Active citizens ‘key to Development Plan’

17 November 2011

A key aspect of South Africa’s new National Development Plan, a blueprint for creating sustainable growth and development in the country over the next two decades, is its emphasis on active citizenry, says Brand South Africa CEO Miller Matola.

According to Matola, the plan – which seeks to create a “virtuous cycle of growth and development” by removing the most pressing constraints to investment and job creation – is set to improve South Africa’s international reputation and competitiveness.

“In these fraught times, with Europe hovering on the brink and America’s economic recovery under threat, having a coherent vision for the country through 2030 could do much to improve South Africa’s competitiveness,” Matola said in a statement on Thursday.

“International experiences suggests that trade, tourism and particularly investment respond well to the kind of long-term policy planning we as a nation are doing.”

The National Development Plan, which will be refined through public engagement before going to Cabinet, was presented to President Jacob Zuma by Trevor Manuel, chairman of the National Planning Commission, in Pretoria on Friday.

The wide-ranging draft plan aims to eliminate poverty and sharply reduce inequality in the country by 2030.

It intends doing this by concentrating on, among other things, expanding infrastructure, building a capable state, moving to inclusive planning, creating jobs and uniting the nation.

Citizens who Play their Part

The call to get citizens to Play their Part is already an essential ingredient of South Africa’s national debate.

For many years, ordinary South Africans have found ways to strengthen society, democracy and the economy. From creating employment opportunities, to mentoring young students, to starting up small and medium enterprises, South Africans have been pursuing sustainable means to make their society and local communities better for all.

Matola says that a fundamental shift the National Development Plan (NDP) proposes – from passive to active citizenry – will be the basis on which the whole approach will be built.

“What needs to happen now, as highlighted by the NDP, is that as South Africans we take accountability, and make it our responsibility to have a say in our democracy, development and prosperity,” Matola said. “It is about taking things back to basics – involved citizenship and participation.

‘We can no longer afford to be ambivalent’

“From understanding the Constitution, to pursuing ventures to better the lives of our children and future generations, and being accountable for our environment and surroundings in the midst of climate change, we can no longer afford to be ambivalent about meeting these challenges.”

Another notable aspect of the NDP, says Matola, is the call to build a capable state. This will mean that the best people must work for the state – and not just to pursue a good career opportunity but also because they want to serve the people of the country.

“The best condition for an improved public service is to encourage especially younger professionals to enter the public sector and build and maintain the capacity required for better service delivery for all,” Matola said.

“We all need to play our part, contribute to the National Plan and make sure that the milestones we achieve translate into better functioning communities and a better society.”

SAinfo reporter