The National Development Plan in perspective
The African National Congress (ANC), at its 53rd national congress held in Mangaung in December 2012, adopted the National Development Plani (NDP). The purpose of this discussion is to evaluate the NDP against the perspective of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR) as adopted at the Morogoro Conference in 1969 and further reaffirmed by subsequent ANC national conferences.
The critical outcome of the Morogoro Conference was the subordination of the armed struggle to the political leadership and the recognition that mass mobilisation was the lifeblood of the struggle. The African masses were defined as “the main force for liberation”, while “… any strategic aim always had to emphasise the national character of the liberation struggle”. This involved “a stimulation and deepening of national confidence, national pride and national assertiveness”. This national liberation struggle would pave a way for the “national democratic revolution”, which would not only include political liberation, but also “destroy existing social and economic relationships”.
“The main content of the present stage of the South African revolution is the national liberation of the largest and most oppressed group – the African people. This strategic aim must govern every aspect of our struggle, whether it be in the formulation of policy or the creation of structures.”ii
The class content of the NDR was well captured by Thabo Mbeki in 1978iii when he defined the position that black people occupied as follows:
- They are the producers of wealth;
- They produce this wealth not for their own benefit but for its appropriation by the white population; and,
- They are permitted to consume part of this wealth but only in that proportion which will “give the maximum amount of work” on a continuing basis.
The 12-page long Vision Statementiv of the NDP, while presented in the most eloquent and romantic posture, fails to address the ideal of the Freedom Charter, as described by Mbeki in 1978 as “The People Shall Govern”.
Mbeki said: “Since we shall have through our own struggle placed ourselves in the position of makers of history and policy and no longer objects, we shall redefine our own position as follows:
- We are the producers of wealth;
- We produce this wealth for our own benefit to be appropriated by us the producers;
- The aim of this production shall be the satisfaction, at an increasing level, of the material and spiritual needs of the people;
- We shall so order the rest of society and social activity, in education and culture, in the legal sphere, on military questions, in our international relations, et cetera, to conform to these goals.”
The 48th national conference held in Durban adopted the ANC policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa, published in 1992 in a document titled “Ready to Govern”v. Consistent with the early years of the ANC policy and the NDR perspective as adopted in Morogoro, the ANC in 1991 considered its urgent tasks to not be limited to just the political sphere; rather, the policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa were wide-ranging, inclusive also of the social and economic spheres of the South African political economy.
According to the Ready to Govern document, the basic objectives of ANC policy are fourfold:
- To strive for the achievement of the right of all South Africans, as a whole, to political and economic self-determination in a united South Africa;
- To overcome the legacy of inequality and injustice created by colonialism and apartheid, in a swift, progressive and principled way;
- To develop a sustainable economy and state infrastructure that will progressively improve the quality of life of all South Africans; and,
- To encourage the flourishing of the feeling that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, to promote a common loyalty to and pride in the country, and to create a universal sense of freedom and security within its borders.
The Ready to Govern document is very clear on what’s to be done. It states that these policy objectives “are not mutually exclusive goals”, and that “the future of our country depends on the harmonious and simultaneous realisation of all four”.
The 52nd national conferencevi of the ANC held in Polokwane in 2007 took as its point of departure “the Freedom Charter's ‘clarion call’ that the People Shall Share in the Country's Wealth”. The resolution on economic transformation makes the point that substantial progress in transforming the economy for benefit the majority has been registered. It, however, notes the “serious challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality” that remain. The TRIPLE CHALLENGES of unemployment, poverty and inequality were to be addressed “simultaneously”, through accelerated economic growth and the transformation of the quality of that growth.
In the Foreword to the NDPvii document, Minister Trevor Manuel, the chairperson of the National Planning Commission, states that “the approach of the plan revolves around citizens being active in development, a capable and developmental state able to intervene to correct our historical inequities, and strong leadership throughout society working together to solve our problems.
“The plan addresses the need to enhance the capabilities of our people so that they can live the lives that they desire; and to develop the capabilities of the country so that we can grow faster, draw more people into work and raise living standards for all, but particularly the poor. This is a plan for South Africa, requiring action, change and sacrifice from all sectors of society.”
In a way, Minister Manuel seems to reaffirm the Polokwane perspective of the triple challenge.
However, the introduction to the NDP describes the aims of the NDP as being “… to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.”viii It appears, on the face of it, to be a revision of the triple challenge of Polokwane to a DOUBLE CHALLENGE of Mangaung – poverty and inequality. It is not clear how and why the challenge of unemployment has been eliminated.
