Zille, Manuel share national vision

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has pledged to work more closely with the National Planning Commission in forging a national plan to map out the country's future.

This followed her meeting with the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Planning, Trevor Manuel.

Manuel, accompanied by five of the 26 commissioners, received feedback on the diagnostic overview recently released by the commission, during a meeting held this morning with Zille, provincial cabinet members as well as top officials and councillors from the City of Cape Town.

The aim of the diagnostic overview is to help South Africans contribute to the drafting of Vision 2030, which will be launched in November.

Manuel said any plan released by the commission would look to create a seamless link between the national and provincial governments.

"The exchange this morning was very useful. I think it's a start of a process - the premier (Zille) has indicated that they would like to form a group to interact with the planning commission," he said.

Zille said provincial officials had held several meetings on the diagnostic overview to prepare for Manuel's visit.

She said the Western Cape provincial government has already developed 11 strategic objectives to address the challenges raised in the diagnostic overview, but added that the province would like to align its plans with the broader framework of any national plan.

However, she said the diagnostic overview didn't focus enough on the effect crime had on the country, the lack of public transport and the protection of Chapter 9 institutions.

She said the protection of these institutions, set up under the Constitution, was critical to the future economic growth of the country.

"... If people can't rely on the Constitution's protection, the rule of law and due process, we will never have a context in which there is sufficient confidence to invest over the long term and to keep the skills and capital, and to grow that base and attract that base that we need for long-term sustained economic growth.

"And the extent to which the institutions of the Constitution are undermined is also the extent to which we begin the trajectory towards a failed state, which we have to avoid at all costs if we want to solve the other problems in the diagnostic," said Zille.

Responding to Zille's feedback, Manuel said the commission hadn't yet had time to canvas adequately with South Africans.

"There are also areas that we are not sure how we will deal with going forward," admitted Manuel.

He pointed out that one particular difficulty was that the diagnostic is squeezed down to a mere 30 pages and added that some of the issues were covered in background research papers.

He said background research papers are available on the commission's website www.npconline.co.za.

"Part of what we are doing is gathering evidence. I think we approach the country and say this is a first stab at the diagnostic, it may be inadequate," admitted Manuel.

"We haven't announced any plans and there are going to be different issues in different parts of the country, and I think that we need to be sensitive to those matters as we go forward," said Manuel.

Commenting on the idea to have specific numerical targets on various areas in the commission's plan, such as is the case with Brazil's national plan (Plano Plurianual), Manuel said he didn't believe the commission would be ready with numerical targets by November as constructing such targets took time.

The Western Cape is the eighth province that the commission has visited.

Manuel said some of the commission's meetings in provinces had been attended by larger groups of people - 250 in Limpopo and 150 in the Free State - with attendees including those from various business associations and community organisations.

Communication on the diagnostic overview has been broadcast on various radio stations in all 11 languages and Manuel said that by next week, it is hoped that the overview would be available in all 11 languages.

Online chat sessions aimed at youth and running for 72 hours at a time, are also planned, said Manuel.

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