ATC091112: Report Green Paper: National Strategic Planning

NCOP Finance

Report of the Select Committee on Finance on the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning, dated 12 November 2009.


The Select Committee on Finance, having considered the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning, reports as follows:


1. Introduction and Background


According to The Presidency, government has made significant progress, most critically in establishing sound and credible institutions and in extending basic services to millions of people deprived of these necessities. The Presidency is of the opinion that a stable economic platform has enabled rising investment, rising employment and a steady reduction in the proportion of people living in poverty. However, The Presidency admits that there are still challenges owing mainly to the lack of a coherent plan and poor coordination. The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) informs that the lack of a coherent long-term plan has weakened government’s ability to provide clear and consistent policies. SALGA argues that government is limited in terms of capacity to mobilise all of society in pursuit of developmental objectives.


The Minister in The Presidency for National Planning in the fourth Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, Honourable Trevor Manuel, tabled the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning before Parliament on 4 September 2009. A green paper is a consultation document setting out a proposed policy position, in this case the position of national government on planning at the centre of government. This paper deals with the role and functions of the National Planning Commission, the Ministry for National Planning and Cabinet. It identifies institutional forms for planning and coordination. It describes the institutional linkages within and outside of government and proposes structures that would be tasked with meeting the mandate for better planning and coordination. Honourable Trevor Manuel, in his briefing to the Committee, emphasised that “having a coherent plan alone is not enough; we must construct a developmental state that has the necessary capacity to carry out the plan”. Therefore, there is a need for better long term planning to inform shorter term plans, resource allocation, trade offs and the sequencing of policies. The Presidency, through the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning sets out an institutional framework for planning and describes the outputs of planning.


2. Vision and National Strategic Planning


It is generally accepted that countries that have grown rapidly have often had clear strategies which demanded strategic choices and careful sequencing of policies and implementation. Often, long-run growth and development require a long term vision of an ultimate goal, and corresponding investment in people, in infrastructure and the productive base, and in democratic institutions. In the South African context, planning also means strengthening the relationship between the State and society. In other words, the State needs to foster an environment of mutual trust with the public by allowing the public to enrich both policy development and implementation by the State.

The Green Paper: National Strategic Planning addresses mainly high level national strategic planning. Put differently, operational planning and detailed infrastructure planning belongs in appropriate organisations at appropriate levels. However, operational plans must take account of the broader national plan. The Presidency states that each department, sphere of government and state agency should have planning capacity. Outcomes of their planning would feed into the development of the national strategic plan. In turn, the national strategic plan would define high level outcomes and impacts. Sector plans would take account of the national plan and define what roles sectors would play in achieving the outcomes defined in the national plan.


Ms. Gretchen Humphries[1] reported that the Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) welcomes the publication of the Green Paper and supports its long term vision of proper planning and coordination of the implementation of plans for socio-economic challenges facing the country. Mr Mayur Maganlal[2] reported that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) supports, as a matter of urgency, the need for a national development plan as it has the potential to provide the country with a rewarding product for all three spheres to work towards. SALGA expects the national strategic plan to guide the development plans of all three spheres, and to translate government’s mandate into a set of measurable objectives to ensure accountability. SALGA reports that the national strategic plan will ensure policy and planning coherence in the intergovernmental relations arena. SALGA believes that national strategic planning will make a significant contribution towards shaping and guiding the structures, engagements and content of intergovernmental relations to ensure that a more coherent relationship between the spheres of government, its department and its developmental partners finds expression.


FEDUSA argues that economic growth for South Africa has been positive after our first democratic election, with the exception of the Asian crisis of 1998. However, this economic growth was reversed by the global financial and economic crises that started in 2008. The average economic growth was characterised by 3 per cent in gross domestic product (GDP), exceeding 4 per cent in 2004 and rising to a highest rate of growth in many years of 5.3 per cent in 2007. FEDUSA explains that much of this positive economic growth has been attributed to sound and prudent macro-economic policies that enabled sustained growth during this time, as well as higher global commodity prices that favoured South Africa’s export commodities and the steady increase in domestic consumer demand prior to the global economic slowdown. Therefore, FEDUSA advises government to learn from its strengths and weaknesses in order to capitalise on its strength and eliminate its weaknesses. According to The Presidency, the Green Paper focuses more on planning and more attention is given to coordination that is related to interventions to remedy what has not worked in the past.


