Emphasis would be placed on performance and outcomes.

The briefing came to a close.

Appendix A

 

Media statement by the Minister in the Presidency T Manuel for National Planning on the release of the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning

4 September 2009

Today government is releasing two discussion documents, one a Green Paper on National Strategic Planning and the other a Policy Document on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation. The decision by President Zuma to appoint Ministers in the Presidency responsible for National Planning and Performance Monitoring and Evaluation is designed to improve the overall effectiveness of government, enabling government to better meets its development objectives in both the short- and longer-term. These two discussion documents must be seen in the context of wider efforts led by the President to improve the performance of government through enhancing coherence and co-ordination in government, managing the performance of the state and communicating better with the public.

The Green Paper on National Strategic Planning is a discussion document that outlines the tasks of the national planning function, broadly defined. It deals with the concept of national strategic planning, as well as processes and structures. Once consultations on these issues have been completed, the process to set up the high-level structures will commence; and this will be followed by intense work to develop South Africa's long-term vision and other outputs. In other words, the Green Paper does not deal with these substantive issues of content.

The rationale for planning is that government (and indeed the nation at large) requires a longer-term perspective to enhance policy coherence and to help guide shorter term policy trade-offs. The development of a long-term plan for the country will help government departments and entities across all the spheres of government to develop programmes and operational plans to meet society’s broader developmental objectives. Such a plan must articulate the type of society we seek to create and outline the path towards a more inclusive society where the fruits of development benefit all South Africans, particularly the poor.

The planning function is to be coordinated by the Minister in The Presidency for National Planning. There are four key outputs of the planning function. Firstly, to develop a long term vision for South Africa, Vision 2025, which would be an articulation of our national aspirations regarding the society we seek and which would help us confront the key challenges and trade-offs required to achieve those goals. A National Planning Commission comprising of external commissioners who are experts in relevant fields would play a key role in developing this plan. The development of a National Plan would require broader societal consultation and existing forums would be used for this purpose. The Minister in The Presidency will co-ordinate these engagements. A National Plan has to be adopted by Cabinet for it to have the force of a government plan. The Minister would serve as a link between the Commission and Government, feeding the work of the Commission into government.

The next set of outputs cover the five-yearly Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and the National Programme of Action. These are documents of national government, adopted by Cabinet, drawing on the electoral mandate of the government of the day. The Minister in The Presidency for National Planning, supported by a Ministerial Committee on Planning, would coordinate the development of these documents with input from Ministers, departments, provinces, organised local government, public entities and coordinating clusters.

Further, it is envisaged that the planning function in The Presidency will undertake research and release discussion papers on a range of topics that impact on long-term development. These include topics such as demographic trends, global climate change, human resource development, and future energy mix and food security. The Presidency would also release and process baseline data on critical such as demographics, biodiversity as well as migratory and economic trends. This work will be undertaken by the Minister, working with the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the Minister, working with the NPC would, from time to time, advise government on progress in implementing the national plan, including the identification of institutional and other blockages to its implementation.

One of the functions of The Presidency in respect of national planning is to develop frameworks for spatial planning that seek to undo the damage that apartheid's spatial development patterns have wrought on our society. This includes the development of high level frameworks to guide regional planning and infrastructure investment.

The national planning function will provide guidance on the allocation of resources and in the development of departmental, sectoral, provincial and municipal plans.

The Minister in The Presidency responsible for national planning will be supported by a Planning Secretariat, which will also provide administrative, research and other support to the National Planning Commission. National Strategic Planning is an iterative process involving extensive consultation and engagement within government and with broader society.

It is envisaged that Parliament will play a key role in guiding the planning function through its oversight role but also through facilitating broader stakeholder input into the planning process. For this reason, it is appropriate that Parliament should lead the discussion process on the Green Paper.

This Green Paper is a discussion document. Government welcomes comment, advice, criticisms and suggestions from all in society.

