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Input by Secretary General Gwede Mantashe on ANC Policies and the NDP at Wits University

25 July 2013

Good evening
Comrades,
Ladies and gentlemen

Once more, let me extend my gratitude to the Wits leadership of the African National Congress Youth League for inviting us. The invitation is even more gratifying, given the main focus of what you have asked us to address ourselves to.

When extending the invitation you proposed that I should seek to reply to a broad range of questions, such as: What is the NDP all about? Why the NDP? What is the difference or similarity between it and policy approaches like the RDP or GEAR? And, how does it carry the hopes of South Africans?

In the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane we resolved,

"To build the strategic, organisational and technical capacities of government with a view to a democratic developmental state, through:

  • A strengthened role for the central organs of state, including through creation of an institutional centre for government-wide economic planning with the necessary resources and authority to prepare and implement long and medium term economic and development.
  • The integration, harmonisation and alignment of planning and implementation across all three spheres of government, and with the development finance institutions and state owned enterprises, including through the development of coherent inter-sectoral plans at national level and the alignment of local implementation in terms of IDPs of metro, district and local municipalities."

The resolution gives context and framework to our desire to realise a developmental state. Central to that objective is the importance of creating an institutional centre for government-wide economic planning and the integration, harmonisation and alignment of planning and implementation across all three spheres of government.

The NDP is our first attempt to develop a long and medium term plan aimed at accelerating the implementation of ANC policies. It sets out a vision 2030 for South Africa, with key targets to be met and identifies specific steps for implementation. It takes a strategic, wide-ranging view at the challenges and opportunities before us; which is based on an extensive consultation with the South African public. It is a plan for dealing with unemployment, inequality and poverty, consistent with the National Democratic Society in both form and content.

In the ANC we agree that, now that we have produced the NDP we should take another step. Such a step would mean developing concrete programmes aimed at implementing various aspects of the NDP, at all levels of government and in specific sectors of society.

The NDP states that it "aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society."

It "envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others, where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work."

When we agree on the underpinning principles we will be better-placed to deal with issues, including those on which we differ. We should recognise that its implementation will be a process, not an event where all the items in the document will be realised at the same time and in one swoop. The fundamental principle is that of working together to realise a better country.

The NDP is focused on the people`s quality of life and the conditions that are needed to enable them shape their own lives. It seeks to intervene directly in improving the things that make the most difference to the quality of life of people, particularly the poor. It, therefore, identifies a broad range of social factors that affect people`s opportunities and the role of public policy in expanding those opportunities. For example, among others, the ability to access quality education and health care affect people`s opportunities.

Among the numerous challenges it identifies are, the need for better educational and economic opportunities for the youth and the need for a greater effort to eliminate gender inequality.

I will want to pay greater attention on the issues of economy and employment as well as the improvement of education, training and innovation.

In summary, the NDP proposes the following framework for finding solution to the problem of low growth, that is,

  • Raising exports while taking steps to prevent excessive over-valuation of the currency,
  • Improving skills development,
  • Breaking the disincentive to hire young, unskilled work seekers by incentivising the employment of young, unskilled work seekers,
  • Using fiscal policy to raise savings and investment and reduce consumption,
  • Taking measures to increase competition in regulated sectors or increase price regulation in sectors that are natural monopolies,
  • Lowering cost of transport and logistics and investing in remedies to address spatial divide and
  • Strengthening the social wage to raise living standards of those out of work or in low paying jobs.

We have not found fault with these principles and have, as a result, agreed that in areas where there is agreement implementation should start. We should engage with the concerns about the provisions in the area of the labour market. The aim thereto being finding a solution to increase employment, avoid slave wage and sweatshop conditions. Employment, through income earned, is critical in enabling people invest in various aspects of their lives, such as education, nutrition, housing and transport. We should, therefore, debate on the appropriate standards that will give meaning to decent work. Creating more jobs and ensuring that more people get to the workplace is an urgent obligation.

