On Friday Prof Raymond Parsons delivered the opening address at the national congress of the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut. We are happy to share it here:
IMPLEMENTATION OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO FALTER, PROFESSOR RAYMOND PARSONS WARNS AT AHI NATIONAL CONGRESS
The effective implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) was not only now urgently necessary for the achievement of SA’s socio-economic goals but was also essential to strengthen business and investor confidence at a challenging time, warned Professor Raymond Parsons, of the NWU Potchefstroom Business School today. If SA faced another credit downgrade, there would be negative consequences for bond yields and the currency, and hence for the economy. In his opening address to the AHI National Congress in Potchefstroom Professor Parsons said that, against the background of the current weak performance of the SA economy and the need to promote a shared vision of where SA wanted to be by 2030, the NDP provided a vital roadmap to develop an economy which would be bigger, stronger and better by then. SA needed to recognize that time was not on its side if it wanted to avoid the economy drifting into a ‘low growth trap’. The real test of the NDP’s implementation would come once the 2014 elections were over, he said.
Professor Parsons told the AHI that a number of red lights were flashing and exposing ‘soft spots’ in the economy, making it imperative to take remedial steps sooner, rather than later. It was essential to inject more long-term thinking into decision-making by both the public and private sectors in addressing key structural issues in the economy. He emphasised that it would require the closest collaboration between government, business and other stakeholders to make a success of the NDP. He said that reaffirmation of the government’s commitment to the NDP should again be reflected in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement on 23 October and its fiscal implications more clearly spelled out. There needed to be less talk and more action in implementing what had been decided in ways that would make a visible difference to the average citizen. In this process, said Professor Parsons, the private sector also needed to understand that it could no longer be ‘business as usual’ if the NDP was to be implemented properly.
Professor Parsons also pointed out that, although SA would be able to demonstrate several notable achievements when it celebrated its 20th anniversary of democracy next year, it had not yet unlocked its true potential. SA could be aiming to grow at 6%, instead of the current 2%. SA had still fallen far short of successfully addressing the overarching triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality, not because of the absence of available remedies, but mainly as a result of implementation failures. Building effective capacity to deliver had become essential. SA also needed to carve out a bigger share of international trade and investment to support its growth and development goals, at a time when its global competitiveness was slipping. What the NDP now offered was a broadly balanced and coherent framework within which the solutions to these challenges could be forged, provided there was sufficient consensus in both the public and private sectors to urgently implement them, said Professor Parsons.
- WHAT IS THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (NDP)?
- WHAT DOES THE NDP SEE AS THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR SOUTH AFRICA?
- SO WHERE ARE WE NOW WITH THE NDP?
- THE WAY AHEAD
‘In fast-growing economies, policy makers understood that successful development entails a decade-long commitment, and a fundamental bargain between the present and the future. Even at very high growth rates of 7% to 8% it takes decades to make the leap from low to relative high incomes….this bargain will only be accepted if the country’s policymakers communicate a credible vision of the future and a strategy for getting there. They must be trusted as stewards of the economy and their promised of future rewards must be believed’
Growth Report: Strategies for Sustained Growth and
‘What we think of what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only thing of consequence is what we do’.
Ek wil begin om die AHI te bedank vir die geleentheid om by die Nasionale Kongres op te tree en om gedagtes met julle te deel by hierdie belangrike geleentheid. Dit is ‘n groot plesier om soveel bekende gesigte hier vandag te sien en ek waardeer die feit dat ons vandag onderwerpe van gesamentlike belang kan bespreek.
Albei Suid-Afrika en die wereld het in die laaste paar jaar belangrike gebeure ervaar wat beduidende gevolge gehadhet vir die ekonomie en vir die sakewereld. Sonder om die belangrikheid van gebeure in die wereldekonomie en hulle implikasies vir die Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomie te onderskat, moet ek dit onomwonde stel dat ons ekonomiese vertoning word nou hoofsaklik geskryf deur plaaslike ekonomiese, sosiale en polities faktore gedryf. Terwyl ‘n deel van huidige agteruitgang en probleme in ons ekonomie kan toegeskryf word aan eksterne faktore, kan ons as burgers en besluitnemers nie agter die wereldekonomie skuil om nie ons sosio-ekonomiese uitdagings aan te pak nie.
