The National Planning Commission (NPC) briefed the Committee on its National Development Plan Vision for 2030. The NPC was advisory, only Cabinet could adopt a development plan. It was explained that if there was strong leadership, effective government and an active citizenry it would create conditions and opportunities for growth advancement, poverty reduction and employment. In turn SA would become a better country with improved social cohesion. This was the paradigm on which the NPC based its plan. The country needed to grow the economy and make it more labour absorbing, expand infrastructure, improve education and training, provide quality healthcare and fight corruption.
The Committee appreciated the effort which the NPC was putting into transforming SA but concerns were raised whether some of the things spoken about in the Plan were do-able within the 18 years to 2030. Education and health in SA needed major work. Security of tenure of land for those tilling the land also needed addressing. Previous
National Planning Commission (NPC)
The NPC briefed the Committee on its National Development Plan Vision for 2030. Professor Mohammad Karaan, Dean of the Faculty of AgriSciences,
▪ Create jobs to grow the economy and make it more labour absorbing
Infrastructure spending should be increased to 10% of Gross Domestic Product. Efforts should be made to promote competitiveness and exports by diversifying trade towards emerging economies.
▪ Expand infrastructure
A contract needed to be forged between government and coal industry leaders that balanced coal needs with export opportunities. SA should also develop infrastructure for the import of liquid natural gas. Liquid fuel refineries should be upgraded to meet clean fuel standards. On-grid electrification should be expanded to 95% of households by 2030. Water was a scarce commodity and hence the National Water Resource Strategy should be reviewed by mid 2012. On transport, SA should improve its commuter rail fleet.
▪ Transition to a low carbon economy
Speed up and expand renewable energy and waste recycling and ensure new buildings met energy saving standards. Perhaps there should be the introduction of a carbon tax with rebates.
▪ Transform urban and rural spaces
Shift more resources to upgrading informal settlements. Facilitate security of tenure (especially for women) in rural areas. Ramp up public transport infrastructure significantly and address fragmentation in spatial planning.
▪ Improve education and training
Regularly test teachers to determine levels of knowledge and competency. Change the process of principal appointments and introduce minimum qualifications. Ensure all children had two years of preschool education. Increase school learner retention rates to 90%. Pertaining to higher education and further training, a national skills planning system needed to be established to expand Further Education and Training colleges and to produce 30 000 artisans a year. The intention was to increase the higher education participation rate from 17% to 30%.
▪ Provide quality healthcare
Maternal and infant deaths must be reduced. Non communicable diseases had to be reduced by 28%. Antiretroviral treatment to all HIV-positive people had to be broadened. The National Health Insurance Scheme had to be phased in. Build a health system (including districts) with adequate professional staff.
▪ Build a capable state
A professional public service should be created. The public service should be immersed in the development agenda but insulated from undue political influence. There was also a need to improve relations between national, provincial and local government. State owned enterprises should be improved by way of cleaning up governance structures. Government should appoint the boards of state owned enterprises and the boards in turn should appoint CEOs.
▪ Fight corruption
Corruption must be tackled wherever it existed, in both the public and private sectors. Legal and political steps should be taken to insulate anti-corruption agencies from political interference. Centralise the awarding of large tenders or tenders with long duration. It should be made illegal for civil servants to operate or benefit directly from certain business activities.
▪ Transformation and unity
All SA should be encouraged to learn at least one African language. Black Economic Empowerment should be reviewed in order to ensure objectives were achieved more effectively. Employment equity should continue and be strengthened. Only 29% of rural people were commercially active and this figure should be increased to 40%. Of the 11m jobs to be created by 2030, 80% of those jobs would be in small enterprises.
Prof Karaan concluded by stating that if delivery took place on all aspects of the Plan then employment would be increased and the quality of education would rise. By 2030 nobody should live below the poverty line. The Plan was a proposal to be considered by SA. It would be followed by a four to six month process of consultation. Cabinet would give final approval of the Plan. Successful implementation required broad support and active championing throughout society.
The Chairperson pointed out that the high dropout rate at schools was a problem. Should the emphasis be more on vocational training? He suggested perhaps a drive towards more vocational training. Education especially in rural areas should be on things that people had knowledge about such as farming and livestock rearing. They could be educated in their mother tongue on things that were already part of their livelihood. The idea was to offer do-able solutions and not to send people back to school to learn things that held no real benefit to them.
The tourism sector had its own set of problems. The sector received poor financial support and was subject to seasonality issues. He suggested that perhaps land could be leased to persons who wished to do farming. The issue of land tenure arrangements by rural chiefs also had to be looked at. For example in
Prof Karaan speaking on vocational training, stated that there were more extensive documents on the NPC’s website. A 450 page document on the website spoke about vocational training. Existing skills that people had, should be enhanced. Not all persons could handle going back to school. The idea was to train 30 000 artisans every year. The NPC was aware that perhaps Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) were not necessarily doing the job. Education and training sectors and even the private sector could play a role. The NPC left it up to people’s imaginations on how to do this.
As far as not enough financial support being given to the tourism sector, he felt that government and the private sector should work more cohesively. The Plan was for the whole of SA. Targets for jobs and small enterprises were relevant to a specific sector. It needed to be checked which parts fitted a specific sector.
On land tenure of chiefs, he was aware that
Ms J Manganye (ANC) stated that SA had a great deal of infrastructure that it was not utilising, especially in the old
Prof Karaan replied that corruption by politicians and civil servants had been extensively dealt with. Political interference in appointments should be removed. On mining provinces being poor, he stated that mining companies could do more to uplift communities. Greater investment was needed.
