The government has to be held accountable, but people also need to be accountable to themselves and actively participate in their own progress, Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy chairperson of South Africa's National Planning Commission, said on Wednesday.
"If we want to get ahead, we ourselves have to take steps to make it happen," Ramaphosa told community members in Swartklip Community Hall in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town.
He echoed John F Kennedy's famous 1961 inauguration speech when referring to the National Development Plan (NDP) and how South Africans should view the plan. "Ask not what this plan can do for you, but what you as a citizen of this country can do to ensure this plan is implemented," he said.
During Wednesday's interaction, community members and representatives told National Planning Commission Minister Trevor Manuel and the commissioners how drugs, crime and unemployment were affecting Mitchells Plain.
They called for improved technical training to address unemployment in the area.
Ramaphosa agreed that technical colleges were urgently needed in Mitchells Plain, so that community members could acquire the necessary skills.
Corruption 'a tax on poor people'
He urged residents not to take the law into their own hands, no matter how frustrated they felt, but rather to persist by working with those who were responsible for law and justice.
Turning to corruption, Ramaphosa said that graft robbed citizens of the chance of benefiting from development and that it should be rooted out. He urged people to fight corruption and be the whistleblowers, raising their voice against those who are corrupt. "You must talk, you must tell," he said.
Manuel said South Africans owed it to their children to leave behind a better and safer country.
He also urged ordinary people to report incidents of corruption. "Corruption is always a tax against poor people - it takes away their services, it takes away their entitlements and we must act against it," Manuel said.
People 'must be their own liberators'
Earlier, Ramaphosa and Manuel visited community gardening projects in Khayelitsha, where they encouraged communities to grown their own food.
Manuel said food security formed an important part of the NDP, adding that part of what government needed to do was to encourage cooperatives, which would produce food for both households and the commercial markets.
It emerged during the visit that only one in 10 households in Khayelitsha was guaranteed food security, with the majority of people in the area struggling to find employment.
Manuel emphasised that key to the development plan was ensuring that government encouraged rapidly growing local economies.
"Of course we can't do things on behalf of the people, but we can't expect people to do things without support. The plan is largely premised on getting active citizenry."
The document needed to give South Africans a chance to reverse the imbalances of the past, he said.
Ramaphosa said the commission planned a series of outreach campaigns to ensure that South Africans were part of proposals contained in the NDP.
"What we say in the plan is that people must be their own liberators," he added.