As dit waar was, dan sou ons nie hoef om soveel aandag te gee aan die groot ekonomiese debat in Suid-Afrika.
Die meerderheid van Suid-Afrika se uitdagings is inheems van oorsprong en ons moet dus die oplossings in Suid-Afrika soek. Met ander woorde, ons moet ons aandag vestig op die faktore waaroor ons beheer het – waar ons as ‘n land ‘n groot verskil kan maak – en nie te veel tyd bestee aan ontwikkelings waaroor ons min of geen beheer het nie. As ‘n klein en ope ekonomie moet ons natuurlik tendense in die wereldekonomie dophou, maar uiteindelik moet die beleidsbesluite in Suid-Afrika geformuleer word. Dus is ek bly dat die tema van die Kongres bevestig is op die binnelandse ekonomie in die algemene en die Nasionale Ontwikkelings Program (NOP) in die besonder. Want ek glo dat in huidige omstandighede in Suid-Afrika is dit presies waar die klem moet val as ons die oplossings wil soek vir die land se uitdagings. Dit is die boodskap wat die Internasionale Monetêre Fonds onlangs in hulle jaarverslag oor Suid-Afrika ook beklemtoon het.
Alhoewel ek bly is om die rol van die NOP aan te spreek, is die feit dat nog vier sprekers vanoggend sal volg om fasette van die NOP te hanteer, skep ook ‘n dilemma vir my toespraak. Daar is albei die gevaar van dupliseering in ons benadering aan die onderwerp, asook die risiko dat ek hulle sal voorspring. Tewyl ‘n mate van oorvleueling onvermydelik is, sal ek probeer om my toespraak te structureer om hierdie risikos te verklein en miskien ‘n raamwerk te skep vir wat kan nuttig volg vir die ander sprekers. Ek is nietemin seker dat, as ons klaar maak vanoggend, julle ‘n baie volledige oorsig sal kry van die NOP in sy belangrike fasette.
2. WHAT IS THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN (NDP)?
What is the National Development Plan (NDP)?As much as I would like to believe that the NDP has become common currency in the nation’s debate, unfortunately this is not yet the case. I have the impression that it is still largely an elitist debate, though its role and significance is gradually beginning to widen and deepen. So I will start by outlining some of the background and content of the NDP, so that we can have a meaningful exchange of views on its importance for South Africa’s future in the time we have available today. The context in which the NDP been framed is the key to understanding its implications. At the same time, of course, a great deal has to be compressed into a short space of time. It is also a nearly 500-page document, a length which may also successfully defend it against being widely read! But there is an excellent shorter executive summary which I urge you all to peruse.
The NDP comes at a time when there is general agreement that SA’s economic performance is well below its potential. As the IMF has also recently emphasised, we cannot hide behind the difficulties currently being experienced in the world economy. Previous global economic expansion covered up structural flaws that have now become much more obvious, and that the time has arrived to seriously tackle the domestic structural factors that will unlock SA’s true economic potential.
Broadly speaking, in a nutshell what has happened so far is that:
* aside from a few short windfall-driven episodes, SA has remained a modest 3.0% to 3.5% growth performer (the ‘low road’). It has not yet discovered within itself the magic to transform towards 5%, 7% or even higher average growth performances (the ‘high road’), as some other leading emerging economies have done. It is even beginning to lose economic ground in Africa
* and thus after a short, speculatively-driven consumption-driven boom during 2005-2007, and after a short sharp recession following the global economic crisis in 2008/2009, we now find ourselves once again constrained in a 2.5% to 3% growth trajectory, with a significant loss of growth drivers and focused purpose. Labour relations and the collective bargaining system are under unprecedented strain.
