12 March 2012

Draft NDP on Health

Development, Part 9c

The National Planning Commission: 

Draft National Development Plan 

Chapter 10 on Health

Linked below is a PDF file, formatted for printing as an A5 booklet, made up of extracts from Chapter 10, Promoting Health, from the draft National Development plan. It has been formatted in this way for use as a short discussion text in the "Development" course of the Communist University.

This NDP chapter on Health seems to be more concrete (in the Hegelian and Marxist sense) than other chapters we have looked at from the NDP. The parts of this chapter make up an organic whole. It appears to be more of a plan and less of a wish-list.

This may be because of the considerable amount of serious research that has been done in government, in the ANC, in the SACP, and by unions such as NEHAWU, with a view to creating a National Health Insurance scheme, to which the ANC is committed, as is the current minister of Health, Cde Aaron Motsoaledi.

The full, 29-page, 527 KB PDF document is here.


What has the draft National Development Plan achieved so far? It is not revolutionary and it can barely be called “progressive”. It is incremental and gradualist. It is a linear extrapolation from the present, and is not a dialectical or concrete conception. In that way, we can say that it is not even scientific.

But South Africa’s draft National Development Plan is at least an attempt to look forward. So to that extent it represents a rejection of laissez-faire (let-it-be), and it embraces dirigisme (steering, or “intervention”). For this much we should be grateful, and it is not a small thing.

The NPC has an advantageous position within the Presidency, and it has the presumed support of its 26 members, who are prominent people in many walks of life. But the NPC has no big battalions. It also lacks the practice of public dialogue. So it is unlikely to be able to do very much more.

“Policy” will in practice be driven by the kind of action that NEHAWU and other agents have undertaken over the years, which produced the body of thought in the field of health that the NPC was obliged to take into consideration. The NPC then acted as an aggregator, and not as an initiator; and this may be how things will proceed all around, i.e. that the NPC will endorse and sanctify initiatives that come from outside of itself.

Some confirmation for this view of the NPC’s future is given by the news that the National Development Plan will not be proclaimed until July 2012, or in other words, well after the ANC Policy Conference.

Thus, the living democracy of the mass democratic movement, within the framework of the National Democratic Revolution, will continue to have priority in determining the country’s future.

What role will the NPC have?

The leaders of the NPC are not very good communicators. The documents that they sent out were extremely difficult to handle, and are still difficult to handle even after many complaints.

Their attempts to communicate using innovative (so-called “social”) media did not take them towards dialogue, but towards proselytising and indoctrination.

In the world of popular communications, the NPC was unable to improve on the patronising, condescending tone of “tips for Trevor”.

Whereas the ANC’s forthcoming Policy Conference is the apex of a dialogic pyramid that goes, via ANC branches and sub-Branches, all the way down to localities all over the country; while on the other side it has a majority in parliament and a firm hold on the executive government.

The ANC is closely linked to other dialogical agents, including the SACP, and with other trade unions apart from NEHAWU and SADTU, which we have already mentioned.

This combined alliance mechanism can, and does, produce real dialogue, and it is incomparably larger than any other public mass in South Africa. It is by itself a medium of mass communication, and a larger one by far than any other in the country.

The NPC did not want to let go and risk the planning process getting out of its hands and becoming bigger than itself - for example, by taking off as an internal dialogue of the ANC and its allies.

The NPC took an awkward, visitor’s position on the op-ed pages of the bourgeois mass media.

The NPC up to now has been neither fish nor fowl. It has tended to fall between two stools. It was neither vanguard, nor mass.

It will have to change if it is going to have a future. Especially, it will have to improve its communication skills.

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