• Zama Ndlovu
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The broad aim of the National Development Plan (NDP) is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. The economic advantages of achieving this goal were discussed at an NDP Lecture, given by Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy chair of the National Planning Commission.
Unpacking the plan, Ramaphosa, who is also the deputy president of the ANC, spoke to a hall packed to the rafters with students, business people and some members of the commission. The lecture took place at the Great Hall of the University of the Witwatersrand in Braamfontein on 10 September.
South Africa can realise these goals, according to the plan, by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.
Ramaphosa said: “When President Jacob Zuma decided to appoint the National Planning Commission in May 2010, he was motivated by an urge to have a plan for South Africa; he kept saying we were one country that didn’t have an overarching plan that united everyone.”
He talked about how the Freedom Charter was a plan by the ANC, although it was incorporated into the Constitution. The NDP, he said, would be a blueprint which every South African would buy into and which would unite the country.
“The NDP will serve as a vision and a coherent programme to overcome the challenges facing South Africa,” said Ramaphosa. These were inequality, poverty and unemployment. If South Africa was to overcome poverty and unemployment, then solving its economic challenges had to be at the heart of our objectives as a people and as a country.
“All of us as South Africans will be able to say we seek an economy that serves all of our interests … an economy that will be able to absorb people seeking work, one that is competitive and [one in which] the incomes of the poor will be rising higher and higher,” he added. “Our vision is of an economy that is diverse in what we produce as South Africans and also in terms of who owns this economy, who manages this economy, and also who works in this economy.”
The NDP identified improving the quality of public services as critical to achieving transformation. This would require provinces to focus on identifying and overcoming the obstacles to achieving improved outcomes, including the need to strengthen the ability of local government to fulfil its developmental role. “We seek firms or businesses that are profitable and play a constructive role in supporting development and social cohesion. We seek an effective state that allows business expansion, protects workers’ rights and ensures that the poor get a better life.”
Ramaphosa added that despite making inroads since 1994, the South African economy still did not serve the interests of all. Many of the unemployed people in the country lacked the skills they needed to enter certain markets. The challenge of creating meaningful jobs would forever be present, and this was the struggle “we must engage in”.
“We all want what is best for our people and what is best for our country. This plan is not perfect. There is no perfect plan in the world, and where there are differences, they must be resolved.”
Although Ramaphosa’s lecture was generally well received, there were some interruptions by people protesting the Marikana massacre. Ramaphosa was a former board member at Lonmin. He has been criticised for calling for action against the mineworkers before the shooting.