The recently released draft of the National Development Plan is the first step in charting a new course to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality. There’s justification for planning the future of a developing state and this plan, with its warts and imperfections, is long overdue.
There’s an old proverb; ‘He who fails to plan, plans to fail’ and a business maxim ‘ailing to plan is planning to fail’ and there’s also a military adage of 7 Ps.
In a sense this is a morale booster and coincides with the announcement of Table Mountain becoming one of the world’s new seven wonders. It’s a great vision and a big plan.
It is also a welcome diversion from depressing stuff and media overkill on corrupt police commissioners, the Arms Deal, bogus charities getting money from the lottery and suspension of African National Congress Youth League leaders.
The Vision for 2030 will work through the fortitude of the people not through politicians - it needs the might of civil society structures and the private sector to transform idealism to realism. The document sparks imagination and upholds what this country has become and will remain; a land of possibilities.
It is a multi pronged strategy inter-linked with a broad vision to tackle unemployment, economic growth, rural development, public-service reform, labour reforms and the transition to a low-carbon economy. Over 444 pages inspire hope with a Vision Statement that flows so well that it must have been composed by poets.
Some Doubting Thomas’ had their say before the front page of the report had time to dry. Opposition parties have declared it airy-fairy and say for it to work it needs strong leadership that currently isn’t apparent, such criticism is predictable.
The plan or fairy tale as Professor Jonathan Jansen implied in his weekly column of The Times, is “lofty and lacks a theory of action”. It’s true, there are innumerable gaps and it requires emphasis on the partners or stakeholders for implementation, there again it is a work in progress and we have three months to digest the content and forward suggestions and ideas to the National Planning Committee.
The National Planning Commission, chaired by Trevor Manuel, his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and 25 sage advisors is an office in the Presidency tasked with envisioning the future. The NPC has spent the past 18 months plotting and deliberating a rosier destination for South Africa with input from thousands of individuals. It will be a hard sell to gain support from the citizenry yet now’s the time for the nonprofit sector to embrace aspects of the NDP as their own, contribute towards the goals and action plans, be a partner, share ideas and propose solutions to make it a reality.
So let’s do it by downloading the plan from www.npconline.co.za. Scan the contents page, peruse the Foreword (worth a read) jump to page 41 and checkout that romantic vision statement, then quickly dash to the Problem Statement on page 411 and then read the Nation Building Vision on page 426, lastly cast your eye over the Bill of Responsibilities on page 435 and then return to the Chapters to dissect and digest.
In 1976, just after the Soweto Riots life was uncertain, the demise of apartheid seemed unattainable, there were predictions of a blood bath, and our lovely country was close to being razed to the ground. Exactly 18 years after the Youth uprising we held our first democratic elections in 1994, so why shouldn’t we defeat poverty and inequality by 2030 – it’s only 18 years away, have faith as we live in the land of endless possibilities.
- Ann Bown is a financial sustainability consultant to the nonprofit sector and consults widely in Africa.