National Planning Commission Vision: Leadership will be the greatest test
On Friday the National Planning Commission (NPC) launched its National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (see here - PDF).
The Democratic Alliance (DA) supports the development of plans to align the long-term objectives of government. But no matter how good the ideas in the NPC document are, a lack of leadership could scupper this plan, as it has many others before it:
- South Africa needed leadership to co-ordinate the inter-departmental implementation of the Department of Trade and Industry's Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2), which was launched in March 2010. Without the requisite time-frames, monitoring and co-ordination, implementation of this plan has been partial at best.
- We needed leadership to cut through the ideological standoff at the heart of the Department of Economic Development's New Growth Path, which was launched in November 2010. Because of the internal strife within the governing ANC, most of those ideas haven't seen the light of day.
- And we needed leadership to break the deadlock preventing the implementation of the Youth Wage Subsidy policy, which was announced by President Zuma in February 2010, and already appears as a line item in the National Treasury's 2011 Budget. As the Minister responsible for economic policy, Pravin Gordhan should have been able to begin rolling out this plan almost two years ago, but it has been stalled by internal Tripartite Alliance politics.
In all of these cases, President Jacob Zuma has failed to provide the leadership required to drive the implementation of plans and policies announced by his Ministers.
The NPC's National Development Plan will be doomed to fail in the same way as those which have come before it if the President does not lend his political weight to tackling the three biggest internal challenges which threaten its implementation:
Ideological conflict: The greatest challenge to the NPC's plans is not poverty, or corruption, or weak infrastructure, but the government itself. The promising recommendations in numerous previous documents have been shelved because of ideological stand-offs between broadly centrist cabinet ministers and those ministers aligned to the ANC's alliance partners.
Co-ordination: Many of the proposals made by the Commission require active implementation by numerous government departments. Their success is dependent on the ability of these departments to play their constituent roles, and on the Presidency to provide transversal management and ensure departmental co-ordination.
Unclear objectives: The NPC's proposals are a confusing mix of long-term planning objectives and detailed policy recommendations. In order to have an impact, the NPC needs to define much more clearly what role it wishes to play in government: does it seek to draft an overarching vision for the South African government, or to develop specific policies?
Over the coming week we will continue our review of the NPC's document and release our comprehensive response in due course.
Statement issued by Lindiwe Mazibuko MP, DA Parliamentary Leader, November 13 2011
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