Ideological manoeuvre to enrich the elite

2010-08-05 12:48

The “best and brightest minds” have now been appointed to the National Planning Commission (NPC). They have been asked with ­producing a long-term vision and strategy through conducting “evidence-based research” to produce “thematic papers”.

We are made to believe that, through these measures, they will finally provide answers to the country’s challenges.

Trevor Manuel, the shrewd ­architect of our neo-liberal ­state, which has in the past 16 years produced misery for the majority and ­created ­unparalleled wealth for a few, will lead the rescue mission.

Is this not ironic given it’s thanks to the bright minds of Thabo Mbeki and Manuel that we are now officially the most unequal society on earth?

The NPC is part of an ­ideological manoeuvre by the post-Polokwane winners to ­legitimise their reign.

If the commission is not based on a new policy direction, then what does it actually do?

A while back, development ­analyst Arturo Escobar indicated planning presents itself as ­“rational and objective”, but is in fact a highly “ideological and ­political process”.

Without ­understanding this underlying logic of planning, we allow ­ourselves to be duped into ­silence and ­empty hope.

Given the policies that ­inform the ANC government, the ­NPC is a tool of disempowerment.

It excludes the collective knowledge of millions and the creative spirit of the people, which they displayed brilliantly during the struggle against the sophisticated apartheid monster.

Addressing the needs of the people with the people is not a complicated matter but the ­technocratic approach is simply part of a ploy to keep people in the dark and enrich a few.

It has nothing to do with efficiency.

Since when does building a house, school, road, hospital or bringing water closer to the ­people require the best minds of the country?

The commission is a perfect instrument to avoid ­accountability by the elected representatives of the people.

We can already hear them say in another five years: “Oh, the NPC was wrong.”

There will be no consequences for the bad planning, either for commissioners or politicians.

Think about the disaster of Outcomes-Based Education, Eskom and the water crisis ?that will hit us in a few years.

Our developmental challenges are political.

What we lack is not planning but the ­courage to confront a policy and political process that serves a privileged minority.

The ruling elites will never open space for the excluded to take charge because to do so would threaten the ­interests of the few who get rich at the expense of the many.

Mngxitama is the publisher of New Frank Talk.

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