The NDP document reads: “This plan envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work. Realising such a society will require transformation of the economy and focused efforts to build the country's capabilities. To eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the economy must grow faster and in ways that benefit all South Africans.”ix
The challenge of unemployment, according to the NDP, will be resolved by way of ability, education, hard work, growing the economy and South Africans embracing one another in a rainbow nation. The role of the ANC itself, and that of the government, in dealing with the challenge of unemployment has been completely removed in the NDP. In order to deal with unemployment, the masses must get education, work hard and love one another.
In the Backgroundx to the NDP, the commission’s Diagnostic Report, released in June 2011, is restated in summary and identifies a failure to implement policies and an absence of broad partnerships as the main reasons for slow progress, and set out nine primary challenges as being:
- Too few people work
- The quality of school education for black people is poor
- Infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained
- Spatial divides hobble inclusive development
- The economy is unsustainably resource intensive
- The public health system cannot meet demand or sustain quality
- Public services are uneven and often of poor quality
- Corruption levels are high
- South Africa remains a divided society.
Political leadership and mass mobilisation
By adopting the NDP as is, the ANC in Mangaung abandoned the concept of political leadership and mass mobilisation in the execution of the NDR as envisaged in Morogoro in 1969. The Planning Commission has assumed the role of setting the tone of political, social and economic transformation. The ANC has surrendered this leadership role to a panel of experts (“To establish a commission consisting largely of people from outside government and give them a mandate to be critical, objective and cross-cutting was always going to be risky”xi) with public participation largely executed by means of Facebook – while ignoring the fact that internet penetration in South African is still below 10%.
The NDP reads: “This is a plan for South Africa. It provides a broad strategic framework to guide key choices and actions. Its success will depend on all South Africans taking responsibility for the plan, led by the president and Cabinet.xii The ANC does not see itself as the political leader of the NDP.
The NDP has replaced the “destroying the existing social and economic relations”xiii as envisaged in the Morogoro Strategy and Tactics, with service delivery imperatives summarised in the nine challenges of the diagnostic report of the NDP as stated above. The main content of the present stage of the South African revolution, as the national liberation of the largest and most oppressed group – the Africans in particular – along with the class content of the NDR has been shelved for the next 30 years.
The Morogoro Conference elevated the role of political leadership and mass mobilisation alongside other forms of struggle (military and international solidarity). The Durban conference identified the following as four basic objectives: the achievement of the right of all South Africans, as a whole, to political and economic self-determination in a united South Africa; overcoming the legacy of inequality and injustice created by colonialism and apartheid, in a swift, progressive and principled way; developing a sustainable economy and state infrastructure that will progressively improve the quality of life of all South Africans; and encouraging the flourishing of the feeling that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, to promote a common loyalty to and pride in the country and to create a universal sense of freedom and security within its borders.
And, most importantly, the Ready to Govern document states that these policy objectives “are not mutually exclusive goals”.
The 52nd national conference held in Polokwane in 2007 states that the “most effective weapon in the campaign against poverty is the creation of decent work, and creating work requires faster economic growth. Moreover, the challenges of poverty and inequality require that accelerated growth take place in the context of an effective strategy of redistribution that builds a new and more equitable growth path.”
The NDP envisions a South Africa where everyone feels free yet bounded to others; where everyone embraces their full potential, a country where opportunity is determined not by birth, but by ability, education and hard work. To eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the economy must grow faster and in ways that benefit all South Africans. In particular, young people deserve better educational and economic opportunities, and focused efforts are required to eliminate gender inequality. Promoting gender equality and greater opportunities for young people are integrated themes that run throughout this plan.
From Decent Work for All to Hard Work!
ii Strategy and Tactics of the African National Congress: Forward to Freedom, Morogoro, 1969
iii Thabo Mbeki 1978 speech: “Historical Injustice”
iv National Development Plan 2030 – Our Future Make it Work: National Planning Commission. Vision Statement pages 10 to 22
v Ready to Govern: ANC policy guidelines for a democratic South Africa, adopted at the ANC National Conference, published in 1992
vi 52nd National Conference: Resolution on Economic Transformation, 20 December 2007
vii National Development Plan 2030 – Our Future Make it Work: National Planning Commission. Foreword page 1
viii National Development Plan 2030 – Our Future Make it Work: National Planning Commission. Introduction page 24
ix National Development Plan 2030 – Our Future Make it Work: National Planning Commission. Introduction page 24
x National Development Plan 2030 – Our Future Make it Work: National Planning Commission. Background page 25
xi National Development Plan 2030 – Our Future Make it Work: National Planning Commission. Foreword page 1
xii National Development Plan 2030 – Our Future Make it Work: National Planning Commission. Background page 26
xiii Strategy and Tactics of the African National Congress: Forward to Freedom, Morogoro, 1969