* most analysts believe that SA’s long run growth performance could not exceed 3.5% at best, unless the present constraints and bottlenecks are lifted. This is simply not good enough and most South Africans have a stake in seeing an economy which will deliver much higher job-rich growth
After all, would business not be interested in a plan which, if successfully implemented, could potentially mean an economy nearly three times its present size by 2030? Much of the extensive terrain covered by the NDP is familiar ground for business, and it provides both a goad and a catalyst for action. What does this mean for business planning – especially since it is clear that the private sector is largely to be the yeast in the bread that is to be baked? The message needs to gain more traction, and not just in the business community. Greater efforts should be made to ‘popularize’ the main messages of the NDP if it is to be made more accessible to the population at large and to encourage the participation of an ‘active citizenry’, which is such a major feature of the plan.
From the business angle, it provides a platform where dialogue between government and business can take place, identifying such policy enablers that can set the path to achieving national growth and employment targets. As you will see, the targets set out in the NDP are ambitious and achieving them will require both government and business to embark on an approach that will require more than just a ‘business-as-usual’ attitude. It will require a re-evaluation of current policies and a specific exercise to set new priorities that take these challenges into account.
That said, what is the content and purpose of the NDP and how might it shape SA’s future? ‘Our future – making it work’ is the title of the NDP’s executive summary and it around this theme that its proposals are built. And as I said in my introductory remarks the NDP focuses very strongly on the factors over which SA has control to build an economy which will be bigger, stronger and better by 2030. It believes that South Africans need to have more say over their destiny and need to mobilise themselves more effectively as a nation. That said, what are the overarching goals of the NDP and broadly how does the NDP envisage we should reach them, given the successes and failures since 1994?
The NDP aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. It believes SA can realize these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. Realizing such an economy and society, says the NDP, will require transformation of the economy and focused efforts to build the country’s capabilities. To achieve these highly ambitious socio-economic goals, the economy must grow faster and in ways that benefit all South Africans. The NDP wants to remove unnecessary obstacles in the path of people whose ambitions are to develop business and employ more new workers. In particular, the NDP identifies better educational and economic opportunities for young people as essential, and these are integrated themes that run throughout the NDP.
What, however, was the genesis of the NDP? How did it arise? It is important to grasp at the outset that the NDP is not just some bureaucratic document conceived in a vacuum and foisted on the country. It is not a conventional ‘top-down’ exercise. President Jacob Zuma appointed the National Planning Commission (NPC) in 2010 to draft a vision and national development plan. The Commission has consisted of 26 people drawn mainly from outside government and chosen for their expertise in key areas. Both the original diagnostic report – and subsequently the NDP itself – are based on extensive research, consultation and engagement, both in SA and abroad. It was an inclusive and independent process.
The NDP framework is thus the outcome of fully consultative process and was also accepted by the ANC elective conference at Mangaung in December 2012. While it claims to be neither perfect nor complete, it sets out a clear roadmap and firm proposals to solve the country’s problems, and to deepen the engagement of South Africans from all walks of life in building the future. It also injects a strong degree of urgency into efforts ‘to fix the future, starting today’, as NDP puts it. The broad support of the NDP by government and business alike could not have been more opportune, as it provides a roadmap for our long term development path which creates an opportunity to re-position SA as an investment destination of choice.
