The Cup of lessons

2010-08-05 15:24

The successful planning and management of the 2010 World Cup presents crucial lessons for the National Planning Commission (NPC), the first being ­integrated planning and ­coordination.
The success of the World Cup relied on the ­ability of the local organising committee (LOC) to undertake multidisciplinary planning, and the integrated and coordinated management of those plans.

These plans included transport, sporting facilities, immigration, policing and mass mobilisation of the citizenry – to name just a few.

All these aspects had to be coordinated seamlessly.

The same applies to the NPC.

It is tasked with producing a long-term national development plan.

This will determine the ­nature and content of South ­Africa over, say, a 20-year period.

The NPC therefore needs leadership and senior management that is multidisciplinary in thought and practice.

Those who lead and manage the NPC must be able to plan across sectors.

The second lesson from the World Cup is its ownership by South Africans as a whole.

In much the same way as the World Cup, the NPC will rely on technical expertise to develop the core of the long-term plan.

However, as proved by the World Cup, its success will ­depend not only on the precision of technical planning but also on the ability to mobilise all sectors of society to feel part of this plan, and to commit to its realisation.

And while government will provide leadership and resources for the plan’s development, it will ultimately not be their plan but a South African one.

This may be a bitter pill for ­government to swallow but the endorsement of the World Cup by most South Africans was ­primarily based on the fact that they felt good about being South Africans and not necessarily ­because of love for government or ­loyalty to it.

Thus, the NPC needs to ­produce a national ­vision for South Africa that will mobilise South ­Africans across the board to identify with that­ ­vision and help make it become a reality.

The third lesson from the World Cup is South Africa’s ­global ­competitiveness.

The fact that major, world-class infrastructure was completed timeously is an indication that South Africa can
effectively compete for ­foreign direct investment.

The success of the World Cup was not based on sentimental values but on the basic fact that the country
delivered on key ­indicators set by Fifa.

These were technical conditions set at a globally competitive level and South Africa had to match or better previous hosts such as Germany and the US.

The commissioners need to build global competitiveness as a central element in developing a plan.

A country’s productive ­capacity is one of the indicators that investors consider in ­determining where to invest.

South Africa must become a high-performing society.

That is, the commissioners must ensure that both the private and public sectors embrace the ethos and  practice of productivity.

Fourthly, the plan developed by the NPC needs to have ­performance indicators.

The reason the LOC managed to deliver was because it had key ­indicators and benchmarks that marked every phase of delivery.

However, monitoring and evaluation should be undertaken by an independent body.

In real terms, this means that this task should not be located in the ­Presidency.

President Jacob Zuma can ­continue with performance ­reviews of his Cabinet ministers but the overall performance and evaluation of state performance should be located in a different institution.

Zuma himself also needs to ­be involved – and to be seen to be – in the NPC’s evolution.

At every step, the ministerial head of this body, Trevor Manuel, must enjoy the ­expressed support and ­endorsement of the president.

Given the territorial battles in the political arena, it is crucial for Zuma to lead from the front and take ­advice from a trusted ­lieutenant.

Finally, those who lead and manage the NPC must be skilled in negotiation, conflict ­resolution and team-building.

Given the integration and ­coordination involved in ­long-term plans, its managers and leaders must have strong ­interpersonal skills too.

Hlophe is a political scientist and hosts the blog

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