28 May 2015

NDP Chapter 10 on Health

Development, Part 9c

Revolutionary Doctor, Mass Communication
The National Planning Commission: Draft National Development Plan

NDP Chapter 10 on Health

Attached 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.

This post is an edited version of the previous iteration, and is still a discussion of the draft.

The full chapter in the published (not draft) NDP, 2.5 MB in size, can be downloaded by clicking here.

The NDP, Overall

What did the National Development Plan drafting process achieve, overall? 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 it 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, and it is not a small thing, we should be grateful.

The NPC had an advantageous position within the Presidency, and it had the presumed support of its 26 members, who were prominent people in many walks of life. But the NPC had no big battalions. It also lacked the practice of public dialogue, which deficiency was apparent when it tried to communicate. So it was never likely to be able to do very much more than what it did; and in 2015, it was stood down. In 2015, we continue to await its replacement, which the SACP has said should be a permanent planning commission.

“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, or its future equivalent, will endorse and sanctify initiatives that come from outside of itself. These include the Industrial Policy Action Plan, The New Growth Path, and the Infrastructure Development Plan, all initiated and led by the ANC government.

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.

Initiative is Dialogue?

The leaders of the NPC were not very good communicators. The documents that they sent out were extremely difficult to handle, and continued to be 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 Policy Conference, for example, 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 organised 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 above is to introduce the original reading-text: National Plan, C10, Promoting Health – extract.

27 May 2015

Chapter 9 on Education

Development, Part 9b

The National Planning Commission:
Draft National Development Plan

Chapter 9 on Education
This course is still a study in Development. It is not a running commentary on the NDP’s progress. The writing below is an edited version of the previous iteration of this course. It refers to the NDP draft of mid-2011, and the attached document is an extract from Chapter 9 of the draft, called in full “Improving Education, Training and Innovation”.

The current version of the full Education chapter (613 KB) can be downloaded by clicking here.

As with most, but not all, of the other chapters of the NDP draft, this one was practically impossible to summarise, because it was an eclectic mixture of points pulled out of the thin air of bourgeois common sense.

It had no organic integrity, let alone any sense of a unity-and-struggle-of-opposites that would drive education forward in a way that corresponds to the dialectical nature of human history. This chapter exposes the National Planning Commission’s lack of a founding concept of humanistic development. The NPC appeared to be trapped within bourgeois utilitarianism, which is only a little better than bourgeois post-modernism.

This document was of the “end of history” variety. It anticipated no qualitative change, but sought only relative improvement. As well as having no revolutionary perspective, it is unable to anticipate the inevitable periodic “crises”, or even to take into account the one that we already have, the so-called “meltdown” that still continues to get worse and more threatening.

Not being historical, and so being trapped in its time, the document became a barely-disguised intervention in current attacks by the DA on SADTU. The National Planning Commission had lazily assumed that the projection until 2030 is doomed to stay within the narrow concerns of the mostly-white constituency, represented by Helen Zille and her cohorts.

SADTU issued a statement on 13 November 2012, taking issue with a number of the many bullet-points in the NDP draft. Here are three of SADTU’s responses:

Political and union interference in appointments: SADTU’s role is that of ensuring that proper processes are followed in the appointment/promotion of teachers and district officials. The recommendation should deal with those responsible for employment such as the SGB and the District office to perform their duties in the best interest of our country and not to allow improper influence.

Increase teacher training by Funza Lushaka bursaries: While we welcome the bursaries, we maintain that we don’t believe that the universities have the capacity to train the number of teachers needed. Our universities have abandoned research in favour of making profits. We therefore reiterate our call for the re-opening of teacher colleges to have focused and dedicated training.

Regular testing of teachers: The regular testing of teachers in subjects they teach is an insult to teachers. Instead, teachers should undergo regular refresher courses on the subjects they teach. The recommendation is based on preconceived ideas and not on the reality faced by teachers. This will add to the low morale the teachers are already suffering from because the policies are de-professionalizing teaching.

The National Planning Commission was not assembled on the basis of any common theoretical understanding. Clearly, it failed to build such an understanding. Perhaps it never attempted to do so. Consequently, it only managed to descend to its lowest common denominator, made up of ad hoc common sense and the fashionable ideas of the day. In the case of Education, this means that the National Development Plan is just about as "uneducated" as it could be.

