Public Hearings on the Green Paper: Day 1

Ad Hoc Committee on Green Paper on National Strategic Planning

25 October 2009
Chairperson: Mr T Mufamadi (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee held public hearings on the Green Paper on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, and took presentations from Dr Christo Becker, Dr Harald Winkler, the AIDS Law Project, Business Unity South Africa and the Chamber of Mines. Each motivated a different sector and its viewpoint, with some agreement and some disagreement on the points raised by the Green Paper. Dr Becker’s presentation very firmly took government to task for its shortcomings. His presentation made it clear that the establishment of a Commission would not address these issues. Dr Winkler focused on the effects of climate change as more than an environmental issue, and was in favour of a Commission. The AIDS Law Project was supportive of the Green Paper but raised several issues, in particular around socio-economic rights, and health planning. BUSA was in favour of progress to a White Paper and on to legislation, including the establishment of an appropriate Parliamentary Committee. The Chamber of Mines, whilst in support of the concept, cautioned that long term goals should not be sacrificed for the sake of short term objectives. It made critical comments on monitoring of implementation as well as coordination between government departments. Members asked questions of clarity of all the presenters. The Chairperson commented that there was a common vision on many issues such as the need for synergy between government and market forces, spatial planning, health planning, long term planning beyond 2014, together with the cost implications of not planning long term, and the discussion on whether this process should be extended to a White Paper. All of these points would be considered by the Committee and included in the Report.

Meeting report

Green Paper on performance Monitoring and Evaluation (the Green Paper): Public Hearings
The Committee held public hearings on the Green Paper on Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, and took presentations from Dr Christo Becker, Dr Harald Winkler, the AIDS Law Project, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) and the Chamber of Mines (CM).

Dr Christo Becker Submission
Dr Christo Becker’s presentation very firmly took government to task for its shortcomings. His presentation made it clear that the establishment of a Commission would not address these issues. He was of the opinion that climate change mitigation would require the integration of all central development area, including energy, economic development and rural development. He contended that climate change should be the core business of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) instead of a non-significant topic. He called for immediate action in the development of long-term imperatives, setting clear simple goals and a public reporting process.

Dr Harald Winkler Submission
Dr Harald Winkler focused on the effects of climate change as more than an environmental issue, and was in favour of a Commission. His submission recommended that one or two of the Commissioners have good credentials on climate change and energy. It was further suggested that the targets should be developed with the aim of a shared vision and that forums other than National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) should be considered.


Mr N Singh (IFP) asked what Dr Becker meant by an “agency” to assist government.

Dr Becker replied that a new mental model was required, different from the existing one, which was influenced by the previous oppressive regime, which had hampered people’s rights to be citizens. He said the emphasis was on “how you think”, rather than on “what you think”.

Mr R Trollip (DA) noted that Dr Becker had mentioned that South Africa had failed to meet medium term strategic framework goals and millennium development goals, but asked him exactly what he had wanted to convey to the Committee in his presentation, and what he wanted to say about the importance of meeting existing plans and goals before moving on to new plans and goals.

Dr Becker responded by handing in a copy of a project in relation to a project in his local municipality in the Northern Cape, which had been “shut down”. He said that the goals had not been reached. The reasons for this had included decentralisation of the population, and issues around housing, skills development and other issues.

Mr X Mabasa (ANC) put his question to both Dr Becker and Dr Winkler. He said that, based on the premise that South Africa was a developing nation, the constraints experienced by developed countries would be different to South Africa’s, because it had less resources available. There had been reports in the media that some developed countries did not appreciate the gravity of the situation, and, for example, emitted far more carbon than developing nations. He said that South Africa’s efforts as a developing nation would not amount to much, if this was the case.

Dr Winkler noted that there was no doubt that South Africa was a developing nation, and was quite distinct from developed nations. Similar to Brazil, there was high energy consumption in the cities, in that people were driving themselves to work every day. This was very different from the situation in, for example, rural Transkei. There were very few nations in the developed world which did not recognise this science.

