Meeting SummaryHon Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission provided a context of the Green Paper on the National Planning Commission, noting that the planning capability had not previously existed in South Africa. In support of the approach, he cited comments made by the Indian Prime Minister when introducing
Much of the Green Paper was focused on institutions and the coordinating function of the Presidency. Minister Manuel pointed out that South Africans now carried the responsibility to build a democracy, that would improve the life of citizens, free the potential of each person, and create a united and democratic
Members stressed that having plans was not sufficient and the developmental State had to be constructed with the necessary capacity to carry out the plans. They commented that it was unfortunate that the Green Paper was produced so quickly, and asked how other ideas or visions would tie in with those of the ruling party. A member believed that the Green Paper had perhaps confused the role of the National Planning Commission and the role of the developmental State, and believed the issues should be separated. He further believed that State intervention had in the past caused some problems, and felt that a guiding hand, rather than an interventionist hand, was needed. Members also questioned the role of economics and the use of scarce resources, what the provinces should be doing at this point, when they would become involved, and how the central planning function would interact with the provinces’ planning function. Further questions related to the notion of private sector investment, the role of the President’s Coordinating Council, the institutional arrangements and authority lines of the National Planning Commission in relation to the Presidency, and whether the NEDLAC Summit had not achieved the goal of the long term vision. Other comments were made about the extent to which
South African Local Government Association (SALGA) gave its input, highlighting comments on the planning horizon proposed, the objectives and intent of the Green Paper, comments on the plan and planning system, comments on the institutional arrangements, comments on the cross sphere or intergovernmental planning, the need to understand the need for change management, and the importance of development and spatial planning. SALGA cautioned that any reforms proposed had to ensure that they supported institutions and respected the integrity and the autonomy of the three spheres of government. The defined role of the planning commission in relation to provincial and local government planning had to be clarified. There was also a need to ensure policy and planning coherence and there was a need to move towards more content oriented engagement. Members raised questions pertaining to the recommendation made by SALGA for a revised Green Paper or White Paper on national planning, the integration of locally based planning with national planning in the development of Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDSs), and the state of IDPs nationally, including the number of municipalities who had not developed these plans.
FEDUSA submitted that
Briefing by Minister Trevor Manuel: Green Paper on National Strategic Planning
The Chairperson welcomed Hon Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency, responsible for the National Planning Commission, and noted that he would be briefing the Committee on the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning (the Green Paper) against the backdrop of intense public interest and media frenzy on the issues.
The Minister explained the context of the Green Paper. The first issue that the Green Paper set out was the rationale for a planning capability, which had not existed in such a form in
The Minister, by way of introduction, reinforced the rationale for national planning, by referring in brief to two sources. Firstly, he quoted from the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as expressed in the foreword to India's Eleventh Five-Year Plan, as follows: “India's commitment to planned economic development is a reflection of our society's determination to improve the economic conditions of our people and an affirmation of the role of the government in bringing about this outcome through a variety of social, economic and institutional means.” He said that this quotation gave a very strong sense that the Indian government did not sit back and observe poverty, but instead, that government recognised that it had a responsibility to deal with the measures that were social, economic and institutional.
Later in the same foreword, the Indian Prime Minister had said that the Eleventh Five Year Plan addressed itself to the challenge of making growth both faster and more inclusive. Rapid growth, which had been achieved in the past several years, demonstrated that
The third quotation from the Indian Prime Minister's foreword said that planning in a market economy, which was becoming increasingly integrated with the world, was bound to be different from what it used to be in the earlier years. Much of what governments used to do, including their establishment of production units, producing manufactured goods and commercial services, was now being done by the private sector.
The Minister also quoted the words of economist James Galbraith, from his book “
The Minister also submitted that much of the Green Paper dealt with institutions, namely the National Planning Commission. The Minister's briefing also dealt with the outputs, although they were not the main focus, purely to give a sense of how matters would inter-relate, and the coordination functions of the Presidency. Many South Africans had the privilege and responsibility of witnessing the destruction of apartheid. However this carried a responsibility to build a democracy, and one of the issues that came through clearly was that the Constitution did not give options of what to do.
The preamble to the Constitution was very strong. It was quoted in the Green Paper and it required South Africans to heal the divisions of the past and build a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights, which laid the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government was based on the will of the people and every citizen was equally protected by law. The objective that government had engaged with more sharply for planning purposes in the Green Paper was the objective to improve the life of citizens and free the potential of each person, and to build a united and democratic
Minister Manuel continued that the Green Paper argued very strongly that government did not simply want to see a series of announcements about policies, but they wanted to focus very much on integrating what could and could not be done. He though that government was in a very privileged position, because what the world had experienced in the past 15 months drew attention very clearly to some of the issues. The Green Paper said that a plan was not enough, and that there was actually a need for policy and the ability to implement.
