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Let's grow South Africa together

Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the handover of the National Development Plan during the Joint Sitting of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces

15 Aug 2012

Honourable Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe,
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairperson of the NCOP,
Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairperson,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Members,
Members of the National Planning Commission,
Fellow South Africans,

 

 

We would like to thank the Presiding Officers for enabling the holding of this joint sitting of Parliament to hand over the National Development Plan of the country.

The calling of a joint sitting by parliament demonstrates the common purpose of the legislature and the executive, to see the development of a prosperous South Africa, free of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

We would like to thank all political parties for the contributions to the debate on this important achievement for the country.

As members would recall, in 2009 we identified two shortcomings in the administration that needed immediate correcting. One was the lack of performance monitoring mechanisms.

To fill the monitoring gap, we established a Ministry and department responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation.

The second was the need to introduce long term planning so that we could align our policies with a long-term development plan.

The intention was to move away from silos and parochial planning and look at our country as one holistic entity that should develop comprehensively, in every corner.

We established the Ministry for the National Planning Commission in the Presidency to fulfill this task.

With the assistance of the South African public, who participated in the nomination process, we appointed experts to work with Minister Manuel as Chairperson, and the Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.

The areas of expertise include economics, finance, social services, rural development, energy, public policy and governance, infrastructure development, urban and regional planning, education and training, health, agriculture and food security, climate change, local government and scenario planning.

The National Planning Commission has conducted its work guided by the Constitution of the Republic, which is the ultimate national development plan, outlining what type of society we must build.

The Constitution incorporates principles from the Freedom Charter, which was produced by scores of South Africans, black and white, who came together and adopted a vision and mission for the country in June 1955.

The country’s Constitution, derived from lessons arising from our history of selfless struggle, enjoins us to heal the divisions of the past and to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.

It says we must lay the foundation for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law.

It calls upon us to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person.

More importantly, the Constitution states that we must build a united and democratic South Africa, able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.

Like the Freedom Charter, the Constitution emphasises that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, thereby promoting a common citizenship, a common future, a common destiny for all.

Knowledge of a common citizenship, future and destiny has brought us together today to accept and discuss this National Development Plan.

Together we want to build a future of prosperity, with freedom from want, disease, deprivation, illiteracy, landlessness, racism, xenophobia, homophobia and all social ills and related intolerances.

It must be a future where every citizen of our country lives in a community with proper infrastructure, be it a road, school, clinic, recreation facilities, a community hall, electricity, water, sanitation, information and communication technologies and the ability to develop to their full potential.

The National Planning Commission was established to help us to refine that vision and unpack our destination for us, and help us achieve that goal of a united, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and truly prosperous society.

At the inaugural meeting of the Commission, I said the establishment of the NPC was our promise to the people of South Africa that we were building a state that would grow the economy, reduce poverty and improve the quality of life of our citizens.

For that reason, the team was asked to produce reports on a range of issues that impact on our long term development, such as water security, climate change, food security, energy security, infrastructure planning, human resource development, defence and security matters, the structure of the economy, spatial planning, demographic trends and so forth. They have delivered on their mandate, in record time.

We congratulate the team on this achievement.

They have presented to all of us, a plan that all South Africans should identify with and embrace.

Regardless of our political differences, we broadly agree on the need to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

We may disagree on methods, but the end result is not difficult to agree on. The national plan describes that final destination that we are all moving towards.

 

Honourable members,

It is also impressive that the National Planning Commission has, in its short existence, already contributed significantly to both the public discourse on our future and to the policy making process inside government. We needed to have that sort of debate as a nation.

In June 2011, the Commission released a diagnostic document stating that the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality were the objectives of a long term plan.

The diagnostic report outlines nine key challenges that stand in the way of achieving those objectives.

They said that these were the following:

  • too few people work
  • the quality of school education for black people is poor
  • infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained
  • spatial divides hobble inclusive development
  • the economy is unsustainably resource intensive
  • the public health system cannot meet demand or sustain quality
  • public services are uneven and often of poor quality
  • corruption levels are high
  • South Africa remains a divided society.

Very few countries are able to take such a strong self-critical view. It demonstrates how mature we are politically, and how determined we are about turning the situation around.