Ms J Maluleke (ANC) said that educating people about tourism on the ground was a challenge as municipalities did not have persons to propagate tourism as there was no budget set aside for it. Was there specialist training for tourism? When tourism students graduated there were no jobs for them. Employers always required at least three years’ working experience. Training school principals to better manage their schools was a step in the right direction. Five-year employment contracts for principals were also a good idea.
Prof Karaan was aware of the high unemployment rate of matriculants and graduates. Less than 65% of graduates with diplomas would find jobs.
Ms M Njobe (COPE) appreciated the briefing as it provided the Committee with insight into what the NPC was doing. She felt that the briefing document was quite objective. The National Development Plan was not devised to serve a particular government but rather SA as a whole. It was a pity that the Plan was only devised at such a late stage in SA’s democracy. It should have been introduced in 1993. She hoped that what was contained in the Plan could be achieved by 2030. It was almost 2012; hence there were only 18 years to 2030 within which to solve many problems. Was it achievable?
She referred to slide 17 which dealt with teachers and management and said that many of the problems in education were there because people in charge of important tasks were not educated in the manner that they should be. Education was where everything started. A classic example of where education was used as a tool to achieve what one wanted, was apartheid. Unfortunately for the apartheid government the black consciousness movement had already started and the nation was politically wake. The question needed to be asked what role should education play in the SA which all its citizens wanted. She felt education to be crucial. The content of education must lead the way to where SA needed to go. In SA at present patch jobs were being done to correct mistakes in education. A holistic approach was needed.
She stated that “cadre deployment” should stop. Appointing the wrong people in jobs was a problem. There were instances where projects were placed in the hands of people who did not understand them. Failure of such projects was inevitable. People filling posts had to be well educated and capacitated. She asked how much support the NPC was receiving from departments who were involved in the Plan. These departments were the implementers and without their help, the Plan was doomed to fail. She felt the 4-6 months of consultation to be too short. Her fear was that rural areas would be left out of the consultation process. What was the NPC’s plan to ensure that the whole country would be included in the consultation process? There were ten government departments tasked with implementing the Plan. Why was the National Department of Tourism excluded? Tourism was one of the areas prioritised for job creation. She was glad that the Plan had the aim that every SA should be able to speak one African language. The apartheid government had excluded African languages from the school curriculum.
Prof Karaan said that President Zuma had made it clear that the NPC was not part of government. Its function was advisory whilst being critical. The President always stood by the NPC even if there was disagreement. He noted that the NPC was happy with the work of some departments and unhappy with others. He agreed that education was critical. Education was vital to rebuild SA. The NPC realised that 4-6 months for consultation was a short time. It would try its best to get to all areas. Engagement with all provinces had taken place. Unfortunately the full country could not be covered. No part of SA would be neglected in terms of consultation.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) commended President Zuma for establishing the NPC. She referred to Slide 19 which spoke about reducing maternal and infant deaths. The fact that it was Millennium Development Goal 5 spoke volumes about its importance. The slide also spoke about reducing non-communicable diseases by 28%. How was this to be achieved? Antiretrovirals and HIV/AIDS were also mentioned. She felt that people should be encouraged to be tested for HIV/AIDS. Early detection was important. She referred to Slide 16 and asked for clarification on what was meant “to facilitate security of tenure in rural areas”. Females were most affected by poverty. In rural areas, crops were affected by climate change. What were the subsistence farmers in these areas to do?
Prof Karaan conceded that maternal health was another failure. There was retrogression on maternal health. The situation was bad in SA. There were more maternal and infant deaths than in most other countries. HIV/AIDS also affected women more. Life expectancy for women had worsened since 1994. Women were the most vulnerable.
Mr L Khorai (ANC) felt that the briefing should have included performance indicators. He asked where the implementation strategy of the Plan was. Reference was made to the enforcement of certain issues such as expanded infrastructure of water. The NPC had alluded to the fact that regional facilities would be utilized where municipalities fell short. The fact was that small municipalities could not manage water. He felt that the NPC should take cognisance of this fact. Co-ordination between national, provincial and local government needed to be improved. Greater engagement was needed. He felt that tourism was not considered as important as other growth indicator departments. Why was there focus only on subjects like mathematics, science and English? What about other subjects like tourism studies?
Prof Karaan, referring to the focus on mathematics and science as subjects, stated that the competitive notion was to outperform. He felt that there should be greater innovation on how mathematics and science should be taught. People who were knowledgeable should be brought in to assist. Standards for English were also dropping as the youth spelt words in cell phone sms format. Perhaps the number of required languages to be taught at schools should be expanded to three languages. For example in countries like
The Chairperson stated that the destruction caused by the apartheid government in the old
Prof Karaan conceded that the old
Ms Njobe referred to slide 17 and 18 and asked whether linking teacher pay to learner performance was achievable. What standards were going to be used? She did not necessarily agree with the Plan to grant work permits to all foreigners who graduate from SA universities. SA had enough problems with foreigners as it was.
The Chairperson noted that time had run out and that members could forward further questions in writing to the NPC.
The Committee Secretary said the Committee Annual Report would be drafted and presented to the Committee early in 2012. The Chairperson confirmed that it would be presented early in January 2012.
The Committee adopted minutes dated 12 April, 14 June, 21 June, 30 August, 6 September, 13 September, 8 November and 15 November 2011.
The meeting was adjourned.
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