The Minister referred the Committee to a lecture that he had delivered at the Wits Graduate School of Public Development Management [see document]. He had tried, in that lecture, to deal with the issue of a developmental State in terms of policy, implementation, measurement, evaluation and accountability for action. However, it was unfortunate that in
The Minister submitted that planning was not a straight road, and had to take into account the bends and curves, as trying to force a straight path would lead to huge mistakes. The planning function needed the ability to measure and then evaluate its own performance, and then make necessary adjustments that all mechanisms of planning could not avoid.
The Green Paper, towards the end, listed some of the experiences, and there was a volume of literature about planning right and planning wrong. One of the clear issues arising from the information was that economies that had grown a lot faster had tended to focus on the planning function. Countries like
When it came to exploring the type of planning required, the first issue was that each and every South African citizen, regardless of how they voted, would probably have their own view of the future. Therefore, there was a need to ask them how, for example, they wanted
Page 12 of the Green Paper set out this point. A paragraph spoke about allowing departments to have the kind of policy that would take them into the longer term, but also stressed the need to create shorter-term horizons as well. In making the point about each government department having its own planning capacity, the Minister wanted to emphasise that the provinces and the municipalities would be asked 'to hasten slowly'. They did not all want to try to play catch up. He had seen, during the few years that he had served in government, that when there was an initiative, people would set up a new industry. This had happened with the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), HIV and AIDS agenda, disability and Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA). Each time a new “tower of babel” had been constructed. All the institutions, in their own municipalities, had ideas about the world and the space, and had a different view of how they got to their goals. National Planning would adopt a different approach. For example, if the notion of national planning, as described in the Green Paper, was accepted, then an outside agency would not take over the responsibility of the department, as this carried the risk of lessened accountability of departments to the legislature. Instead, if there were deficiencies in the way that institutions were planning, the NPC would draw attention to those, and the departments and institutions would remain responsible. They had to be clear about the link between the present and the future. There was a need to “nudge” decisions about the future, to clear some of the contradictions, and the NPC would draw on the experiences of colleagues in performance monitoring and evaluation did. For, example, in the area of life expectancy, there had already been work done that drew on the outputs of StatsSA , checking against the outputs of society in general, which were also used by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to give weight to the Human Development Index (HDI). The trends would then be drawn together, for instance, to find out causes of death and then ask a series of tough questions.
On the issue of life expectancy, Minister Manuel said that the average age of death was falling. There was therefore a need to understand the impact of HIV and AIDS, crime and fatal road accidents. They pointed to the need for behavioural change. In
The major issue was that South African departments would not be treating the budgeting process as if it were competition. A clear system was needed. In his experience, under the current system, submissions from departments were for about four times the available resources, and he stressed that departments’ requests should not be so far removed from the reality. The powerpoint presentations were impressive, but the NPC needed to achieve better sequencing and less competition for the available resources. The key point was not how strong or large an entity was, but how it worked to achieve government aims.
There was, at the moment, no dedicated agency for planning, monitoring and evaluation. The current plans aimed for an enhanced capacity in the Presidency, to pull together and deal with the issues and then deliver. The NPC was “impimpi zika President” and it was its responsibility to see what was happening in the departments and to report on any discrepancy. There had been a big debate in the press about structure and policy coordination. He explained that the NPC was where the detailed evaluation happened.
He pointed out that on 27 January 2010, the matric results would be announced. If the results were similar to, or worse than, last year’s results, the media would abuse the Minister of Basic Education and the MECs. If the results were better, the same media would praise the parents and the learners. These discussions ignored the fact that if people waited until the end of 13 years of schooling to know whether 19 year olds were capable of reading and comprehending, absorbing and processing information, and achieving in mathematics and science, this was far too late. Interventions should be happening at a far earlier stage. Those were the kind of changes that would now happen, led by the Ministry of Basic Education. The NPC therefore wanted these formal structures to operate quite differently in how they delivered the outputs.
