RIGHT OF REPLY
It is rather sad that at such a juncture where there is a great need for all of us to put shoulder to the wheel, to give hope and to build trust and confidence, using the “Zuma” moniker and name helps to create sensation. The article by Paul Berkowitz (August 3) adds to a false narrative that we have a failed state, an incompetent government and that the choice is simply one between “good and evil”.
A greater tragedy is that a visit to the department of planning, monitoring and evaluation website would reveal a different reality. It would also show that some of us are working to ensure that South Africa is that better place for all who live in it by 2030. You could have seen why we are very comfortable in saying that our lodestar, the National Development Plan (NDP), is being implemented and progress achieved.
We, as government, are committed to getting our governance frameworks right and working effectively. We, as South Africans, are not at war with each other or with anyone. That we have our challenges is uncontested, but we remain a democracy at work, contrary to the narrative Berkowitz seeks to posit.
We are a functioning government. We exist in a global and globalising universe. At the same time, we are committed to fixing our own destiny by sharpening the levers at our disposal to get the economy to move to a trajectory of higher growth, development and job creation. We are continually working at it, and the ratings agencies have recognised that.
The NDP is not a façade, never was, and for the foreseeable future will not be one. To argue the contrary is mischief-making, misleading and cynical. The NDP is an ambitious and thorough attempt to change the trajectory of our economy and society so that, by 2030, we would have broken the back of poverty, unemployment and inequality. And so it remains.
NDP Vision 2030 outlines the eradication of absolute poverty — from 39% of people living below the poverty line of R419 (2009 prices) to zero. It also outlines the reduction of the unemployment rate to 6% by creating 11-million more jobs by 2030.
Income poverty levels dropped between 2006 and 2011, reaching 20.2% for extreme poverty and of 45.5% for moderate poverty, according to the poverty trends in South Africa (Statistics South Africa, 2014).
The Medium-term Strategic Framework (MTSF) is the government’s comprehensive plan for implementing the NDP. It serves as the principal guide to the planning and allocation of resources across all spheres of government.
One achievement is the establishment of the office of the chief procurement officer in the treasury. The Employment Tax Incentive Act, aimed at helping young people to enter the labour market, was passed by Parliament in 2013 and its implementation began this year.
The percentage of women in legislative bodies rose from 38.4% in 2011 to 41.2% in 2015. The gender inequality index shows that gender-based inequalities in three dimensions improved from 0.462 to 0.394, representing a 14.7% improvement.
Basic services achievements include 724 430 households connected to the electricity grid since 2014 (58% of the 2019 target of 1.25 million) and 52 778 households connected to non-grid power (50% of the 2019 target of 105 000 households). More than one million households were given access to refuse removal between 2013 and 2016 as against the 2019 target of 1.3-million (General Household Survey); 1.12-million households have had access to decent sanitation since 2014 (45% of the 2019 target); and 305 000 households have access to a reliable water service since 2014 (12% of the 2019 target of 2.3 million). Sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life has resulted in 331 000 housing units being delivered during the period 2014 to 2016.
The number of people convicted for corruption has more than doubled between 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 from 52 to 110. South Africa is also improving its ranking on the corruption perception index.
To date, 3 455 schools have been connected to the internet and have received devices through Operation Phakisa ICT. In terms of basic education, the matric pass rate improved to 72.5% in 2016, up from 70.7% in 2015. Bachelor passes rose to 162 374 in 2016 from 150 752 in 2014.
Life expectancy increased by six years, reaching 63.3 years in 2015. The population-based maternal mortality ratio decreased from 158 deaths per 100 000 in 2015 to 154 out of 100 000 live births in 2014. The institutional maternal mortality ratio has decreased to 138 in 100 000. The child mortality rate (under five) improved from 41 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2014 to 37 out of 1 000 live births in 2016. More than 3.7-million people living with HIV are receiving lifelong antiretroviral therapy.
More than 17-million beneficiaries get a social grant, with 1.7-million children going to registered early childhood development services.
The renewable independent power producer programme has unlocked R201-billion in investments and 6 244 megawatts of renewable energy has been procured, with 3 175MW already being supplied to the grid. The energy build programme at Medupi, Kusile and Ingula pump storage is being implemented.
Tourism’s contribution to gross domestic product grew from R372-billion in 2014 to R375-billion in 2015, and tourist arrivals figures went up by about 50%. Total tourist foreign direct spend rose from R67.9-billion to R189.2-billion.
The digital migration transmission infrastructure projects are close to 95% complete, which will ensure 85% digital coverage in the country.
Mines’ compliance with water-use licence conditions reached 56% in 2016 compared with 20% in 2014. Completion of environmental impact assessments is at 95% and that of water-use licences is at 60%. Waste licence applications are at 87%.
Operation Phakisa is designed to fast-track the implementation of solutions to critical development issues. Investment worth about R17-billion and 5 000 jobs have been unlocked in the oceans economy.
Albeit slow, there has been progress on land reform. By 1994, 87% (82.4-million hectares) of land was owned by white commercial farmers, with 13% available for black people. As of 2016, 10.6% (8.7-million hectares) of the 30% (24.6-million hectares) target to distribute agricultural land to previously disadvantaged individuals has been achieved.
Various difficulties confront our youth, including high unemployment, substance abuse, violence and HIV infections. The government has implemented various measures, such as the development of the National Youth Policy 2020, to address this. The youth have also benefited from the expansion of access to post-school training, National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding and the completion of three more technical and vocational education and training colleges.
The MTSF calls on all in society to come together to craft and implement social compacts that will propel South Africa into a higher developmental trajectory.
Empirical evidence corroborates that pockets of excellence exist in the performance of the government in relation to the NDP 2030 targets, although overall progress during 2014-2015 to 2016-2017 reflects a need to accelerate progress during 2017-2018 to 2018-2019.
South Africa must intensify national dialogue to seek common solutions and concrete actions to slow growth and poverty through a partnership with business, organised labour and all stakeholders who share a commitment to ensuring inclusive growth.
We note that the road ahead is long and arduous. Although pockets of excellence exist in the performance of government towards the NDP’s 2030 targets, there is a need to accelerate progress in coming years. The NDP is not just a plan for the government but for the whole country. Its implementation requires the involvement of all sectors. All of us must intensify the national dialogue to seek common solutions and concrete actions to growth and poverty through a partnership with business, organised labour and all stakeholders who share a commitment to ensuring inclusive growth.