The NEC Lekgotla held in June 2014, convened immediately after the 2014 general elections, set the tone for the fifth administration. The overarching theme coming out of that Lekgotla was that Government should move with speed to implement our electoral commitments as means of addressing the needs of our people.
We emerged out of the NEC meeting and the Lekgotla of June 2014 with a clear directive that words without action do not have a place in this term of office. Every cadre of our movement, in the NEC subcommittees and the different spheres of our Government, would give content and provide a programme to our commitment for radical economic and social transformation, as resolved by the 53rd National Conference.
Drawing from our elections campaign and what our communities said were their needs, and also weaknesses of our public representatives at this level, we resolved to be ever present among our people and to urgently meet the identified needs. It is in this regard that greater emphasis was placed on Local Government. Institutions of state, in particular the State Owned Enterprises and Development Finance Institutions, were urged to be effective instruments of change.
It was made clear to all of us that service to the people should be a norm, not an exception. Our people expect to be served with distinction, and we must do so as a matter of course and not merely as an electoral act. All ANC structures were impressed upon to drive implementation. From the officials through to the branch, the challenge would be to monitor our cadres and their ability to implement, and with speed.
OUR PRIORITIES AND THEIR CONTEXT
The priorities which were set for our Government arose, mainly, from the Election Manifesto and the National Development Plan. They were outlined as follows:
- Creating more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods
- Access to education
- Access to health
- Rural development, land and agrarian reform
- Fighting crime and corruption
These priorities, given their long-term impact, were carried forth from the previous term because we deemed that they require concerted effort and specific attention. In addition to these we included Local Government, with focus on governance and service delivery as aspects that constitute points of vulnerability for the ANC.
Furthermore, we identified four catalyst sectors, that is:
- Energy infrastructure
- Transport infrastructure
- ICT and
- Water and sanitation
It was also agreed that sport and recreation, social cohesion and nation-building were critical for creating national pride and preserving our history and heritage.
As a movement the question we must confront is: Have the Ministries and Departments adequately dealt with these priorities, by implementing action plans with the required urgency and by allocating the necessary resources? We should all answer this question openly and honestly. By so doing, we will be enabling our Government make headway even in areas where we are experiencing difficulty.
WHAT WE COMMITTED TO
3.1 We made concrete commitments in concert with our rallying call for a radical economic transformation. Specifically, we stated that:
- We should strive to achieve a 5% economic growth.
- Economic growth should translate into increased employment and the reduction of inequality.
- The de-racialisation of the economy should be accelerated.
- We should step-up the implementation of the infrastructure project and crowd-in productive private sector investment.
- State-owned companies should play a key role in driving the build programme.
- Electricity shortage is a binding constraint, which limits growth and deters investment, and should be addressed urgently. In this context, the Medupi and Kusile power stations should be urgently brought into the generation stream. Also, considering the ageing generation infrastructure there is an immediate need to plan additional generation capacity. We, therefore, note the reminder that electricity shortage and load-shedding have been a reality since 2008. However, such a call is not useful when concrete solutions are not provided.
- We have committed to pursue an energy mix approach, that is, take a holistic outlook integrating coal, nuclear, shale gas, off-shore oil and gas and renewable. What progress is being made on any of these? What is our response to the public outrage, which is sometimes politically motivated and other times raising alarm about corruption, against nuclear?
- We will facilitate and support the development of specific sectors, through improving the performance of manufacturing and developing concrete plans to improve mining and agriculture
- Supporting smallholder farmers and expanding the number of producers in agriculture
- Increasing support for exploration and development in mining
- Addressing obstacles to the programme of beneficiation of our minerals
- Strengthening the state-owned mining company and consolidating state interests in mining
- Focus on the development and growth of the small business sector. We have established a Ministry to focus on this area of work. However, is there tangible and visible work to develop and grow small businesses? What are the obstacles and challenges we face in establishing the necessary infrastructure in this new ministry?
- We will increase private sector investment, including provision of specific incentives and engaging the private sector.
- We will remove unnecessary regulatory burdens and reduce the risk of unintended consequences emanating from legislation and regulations. Areas that required urgent attention were developed and outlined as follows:
- Building licences
- Company registration
- Tax compliance
- Work permits for scarce skills
- Mining licences
- Water licences and access to municipal infrastructure services
- Access to finance
- Reduction of workplace conflict, investigate both the modality of collective bargaining in all sectors and the introduction of the national minimum wage.
We committed ourselves as follows:
- To improve the quality of teaching and learning
- To have regular annual national assessments to track improvements and lack thereof
- To improve Grade R and extend Early Childhood Development
- To improved the provision of infrastructure and learning material
- To expand access to higher education institutions
- To accelerate the building programme for the new universities
- To link/integrate the various parts of the training system
- To improve scholar transport in terms of availability, efficiency and safety
- To centralise negotiations for procurement and contracts for books and furniture
- To source and increase funding for Master’s and Doctoral students
- To take concrete steps towards free education up to the first degree. While striving to achieve this noble objective NSFAS must be improved to target students from poor households. This will require closure of loopholes, including corruption, which are used to access NSFAS for students who do not deserve assistance.