In terms of the long term vision, the issue of the developmental State was often misinterpreted. He referred to an interview of the Brazilian President, Lula De Silva, in which he had responded to criticism with uncharacteristic defensiveness, and had said that he had doubted whether, at any time in Brazilian history, the private sector enjoyed as much State respect, or made as much money, as it was doing presently. The self styled “economic patriarch” was more at ease when asked about the State's role in the economy. The usual discussion about the state of the economy had ended, as a result of the global crisis. For a long time people had said that the State had failed and that the markets ruled everything. President Lula De Silva had continued to say that he was opposed to the State being the ruler of everything. Whilst he agreed that the State had to be strong, its strength should be as a catalyst of development. The Minister commented that the Brazilian President had learnt from his own experiences, adopted a mature approach and argued in the context of the developmental State.
Minister Manuel stressed that he was not saying, however, that the State should throw overboard sound economic and fiscal policy. He noted that the NPC wanted to see a longer term view and to see this investment with greater confidence. He referred to the role of education, science and engineering. He gave the example of
Mr B Mashile (ANC,
Mr Mashile commented that the imperative of National Planning was not only focused on the ruling party but included everyone in
Mr Mashile wanted to raise the long term horizon or vision of the ruling party, and asked how this related to the NPC. The ruling party clearly knew the direction it wanted to take, and it was elected to lead the country, but he wondered how the concept of getting other ideas and visions would tie in with the vision of the ruling party.
The Minister responded that the planning was not to produce a plan “for government” but for all of
Mr T Harris (DA,
The Minister responded that the Brazilian President had said that the usual discussion on the role of the State had ended as a result of the global crisis. For a long time, people had said that the State had failed and the markets could rule everything. The Minister thought that this was very instructive. He reminded Members that on 9 November 1988 the Berlin Wall had fallen. For the last twenty years, there had been a unipolar world, where market dominance was supreme, until October 2008.
Mr Harris commented further that the idea of national planning had great merit and he thought it should be actively pursued. However, the Green Paper assumed that if there was national planning, then this meant that there was a developmental State. He was not necessarily opposed to the idea of a developmental State, but it was a very broad term. The East Asian concept of a developmental State had a very specific time and role in history. The Green Paper reflected on some of the pre-conditions of that stage, as it spoke about the specific geo-political environment in which it had evolved, and the general political dynamics of the Cold War era. It also spoke about the forms of government, which in some cases entailed authoritarian commandeering of resources, and the actions of some of the social parties. He would like to add the idea that the East Asian developmental State had a bureaucratic government. Everyone must acknowledge that the public sector in
The reason why he wanted to differentiate those two types of developmental State was that, on page 7, the Green Paper gave a fairly searing indictment of where
He noted that Galbraith referred to what a developmental State would need to tackle, in terms of the aggregate amount that would need to be invested in new technology, environmental issues, the role of education, science, technology and culture. Mr Harris believed that these required a guiding hand, rather than an interventionist stand. On page 10, there was reference to the systemic relationship between the State and the markets. There was mention of providing public goods, using the fiscus as an instrument to enhance distribution, regulating market activity promoting structural enhancement of the economy, macro-economic policy and efficient and effectively priced economic infrastructure. He did not think that this was anything to do with the developmental State. The State was here having a guiding hand on the economy but was not becoming involved directly. It was actually, in his view, making out a case for a
The Minister responded that when speaking of a developmental State, he had made it very clear that this did not refer to a single model. For instance, the analysis showed that there were differences between the earlier developmental models analysed. The creation of the Dutch East
Minister Manuel then said that it was necessary to consider what measure should be used, for example, for education. A measure of expenditure as a percentage of GDP would give a fairly satisfactory-looking figure. However, he noted again that if the country were to look at its needs for maths and science, as well as what had come out of studies into reading and comprehension levels, this would show the need for careful planning. Money could be thrown at the problem to the extent that it could bankrupt the country, and still not improve the outcomes. Planning, on the other hand, sought to remove the element of chance from the equation and direct the spending to where it would make a difference. One of the biggest challenges of this period was the growing inequality in almost all countries across the world. The last measure for the global Gini Coefficient was 0.62, the highest it had ever been. As people acquired skills they became more mobile and, even if they were living in their own country, they would demand a much higher return. Planning would look at the issues and the risks attendant upon them.
Mr Harris asked some technical questions about the Minister’s reference to the role of economics and the use of scarce resources. Planning was not about how resources were used, but it was about economics. On page 21 of the Green Paper the Minister had specified what the NPC would not do. Micro-economic planning was listed here. He commented that if it was accepted that planning was not about the use of resources, which was actually an economic issue, then this seemed to suggest that the planning function would actually encapsulate micro economics and not macro-economics. This was all very well, and to an extent it resolved the questions around the Department of Economic Development and the NPC. However, it did not comment on the legislatively-defined role of National Treasury as the department responsible for macro-economics. The important thing was to accept that resource management was, in actual fact, economics.