Mr L Greyling (ID) asked Dr Winkler to explain how he suggested that South Africa should move beyond climate change, how it should use water, coal, and renewable energy. If he was saying that the Commission should look at use of natural resources, he should then consider how this would be a constraint to future growth and planning.

Mr Greyling asked how, if these decisions took 30 to 40 years to realise, South Africa could deal with short term decisions, given that the Planning Commission would take about two years to develop and realise plans.

Dr Winkler replied that there was no easy answer to this. He noted that there were broader issues than climate change alone. That did not change the specific focus within climate change, such as, for example, whether another power station for coal to liquid-fuel needed to be built or not. This revitalised the discussion about sustainability. Added to this was the water issue, since it was one of the key constraints in considering whether to build another power station.

Mr E Rasool (ANC) addressed Dr Winkler, and said that although he was tempted to speak on content issues concerning emissions and the like, he rather felt that this should be debated in the appropriate forum. The key issues for this Committee were whether academics felt that the Green Paper was a comprehensive plan. He asked whether there was any intelligence beginning to develop so that government achieved better understanding and could make the proper choices with regard to, for example, being carbon-heavy now and how and when to move towards reducing emissions, and eventually having renewable energy. He said he would like to know whether there was an understanding as to what was needed. He further hoped for a critique of the methodology used, rather than a debate on content issues, and would like to hear whether the Green Paper was setting course on the right track.

Dr Winkler answered there was much intelligent thought going into both the planning and the monitoring and evaluation. In the process there was good methodology. However, what was not clear was how the overall plan articulated with the central plan, and whether it possessed the power to override, especially with regard to electricity planning.

Mr Mufamadi concluded that the oral summaries did justice to the written submissions. The Green Paper was generating much energy, and government therefore needed to take this process very seriously.

AIDS Law Project Submission
Mr Jonathan Berger, representing the AIDS Law Project, gave a presentation citing recent Constitutional Court judgments concerning human rights, as these affected people living with HIV/AIDS. He noted that, in common with the environmental sector, there were common concerns about sacrificing long term objectives for the sake of short term objectives.

He noted that he needed to focus on a few key issues in relation to HIV/AIDS and the Green Paper. Mr Berger stressed that the Constitution was a helpful guide as a way to challenge the decisions and the failures of government, but on the flip side it provided a clear way of thinking through issues, such as the Grootboom Constitutional Court case concerning the right to housing.

Mr M Gungubele (ANC) was interested in the inter-dependence between the short and long term, saying that there seemed to be a hard line stance towards this principle, and no scope for balance and co-existence. His second comment queried the wisdom of providing everything to a needy person (the concept of the lowest common denominator), in this case persons living with HIV/AIDS, instead of assisting them to help themselves. He asked whether, in the process, such persons would be helped to an extent that they would become helpless, thereby having the contrary effect of shortening their lifespan.

Mr Berger replied that the primary concern raised was that the appropriate balance could be found in short, medium and long-term. It would be the perspective that would determine the application. For example, a short-term solution was necessary if it was a matter of life and death. But the question remained as to how long would long-term be, since there was uncertainty whether an HIV-positive person would live long enough to enjoy the benefit. On the issue of the lowest common denominator, he noted that these values were what brought South Africans together. Furthermore, the Constitution itself provided for this.

The manner in which consultation took place was of concern to the ALP, not the extent of the consultation. There was no intention to disagree with the ruling party’s mandate.

Mr S Swart (ACDP) supported the call to include health experts for the purpose of health planning. He also asked that the organisation should clarify its role in Parliament, and whether it envisaged a need for a more focused Parliamentary Committee, with powers of oversight, once this Ad Hoc Committee’s tenure ended.

