National Development Plan a great leap forward for growth and jobs
Helen Zille, Leader of the Democratic Alliance
29 April 2012
Today, the Federal Council of the Democratic Alliance (DA) hosted Minister Trevor Manuel and members of his National Planning Commission to discuss the National Development Plan.
The DA takes the National Development Plan (NDP) very seriously indeed. We believe it represents significant progress and that most of its policy proposals, if implemented, would redress apartheid’s legacy at an unprecedented scale and pace.
In many ways, there is a strong convergence between the NDP and the proposals the DA is developing as part of its policy project to create jobs through increasing economic growth to 8%. Similar points of departure include:
- Pursuing growth as the best way to fight poverty and unemployment;
- Involving individuals and communities in their own development;
- Requiring a competent state to provide excellent education and essential services;
- Creating the right conditions for investment and job creation that drive a virtuous cycle of sustained development;
- Moving from passive to active citizenry;
- Developing people’s own capacity to pursue lives they value.
When it comes to growth and jobs, we are encouraged that the youth wage subsidy – long championed by the DA – is seen as a key mechanism to fight unemployment. We do, however, believe that the plan could be bolder when it comes to labour market flexibility.
We fully concur that investment in infrastructure is vital, which is why we have placed a special emphasis on this where the DA governs. We also agree that bureaucratic bottlenecks and red tape are holding up housing delivery and need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Providing learners with the skills they need to compete in the global knowledge economy is perhaps the single most effective weapon in fighting poverty and unemployment. We are therefore heartened that, besides other policy proposals around issues such as nutrition and school infrastructure, there is a focus on making principals and teachers accountable for learner outcomes.
The DA agrees that all South Africans deserve access to quality healthcare. But we do not agree with the NDP’s endorsement of the planned NHI. We have no reason to believe the scheme would fix the accountability problems that result in poor quality healthcare. Furthermore, we believe that the NHI is financially unfeasible given South Africa’s current fiscal position.
The NDP rightly points out that a capable state is an essential component of any development plan. It is refreshingly frank about the consequences of political interference in the public service. The proposals to inject greater professionalism into the public service are broadly in line with the DA’s vision of a more accountable public service.
However, the DA disagrees with proposals that affect the intergovernmental system, such as the introduction of a single public service. This would hamper the ability of other spheres of government to deliver services and make good on their electoral mandates – particularly if they are governed by a different party to that in power at national level.
The DA agrees that political will is essential in the fight against corruption. We support proposals that specialised teams of prosecutors and special courts handle corruption cases and that restrictions be placed on the business activities of public servants (as we have already done in the Western Cape).
Dramatically improving the effectiveness of our country’s criminal justice system and enhancing professionalism in the SAPS are crucial elements in the fight against crime. We fully concur with the NDP’s recommendations to demilitarise the police and to involve communities in building a safer society.
South Africa remains a divided society, scarred by our history of racial disenfranchisement, segregation and exploitation. The DA supports the NDP’s observation that achieving a sense of common citizenship and belonging is a complex but important process, and that South Africa needs a united and compelling vision of hope we can all believe in.
In conclusion, we note that there is significant opposition to the NDP, not least from the ANC’s own alliance partners. By contrast, the NDP finds a natural champion in the DA. We welcome the NDP’s frank assessment of our country's challenges and we support its overall policy thrust.
Minister Manuel noted today that the National Development Plan is still very much a proposal, that this is a “listening phase”. Overall, we like what we hear. We look forward to engaging further with the National Planning Commission to achieve our shared objective of rapid and sustainable economic growth. A high growth trajectory now needs to be the focus across government. It is the only way we are going to create jobs and give all South Africans opportunities to live a life they value.