The Minister responded that planning was about the ability to influence. These formal and informal linkages became fundamentally important. It was possible to pass legislation, or to influence the system. He noted the example of the Financial Sector Charter. For many years, the banks maintained that they did not want to deal with customers who had low income. However, when pressure was brought to bear on them to actually discuss the needs and the issues, the Mzansi account system started, and within four months, had 4 million account holders. This was an example of achievements without legislation.
The Minister also responded to the issues raised on page 21. One of the concerns held by many in government related to apartheid spatial planning. In
Mr Harris noted that the Minister had mentioned that progress on this issue “hastened slowly”, around the idea that the provinces should not build institutions to support the idea of national planning until the idea was mapped out properly. He asked what the provinces had to be doing at that point, what was the next step that had to happen, and at what point the provinces would become involved. Ultimately, once the system was in place, he asked then how the Minister would see the central planning function interacting with the provinces’ planning function.
The Minister responded that the Presidential Coordinating Council (PCC) Inter-governmental Forum, established under President Mbeki before the Green Paper had been published, had convened a discussion with the nine premiers and representatives of SALGA, to bring them on board. They had shown strong support for planning. Some said that they expected national government to lead, and they would tell government if the latter began to cross their functional lines. The NPC did not want to dismantle something already established.
Mr Harris posed a question of ideology, with reference to page 17, and asked the Minister about the Vision 2025. One of the issues was to afford the private sector an environment in which it could invest and make competitive returns, while promoting the common interests of the nation. He asked if there were any private sectors, internationally, that acted in the interests of the nation. He believed that for hundreds of years the idea of economic development was that companies should act in their own interests, but, through proper regulation and coordination of such actions, then the common good was achieved. He was not arguing for free market fundamentalism here, but he thought that this was the way to achieve the common interests of the nation.
Mr Harris stated that he was confused about the role of the President's Coordinating Council (PCC). The presentation did not indicate where the PCC sat, or what its role would be going in the future.
Mr Harris noted that, on slide6, the Minister had spoken of the agreed long-term vision on the country's future direction. He wanted to ask a question about the history. He was interested in the notion that one of the gaps in the system was that
The Minister responded that the NEDLAC issue was a very interesting one, because part of it was the difficulty inherent in bargaining, which was effectively done by those who were present at the bargaining table. The Minister asked who would represent the views of those who were not at the bargaining table. There were some statistics that were very difficult to deal with. The Gini coefficient was poor in
The Minister also responded that government was trying to take a longer view on this issue, which in some senses distinguished between the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and the long term vision. The MTSF was born of the electoral mandate . The Minister had been having discussions with the Premier of the
Mr Mashile also asked for clarity regarding the institutional arrangements and authority lines of the NPC in relation to the Presidency. It seemed as if the authority lines crossed each other, especially in light of the diagrams shown in the presentation. He asked if his interpretation that the NPC had higher authority than the Presidency was correct. He noted that only its output would influence the output of the role of the Presidency.
The Minister responded that the NPC would make inputs, and receive them, and carry those inputs into Cabinet. The President, in Cabinet, in accordance with the Constitution, would receive these issues to exercise Executive authority. It would be quite unconstitutional, therefore, to establish a body that was supreme over the President.
Mr Mashile also asked for clarity on the Minister's submission related to sectoral planning that led to a long term vision that would bind the Presidency. He understood that the medium term strategic framework was that which guided departments to actually come up with implementation. He was, however, confused about the authority and the relationship of these institutions to produce the final output and authority lines.
The Minister responded that one of the real difficulties with the sectoral planning was that the Green Paper was a document for consultation. There were some clumsy formulations in it, for which he wanted to apologise to the Select Committee. In consequence of this consultation, government would try and fix many of the inconsistencies. A key issue with sectoral planning was that sometimes the words “planning” and “policy” had a tendency to replace each other. The Minister reflected on a conversation that he had recently held with his colleague Dr Blade Nzimande, about the need for the Human Resources Council to be fully staffed, and the need to identify the resources to attend to that. Dr Nzimande had suggested that this was part of the planning function, and that NPC should deal with such an issue. NPC knew that, even if it did ultimately take such a role, it would need to be able to understand almost immediately what was the history and background, what skills were available, and then be able to raise these issues so that the implementation was planned by the relevant Ministry and Department. NPC would then have to sit together with and get feedback from the Ministry to understand how they could circumvent the presently prevalent and recurrent problem of people entering the labour market without adequate skills. Sometimes the departments had to catalyse their actions without doing the sectoral planning.
