An active citizenry is central to the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP), according to former Minister of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Trevor Manuel, who says that an active citizenry will counter the “big man” notion of leadership.
Leadership is not only about “elected office”, Manuel, a former finance minister of South Africa, told a packed breakfast event on Wednesday. “Too many citizens have been pummelled into submission. We see things that are wrong but we don’t talk about them.”
He highlighted, “The intention of both the constitution and the NDP is unity in diversity”, adding that dealing with these issues requires leadership that is “soft, engaging and listening”.
Afrika Tikkun, a hybrid non-profit and social enterprise, hosted the event, which was sponsored by Purple Capital Group, where Post Office CEO, Mark Barnes is executive chairman.
Afrika Tikkun develops young South Africans from “Cradle to Career”, with programmes spanning from early childhood development to youth skills development and placement.
The late Bertie Lubner, who passed away last month and was a former CEO of Plate Glass and Shatterprufe Industries, founded the organisation 20 years ago.
Speaking on Wednesday, his son Marc, the current CEO, called on South Africans to contribute to the realisation of the NDP’s vision by, for example, contributing to the work that Afrika Tikkun does.
Its Cappuccino Campaign, showcased at the event, enables members of the public to pledge the value of one cappuccino to its projects, which include enhancing the quality of its school offering and better enabling youth to enter the workforce.
No detail on NDP success
Attendees at the breakfast would have been disappointed if they expected that Manuel – who played a central role in the development of the NDP during his time at the NPC from 2009 to 2014 – was going to provide feedback on the progress made in implementing it by government and/or business.
Manuel’s speech – although compelling insofar as it linked the NDP with the imperatives of our constitutional democracy – was thin on concrete detail as to what specific actions are being taken in this regard.
Manuel reminded us that, central to the NDP, are the broad objectives of tackling poverty and inequality. He outlined the major issues that the NDP focuses on, providing some interesting colour on the NPC’s journey to arriving at these themes.
But beyond that – and statements such as, “The NDP is actually about who we are and how we define ourselves and how we relate to each other” – it was difficult to decipher how relevant and impactful the NDP has actually been in government policy, and the daily workings of government and business.
“The plan was never a plan for government, it was a plan for all South Africans,” Manuel rightly pointed out. “Because we cant reach out to each other across, not even big divides, but little differences of opinion, we don’t seem to be able to get there.”
Responding to a question from Moneyweb around who is project managing the implementation of the NDP, Manuel noted that there is a new 25-person planning commission that has been tasked with looking at what has happened since 2013.
The commission is outside of government, with Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe the link into cabinet, Manuel said.
“Hopefully they can take the entire planning frame to the next level, but they cannot leave behind the values handed to us by the Constitution,” he said.