The resolution of the 52nd National Conference of placing the industrial policy at the heart of our economic policy remains correct. Both the National Growth Fund and IPAP have helped us focus on the various sectors. We now have better understanding of the sectors that have the potential for growth and those that are more labour intensive. There should therefore be more investment in such sectors. The ANC is committed to being a partner for growth and development.

Regarding education, we have seen successes, such as,

  • Universal access to basic education and thus systematically improving literacy and numeracy,
  • State resource allocation has been equalised
  • No fee schools provide free education to children from poor households.
  • The school nutrition programme provides opportunities to remain in school longer for children from poor households.
  • The increase in the number of university students and graduates is reflected in the 250% growth of the black middle class in the last ten years.
  • The massive increase in resources allocated to NSFAS continues to give opportunity for children from poor households.
  • There is also a need for the retention of learners in the system for the first twelve years of learning.
  • The FET College education should be improved so that it can be an attractive alternative for learners. It is encouraging to see the number of students in these colleges doubling in four years.

The NDP recognises this and emphasises the improvement of the quality of education. In this regard, it focuses on improving human capacity and education infrastructure.

It recognises that since 1994 the state has provided services, yet this has been adversely impacted by the apartheid legacy. In this context, the overall result is that the uneven quality of services provided by the state tends to work against our efforts to build a more inclusive society. For example, in relation to government`s building of millions of houses, which represents a significant progress in tackling housing shortages, their location has tended to reinforce spatial divisions of apartheid. The plan recognises that houses should be built in order to enable better access to economic opportunities. It, therefore, proposes creating more live-able, inclusive and vibrant human settlements. Therefore, the NDP is an integrated approach to policy making, combining theory, evidence and practice with an aim of ensuring pragmatism and continuous learning in implementation and governance.

For us in the ANC, the NDP is consistent with our understanding of the National Democratic Revolution, in that it encourages a multi-class alliance to combat poverty and inequality in South Africa. Furthermore,

  • It advocates for a radical transformation in the economy within the context of a mixed economy. This is consistent with ANC policy and the discussions and outcomes of the 53rd National Conference in Mangaung.
  • It calls for a strong and effective state that is able to intervene on behalf of the poor and marginalised in order to correct the historic power imbalances.
  • It proposes a collaborative relationship between the state and capital and a dialogue between business, labour and government as a means towards ensuring investment, employment and growth. This echoes some of our articulations in the Strategy and Tactics, which asserts that monopoly capital is both an enemy and a potential ally in reconstructing society towards a national democratic one.

It fits in with the glorious traditions and noble efforts of our movement, such as the Freedom Charter and the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). In many ways it seeks to extend and realise the objectives contained in them. As the RDP opined, "no political democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be the first priority of a democratic government".

Nevertheless, it is not a replica of either the RDP or GEAR. But, like the Freedom Charter and the RDP, it is an outcome of a process designed to build consensus on our key policy objectives. Its explicit statement on working together with all the people resonates with our commitment, as stated in our 53rd National Conference Declaration, "we recognise that these efforts cannot bear fruit if carried out by government and the ANC alone. We therefore commit ourselves to build strong partnerships with community organizations and social movements, trade unions, religious bodies, business organisations, women and youth structures as well as other organisations to ensure that, in actual practice, South Africans - black and white - act as their own liberators".

Let me conclude by reminding you that, the NDP as our first effort to develop a long term plan is bound to have some weaknesses, which will be improved on as we forge ahead. It is an invitation to every sector to participate, and we are encouraged by the broad societal buy-in to it. "Development is an irrefutable argument."

As Isithwalandwe, comrade President Nelson Mandela, writing from Robben Island to comrade Adelaide Tambo, in 1977, intimated,

"Significant progress is always possible if we ourselves try to plan every detail of our lives and actions and allow the intervention of fate only on our terms."

Thank you.