Mr Mashile said that he had understood strategic planning and planning to be two different things. In the Green Paper, there was not always a reference to “strategic” planning, but only to “planning” and he had understood that “strategic planning” went further than normal planning. He asked for clarity on the issues and whether the lack of consistency would not confuse understanding of the intent behind the establishment of the NPC. If the word “strategic” was dropped, there was a danger that the planning done by the NPC could interfere with the work done by other planning institutions within government.
The Minister responded that the word strategic was perhaps used too loosely throughout the document.
Mr Mashile suggested that it should be used more firmly.
The Minister said that he and his colleagues were taking advice on that matter.
Mr M Makhubela (COPE) asked about issues beyond the control of people, which could include something like the price of oil, or the small size of the South African economy. He believed that the world could live without
The Minister responded that a good example was perhaps to look at a country like
Mr Makhubela asked how the NPC would deal with lethargy in the public service, which was unacceptable. There was a need to stop people creating their own little “turfs” and “kingdoms” in the public service.
The Minister responded that the continuum of the State and more importantly, the need to build a capability in the State, was beyond policies and implementation. The State would not be able to implement unless it could turn public servants and those in the public service unions into first line development cadres. If it failed in this field, then it would fail everywhere else. If teachers were not doing what was expected of them, then the State would not be able to build capability. The Secretary General of the ANC, Mr Gwede Mantashe, had been very strong on this issue in the previous week, when he had asked how it was possible for people to demand a 30% wage increase without putting forward any promises about the quality of services to be delivered in return. This was a very strong message, and the Minister felt that it clearly provided the signal as to how issues fitted together.
Mr Makhubela also asked how the NCOP's role was viewed, in the discussions on the Green Paper in Parliament. He enquired whether there was a need to wait for the debate in the National Assembly, or whether the NCOP could deal with the matter on their own.
The Chairperson responded that this would not be the last deliberation on the Green Paper. It was part of a process in which the provinces would be involved. There would not be a debate “from the top down”. Provinces were participating in the debate, and the Members would have to report back to their constituencies about what had taken place in Parliament regarding the NPC and the Green Paper.
South African Local Government Association (SALGA) input to the Green Paper on National Strategic Planning
Mr Mayur Maganlal, Executive Director: Economic Development and Planning SALGA Western Cape presented SALGA's input to the Green Paper. He summarised the detailed submission that had been handed out to the Select Committee, to point out the issues that SALGA wanted to highlight to the Committee [see document]. The Minister had made a presentation to discuss the Green Paper at the SALGA National Executive Lekgotla in September 2009. During October and up to the present, there were a number of provincial Lekgotlas that were taking place that were also engaging with the Green Paper. Although SALGA understood that the deadlines for making submissions had passed, the process of correlating all submissions from the provincial SALGA structures had taken some time.
SALGA wanted to highlight key issues, and these included comments on the planning horizon proposed, the objectives and intent of the Green Paper, comments on the plan and planning system, comments on the institutional arrangements, comments on the cross-sphere or intergovernmental planning, the need for change management; and the importance of development and spatial planning.
The first point Mr Maganlal wanted to make was that the broad principles of the Green Paper were welcomed. There had been no major issues raised when the Minister had made his presentation at the NEC Lekgotla in September 2009. SALGA noted that the vision for 2025 was noted as the time horizon. The Minister had earlier stated that there was a need to get some sense of how the elements of planning would fit together. SALGA believed that the document, in its present form, did not make this clear. The Green Paper had mentioned developing a vision, then a long-term plan, then the Medium Term Strategic Framework and the Annual Programme of Action. A revised Green Paper, or even a White Paper, should make it clearer as to what were the exact components of the planning, and how they hung together. The documents contained some proposals as to how these could be brought together.
SALGA also wanted to make the point that at present, vision statements existed in silos.
A point that had been made indirectly during the morning was that there was a need to understand where the country and context would be, in the long-term of a 15 to 30 year horizon. The idea of scenario planning needed to be contained in the planning process. This was not explicit, but could be implicit in the current framework. The idea was not to “throw out the baby with the bath water”. SALGA wanted to see if some of the Presidencies initiatives on different matters could be picked up for long-term planning processes. SALGA thought the Planning Commission needed to advise on resource allocation, adequacy and alignment with stated objectives. SALGA wanted to reflect on Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) and the importance of aligning the budget process to IDPs and to stated objectives. In many cases these stated objectives had become mere high level vision statements and therefore there was a need to improve on that aspect.
