10 March 2012

Draft National Development Plan

Development, Part 9a

Trevor Manuel

The National Planning Commission:

Draft National Development Plan

The South African National Planning Commission (NPC) handed over its draft National Development Plan (NDP) to the President of the Republic, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, on 11 November 2011.

This rather long post is a new addition to the CU “Development” course. It will have to serve the purpose of introducing the NDP, as well as one particular chapter of it (Chapter 3 on Economy and Employment – see towards the end of this message).

The draft closely follows the format of the “Diagnostic” document that the NPC had released a few months earlier.

In the three-page “popular plan” version of the NDP, the NPC states that after a three-month consultation period (November 2011 to February 2012) the plan is to be turned into reality.

The plan is apolitical and a-historical. It makes no reference to the Freedom Charter or to the National Democratic Revolution. It does not mention the world’s first-ever National Plan – Lenin’s tremendous GOELRO Plan, adopted by revolutionary Russia in 1920. Nor does the NDP make any critical comment on the political philosophy of development. Searches of the entire NPC web site, including the 444 pages of the plan, for the words “Lenin”, “Socialism”, “Dialectic”, “Slovo” or “Mao” return nil results. The term “Capital”, on the other hand, returns 130 results. Try it yourself. Google for [selected term]” site:www.npconline.co.za.

Instead of doing what we have done in our CU course on Development, the draft NDP applies the logic of “therapy to victim” (T2V).

NDP not dialectical

Which means that problems, or sicknesses, are “diagnosed” in terms of received wisdom or “common sense”. Of course, the solutions for those problems are predetermined by the definition of the problems/sicknesses that the “diagnosis” uses, or invents. Subsequent progress from then on is only imagined as inevitably gradual, or as incremental or marginal, but not as dialectical, or revolutionary.

The product of this kind of reasoning is a set of bullet points, mixing the seemingly sublime with the clearly banal (read some of these bullet points later on in this message). It is eclectic, and it refuses to take on board any acknowledged, as opposed to tacit, “meta-narrative”. In other words, it refuses politics. It just sees South Africa as sick, and it sees the itself, National Planning Commission as South Africa’s technocratic healer. It sees SA as being under doctor’s orders, with the NPC in the rôle of bossy doctor.

The result of this “T2V” can only possibly be a “best practice”: a cleaned-up, marginally-improved version of the status quo. It cannot possibly be a revolutionary break. Unlike the National Democratic Revolution, the NDP is not even a preparation for revolutionary, qualitative change

Back to the future?

This is a conservative, Southern African “Herman van Rompuy” or “José Manuel Barroso” type of document. Barroso and van Rompuy are the unelected technocratic leaders of the European Union (EU).

As with the EU, so also with the NPC: The politics are not visible, but the politics are certainly there. The politics are hidden under the technocratic white coat of these specialists in “diagnosis”. The politics are bourgeois. But the bourgeois crisis cannot be avoided, or managed, unless it is recognised, and not hidden.

Like Europe, SA is being diagnosed in this document as sick, but only because it does not conform to a sick system. We are then prescribed more of the same sick system as a remedy. We should rather avoid the European catastrophe. We should not be tempted to follow Europe into the abyss.

Resources and links

Immediately below are some resources and links. We will take excerpts from three Chapters of the NDP draft for the remainder of this part. The first (see below, and attached) will be Chapter 3, on “Economy and Employment”. The second will be Chapter 9, on Education, and the third will be Chapter 10, on Health.

The remaining parts of the draft National Development Plan are available via the links given immediately below, or by going via the NPC web site home page at http://www.npconline.co.za.

In its final, tenth, part the CU course on Development returns to a vision of development as being the formation of the free-willing collective human subject of history, and especially of the formation of the democratic mass organisations of South Africa. The process of mass political education, organisation and mobilisation will open the way to South Africa’s true and dialectical human development, but if it gets stalled and is not able to proceed, then South Africa will revert to the condition of the European Union, where there is a crisis of political and democratic legitimacy, and a corresponding absence of sufficient organised mass popular power to overcome the reactionary powers at the centre of the EU.

The alternative to the inevitable failure of technocracy, is mass, democratic organisation.

More on the NDP, and resources

(from the Foreword)

“The National Planning Commission is not a government department. It consist of 26 people appointed by the President to advise on issues impacting on long-term development. This gives the commission the license to be honest, bold, cut through the silos of government and take on board the views of all South Africans. It also requires us to be humble, never pretending that we have a monopoly on wisdom. This is a proposed development plan, subject to public comment and criticism.”


(from the Popular Plan)

“This is a draft plan. We also want people to tell us their views. Everyone must participate. It must belong to all of us. After we have had everyone’s feedback, the President, on behalf of the country, can adopt it.

“The commission was appointed by the President for five years, from May 2010 to May 2015. In the next three months we will consult as many people as possible to improve the plan. The time we have left after that we will use to make sure that the plan is turned into a reality.