3. WHAT DOES THE NDP SEE AS THE MAIN CHALLENGES FOR SOUTH AFRICA?
In its almost 500 pages the NDP analyses what it sees as the main challenges for SA, and which resonates with much of what the business community also sees in its overall environment today, as follows:
3.1 Too few people work
3.2 The quality of school education for black people is poor
3.3 Infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained and insufficient to foster higher economic growth
3.4 Spatial divides hobble inclusive development and exclude the poor from fronts of developments
3.5 The economy is overly and unsustainably resource-intensive
3.6 A widespread disease burden is compounded by a failing public health system
3.7 Public services are uneven and often of poor quality
3.8 Corruption and crime levels are high
3.9 South Africa remains a divided society
To succeed in tackling these issues successfully the NDP premises its development approach on the following:
* the active efforts and participation of all South Africans in their own development
* redressing the injustices of the past effectively
* faster economic growth, higher investment and maximum employment
* rising standards of education, a healthy population and effective social protection
* strengthening the links between economic and social strategies
* collaboration between the private and public sectors
* leadership from all sectors in society
I am sure you will be hearing more about some of these dimensions of the NDP and their practical implications in subsequent presentations later this morning. But this preliminary overview sums up quite a few big challenges in a few words. This is the ‘big picture’. While the weak and uncertain global economic outlook is not helpful, SA needs to move forward with planned structural reforms to boost job-rich growth.
To address these challenges in their various manifestations in SA society in coherent and coordinated ways the NDP makes a wide range of positive proposals to deal with them, within a context of priorities. It is not necessary to agree with all the recommendations to accept that by and large the NDP has pressed most of the right buttons needed on many fronts to change the situation for the better by 2030. Overall, transforming the economy and creating sustainable expansion for job creation – an aspirational target of 11 million jobs is sought by 2030 – means that the rate of growth needs to exceed 5 per cent a year on average.
While the NDP strongly emphasises the need to improve state capacity to enhance delivery, it also recognizes the vital role of the private sector in the development process. Indeed, small business is expected to generate the bulk of the jobs that have to be created in the years ahead, a formidable challenge but one which needs more attention than it has enjoyed so far. Today would be a good opportunity to do so. The NDP also highlights the need for SA to be more globally competitive, to carve out a larger share of world trade and investment to support its growth and development goals. As a whole, the NDP seeks to provide a multi-pronged blueprint for SA’s future up to 2030, on the economic, social and political fronts.
4. SO WHERE ARE WE NOW WITH THE NDP?
The government has accepted the NDP as the new framework within which it says official policies will be increasingly aligned. Senior government spokespersons, including President Jacob Zuma, have emphasised that the NDP trumps all other plans and that the government is now fully committed to the NDP. It has also been emphasised that this is a plan for all South Africans, one which seeks to inject more ‘long-termism’ into thinking by both the public sector and private sectors. We all need to look further ahead. Because the plan is designed to bring about fundamental change over a period of nearly two decades, it will require a degree of policy consistency that straddles changes in leadership in government, business and labour. And it goes almost without saying that the successful implementation of the NDP requires strong and effective leadership from government, business, labour and civil society, now and in the future.
Realistically we must also understand that, subsequent to the finalization and acceptance of the National Development Plan (NDP), an election campaign has now intervened. This will inevitably influence the remarks, tactics and timing around the implementation of the NDP, which embodies some tough decisions. The real test of how seriously the NDP will be implemented is indeed not so much now but rather immediately after the elections next year, by which time Planning Minister Trevor Manuel has said the government ‘wants to hit the ground running with the NDP’. He says that, for the post-2014-election government to ‘find work waiting’, the groundwork for NDP implementation has to begin now.
In the meantime, President Zuma has recently repeatedly said that official policies are already being slowly aligned with the NDP and it is understood that the targets of the plan have already been written into the key performance areas (kpas) of Cabinet Ministers. Perceptions around the future of the NDP will therefore hinge to a large degree on assessments of the extent to which it is seen to survive the election campaign and still provide a definitive roadmap to 2030. Political leaders like President Zuma who undertake to manage a reform programme like the NDP will be judged by their ability to navigate the political minefields that often lie beneath the path to reform.
So although it is still early days for the NDP, we must recognize the urgency and importance of its message. This has become even more important in the light of socio-economic developments since the NDP was finalised and accepted. Macro-economic vulnerabilities are becoming more apparent. There are several red lights flashing about SA’s present weak economic performance and there is the risk that, unless key structural issues are being seen to be effectively addressed soon, the economy could drift into a ‘low growth trap’ of 2-3%.This would be completely inadequate to meet SA’s socio-economic needs and for the goals of a truly inclusive economy.