The lack of information about what currently existed and what challenges had been experienced so far in the planning process – such as challenges that SALGA experienced with ASGISA and other past processes – created some doubt as to whether any lessons had been learnt and applied. This was not reflected anywhere in the Green Paper. The point about top-down, bottom-up planning would obviously always come down to the idea of achieving the middle ground, and the question was how integrated planning would actually be achieved. On the one hand, national imperatives must be identified. On the other hand, IDPs were, by definition, neighbourhood or ward plans. The two must be reconciled. Therefore, national imperatives around energy planning or scarcity of water had to be aligned to and integrated with IDPs that were developed through community and ward structures.
SALGA also made further comments on the principle and idea of differentiation, which should be kept as one of the principles in the national planning process. Not all municipalities, nor the provinces, were the same, and so a one-size-fits-all policy would not apply. SALGA enquired how local government would be represented in the composition of the Planning Commission, and how inter-governmental co-operation could be achieved, across the provinces, State-owned entities and Departments, and local government. SALGA also wondered how IDPs and Provincial Growth and Development Strategies (PGDS) would be assimilated and how they would relate to a national plan. The challenge of aligning PGDSs and IDPs was still present, as admitted by the Minister during his morning briefing. There was not yet a perfect system. There was a need to overhaul planning at a provincial and local level.
SALGA submitted that the NPC should not only concern itself with the vertical alignment of planning, but also must inter link with horizontal alignment between provinces and between municipalities. There were a number of challenges in developing IDPs. SALGA suggested that, as part of overhauling of the system, it might be useful to have an IDP in two parts – one that outlined what the municipality would be doing, and one that outlined what national and provincial government would be implementing. SALGA also gave examples of how a number of national programmes were misaligned at national level, such as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) targets and implementation, and the role of municipalities in the global economic crisis.
The point had been made about the establishment of turfs and silos. SALGA was not just taking cognisance of that. It urged that the planning process needed critically to put in place a clear system of change management. The importance of spatial planning was also highlighted.
In conclusion SALGA proposed that if the Green Paper were to be reintroduced as a White Paper, or a revised Green Paper, then this would ensure further engagement, whilst achieving consensus on the form of planning and the methodology of the national planning proposed. SALGA wanted to caution that any reforms proposed must support institutions and must respect the integrity and the autonomy of the three spheres of government. The defined role of the NPC, in relation to provincial and local government planning had to be clarified. SALGA was not too sure how the national planning process would link to the issue of corporate governance. There was also a need to ensure policy and planning coherence, and there was a need to move towards more content oriented engagement.
Mr Mashile commented on the recommendation by SALGA for a revised Green Paper or White Paper for the purposes of further engagement. He noted that this contradicted the earlier submission by the Minister urging that the matter be expedited, to facilitate the formation of the Planning Commission. SALGA were suggesting that an amended form of the Green Paper would still be made available for discussion or consultation. He asked whether SALGA had changed its view on that particular matter.
Mr Mashile commented that if the Committee agreed with SALGA’s formulation of the NPC, and its national plan, then he questioned how it would expect there to be integration with locally-based plans, especially IDPs. He asked what kind of integration SALGA anticipated. Most locally-based IDPS focused on “bread and butter issues”, and he was not sure whether then macro planning would apply, since local wards were using micro-planning on the ground. The national development plan would be raising issues around macro-planning.
Mr CA Bruyn, Councillor representing SALGA Western Cape, responded that this recommendation had been made before SALGA had realised that the Minister wanted to take this matter forward without further engagement.
Mr Bruyn responded on the issue of integration of IDPs. It was clear from repeated reports that the IDPS become useless, because of a lack of coherent planning in the national departments. He gave the example of a plan for an area. This planning must involve the national department, which already meant that there was a top-down approach, and this was complicated by the fact that sometimes, even after conclusion, that department was unable to specify the policy for the area. He commented that in all the programmes by the Department of Finance there had never been planning that would identify a project with all role players. That was why SALGA was pleading for more coherence across planning. Service delivery, which had become a very critical issue now, highlighted the importance of national planning at a local government level, because that was closest to the people and their day-to-day problems.