In the next instalment, on Health, we will see that the situation was not quite the same, because the prevailing ideas are much more theoretically well developed. On Health, the NPC soaked up some good material and was able to use it in the NDP.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: National Plan, C9, Education - extract.

26 May 2015

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 post, now adapted, was added to the CU “Development” course during its previous iteration on “CU-Africa” on 10 March 2012. Abridged, this post can still serve the instructive purpose of introducing the NDP process, as well as introducing one chapter of the draft, namely Chapter 3 on Economy and Employment (November 2011 draft).

On 15 August 2013 the actual plan came out, called “Plan 2030: Our future - make it work”. Links are given below to the new document. But we will continue to refer to the draft for this item, this time, so as to retain the points of discussion as they arose in time. In any case, the NDP is still being revised, and it will continue to be revised.

Our purpose is to observe the thinking that informed the process. We note that the November 2011 draft closely followed the format of the July 2011 “Diagnostic” document.

In the three-page “popular plan” version of the NDP draft, the NPC stated that after a three-month consultation period (November 2011 to February 2012) the plan was to be turned into reality. This did not happen. Nor is it ever likely to happen in this literal sense, because what we posted on the CU-Africa in 2012 has turned out to be true: This was never an executable plan. Here follows more of what we wrote then:

The NDP 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” selects, or invents.

Subsequent progress is imagined as inevitably gradual, incremental or marginal, and not as dialectical, or revolutionary.

The product of this kind of reasoning is eclectic, and it refuses to take on board any acknowledged, as opposed to tacit, “meta-narrative”. In other words, it refuses overt politics. It just sees South Africa as sick, and it sees itself, the National Planning Commission, as South Africa’s technocratic healer. It sees SA as being under doctor’s orders, with the NPC in the role of bossy doctor.

The result of this “T2V” can only possibly be a “best practice”; that is, 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

National Development Plan Downloadable

“On 15th August 2012, the revised National Development Plan 2030 entitled, “Our future-make it work” was handed to the President at a special joint sitting of Parliament. All political parties represented in Parliament expressed support for the NDP.” – NPC web site

Here are some links:

·        NDP downloadable from http://www.npconline.co.za/pebble.asp?relid=25
·        SACP’s May Day message, 2013 is at: http://www.sacp.org.za/main.php?ID=3963
·        SACP discussion document (click for link): “Let’s not monumentalise the NDP” (May 2013)

The National Development Plan in chapters:

The Plan (NDP 2030):


Chapter 3 on Economy and Employment

Herewith, attached, is the National Development Plan draft Chapter 3 on Economy and Employment.
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.”

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 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 between these. 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?
Yes, it would be bad, if the wish-list is taken as a plan, because a wish is something less than a plan.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: National Plan, C3, Economy and Employment – extracts.

25 May 2015

Development, Part 9

Mineral-Energy Complex
South Africa’s largest centres of material production are in minerals and energy, and these two “sectors” are highly interdependent. For example the mineral, coal, is the mainstay of the electricity-generating industry of the country, while electric energy is in turn indispensable to the gold, platinum and other mines.

No question of “development”, in the material sense, in South Africa can be properly addressed without reference to the mineral-energy complex.

The SACP’s discussion document “Expanding Democratic Public Control over the Mining Sector” (attached) therefore has implications beyond the mining sector, and beyond the energy sector. This document is a window on the way that development - the dialectical, dynamic, unity-and-struggle-of-opposites otherwise called the class struggle, and its relationship with the state, are playing out before our eyes.

It is a remarkable document. Not only is it a theoretical masterpiece, helping us to see clearly what is what and who is who, but it also stands comparison with the best of journalism, because it illuminates the South African situation so well, as a narrative.

One of the quotations given in the document is from Frederick Engels, on nationalisation, as follows:

“the transformation…into state prop­erty, does not do away with the capitalistic nature of the productive forces… The more it [the bourgeois state] proceeds to the tak­ing over of productive forces, the more does it actually become the national capitalist, the more citizens does it exploit. The work­ers remain wage-workers – proletarians. The capitalist relation is not done away with. It is rather brought to a head.” (En­gels, “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific”, 1880).