Mr Berger said that ALP had not decided on the exact entity, whether it was to be a Joint Monitoring Committee or other Committee. As to engagement with the Commissioners, it was the ALP’s understanding is that this engagement should be both with the Minister and the Commissioners.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) noted that ALP was a Section 21 “not for profit” organisation. Seeing that AIDS was a pandemic, she asked how Government could help, perhaps financially, so that it would be clear what was at issue.

Mr Berger replied to Ms Mushwana that, if he understood her question correctly, then he would be able to tell her how the ALP was funded.

The Chairperson noted that this was more of a comment than a question.

Mr Mabasa said that the ALP was most welcome to provide critical questions where misunderstandings may exist, and even to provide the answers for those problems.

Mr Berger noted that the ALP had examined the thinking underpinning the publication of the Green Paper, and considered how that squared up with issues already raised in the Constitutional Court, whether on consultation or on planning.

Mr Rasool said that the  “short-term” approach was evident in the Grootboom case, because, immediately following the judgment, resources for housing had been improved. Likewise, with the judgment on anti-retroviral therapy (ARV), government had increased health funding. There were further examples. It was difficult for government to anchor a path to the future. The question was how to mirror short-term into long-term. He suggested that taking a cue from a court ruling would only lead to a short-term solution. This needed to be resolved.

Mr Rasool asked how broad the consultation should be, and that it could be consultation on managing, in order to achieve a particular set of goals. He referred to the appointment of Commissioners, and noted that oversight did not necessarily mean that Parliament had power over the Executive, and a way should be found to achieve synergy rather than becoming competitive.

Mr Berger responded that the history of litigation did point to the very problem the Green Paper tried to address, and that if there had been the kind of planning process that the Green Paper now envisaged, there might not have been such a need to resolve the issue through the courts. If the planning worked properly the issues would be much narrower. This led to the question of Parliament’s role. Whatever structure was ultimately agreed on - whether a Commission or other structure - Parliament’s oversight role, as envisaged by ALP, would focus rather on how government departments engaged with each other. Whatever document evolved beyond the Green Paper, ALP would see that there should be more engagement with the Executive.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Berger for his contribution.

Business Unity Submission
Mr Raymond Parsons, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), summarised the eight main points and noted that BUSA was in favour of advancing to a White Paper, and the establishment of a National Planning Commission. BUSA noted that intra-governmental co-ordination would be important, especially linkages between provincial and local government structures. The NPC had to be an independent establishment, in order to meet the desired outcomes. Busa argues that the NPC should not be responsible for policy formulation. Rathe, the NPC should provide research inputs for the National Plan. Ultimately the NPC would advise Cabinet on key policy decisions including the adoption of the medium to long-term plans and development targets. The role and mandate of the Commission should be defined more clearly and a coherent framework for the appointment of Commissioners was needed. BUSA proposed that the overall responsibility for appointments should reside with the President, as is the case with other statutory bodies. Finally there was a need for deliberations on how the NPC would interact with NEDLAC and that specific provision should be made for the three social partners (government, business and labour).

Chamber of Mines submission
Mr Franz Barker, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Mines (COM), noted that it was important to achieve a balance between planning and market forces, since no amount of planning could alter the course of market forces. The submission was particularly concerned with the following: the Green Paper seemed to exclude business and labour participation in the NPC. This exclusion may lead to the marginalisation of the most important contributors to economic growth. As the NPC was tasked with developing a national plan, it was worrying that the economic stakeholders would not serve on the Commission. Accordingly the COM proposed that organised business and labour should be represented on the NPC. The COM supported the four requirements for good planning, noted in the Green Paper.

Mr Swart asked whether, with regard to advancing to a White Paper process, the entire process should be delayed by at least 18 months or longer, and whether there was a need to consider how to balance this with the urgency for establishment of a National Planning Commission (NPC).

Mr Gungubele asked the Chamber of Mines whether inter-ministerial committees were not similar to the Clusters that currently existed. He asked why there was such concern for the need for planning and monitoring and evaluation. He also asked why there was a concern to steer away from the NPC’s involvement in spatial planning. He furthermore wanted to know where was the origin of the concern that the NPC would clash with departments, since a coordinated process of planning must include all roleplayers.

