The National Planning Commission was formed in April 2010, under the chairmanship of Trevor Manuel. They have finally released their first report, which focuses on the social, political and economic challenges facing the country. The report legitimises many of the concerns already voiced by private sector analysts/economists and it has probably also been a useful learning exercise for most of the commissioners. Hopefully, once it is finalised and implemented, the plan will adequately and realistically address these challenges.
According to the Commission there are nine key social, political and economic challenges facing South Africa:
- Too few South Africans are employed
- The quality of education for poor black South Africans is substandard
- Poorly located and inadequate infrastructure limits social inclusion and faster economic growth
- South Africa’s growth path is highly resource-intensive and hence unsustainable
- Spatial challenges (rural vs urban development) continue to marginalise the poor
- The ailing public health system confronts a massive disease burden
- The performance of the public service is uneven
- Corruption undermines state legitimacy and service delivery
- South Africa remains a divided society
According to the report, the first two challenges listed above are “the most pressing challenges facing the country”. There is significant detail provided on each of these challenges in the report (which is 32 pages long).
In September/October this year, the commission plans to release a draft plan that sets out key targets for 2030, and the steps or decisions required to achieve the plan. The public will be invited to comment on, debate and refine the plan.
The commission will present its vision statement and final plan to Cabinet in November 2011. It will then be up to Cabinet to define the procedures and a schedule for considering the plan.
In 2012 and beyond, the NPC will produce detailed reports on issues that affect South Africa’s long-term development.