Tinyiko Maluleke | A review of the NDP necessary for course correction

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Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, during the NDP Lecture (supplied)
Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Deputy Chairperson of the National Planning Commission, during the NDP Lecture (supplied)

The new national planning commission (NPC) has seen it fit to call upon the nation, to pause and to reflect on 10 years since the NDP was adopted as the long-term national plan of the country, says its deputy chair professor Tinyiko Maluleke

As we marked our National Heritage Day, it is necessary to state that, apart from the Constitution of our Republic, the National Development Plan (NDP) is arguably one of the most important heritages that have come out of our democratic era.

Such an expanded view of what heritage is, would of course require that we go beyond the vulgarised and vogue notions, in terms of which heritage, tends to be confined to the ephemeral and the superficial.

Whereas the Constitution establishes the legal foundations on which our 28-year-old democracy rests, the NDP dares to suggest the road and the route to the South Africa of our dreams - that country which Steve Biko described in the 1970s as a country "with a more human face"; that country in which there will be "work, bread, water and salt for all", as Nelson Mandela proclaimed in his inauguration speech of May 1994.

Tenacious suggestion

What the NDP puts before us is the tenacious suggestion that says that country after which we have aspired; that country for which we have struggled for so long, that country is a country we deserve, a country we dare not give up on, no matter what the past and the present circumstances might be.

And so, from the days of the National Planning Commission Green Paper of 2010, the Diagnostic Report as well as the subsequent Draft National Development Plan of the first Planning Commission, there was always a delicate balance and a finely tuned dialectic, between long-term aspirations and the immediate actions needed for those aspirations to be realised.

The same dialectic shines through both the handover reports of the past two commissions. Sometimes we speak of it in terms of the disconnect between our long-term plans and the incremental implementation thereof.

There is a paragraph in a Bob Marley song titled Survival which goes like this:

"Some people got everything

Some people got nothing

Some people got hopes and dreams

Some people got ways and means." 

Our task is to put an end to a situation in which some live only on hopes and dreams while others have ways and means.

Indeed, if there is a golden thread that cuts across most (if not all) of the deliberations and the documents that gave birth to and were brought about by the National Planning Commission (NPC) since its inception in 2010, it is this dialectic between hopes and dreams for a better country on the one hand, and the necessary ways and means for the realisation of such a country, on the other.

Settle too quickly 

The aspirational side of this dialectic ensures that as a young democracy, we do not set the bar too low, and we do not settle too quickly and too prematurely for a country that is less than we deserve.

ALSO READ | Tinyiko Maluleke: Want to avoid a failed state? Then citizens must reclaim their humanity

The aspirational side to the NDP and therefore to the work of the NPC is about the positing and the provision of a vision that helps us see further than the furthest that our physical eyes can see. Nigerian poet, Ben Okri describes vision in the following manner: "Vision, more than anything, is what makes leadership. Many nations would be great if they had vision. Many struggles would truly shift the axis of our times if they had vision. There is no shortage of opinion, will, anger, or determination. The greatest lack in our world is vision… It is not enough that we have conditions that we want to overcome. It is not enough that we want to change the world. We must have a vision, a worthwhile destination for our fine rage."

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As both custodians, joint authors and bearers of the vision contained in the NDP is our task as the NPC, to keep putting that vision of a healthier more prosperous country, in the faces of South Africans.

The new NPC has seen it fit to call upon the nation, to pause and to reflect on 10 years since the NDP was adopted as the long-term national plan of the country. This then is the moment to track and to trace how we are doing with both the nitty gritty and the broader vision we set for ourselves as a country.

The course correction of which the second NPC spoke is not merely the return to the set economic targets and social indicators but also a correction of course in terms of how far we are drifting away from the country of our dreams, in tangible and intangible ways.

We are convinced that a return to the NDP vision and plan is one of the things we as citizens together with our government must do at this time.

NDP review 

When we speak of NDP review, it is not merely that we review a document and how faithful we have been to its precepts, no, we also wish to review what we, as a nation, have become in relation to the vision we had set out with in the first place.

In this regard the economic course correction proposed by the last NPC is as important and as pivotal as the recent gender review of the NDP.

The latter concluded, among other things, that there is "compelling evidence that shows how women's labour in the care economy is being exploited as an unpriced public good".

It is that calibre of conversation that we hope to ignite through this 10-year anniversary of the NDP.

ALSO READ | Tinyiko Maluleke: Let's talk about jobs, Comrade Minister

We have come to gather here, at the Mecca of African intellectualism, kwa No-College, we have convened ourselves at this University of ZK Matthews, Robert Sobukwe, Nelson Mandela, and Gertrude Ntlabati. We have come to drink from the fountain in which several heads of states once drank: the likes of Julius Nyerere, Sir Seretse Khama, Kenneth Kaunda, Ntsu Mokhehle, Yusuf Lule and Robert Mugabe.

And so, we have come here to review, not merely the GDP and the unemployment rates, but also the levels of hopelessness and the growing sense of nihilism and tragedy as the country drifts further and further away from its founding vision. 

- The NPC hosted a lecture at the University of Fort Hare to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the NDP: Vision 2030. This is an excerpt of the remarks delivered by deputy chairperson Tinyiko Maluleke.

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