12 March 2012

South Africa: NDP Briefing a Victory for Parliamentary Oversight

press release

On 2 December 2011, I wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Max Sisulu (see here) to request information on the referral of the National Development Plan, and requested that the document be substantively engaged by Members of Parliament, given its importance to South Africa's development in the future. As a result of the efforts of our members on the National Assembly Programming Committee in following up on this request, Parliament will receive a day-long briefing on the NDP by the National Planning Commission this Wednesday.

This is a victory for parliamentary oversight and our efforts to ensure that the NDP is scrutinised and engaged with by all political parties represented in the legislature. The DA welcomes the willingness and the speed at which the Speaker has organised this briefing. Indeed, actions such as these contribute to the building of an effective and relevant Parliament.

The briefing also provides Members of Parliament with an opportunity to have a frank discussion on the plan and its content that the DA has broadly welcomed. The NDP - unlike some economic proposals emanating from government - understands that, without economic growth, people will not get the opportunities they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

We will use the opportunity on Wednesday to interrogate 10 key areas of the NDP:

On creating jobs and opportunities, the NDP needs to be more explicit about the need for economic growth rates high enough to seriously dent South Africa's unemployment rate.

The NDP's unequivocal support for the Youth Wage Subsidy is welcomed, but it must translate into action so that the policy is implemented by the Treasury's deadline of 1st April 2012

The chapter on transforming urban and rural spaces is generally vague and unrealistic. The DA agrees that people living in rural South Africa need to be given more opportunities. The NDP therefore needs to be more detailed and focussed in this respect. We will propose our own share ownership scheme policy as a solution to these challenges.

While the DA strongly agrees that all South Africans deserve access to quality healthcare, there remain concerns about the feasibility of a National health Insurance (NHI) system, without improvements to the public health infrastructure first.

A capable state is indeed an essential component of any development plan, and the DA welcomes the frank admittance of the detrimental consequences of political interference in the public service. However, the proposals that affect the separate spheres of government must be approached with caution.

The DA supports the NDP's position that political will is essential in the fight against corruption, as well as the recommendations for greater resources and specialised state entities be directed towards the fight against corruption. We however would not propose centralising large and long-term tenders.

The DA agrees that South Africa remains a divided society, scarred by our history of racial discrimination. We agree that policies such as BEE need to be reformed to make them more effective, and we will seek assurances that it will be used to benefit those millions of South Africans who continue to live in poverty.

The DA agrees that dramatically improving the effectiveness of our country's criminal justice system and enhancing professionalism in the SAPS are crucial elements in the fight against crime. The DA also agrees with the demilitarisation of the SAPS.

The NDP's recommendations on improving education align with the DA's position, and many of these recommendations are being carried out by the DA-run Western Cape government. The DA agrees with the approach to providing learners and graduates the skills that they need to compete in a global knowledge economy.

The DA agrees that the transition to a low-carbon economy is necessary as the resource-intensive nature of the South African economy is unsustainable. However, there is a need for a greater use of financial incentives to make the NDP's recommendations effective.

The DA is committed to ensuring that the NDP does not become yet another unimplemented think tank strategy, and that its many beneficial proposals are implemented in government. Where it can be improved, Parliament, as the representative body of the people, must make constructive proposals to this effect. The DA, through our Members of Parliament, will use every opportunity to do so.

The NDP must stay on the agenda, and Parliament must ensure that it stays there.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance

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