Manuel to lead planning commission

Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel will lead a panel of “external experts” on the national planning commission, African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

“There will be a planning commission chaired by the minister in the presidency and consolidated by external experts,” Mantashe told reporters in Johannesburg following a meeting of the party’s national executive committee (NEC).

Mantashe said the NEC had considered appointing Cabinet ministers to the commission, or a mixture of experts and ministers, but did not do so out of concerns about “turf battles”.

“Once plans have been done by the national planning commission, it will go through government structures,” said Mantashe.

Those selected would not only be from economic fields, but also social policy and security.

Manuel’s position as head of the planning commission has been loudly criticised by alliance partners Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party.

The ANC was in “bilateral discussions” with those alliance partners ahead of a summit to be held this weekend.

Relations within the alliance were also discussed at the NEC meeting. Mantashe said individuals being attacked in the media was raised.

“It is not about attacking people, it is about strengthening the alliance,” said Mantashe.

“Let’s do what’s right for the alliance without limiting the discussion.”

The economic climate had been on the agenda. Mantashe promised new employment numbers would be available by the end of November.
In its election manifesto, the ANC promised to create 500 000 new jobs in 2009.

“The commitment to the 500 000 new jobs is still there,” said Mantashe.

He would not be drawn into detailed discussions on the progress of the job opportunities. Mantashe said the new employment figures would indicate whether there had been a net increase of jobs and argued job creation was the shared responsibility of the state and private sector.

Mantashe told reporters the ANC would increase its efforts in tackling HIV/Aids. These efforts included getting more people tested, preventing future infections and implementing the National Health Insurance.

“If we don’t act now, the death rate will soon be higher than the birth rate.”—Sapa