Mr Singh said, with regard to the spatial planning issue, that there was possibly a need to find some way to deal with this, despite a full and busy programme. Secondly he asked whether the Chamber of Mines had made comments on the paper released by Parliament on monitoring and evaluation. If so, he asked if the comments were linked to the proposed National Planning Commission. He further wanted to know the views of BUSA and the Chamber of Mines as to where they thought the National Planning Commission should be located.

Mr Rasool said that both these presentations had helped this Committee by making suggestions and by posing questions. He asked whether BUSA and Chamber of Mines were abdicating their responsibility to clearly state their objectives in responding to the Green Paper, especially with regard to spatial planning. He said that perhaps all role-players had been over deferential towards the autonomy of departments. The current process was intended precisely to correct the problems brought about by a lack of effective planning over the last fifteen years.

Mr Trollip, noting the requirements of a White Paper process, asked why BUSA and Chamber of Mines felt that there should be such a process and legislation.

Mr Barker responded to Mr Gungebele by saying that it may be that Chamber of Mines was not aware of how the cluster system worked, but it was felt that incorporation into the work of the Cluster, and feed back into planning process, would be preferable to creating new structures. He was willing to concede that this might be wrong, and his suggestion was open to critique.

On the issue of spatial development, he said that it was correct that it had not been rejected, but rather that there existed so many other priorities to deal with.

He referred to comments made by Mr Rasool and noted that the time aspect and departmental issues were perhaps too much to deal with. For example, rural development was not given enough attention, but there were plans to integrate and develop it into one vehicle, with the assistance of all of government.

Ms Mushwana asked what the motivation was to advance from the Green Paper to a White Paper process.

Mr Barker responded that the Green Paper was an important process and that a proper process should be followed through, since this could afford the opportunity to re-consider some points submitted thus far. He acknowledged that this would take longer, but motivated that it would be useful to give time for a review and possible revision of standpoints previously forwarded.

Ms A Mashisi (ANC) asked the Chamber of Mines what it had meant by “eradication of poverty” in the presentation.

Mr Barker said that, in the context of reasons for lagging behind other countries, a controllable aspect would be, for instance, the problem that South Africa was experiencing with electricity supply. An uncontrollable aspect would be the price of commodities in the world. As far as poverty eradication was concerned, the mining sector played a critical role in rural areas, through enabling development and coordinated activities. He said that more could be done, such as every mine should be building clinics. Another opportunity was that people in the mining sector could learn from each other, through the establishment of learning hubs where best practices could be shared.

Mr Parsons concurred with the responses from Mr Barker. He said he wished to affirm BUSA’s view that this had been an important process, and it was essential to get it right, and thus obtain new insights. He thought that the amount of time provided for the process was insufficient, and that it should progress to a White Paper, and then to the legislative stage. From past experiences. some of these structures were not in place from the beginning, but there was an opportunity to get it right this time.

The second issue that resonated with BUSA and Chamber of Mines was to look at the two Green Papers in tandem, and to finalise a viewpoint on monitoring and evaluation. He hoped that meaningful input was given here today.

Mr Gerry Vilakazi, Chamber of Mines representative, noted that trying to deal with the Green Paper in a very short time could have a major impact on government structures and therefore the future of planning. Chamber of Mines believed that this matter was critical enough to keep putting forward the motivation for a White Paper process beyond the Green Paper, and that there remained a need to engage more on certain aspects of their submission.

The Chairperson thanked all the participants for their input, and appreciated their effort that they had put in over a short space of time. There was a common vision on many issues such as the need for synergy between government and market forces, spatial planning, health planning, long term planning beyond 2014, together with the cost implications of not planning long term, and the discussion on the process concerning the White Paper – all these would be factored into the Committee’s report.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: