The Committee continued to hear public submissions on the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning. The Johannesburg Disability Forum stressed the need to include people with disabilities, since, although proposals had been made, many policies had still not been implemented, and it did not appear that the position of people with disabilities was receiving enough attention. The targets for employment of disabled officials in government had not been met. The Forum recommended that 2% of the total budget at the local, provincial, and national tier of government should be allocated towards the implementation of the Integrated National Disability Strategy, to enhance access for people with disabilities. Members agreed that this was necessary and overdue. They asked if a National Planning Commission would enhance the mainstreaming of PWD, or whether a dedicated department for PWD would be the answer.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions then gave a presentation expressing support for the establishment of a National Planning Commission but rejecting the conceptualisation of the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning, claiming that it was not involved in the consultative process, and stating that the aim of planning should be implementation of, not the making of policy. Members asked for clarity on several points of the document (NSP), including whether it was contended that there should be discussion across departments, whether there should be a Ministry and Department created, whether there was a conflict between the proposed Commission and the Department of Economic Development, and how to maximise the efficiency of government.
Members also asked other questions but the Chairperson noted that they did not relate directly to the presentation and were not answered. Members also thought the call for a Standing Committee should be considered seriously, and highlighted a need for more consensus.
Green Paper on National Strategic Planning: Public hearings
Johannesburg Disability Forum (JdF): Submission
Mr Magic Nkhwashu represented the Johannesburg Disability Forum (JdF). He stated that if government was proposing a National Strategic Plan at all spheres it would have to include people with disabilities, seen against the backdrop of very progressive legislation and the Constitution. The JdF noted that in previous terms of Parliament, a set of objectives for implementing policies affecting people with disabilities (PWD) had been set, but in its current review, the JdF found it “worrying” that many policies had not been implemented. A new Ministry had been established, but “disability” was listed last behind other concerns of women, youth and children. This might be indicative of the kind of service delivery to PWD. He noted that allocations, both from government and the national lottery, did not keep pace with the growing needs for assistive devices, care attendants, transport, access to buildings, and other matters, nor with the dramatic increase in the numbers of PWD. Employment of PWD in government was set at 4%, but it was clear, based on current figures, that this target would not be reached by March 2010. JdF recommends that 2% of the total budget at the local, provincial, and national tier of government be allocated towards the implementation of the Integrated National Disability Strategy (INDS). This strategy was a plan for the improvement of infrastructure so that PWD could access places more easily.
Mr N Singh (IFP) stated that government was found wanting in the matter of access to buildings and infrastructure for PWD. He said that the Committee noted all inputs and concerns from JdF and concurred that not enough emphasis had been placed thus far on the needs of PWD and the role that they had in the future of South Africa.
Mr RA Trollip (DA) wanted to know whether the JdF was in support of a National Strategic Planning Commission (NSP).
Mr Nkhwashu said the JdF was in support of an NSP, and believed that PWD would get an opportunity to address all the issues mentioned.
Mr X Mabasa (ANC) noted the quotas presented today, and acknowledged that government was not doing well in that regard. However, he also asked if there might be a weakness with organisations of PWD. He felt that government's focus leaned towards the empowerment, more than anything else, of PWD. Thus the focus was on education aimed at steering away from dependency on grants.
Mr E Rasool (ANC) found the presentation very interesting and could discern that PWD did not fit into a pigeon-hole of just one sector, as the presentation ranged across sectors including transport, health, absorption into the economy through employment, and social security. His question was whether a National Planning Commission would enhance the mainstreaming of PWD, or whether a dedicated department for PWD would be the answer. He queried whether PWD would “get lost” in the macro and micro detail. He asked whether there was a sense of fear or of hope amongst PWD, with the proposed functioning of the Planning Commission, and how, therefore, was this functioning envisaged.
Mr Nkhwashu noted that the JdF was of the belief that a two-pronged approach would deliver the best advantage, because, as much as PWD favoured mainstreaming, some kind of “set aside” must be incorporated to get the balance right. In the past, certain issues had not been addressed properly, but, through the NSP, PWD believed that a level playing field would be realised.
The Chairperson thanked Mr Nkhwashu for taking the time to participate in Parliament, and said that the Committee was now better informed on how to improve on the PWD policies already formulated, and recognised the need to implement these properly.
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) submission
Mr Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary, COSATU, noted that he was presenting the input of both COSATU and the trade union National Education and Health Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU). Mr Vavi thanked the Committee for the opportunity to interact, engage in the discourse, and participate in democracy by responding to matters in this Green Paper.
Mr Vavi noted that COSATU was one of the first organisations to call for better planning, and it was strongly in support of the establishment of the Planning Commission. He added however, that the issues that he would be raising had rather to do with the conceptualisation of the Planning Commission. He then presented his comments.
COSATU recommended that there was a need to realign the content of Green Paper with the perspective of the NPC developed at the ANC Polokwane Conference and the Alliance Economic Summit. The role and constitution had to be defined, as well as the role of the Minister responsible for the NPC and the Ministry of Economic Development - in the broader context of the developmental state.
The NPC and the Ministry responsible for the National Planning Commission (NPC Ministry) should not be allowed to veto of other government departments. The Ad Hoc Committee should identify and develop urgent measures to strengthen the newly established ministries and departments.
In relation to policy formulation COSATU recommended that policy formulation and economic development should be shifted away from the NPC Ministry. The NPC Ministry’s main aim should be to develop plans that implement government’s policy. The integrity of Cabinet’s oversight should be maintained. There was also a need to properly define the roles of Cabinet clusters, particularly cross-cutting departments, line functions between national, provincial, local government, and parastatals.
COSATU recommended the rejection of the Ministerial Committee under the chairpersonship of the Minister in the NPC, on the grounds that this would lead one Minister being raised above the rest (a Prime Minister), a lack of accountability and inevitably result in two centres of power. COSATU further suggested that the president or the Deputy President should Chairperson all ministerial and ministerial cluster committee meetings.
Mr Mabasa said the concern of COSATU on the matter of experts must be addressed. He wanted to thoroughly understand this part of the input.
Ms F Mushwana (ANC) agreed that the Committee must consult widely, and also agreed that planning, as presented and documented by COSATU, was not the same as policy-making. This, she said, must be taken up by the Committee.
Mr Trollip asked why, as an Alliance partner, COSATU had not been part of the creation of this portfolio. Secondly, he asked whether there was any hindrance to the Minister of National Planning interacting, coordinating and cooperating with the Minister for Economic Development.
Mr Vavi noted that the questions concerning the Alliance were a separate process to the responses he would make on the Green Paper. He confirmed that COSATU, even though it was a member of the Alliance, did not participate in a consultative process on the NSP. However, it was agreed on the need for an NSP. But the concern was with the conceptualization of the Green Paper. There was also confusion whether a department would be created or whether there would be a Ministry of NSP.
Mr Rasool said that COSATU had thrown out a fundamental challenge to this Committee by requesting that the Green Paper be rejected. He said it would be useful to know where this call to reject it originated. Secondly, he said that conservatively, the planning process had been located within existing departments, and that planning was then superimposed. However, this system had not delivered results in 15 years. There was now a call for a dramatically different system. He asked if this could be clarified.
Mr Rasool noted that the presentation spoke of duplication of the Planning Commission and the Department of Economic Development. He asked whether COSATU would consider that planning involves different gradations of policy formulation. Furthermore, policy formulation was the preserve of the majority party. He asked how then, would the Committee process COSATU's call to reject the Green Paper.
Mr Vavi responded that areas of possible conflict should rather be ironed out to avoid the situation arising later where conflict might arise and have to be managed. He clarified that COSATU was not opposed to the establishment of the NSP. However, the concerns it had were summarised on page 2, paragraph 2, points 1 to 4 of his presentation.
Mr I Davidson (DA) said the question was how to maximise the efficiency of government, and he agreed that planning was not policy. However, sometimes policy was conflicting. He asked how then the Planning Commission would find a way to increase effectiveness and efficiency, without involving policy. He felt that the real debate was within the Ministry of Planning.
Mr Vavi said that he could clarify that COSATU was here to interact on the issues in the Green Paper, not issues of the Alliance. He said this was an unfortunate question since today's proceedings was not about the Alliance.
Mr Neil Newman, representing Nehawu, responded to the question on the conflicts between departments. He said that Nehawu held the view that there should be a national perspective, even though departments attended to development of their own plan. This plan needed to be informed by the national plan. Often, he said, these conflicts arose out of a desire to please different sectors of people. He said that the absence of a national unified position would raise a huge concern.
Ms Prakashnee Govender, representative of COSATU, said that with an understanding of the past ten years, where power was centralised within the Presidency, what must be clarified is the role of clusters and Cabinet, and how power would not be centralised in the way it had been before.
Mr Singh said that in the past two weeks the Committee had time to consider and understand the Green Paper together with all the inputs, and he had an overall sense that there was agreement on this Green Paper. He asked COSATU whether certain “personalities” were influencing its view, rather than what was documented. He asked whether COSATU, in suggesting the need for a “complete overhaul” was implying that the process should start all over again. He wanted this clarified, since COSATU did seem to favour a Green Paper to White Paper process.
The Chairperson asked that Members should not digress and should not address issues that may have arisen outside of the current process. He said he realised that Members were not insulated from developments in the media and elsewhere, but he appealed that they focus on the submissions before the Committee.
Mr M Shilowa (COPE) wanted to understand how the institutional framework would be made. He wanted to stress that the Green Paper was the discussion document. Once this was clear, the Committee would be able to interact better with COSATU and others. Beyond this, the question was whether all stakeholders could arrive at a shared perspective on what it was that government should do, with regard to establishing the NSP.
Mr Vavi, in response to Mr Singh, said that before the COSATU Congress there had been much said about grievances amongst “personalities”. In response to Mr Shilowa he reiterated that clarity must be obtained on the point of the Green Paper being a discussion document.
Mr M Gungubele (ANC) made comments with regard to monitoring and evaluation, saying that these were inextricably linked with planning.
Prof Ben Turok (ANC) asked whether COSATU could draw an organogram to help the Committee see more clearly the lines of accountability. Secondly, he agreed that the Clusters did not always work properly, especially in their relationship with Directors General. Thirdly, he wanted to recommend that the proposal for a Standing Committee should be taken seriously. This would afford deeper debate. Lastly, he felt that there was a huge basis for consensus in the country, and this process for the establishment of the NSP would provide another such opportunity for consensus.
Mr Vavi noted that Mr Gungubele's call for an institution to effectively deal with planning, in the same breath effectively called for an instrument for the purpose of evaluation and monitoring. He welcomed the point made, and said there was a need to drive towards a national vision, whether it be a Reconstruction and Development Programme, or any other programme. He was glad that it had been identified that the references to “President”, “Presidency”, “Minister in the Presidency”, “Minister of Planning”, “Minister of National Strategic Planning” would be reviewed so as to make this wording uniform, since it had been raised by a number of speakers. He thanked the Committee for the opportunity to participate today.
The Chairperson said the Committee now had a better understanding of COSATU's written presentation, with regard to how it saw the NPC, language and terms used, and composition of the Committee, amongst others. He thanked everyone present for their participation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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