Outcomes from National Planning Commission Strategy Session (Lekgotla) – Signalling a shift in gear
Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation on outcomes from National Planning Commission Strategy Session
The National Planning Commission (NPC) under the leadership of its Chairperson, Jeff Radebe, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and its Deputy Chairperson, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, convened for the third annual NPC Lekgotla held from 9 to 11 February 2018, at Kopanong Conference Centre in Benoni.
The Lekgotla, timed midway through the second term of the NPC, provided an important opportunity for the Commission to review its work to date; take stock of progress made in the implementation of the National Development Plan: Vision 2030 (NDP) by Government and other sectors of society; reflect on the key challenges facing the country that have impacted on the implementation of the NDP, and to make recommendations that would urgently help get the delivery of the NDP back on track.
The Commission is deeply concerned that the trends pertaining to key objectives of the NDP, namely, to reduce poverty, inequality and unemployment have seen a backward slide. Having registered GDP growth rates of average 3% between 2010 and 2013, the economy is currently in a low growth trap, sitting at average GDP growth of 1% since then. The result is that poverty rates have increased from 36.4% in 2011 to 40% by 2015; unemployment has increased to 27.7% as of the 3rd quarter of 2017, and inequality remains high.
“There is an urgent imperative to turn around the situation. The immediate priority is to restore confidence which will enable us to undertake specific measures to reignite economic growth. In this regard, raising the level of investment is critical, and at World Economic Forum in Davos we succeeded to generate renewed investor interest in our economy,” said Minister Radebe.
Since the appointment of this second Commission in September 2015, the NPC has undertaken various engagements within and outside Government on pathways and challenges to facilitate implementing the NDP, pursuant to our mandate. The Lekgotla resolved to spend the remaining two and half years of our five-year term towards restoring confidence in and ownership of the NDP and promoting accelerated implementation to address poverty and social inequalites. These priorities are essential for social cohesion and human development.
To this end the Lekgotla made the following key decisions:
On the Economy
The NPC reflected on the current political economy and the economic crossroad facing the country and the impacts on the lives of the poorest people. This has been identified as the single most important challenge for South Africa. We have been working on a series of research papers on pathways out of the current economic slump. These papers will shortly be released for public and stakeholder engagement. The first set of papers deal with short-term actions to revitalise the economy, SMME development and on Energy and Water Security.
On Spatial Planning
The NPC received a briefing on the status of the development of the National Spatial Development Framework to redress the legacy of apartheid spatial injustice and promote equitable spatial development through targeted investment and other measures. We resolved that the finalisation of this Framework is urgent and should be integral in the legislation currently under development by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation aimed at strengthening coordinated planning and implementation across the whole of government.
On Township and Rural Economies
We received a briefing on the outcomes of research and dialogues on the transformation of Township and Rural economies, with a particular focus on the promotion of small and medium-sized businesses and black-owned enterprises. We remain deeply concerned that the marginalisation of small, medium-sized and black-owned enterprises continues, due to various barriers and the persisting high levels of concentration in the economy. Government SMME policies are not achieving the desired transformative impact especially as a pathway out of unemployment and poverty. We agreed to undertake further engagements with relevant stakeholders on the specific recommendations emerging from the research and dialogues. In particular, we plan to engage with Development Finance Institutions (DFI’s) about their role and mandate in stimulating development.
On Crime, Corruption, and State Capture
The NPC reflected on the current developments with regard to allegations of criminality of top members of the police force, as well as the ongoing exposure of acts of corruption in the public and private sectors. We welcome the establishment of the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture. State Capture, Crime and Corruption are symptomatic of a muddled leadership and a weak developmental State. The NPC considers strong leadership and a capable state as critical preconditions for the proper implementation of the NDP.
We agreed to request an opportunity to make representations to the Commission on State Capture with a view to ensuring that the outcome restores the country back on the path that the NDP has set for us. We recommend that Government also adopts a similar standard of transparency in the establishment of the Commission as regard the appointment to top positions in key law enforcement agencies such as the National Directorate of Priority Prosecutions and the South African Police Service and others.
On Prioritising Implementation of the NDP
Furthermore, to provide direction and impetus in the implementation of the NDP, the NPC identified 54 priorities, drawn from each of the chapters of the Plan, which we recommend for adoption by Government and all stakeholders and actors in the private sector and society at large. These priorities were identified on the basis of their impact on the NDP’s apex targets of reducing of unemployment, poverty and inequality, and we believe that they will ensure that the country makes the required progress towards achieving the goals of the Plan. The specific performance indicators for each of the 54 priorities will enable improved monitoring of implementation of the NDP across all sectors. These indicators will be measured and assessed periodically to assess progress in the implementation. As Government transitions into the next cycle of medium-term planning for the country, we will be engaging on these matters with leadership in the Executive, in particular with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and other key stakeholders within and outside Government.
We also received a briefing by the Mapungubwe Institute of Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) in partnership with University of South Africa on their project on South Africa’s Scenarios to the year 2030 initiative, premised on the NDP: Vision 2030. The NPC considers this initiative to be aligned to our work and we have agreed to collaborate with the project going forward.
The Commission had a productive meeting with concrete and practical outcomes which will focus our work over the next two years. The NPC will carry out its work through active stakeholder engagements and wider and enhanced platforms of communication.