Mr Maganlal noted that IDPs had been successful in one way, as they could be seen as a good expression of the needs of the community. However they had probably not been successful in prioritising and planning effectively around those needs at a municipal level. They also had not been successful in being able to integrate what communities were saying, and what provincial government had been doing. The inter-governmental link had therefore been weak. The Minister had indicated that national planning would be aligned to the PGDSs and the IDPs. This was a right idea but the mechanics of that needed clarification, and the problems lay in getting the details right.
Mr Mashile asked SALGA whether it had actually initiated this debate with member municipalities.
Mr Bruyn responded that he did not think that it was possible for SALGA to do that. The municipalities were an organised structure. The provinces debated this at Executive Committees in all provinces. SALGA, at national level, would hand out documentation to the local authorities. It was not always possible to discuss issues.
Mr Harris asked what the state of the IDPs was nationally, and how many municipalities were in breach of the legislation that required them to produce IDPs
Mr Maganlal responded that he thought that all municipalities had submitted IDPs. The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) had a system of analysing the IDPs. SALGA had been critical of that system, as it was difficult to understand the criteria around classification of credible or non-credible IDPs.
Federated Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) Submission
Ms Gretchen Humphries, Deputy Secretary General, FEDUSA, submitted that South Africa’s current background was characterised by very uncertain cyclical economic conditions, serious socio-economic challenges and structural problems. There were ideological differences between role players in government regarding various policies, ranging from a totally controlled economy to a free market approach. There was a need for a review of past experiences on policies, such as the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), which should be used as learning tools for National Planning processes.
Ms Humphries provided a policy brief on the functions of government and submitted that the two main alternatives to laissez-faire were generally seen as either socialism or the welfare State. More recently the concept of the so-called ‘developmental State’, with an emphasis on more centralised planning, had also been coined. The content of government outputs could be classified firstly as making regulations, for instance governing private competition, such as enforcing anti-monopoly laws and prohibiting unfair labour practices, as well as making regulations affecting general safety, welfare, and morals. Secondly, government provided direct or indirect subsidies to a private person or group of persons, such as contributions to social security, tariff charges on imported goods, and infrastructure development. Thirdly, governments provided certain services, by way of activities or benefits that were made available at generally lower costs than equivalent services from a private firm – such as the maintenance of armed forces, public schools, and fire prevention.
In terms of the South African context, the South African government’s performance was benchmarked against the World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitive Index for 2008/09. This rated South Africa forty-fifth out of 134 countries, down one place from the 2007/08 rating. The Report stated that “the country continues to receive good marks in more complex areas measured by the Index, such as intellectual property protection, the quality of private institutions and goods, as well as financial market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation”. South Africa faced a number of obstacles to competitiveness, including the lack of labour market flexibility, low university enrollment rates, the poor security situation, and high rates of communicable diseases affecting the health of its workforce.
According to the Harvard University Index of African Governance for 2009, South Africa had dropped four places due to concerns about the rule of law, transparency, corruption, human rights, safety and security, as well as poverty and inequality. South Africa now ranked ninth out of 53 African countries, dropping from fifth place in 2008, with Mauritius, Botswana, Seychelles and Cape Verde occupying the top countries on the Index. More recent concerns of foreign investors also included the availability of continuous and affordable electricity, water and transport infrastructure.
FEDUSA proposed that certain hypothetical questions be carefully considered and deliberated upon. These included how to maximise the efficiency of government, as planning was not policy. There was a need to consider how the Planning Commission would find a way to increase effectiveness and efficiency, without involving policy. The role of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) and budget cycles in assisting strategic planning must be considered. The role of current Ministries, such as Economic Development, must be clarified within the framework proposed by the Green Paper. There was also the need to consider what the National Planning Commission had to be planning, in the light of the current institutional arrangements of government, with specific reference to NEDLAC.
FEDUSA wanted to recommend that the next discussion document on planning must address these questions.
Ms Humphries submitted further that the Green Paper proposed high level national strategic planning based on an Asian model, to address serious socio-economic problems and restrictions. The Green Paper referred to the term “national”, although the planning process had mainly to do with the government sector. Strictly speaking, the proposed planning process was more of a government strategic planning process than a national process. Government implied that both the public and private sectors were involved, so the respective roles of government and the private sector had to be clearly spelt out in the plan. In South Africa, an important goal could be how to move out of the recession so that attention could be given to longer-term social problems. Centralised planning in a coherent manner was a preference in a developmental State.
During the past ten years, power was centralised within the Presidency and it needed to be broadened. The President, as Executive, needed to ensure that all departments and spheres of Government undertook activities of policy development, strategic and operational planning. He must ensure allocation of proper resources in terms of the MTBPS to fulfill strategic objectives, and implementation of agreed strategic objectives and policies, together with the monitoring and evaluation of policies within clear boundaries. The role of the Minister responsible for the NPC and the Ministry of Economic Development needed to be aligned and clearly defined within agreed parameters.
