Manuel urges partnership

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sasolburg - National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel says a collective approach in government will be needed to address the inefficiencies in the country's education system and other challenges raised in the diagnostic report of South Africa released by the National Planning Commission last month.

Manuel was speaking during the Free State leg of public hearings on Tuesday to discuss the report following similar engagements held in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape last week.

President Jacob Zuma appointed the NPC consisting of 26 commissioners in April
last year to advise government on crucial development issues facing South Africa. Commissioners were further tasked with developing a 2030 vision and development plan for the country that will be tracked over time.

The document, drawn up after a year of intensive work by the NPC identified nine key problems facing the country namely, poor education, divided communities, uneven public service performance, an unsustainable resource-intensive economy, a high disease burden, unemployment, existing spatial patterns, crumbling infrastructure and corruption.

It has been received with mixed feelings by several sectors of society, with the ruling ANC saying it was in "full agreement" with the broad sentiments expressed in the body of the report to the effect that the country has achieved a lot since the dawn of democracy in 1994 but a lot remains to be done.

Manuel said on Tuesday that since the release of the commission, they had been flooded with comments from the public.

"We are obviously encouraged by the inputs we are getting. Obviously the responses will vary because some people are responding based on the South Africa we see now, whereas we will have a different South Africa by 2030, so discussion varies from individual to individual, depending on how you see South Africa," Manuel said.

The NPC is scheduled to release its first planning report that will be presented to Cabinet in November.

While Manuel conceded there were likely to be fiscal challenges for the country to address some of the issues raised on the diagnostic document, he said it was left to government to determine how resources were allocated to meet society's pressing demands.

A member of the public had earlier asked whether funding patterns for the three spheres of government were adequate enough for the country to address most of the challenges raised in the diagnostic report.

"Of course there may be fiscal challenges in the long run, but resources should be allocated in the manner in which the countries [sees fit] and it's up to the Treasury to make those decisions not us as the commission.

"We will put the plan forward on 11 November and it will deal with all of these issues - some in more detail than the others, but the tools that we used are the tools that all South Africans will use to address these challenges," added Manuel.

He went on to say that the diagnostic report was not a "prescription" for the government, but aimed at allowing proper planning for the country in the next coming decades.

"The diagnostic report deals with ranging observations about the South Africa that we know now, that we can talk from research and along with where we want to be and say to South Africans, 'discuss these issues and tell us whether this is the country you want to live in 2050'."

Earlier, Free State Premier Ace Magashule said the province had been hard at work to ensure popular participation of its citizens in the report, adding that there had been an agreement at provincial government on the issues raised.

"It is very clear that the people of the province who are participating in the NPC discussions are very eager in terms of ensuring that indeed, we have one plan as a country and I think all of this is the beginning of that process and our call and plea will be for everyone to participate," he said.