- To develop funding for the gap market
- To discuss the decline in the matriculation results and the impact of regular changes on the performance of the child
We should also recognise that each time a dilapidated school building appears in the media, for example, the schools destroyed by hail storms and left unattended for a long period; it impacts on the image of the ANC. From such images, the ANC is perceived to not prioritise education. Some of these examples are used to undermine progress we make in various areas of education.
We committed to:
- Improve human resources for health, particularly its management and leadership
- Re-engineer primary healthcare
- Improve health facility planning and infrastructure development and maintenance
- Reduce healthcare costs
- Continue to improve prevention and management of HIV & AIDS and TB.
- Reduce maternal, infant and child mortality
- Start the implementation of NHI to ensure universal health coverage
Crime and corruption
In the area of fighting crime and corruption the following commitments were made:
- Prohibit public servants and public representatives from doing business with the State to limit and, ultimately, eliminate conflict of interest.
- Improve the State’ capacity to investigate, prosecute and convict those charged with corruption.
- Strengthen anti-corruption legislation to provide stiffer penalties and strengthen the protection of whistle-blowers.
- Improve management control and operations systems to prevent corruption.
- Ensure that all the people of South Africa are and feel safe.
- Enhance the capacity of the courts to eliminate backlogs and increase conviction rate.
- Increase support for the police.
- Intensify the fight against the abuse of women, children, elderly and people with disabilities.
- Create the border management agency by 2016 and the international migration review.
- Finalise the white paper on safety and security.
- Finalise the Defence Review Strategic policy.
- Finalise and implement a Single Police Service.
Rural development, Land and Agrarian reform
There was little attention paid to this priority at the June 2014 Lekgotla. The commitment to expand employment in agriculture was not supported by a clear programme. There was a lacklustre attempt to answer how emphasising the expansion of smallholder production could do this. There was also a commitment to grow sustainable rural enterprises and industries, increase agro-processing, trade development, and access to local markets and financial services.
We have now concentrated our focus on accelerating land reform and the land redistribution programme. The commitment in the January 08th statement that the expropriation legislation will be promulgated in 2015 should be supported with a concrete programme. The Ministry must give more details on the challenges faced in trying to implement the programme. The decision we have no are intended to step up land redistribution. Our preoccupation must be that:
- Existing programmes directed at improving production among smallholder farmers should be appropriately funded and be properly managed to improve efficiencies.
- Presently, agriculture only contributes about 2% to the GDP when it has the potential to contribute up to about 12%. What can be done concretely to tap this potential? Is Onderste Poort Research Institution appropriately located in the Department of Agriculture, or should it be in Science and Technology? The impact of its underperformance in our failure to progress fast enough towards achieving the targets must be assessed.
We committed that national departments must support weak municipalities directly. We said we would continue to:
- Implement free basic services for indigent households and to support municipalities where they lack capacity
- Guide municipalities to ensure compliance with legislative requirements in respect of municipal revenue, financial management and sustainability.
- Ensure infrastructure grants are utilised optimally and used for their intended purpose
- Deal with the prevalence of corruption
- Include the Back to Basics document to our commitments
- Connect and interact with communities, reporting back regularly and ensuring public participation
- Eradicate the culture of entitlement in our communities
- Ensure that local government is responsive, accountable, effective and efficient
- Provide support to poor municipalities so they are able to implement infrastructure capital and maintenance plans
On the State
In addition to commitments made in the area of local government we further committed ourselves to:
- Work on improving the capacity of the state
- Building a public service that is disciplined, people-centred and professional
- Ongoing training in the workplace and targeted training by the School of Government
- Attract and retain skills
- Professionalise and modernise procurement to improve value for money and reduce risk
- Smarter use of technology to improve efficiency
- Increase access to houses and basic services
- Focus more on building infrastructure with any housing project
- Move away from apartheid spatial planning patterns
We will shortly release the detailed resolutions of the ANC January Lekgotla which dealt with these questions and developed concrete programmes in response to the challenges identified.
That Lekgotla sought to:
- Ensure that it was diagnostic in its approach and deliberations
- It focused on implementation or lack thereof
- Understand sector programmes, progress reports and plans for each sector to contribute to us achieving the 5% growth by 2019
- Be specific and bold in dealing with electricity crisis that is facing our country
- Be more concrete, with clear timeframes, regarding exploiting the potential of the energy sector. Moving with speed was empathised as being critical in this regard.
- Ministries working in the catalytic sectors as identified must help us develop concrete programmes. The June 2014 Lekgotla made little reference to the areas of ICT and water and sanitation, which stands in contrast to the bold commitment made in the infrastructure rollout programme.
- Develop concrete responses to current and immediate challenges:
- Electricity load shedding
- The conflict in the small business sector (xenophobia or scramble for scarce resources and opportunities)
- Digital migration
- Chaos in boards of State Owned Companies
- Strengthening the Back to Basic document on local government. It should be concrete in addressing corruption, real and perceived, as this remains one of the biggest challenges facing our country
The commitments we made in both the June 2014 and January 2015 Lekgotla, should find expression in practical and concrete actions. They are devoid of value and meaning if they only remain on paper. In fact, if anything at all, they reflect negatively on the ANC and its Government in that they communicate that we are unable to implement even those issues we agree on and commit to.
Article by Gwede Mantashe