One of the reasons for a need of the National Strategic Planning is illustrated by SALGA (2009: 3): “Different parts of government are setting out visions for much longer and different time horizons. For example, the Johannesburg 2030, Gauteng 2055 (the hundred year anniversary of the Freedom Charter) and Durban was working towards a 100 year perspective plan, recently. The national vision needs to take these into account and, if necessary, ensure alignment. It is simply odd to have a National Commission setting out a South Africa 2025, and then the Gauteng Planning Commission putting out a G2055 strategy at roughly the same time. It is hoped that this level of coherence and coordination is addressed in the next draft of the Green Paper”. Implication is that the National Strategic Planning is long overdue.


3. National Planning Commission


The Presidency proposes, in the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning, that the National Planning Commission (NPC) would be established. The NPC will be tasked to develop a national plan for South Africa in consultation with government in partnership with broader society. Commissioners should collectively have expertise and practical experience in areas such as business, finance, labour, politics, sociology, economics, science, technology, demographics and development. Commissioners of the NPC will be respected thinkers able to bring fresh insight into the development of a long term plan for South Africa. Commissioners should be critical advisors to government and to represent the long term aspirations of all South Africa. They must be the voice of the future, putting the interests of long term development and progress at the centre of their recommendations.


According to proposals on the Green Paper, the Minister in The Presidency for National Planning will chair the NPC and will be the link between government and the NPC. Furthermore, the Minister will draw the views and perspectives of government into the NPC and advise the NPC about the workings of government. The Minister will also work with the NPC to table papers on topics relevant to the long-term development of the country. These papers will highlight the policy implications of specific trends and developments in South Africa, Africa and beyond our continent. SALGA (2009:3) supports this international perspective to environmental analysis by stating that “key factors such as the global economy, the rise of Asian superpowers,… climate change, African development and stability,…need to be factored in, to position South Africa…regionally and globally”.


SALGA gives an interesting example to explain the crucial role of the NPC in terms of vision formulating and strategic planning. “The commitments of what we want to achieve (outcomes) need to break down into a set of outputs by different parts of government…Therefore, there is no point in having a Planning Commission help the President issue a statement that 25 per cent of the country’s energy requirements will be renewable means by 2025 (for example), but there’s nothing in the plan that says what Eskom and municipalities are actually going to do to achieve that.”


In order to ensure the success of the NPC, FEDUSA urges government to review its experiences with past large scale policy interventions like the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative South Africa (AsgiSA) and to use experiences as learning in planning process. FEDUSA argues that the RDP that government established in the past, was criticised for containing an unrealistic set of outcomes and that there was no stronger institutions and structures for planning, coordination and evaluation. It is hoped that the NPC rectify shortcomings of the RDP.


4. Ministerial Committee on Planning


The Presidency reported that the Ministerial Committee on Planning (MCP) will be established to provide collective input into planning. The MCP members will be appointed by the President. The President and the Deputy President will be ex officio members of the MCP. It is proposed that the MCP is going to be chaired by the Minister in The Presidency for National Planning so that the Minister will feed the work of the National Planning Commission (NPC) into government and Cabinet through the MCP. The MCP’s role will be to:

  • provide political guidance to the planning process;
  • support the planning ministry in driving strategic planning; and
  • ensure consistent and integrated policies and programmes across multiple layers of policy-making, planning and implementation.


FEDUSA advises government that the roles of government and the private sector must be unambiguously described in the national strategic plan. FEDUSA is of the opinion that the President and Executive need to ensure that all departments and spheres of government undertake activities of policy development, strategic and operational planning, allocation of proper resources in terms of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to fulfil strategic objectives, implementation of agreed strategic objectives and policies and the monitoring and evaluation of policies within clear boundaries. The role of the Minister responsible for the NPC and the Minister of Economic Development needs to be aligned and clearly defined within agreed parameters. Instead of the Minister in The Presidency for National Planning to chair the MCP, FEDUSA proposes that the President or the Deputy President chairs this committee.