Mr Mashile commented that FEDUSA had made a lot of comments and political statements. His understanding was that there was no Ministry of National Planning, and he wanted to get clarity on why there was a reference to the NPC and the Ministry in FEDUSA’s submission. His understanding was that there was a Minister in the Presidency responsible for planning.
Mr Mashile also asked for clarity on the issues around NEDLAC and the NPC.
Ms Humphries responded that the Green Paper had in draft dealt with the budget office and the draft planning process pertaining to the medium term and the long term planning process. At that stage the issue of having a Ministry for Planning had been raised. It could be seen that it referred to the Ministry of Planning under the Presidency, because that was where it was currently residing.
Ms Humphries also responded to the concerns about social dialogue. FEDUSA had been part of the process since 1994, when there was consultation at a strategic level between social partners, around the development of various policy processes to ensure successful planning. NEDLAC had often contributed minimally, rather than making contributions to the bigger picture. That was a matter of concern to FEDUSA, which believed that government could play a meaningful role if it became part of that process. It was undesirable to have civic society organisations that were not properly instituted and were legitimately leading the process. There had to be stakeholder representatives that were legitimate and accountable. NEDLAC and social dialogue could assist in this process, as detailed more fully in the FEDUSA submission. Government was also represented on NEDLAC in their various structures and in their various functions.
In terms of the relationship with the NPC, FEDUSA believed that the President had overall authority, and it did not have a problem with the Minister in the Presidency. FEDUSA believed that the President had to head the NPC, and therefore the President would delegate whoever was responsible to deal with those functions. The President, at the end of the day, had decided upon the lead department and he had to be the one delegating authority.
Mr Montsitsi requested clarity on whether FEDUSA was making a proposal for the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee that would exercise oversight over the NPC. This meant, in essence, that there would be a new Committee with a new Chairperson, which would be asking questions related to the line functions of other Committees like Housing, Agriculture and Education, for instance. He wanted to check with FEDUSA whether it would not be more prudent if these Committees could have the NPC asking them those questions, instead of having them addressed by a new Committee.
Ms Humphries responded that the reasoning behind this was basically to look at the submissions that were presented by COSATU and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), dealing with a Ministerial Committee versus a Parliamentary Committee. FEDUSA’s view was that a Parliamentary Committee would most probably be in a better position to deal with strategic planning than a Ministerial Committee, as the latter could be affected by political interference. That is why there was a reference specifically to a Portfolio Committee. Whether it was an existing Committee or if it was a new Committee was something that could be deliberated.
Mr Montsitsi also asked about the benchmarking of the South African government, and asked if it was to be assumed that these benchmarks were not contested either by South Africa itself or other countries.
Ms Humphries responded that the benchmarks currently used were based on the Harvard system. Whether or not South Africa agreed with them was debatable. However, the norm was that these were international standards that were currently being used to review South African issues. It was important to consider where South Africa stood, in terms of its performance against world standards, to measure South Africa’s development.
Mr Mashile pointed to the use of the word “regime” by FEDUSA in a section of the presentation, and asked when FEDUSA thought it was appropriate to call a government a regime.
Mr Mashile also asked FEDUSA whether it subscribed to the idea that government had to leave the economy alone.
Ms Humphries responded that the submission was basically saying that in a development State there were two schools of thought. One suggested a laissez-faire approach that the best government would be the one that governed least. The other approach suggested that the viewpoint of a welfare State must be applied. These were all principles that were broken into the system. FEDUSA was advocating a balanced approach. Government had to govern, but also had to decide where to interfere and where to make input into issues, and where not to do so, as also where to plan, and where to leave alone. A “regime” was defined as the actual institution that had the authority to determine policy.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Green Paper on National Strategic Planning: Minister's briefing & provincial concerns of three provinces [Part 1]
- Deliberations on and consideration of the Committee’s Report on the 2009 MTBPS [Part 1]
- Deliberations on and consideration of the Committee’s Report on the 2009 MTBPS [Part 2]
- Green Paper on National Strategic Planning: Minister's briefing & provincial concerns of three provinces [Part 2]
- Deliberations on and consideration of the Committee’s Report on the 2009 MTBPS [Part 2]
- Green Paper on National Strategic Planning: Minister's briefing & provincial concerns of three provinces [Part 1]
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