Please address all comments on the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning to the Minister in the Presidency for National Planning c/o:
Hassen Mohamed
E-mail: hassen@po.gov.za
Tel: 012 300 5455
Fax: 086 683 5455

Appendix B

 

Media statement by Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Collins Chabane on the release of the green paper on performance, monitoring and evaluation

4 September 2009

Today, we are pleased to finally release the green paper on performance, monitoring and evaluation for public comment and discussion. The green paper paves way for our single and a much focused desire to deliver on our mandate to the people of South Africa. The paper describes a process that ensures that we translate our mandate into a very clear set of outcomes and a few crucial output measures that will help us deliver on our commitment. The paper has been put together after long and elaborate discussions and consultation to come up with agreed outcomes and an approach to measure our performance.

Since the establishment of the ministry a lot of questions have been asked about our mandate and the capacity of government to monitor its own performance. Today we outline in our paper titled improving government performance our approach and the process we will follow in delivering on our mandate. We also call on society and the country to participate in a process of consolidating this mandate.

The establishment of the ministry is a clear demonstration of commitment by this government to ensure that we have an outcomes based performance that makes meaningful impact in the lives of our people.

The paper recognises that while we have made many advances since 1994 and while we have improved access to basic services, the outcomes we have produced have often been below standard. Massive increases in expenditure on services have not always brought the results we wanted or our people expected.

We need to understand and accept why we have too often not met our objectives in delivering quality services. The reasons vary from amongst others lack of political will, inadequate leadership, management weaknesses, inappropriate institutional design and misaligned decision rights. The absence of a strong performance culture with effective rewards and sanctions has also played a part.
While building on work already done, we need to focus more on positive outcomes as we use our time, money and management. We are concerned with what we have identified as priority areas: education, health, safety, economic growth with the creation of decent jobs and rural development. We believe that if we deliver and achieve desirable outcomes on these priorities in a focused manner we will make a meaningful impact.

To assist us in focusing on a few things and getting them to work better the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) has identified ten priorities that we believe will place South Africa on a new developmental path.

To be fully effective we chose five priorities that include rural development, health, education, safety and jobs. Collectively these five priorities constitute over 60 percent of our budget so we must derive value from them.
Our task is not to police performance but to facilitate a focus on the government’s mandate and ensure the attainment of concrete positive outcomes. This will involve facilitating a process through which the Cabinet and the other spheres of government agree on outcome and output targets. We recognise that this approach will require principled and firm leadership, making tough choices and holding people accountable for delivery.

To assist us achieve our goals we recommend the creation of a delivery unit to respond to a few carefully selected areas of blockages in delivery. It will partner the appropriate delivery institutions in working towards a turn around. More importantly its interventions would create models for improving delivery that can be followed by others. The delivery unit would consist of a small team of experienced officials who can facilitate change at national, provincial or local level.

The unit will analyse failures in delivery and lessons from successes. In partnership with all relevant role players, it will identify at most five areas where it will partner with the political head and officials to drive change that brings significant and sustained improvements in delivery.

The ministry will identify a limited number of delivery requirements which will be monitored periodically and serve as the basis of engagement between the President and Ministers or groups of Ministers and MECs. The delivery requirements will be set out in a performance letter from the President to a Minister, group of Ministers or sector including the MECs. Report-back meetings with the President every six months will evaluate progress and provide guidance on how to overcome obstacles to delivery.

The historical shortcoming is that we have developed sound plans and policies, but not effective implementation plans (resources inputs, budgets, roles and responsibilities, performance measures and indicators and lines of accountability). The delivery agreement will ensure a focus on implementation plans.

We will develop a set of outcome and output measures for all of government but the focus in the initial period will be on the strategic priorities identified in the MTSF.

We hope to have finalised all our performance requirements by the end of the year. In this regard, the PM&E function will work very closely with its planning counterpart.

We are convinced that this focused approach of measurable outputs and outcomes will improve the quality of life of all the people of our country, especially the poor.

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