The workers in nationalised industries, including teachers, remain proletarians. They sell their labour-power for cash and they have constantly to renegotiate their pay and conditions with an employer who can be as ruthless as any other capitalist.

This is the second last week of the “Development” series. In the remainder of this part we will look at the South African National Planning Commission’s draft National Development Plan.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Expanding Democratic Public Control over the Mining Sector.

21 May 2015

The New Growth Path

Development, Part 8c

The New Growth Path

On 23 November 2010 South Africa’s Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, introduced “The New Growth Path” (NGP). His four-page introduction is attached.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies had issued the 2010/11 – 2012/13 “Industrial Policy Action Plan” ("IPAP2") earlier in the same year (18 February 2010), as we noted yesterday.

On 30 April 2010 the 24 members of the National Planning Commission were appointed, with an expectation that they would work publicly and transparently to produce a 25-year National Strategic Plan and/or a 5-year Medium Term Strategic Framework within one year, with subsequent annual updates.

The last to publish their projections was the National Planning Commission, not counting the two earlier (and quite instructive) Green Papers published by the National Planning Minister and Commission Chair, Trevor Manuel, which have already been sent out in this part. We will return to the National Development Plan in the next part of the course.

The Soviet Union’s “GOELRO” plan is the grandfather of all such plans. Here is an image of it, with a link to further reading about it:

The struggle continues.

Image: Ebrahim Patel; GOELRO Plan document, 1920.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: The New Growth Path Framework, 2010.

20 May 2015

Industrial Policy Action Plan

Development, Part 8b

Industrial Policy Action Plan

On 18 February 2010 South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies introduced “IPAP2” in a speech to the National Assembly, attached here in the form of a 4-page document (download linked below). Introducing the Plan, he wrote:

“As a country, South Africa has no alternative to the course of action we propose. Manufacturing and other productive sectors of the economy are the engines of long-term sustainable growth and job creation in developing countries such as our own.”

The full 2010/11 – 2012/13 Industrial Policy Action Plan (4-part PDF) is at:

This is the Industrial Policy document that Polokwane promised, and it has since been produced in updated versions, which would be available from the DTI.

Towards the end of the introductory document Dr Davies writes

“It is estimated that the IPAP will result in the creation of 2 477 000 direct and indirect decent jobs over the next ten years. It will diversify and grow exports, improve the trade balance, build long term industrial capability, grow our domestic technology and catalyse skills development.”

This is the kind of good work that puts empirical meaning into the term “developmental state”.

Image: Dr Rob Davies. Cde Davies is also a member of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party.

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: National Assembly Statement on IPAP2 by Dr Rob Davies, 2010.

19 May 2015

Green Paper Revised

Development, Part 8a

Green Paper Revised

The Revised Green Paper on the National Planning Commission of January 2010 (attached) resolves the question of authority as follows:

Cabinet would be ultimately responsible for adopting a national vision and strategic plan. A clear understanding of how government works as well as independent input that clearly articulates the aspirations of ordinary South Africans are two essential ingredients of this national vision and strategic plan.”

The document is brief and concerns itself with some definitions. In conclusion it says:

“The Revised Green Paper: National Planning Commission is thus now published in the Gazette, proclaiming the establishment of the Commission and inviting nominations.

The nominations from the public were many and rumoured to be in the thousands, but the names of neither the nominees nor any intermediate shortlist were published, but only (on 30 April 2010) the list of 24 appointed Commissioners, who were:

Bobby Godsell
Mariam Altman
Joel Netshitenzhe
Jerry Coovadia
Elias Masilela
Chris Malikane
Anton Eberhard
Karl von Holdt
Jerry Vilakazi
Vivienne Taylor
Bridgette Gasa
Mohammed Karaan
Noluthando Gosa
Marcus Balintulo
Thandabantu Goba
Tasneem Essop
Jennifer Molwantwa
Vuyokazi Mahlati
Phillip Harrison
Pascal Moloi
Mike Muller
Malekgapuru Makgoba
Ihron Rensburg
Vincent Maphai

Next, we will look at the IPAP2 document.