It demonstrates the determination to work together as all parties, to reverse the legacy of the horrible system of governance we emerged from in 1994, which was designed to systematically under-develop certain areas of our country and in particular the black majority.

In November last year, the Commission produced a draft National Development Plan for 2030, comprehensive set of policy proposals.

The recommendations covered thirteen areas including job creation, education, health, rural development, citizen safety, economic infrastructure, social protection and South Africa’s place in the region and the world.

Since November, the commission has embarked on an extensive public engagement process on the draft plan. They have held hundreds of meetings in the most far flung areas of the country, engaged with civil society, the labour movement and several business formations. They have also engaged extensively with Parliament.

In addition, they have received over 500 written submissions from members of the public.

We therefore congratulate the National Planning Commission on conducting one of the most extensive public consultation processes on public policy since the drafting of our Constitution.

They went to all provinces, and used all means of communication to reach South Africans.

They have underscored our country’s democratic foundations.

The NPC submits that our long term objectives should be the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality. There is further consensus that creating jobs and improving the quality of education are our highest priorities.

There is also a large degree of consensus on the key elements of the plan and of a social compact that will guide our country over the course of the next two decades.

As Minister Manuel has outlined, the Plan deals with more than just the five priorities of government, but many other concerns that we dedicate our efforts to on a daily basis.

While the achievement of the objectives of the National Development Plan requires progress on a broad front, three priorities stand out:

 

  • Raising employment through faster economic growth.
  • Improving the quality of education, skills development and innovation.
  • Building the capability of the state to play a developmental, transformative role.

 

Given our struggle against unemployment, a scourge that renders many families restless and in distress, we are encouraged by the long-term employment creation proposals, which are in line with our New Growth Path framework.

 

The Plan proposes that we should adopt strategies that bring about faster economic growth, higher investment and greater labour absorption.

 

It states that we should reduce the unemployment rate from 24.9 percent in June 2012 to 14 percent by 2020, and to six percent by 2030, which would require an additional 11 million jobs. This would help us tackle youth and women unemployment.

 

We believe that it is an achievable goal if we set our sights to it, and transform and de-racialise the economy to enable it to perform in a manner that will enable growth and job creation.

 

We can and should also make our economy receptive to employing young people.

Youth unemployment should be of concern to us all across political divides. The challenge cannot be a political football, but should unite us behind finding a solution, as the youth is the future of our country.

 

Honourable members,

Another key intervention which the Plan reflects, which is directly related to job creation, is education.

The long-term vision proposed by the National Planning Commission sees South Africa improving its education system and infrastructure.

This will require good pre-school learning, investments in mathematics and science teaching, promoting learner retention rates and producing positive outcomes in all our schools.

We are encouraged by the prediction that if we get basic education right, we can be able to increase enrolment at universities by at least 70 percent by 2030.

 

We have reason to be optimistic about the youth given the interest some of them show in serious matters especially the economy.

 

I received an email from Humphrey Mpumelelo Hlongwane, a grade 12 learner at Siyathemba in Balfour, Mpumalanga province, wanting to know how South Africa will benefit from the membership of BRICS and how long it will take before we see results.

With young people like Mpumelelo we can be optimistic that the future will be in good hands, as they are already pondering a brighter and successful future, and are keen to engage the highest level of government to understand what we are trying to do.

 

We intend to visit the school to explain BRICS to all the learners, especially grades 11 and 12.

 

Honourable members,

The National Development Plan covers many sectors but also raises great expectations.

People will expect from it solutions to many problems they face on a day to day basis. These are the problems that led to the establishment of the National Planning Commission in the first place.

Many of our people spend long hours travelling by taxis and buses to work. There is clearly a mismatch between where people live and where they work.

The plan must help us address this anomaly in the long-term. In all well-planned societies the poor live near places of work, in South Africa it is the opposite. Those with no transport live far away.

The National Plan also makes proposals on how to deal with historical anomalies in housing delivery by 2030.

Some people are surprised to be told they earn too much to qualify for a housing subsidy from government but not enough to qualify for a mortgage bond from a bank. This leaves them without decent shelter.