The coordination of government policy and objectives need to be monitored and evaluated on a continual basis to ensure coherent planning and efficient utilization of resources. This is where the role of the Ministry of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation is highly needed. FEDUSA stresses that the NPC can not contribute to reviews of implementation and progress because that would be tantamount to being ‘a referee’ and ‘a player’ at the same time. FEDUSA, once again, proposes that the Ministry of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation should have the required autonomy to provide independent, credible and authoritative assessments of progress and challenges of implementation.


5. Key Proposals


The following key issues have been identified from the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning and oral/written submissions from the Minister, organised labour and local government association:

5.1   It is proposed in the Green Paper that the Minister in The Presidency for National Planning chairs the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the Ministerial Committee on Planning (MCP). FEDUSA proposes that the MCP be chaired by the President or Deputy President. This is proposed in order to ensure that the Chair of this committee is objective and independent when the committee is considering the recommendations of the NPC for adoption as policies of the Republic of South Africa; and

5.2   It is proposed in the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning that the Ministry in The Presidency for National Planning will work together with the Ministry of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Development and National Treasury. But, the roles of these national departments in relation to the NPC are not clearly defined and understood as yet. SALGA and FEDUSA advise that government should develop a clear plan on how the afore-mentioned stakeholders are going to work in harmony with one another. It is observed that the role of the National Department of Economic Development in the NPC has received little attention in the Green Paper.


6. Recommendations


Having considered the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning, the Select Committee on Finance proposes that:

6.1 Parliament of the Republic of South Africa supports the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning;

6.2 The President or Deputy President chairs the Ministerial Committee on Planning in order to ensure objective and independent decisions on the National Planning Commission’s recommendations;

6.3 The Minister in The Presidency for National Planning chairs the National Planning Commission;

6.4 The Minister in The Presidency for National Planning presents the findings/ recommendations to the Ministerial Committee on Planning;

6.5 The Presidency provides a detailed report on how the NPC is going to work together with all relevant departments and other stakeholders, clarifying the roles of these departments or entities. The report should be submitted to Parliament (for consideration and reporting by the Select Committee on Finance) within three (3) months after the adoption of this report by the House;

6.6 The National Planning Commission should work together with all departments mentioned under point 5.2 above.

6.7 The Presidency should clarify the roles of Provincial Executives in the National Planning Commission; and

6.8 The Presidency should clarify if there will be a revised Green Paper or a White Paper on the National Strategic Planning. It is recommended that a revised Green Paper or a White Paper is published for consideration and reporting by Parliament in order to fully comprehend the overall function of National Strategic Planning.


7. Oral Submissions


The following table contains a list of people who made oral and/or written submissions before the Committee, some in their personal capacity.


Name & Surname



Honourable Trevor Manuel

Minister in The Presidency for National Planning

The Presidency, Republicof South Africa

Mr. De Bruyn

Member of Executive Committee of SALGA

(Western Cape)


Mr. Mayur Maganlal

Executive Director: Economic Development and Planning


Ms. Gretchen Humphries

Deputy Secretary General


Ms. Riefdah Ajam

Provincial Coordinator

(Western Cape)



The written submissions by the above-mentioned organisations are available on request from the Committee Secretariat. Provincial Portfolio Committees on Finance were invited to make their submissions on the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning. However, all provincial legislatures were unable to make their submissions. The representatives of the Provincial Portfolio Committees on Finance from Gauteng, Eastern and North West attended this meeting.


8. References


The Presidency, 2009, Green Paper: National Strategic Planning, Pretoria: The Presidency.


FEDUSA, 2009, Submission on the Green Paper: National Strategic Planning to the Ad hoc Portfolio Committee on Planning, Cape Town, Parliament, 9 November 2009.


SALGA, 2009, Input to the Green Paper National Strategic Planning, Cape Town, Parliament, 9 November 2009.


Report to be considered.




[1] Gretchen Humphries is the Deputy General Secretary of FEDUSA.

[2] Mayur Maganlal is the Executive Director: Economic Development and Planning of SALGA.


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