Image: GOELRO Plan (Electrification of the Soviet Union) as imagined by artist Pavel Filonov, (1883-1941). The GOELRO Plan was published in 1920 and completed by 1931.

What Lenin wrote:  Communism = Soviet power + electrification

·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: National Planning Commission Revised Green Paper 2010.

18 May 2015

National Plan

Development, Part 8

National Plan

The 40-page Green Paper on National Strategic Planning (attached) is a discussion document, but its release in September 2009 was followed by complaints. COSATU’s General Secretary lambasted it. NEHAWU lambasted it because it was drafted and issued by the South African government, not the National Democratic Revolutionary Alliance. NEHAWU wrote:

“It is a known fact that the need for a high level planning and the planning commission and other modalities towards the establishment of the developmental state were agreed upon at the Alliance summit in October 2008.

“NEHAWU therefore believes that it is only proper that the Green Paper should be considered in the impending Alliance summit and that this should take place prior to further processes in parliament and government.”

One of this Green Paper’s merits was that it made a strong case for regular central planning on three “time horizons”: 1-year Programmes of Action, 5-year Medium Term “Frameworks” corresponding to a maximum term of office between elections; and Long-Term, plus/minus 15-year, “Visions”.

It makes this case in common-sense or bourgeois-bureaucratic terms, but it does not compromise with neo-liberal laissez-faire (French for “leave alone”). With this Green Paper, the necessity for planning (dirigisme or “steering” in French) became orthodoxy in South Africa.

The first National Strategic Planning Green Paper

This first Planning Green Paper was not itself a plan. It committed the Minister to produce the first national plan within a year (it actually took more than two years). It laid down the process by which the planning would be done – centrally, of course, but transparently, and not secretly or pre-emptively.

The major de-merit of the Green Paper from a communist point of view is shown by its frequent mention of something resembling an imaginary table of weaknesses and problems. In this list of weaknesses you find women, children, the disabled and the old, and those with low “social status”- meaning the working class.

Race, gender and lack of education are mentioned in the Green Paper, but never “class”, or the “working class”. Instead, where race is mentioned you get more (balancing?) remarks about low “social status”, as if being working class and/or black is a disability or a disease that needs to be palliated, treated or cured.

The class struggle may be the engine of history, the Green Paper seems to imply, but it can’t be considered in plans. The plans imagined in the Green Paper will be curative courses of treatment for ills. If this approach remains unchanged, then the strategic plans produced by the process described are bound to fall far short of what is necessary.

Class formation

The historical measure of change and of progress is the rate of class formation. The basis of Chinese revolutionary planning success in the last sixty years, for example, has been their constant attention to class formation. Even their few, now-long-past failures were a consequence of the same, correct, focus.

None of the goods, whether public or private, that the planning process is designed to maximise will be secure unless there is a steady and eventually overwhelming growth of the working class. By treating the working class as a “social status” problem, the Green Paper has the whole matter upside down, and will fail, if it does not get corrected.

Without any positive class orientation, the planning process as outlined in the Green Paper will default back to conservative bourgeois utilitarianism. The determination towards planning that the Green Paper represents is a great leap forward, but it will come to nothing if the planning process is not infused with revolutionary class-consciousness. This is a job for the communists.

There is a great deal inside the Green Paper about protocol and government etiquette. Whether these things are really crucial will become apparent. We now have the “IPAP2” and the “New Growth Path” (NGP). How these other two planning exercises will correspond with the eventual National Plan is something we will have to wait to see.

Our graphic, above, representing communist planning, is the symbol of the former German Democratic Republic, which was in its time a good friend to South Africa.

In the next post we will contrast and compare the revised and much shorter Green Paper that arrived in January, 2010 and was executed.  The commissioners were appointed on 30 April 2010. Their first effort was the “Diagnostic”, in June 2011, which as foreseen (in 2010) by the Communist University, proceeded to list various ills that were to be cured. The National Development Plan was published on the 11th of November, 2011 and was endorsed by the ANC just over a year later, at its 53rd National Conference in December, 2012.

  • The above is to introduce the original reading-texts: SA Government Green Paper on National Strategic Planning, 2009, Part 1 and Part 2.