Their children do not qualify for financial assistance from the state in order to study, and yet banks consider them risky borrowers.

Another anomaly is how we get households to utilize land to produce food. Even in rural areas where people could have some land for tilling, households rely on supermarkets for all their food requirements. Given the high food prices, this is not the best option.

Proposals in the National Plan include the activation of rural economies through several measures including reviewing land tenure and security for the landless rural masses and supporting subsistence farming to enable people to live from the land.

We applaud the projection and proposal that of the 24 million jobs targeted for 2030, 643 000 direct and 326 000 indirect jobs must be created in the agriculture, agro-processing and related sectors.

Indeed, with improved economic activity both in the urban and rural areas, hunger and poverty will take a back seat. People will enjoy improved nutritious diets, a significant step towards a healthy nation that the plan advocates for 2030.

 

I am pleased that the commission agrees with us about the importance of infrastructure for development, to change the landscape of our country.

Ultimately, we should see every township and village having tarred roads, water, sanitation, electricity, proper sewerage systems, recreational facilities and all social amenities that normal residential settlements should have.

 

We are encouraged by proposals to improve health among others by reducing maternal, child and infant mortality, and preventing communicable diseases such as TB and HIV and AIDS and to improve health infrastructure.

Also of paramount importance, is the need to ensure safer communities, which this Plan also highlights at length.

The ongoing fight against crime and corruption remains pivotal to the achievement of our long-term goals as a country.

Honourable members,
Special guests,

The actions we take today can ensure that we have a better tomorrow.

It will ensure that children born today will enjoy this full range of benefits by 2030, including good education and employment.

The National Development Plan tells us that it is possible to create a future that is many times better than the present. We can do it if we set our sights to it, and begin planning in earnest for 2030, instead of looking only at the next financial year or the next five years.

We urge all sectors to also engage with the Plan - the school governing boards, companies, newsrooms, university councils, religious gatherings, unions, political parties and many other important gatherings of our people.

We encourage schools, especially grades 10, 11 and 12 to study the plan. This will help children in career planning, as they will understand the priorities and vision of the country.

It is a common road map for all of us, regardless of political affiliations.

We have an exceptional Constitution. The National Plan gives meaning to that Constitution, and provides practical long term proposals to implement the vision outlined in the Constitution.

We thank all the commissioners for a job well done. We thank them in particular for the interactive manner in which this important work was done.

We will be discussing this document at the Cabinet Lekgotla next month, to harmonise it with our existing development plans.

The work of the Commission does not stop with the submission of the Plan. The terms of reference asks them to do more detailed work in eleven areas including water security, food security, education and employment.

Furthermore, they are tasked with advising government on the implementation of the Plan.

They will work closely with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation to turn the Plan into targets to be incorporated into future performance and delivery agreements.

We trust too, that political parties, companies, school governing bodies, trade unions and many sectors, will also incorporate many aspects of the plan in their own long-term planning exercises and implementation plans.

In that way, we will harmoniously move towards a better future together. We have a common citizenship, common future and a common destiny, regardless of who we vote for during each national election.

South Africa is paramount. We should put her first in everything we do, before all sectional considerations.

Compatriots,

Before concluding, allow me once again, to congratulate our athletes for their encouraging performance at the London Olympics.

The rainbow flag flew high in London because of the determination of our young people to succeed.

I will be meeting Team SA soon as we have unfinished business.

I had asked for 12 medals, they brought home half, so we must talk about the rest. But they have made us very proud as a nation!

Allow me to add, Honourable Members, that the next task for the National Planning Commission is to tell us how to get more Olympic medals by 2030!

This means we must take sport development planning seriously as well as a country.

There was a clear indication that the skills with regards to athletics depends on investment at school and higher education level.

You would have noticed that the majority of the successful athletes were produced by the University of Pretoria.

We congratulate the university on this achievement, and encourage all institutions to invest more on sports development.

As government we have also taken a decision to revive and invest more in school sports, to begin planning for the future.

Honourable members,

We congratulate and thank the Commission as well as members of the public who participated in the production of the National Development Plan.

We look forward to more hard work from all of us, as we put the Plan to practice.

I thank you.