In other words, when the time declared for national debate has expired, some time after February, 2012, the NPC will convert itself into a paid lobby for these policies, located inside the presidency.

National Development Plan Downloadable in Sections (English):

If the links below don’t work, please click here to go to the NPC’s page of links

Click here to read the popular plan:
Two parts of the NDP, bullet-pointed, from the “popular plan”:

Create Jobs

        Create 11 million more jobs by 2030:
        Expand the public works programme
        Lower the cost of doing business and costs for households
        Help match unemployed workers to jobs
        Provide tax subsidy to businesses to reduce cost of hiring young people
        Help employers and unions agree on starting salaries
        Make it possible for very skilled immigrants to work in South Africa
        Make sure that probationary periods are managed properly
        Simplify dismissal procedures for performance or misconduct
        Take managers earning above R300 000 out of the CCMA process
        Reward the setting up of new businesses, including partnering with companies
        Increase value for money for tourists by selling regional packages that meet all pocket sizes. Consider a single visa for SADC visitors
        Deal with confusion over policies to do with transport, water, energy, labour and communication

Education and Training

        Develop a nutrition programme for pregnant women and young children, to be piloted by the Department of Health for two years
        Make sure all children have two years of pre-school
        Get rid of union and political interference in appointments and appoint only qualified people
        Increase teacher training output by expanding “Funza Lushaka” to attract learners into teaching, especially those with good passes in maths, science and languages
        Regularly test teachers in the subjects they teach to determine level of knowledge and competence. Link teacher pay to learner performance improvements
        Good schools should not be burdened with the paperwork that poor performing schools have to do to improve. Schools performing very poorly should receive the closest attention
        Change the process of appointment of principals and set minimum qualifications
        Gradually give principals more powers to run schools, including financial management, procurement of textbooks and other educational material, as well as hiring and firing educators
        Increase the number of university graduates and the number of people doing their doctorates
        Build two new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape
        Build a new medical school in Limpopo and a number of new academic hospitals
        Consider extending the length of first degrees to four years on a voluntary basis
        Provide full funding assistance covering tuition, books, accommodation and living allowance (in the form of loans and bursaries) to deserving students
        Grant seven-year work permits to all foreigners who graduate from a registered South African university 

Chapter 3 on Economy and Employment
Herewith, attached, is the National Development Plan, Chapter 3 on Economy and Employment and
The chapter begins:
“Achieving full employment, decent work and sustainable livelihoods is the only way to improve living standards and ensure a dignified existence for all South Africans.
“This will be achieved by expanding the economy to absorb labour
“We can reduce the unemployment rate to 6 percent by 2030.”
As we have said, the National Development Plan is a gradualist plan, and not a revolutionary plan. It works from the unspoken assumption that what we have would be good enough, if only it was improved. In this chapter, 2030 looks very much like 2012, only with some of the bad bits cleaned made a bit better.
The chapter begins with some projections and some generalities. After page 7, it goes into “Employment scenarios”. This is so-called scenario planning, which is a kind of dreaming. Is that bad? You be the judge.
Then the chapter proceeds to “challenges”.
Thereafter, from pages 15 to 45 the document is mainly prophecy, or declaration. Sentences are written as “need to be”, “would be” and “will be”, without much sense of difference. It is not altogether clear whether this is a guide or a model, or an intended set of laws.
There is a Conclusion on the last three pages (49-48).
Is this chapter from the NDP on employment, just a wish-list? You be the judge.
And if it is a wish-list, is that bad?
It would be bad if the wish-list is taken as a plan, because a wish is something less than a plan.
Below is an extract from the bottom of page 27, and page 28, taken as an example of the declaratory nature of the chapter. It proposes an orthodoxy, or standard view. This particular view is about what COSATU calls “labour brokers”.

Extract (p.27):

Regulating temporary employment services

Private temporary employment and placement services have significantly contributed to labour market matching in the past two decades. This may partly be explained by formal employers seeking to circumvent labour regulations. It may also be caused by the rapid expansion of services sectors, which have been the main source of employment growth. Bhorat estimates that 900 000 people have been placed in some work opportunity as a result of the temporary employment services sector. These services are essential given the fragmented labour market, where low-income households are generally far from economic opportunity with weak labour market networks. Most new opportunities are in services activities, which often involve changing jobs periodically. These employment services raise the chance of achieving more regularised employment, as well as access to skills training for new placements. Such a service provides the opportunity for regulation and access to benefits for workers.

The private labour placement sector and temporary employment services need to be effectively regulated to ensure that the opportunity for labour matching is available to vulnerable workers, while protecting basic labour rights. Some basic provisions would ensure that after six months with a temporary employment service and/or client, they would be jointly and severally liable for unfair dismissal and unfair labour practices. The temporary employment service would be responsible for the employment relationship regarding the Unemployment Insurance Fund, the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act, the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and the Skills Development Act.

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