The NDP was crafted precisely because it was felt that, if SA could develop a shared vision of the future, it would gain the time needed to more successfully address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. The remedies are at hand, provided there is willingness in both the public and private sectors to take the difficult decisions sooner rather than later. The good news is that the NDP provides the necessary perspectives within which solutions can be identified and implemented. It is not a shibboleth but provides an essential framework for taking the right decisions about where SA would like to be by 2030.
Business needs to be both a consumer and contributor of ideas on the implementation of the NDP. Organised business has already engaged in an early round of bilateral discussions with President Jacob Zuma during the course of this year to close the gap between what government wants and what business needs within the NDP framework. The group of target workstreams that have been identified are currently being jointly concretised with government are –
- Maximising the impact of the infrastructural programme;
- Developing skills for required competitiveness and inclusive growth and preparing young people for the world of work;
- Enhancing basic education outcomes;
- Reducing policy and regulatory uncertainty and complexity by encouraging an integrated interdepartmental approach to policy formulation and lowering the cost of doing business;
- Renewing and modernising SA’s labour market for employment and growth.
The next meeting with President Zuma will be before the end of the year to report back on these initiatives.
Perceptions around the successful implementation of the NDP therefore remain important to business, financial markets and international credit-ranging agencies for two important reasons. Firstly, a commitment to implement coherent and coordinated policies within the framework helps to create the more predictable and certain environment which business needs to take its decisions. Secondly, against the background of several previous socio-economic programmes which were either a casualty of failed implementation or ideological polarization, an inability to properly implement the NDP would now have negative consequences for investor confidence. The margin for error is limited and there needs to be a clear message that the commitment to properly implement the NDP is irreversible. Analysts and business will seek further confirmation of this in the Medium-Term Budgetary Policy Statement (MTBPS) by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan next week.
That does not mean that there must not be further consultation on aspects of the NDP as it is being implemented. Indeed, the success of the plan requires the maximum degree of collaboration and participation to ensure successful implementation. But ‘dialogue’ must not mean a repetition of the experience of many previous programmes, which abounded in promises and disappointments. If ‘talking’ could be factored into SA’s growth rate, this country would be the fastest growing economy in the world! We must recall that the NDP, being the outcome of an independent but consultative process through the NPC, is a compromise ‘centrist’ plan and too much further tinkering could upset its carefully crafted balance. Each time SA preaches the ‘high road’ but is perceived to deliver only the ‘low road’, the challenges become more formidable and frustration builds.
If the implementation of the NDP is eventually to generate a SA economy which is stronger, bigger and better in the years ahead, there will have to be tight deadlines within which decisions will be taken and executed over the next couple of years, if only to show some early positive outcomes. It will be necessary to demonstrate that this is a blueprint with a difference. At some point a line must be drawn as to where endless debate ceases and implementation starts. Leadership is all about smart change management and to demonstrate the advantages of possibly having a SA economy almost three times its present size if the NDP is properly implemented. So how strong is the commitment to the NDP at this stage?
Hence the present debate as to whether the recent ANC-COSATU-SACP meeting about economic policy heralds a new ambivalence the government’s hitherto stated firm commitment to implement the National Development Plan (NDP). The inevitable ‘further dialogue’ within the ANC-COSATU-SACP alliance announced on aspects of the NDP, such as the economic framework, has understandably been interpreted by some media and analysts as a dilution of the commitment to the NDP. Is there already slippage? Of course, this is always possible. On the other hand, it may be purely tactical given the immediacy of an election next year and the political dynamics involved, so we may have to give the situation the benefit of the doubt for the moment.
After all, in policymaking great swerving runs are acceptable, as long as they are in the same direction. The shortest distance between two points in policymaking is seldom a straight line, especially if there are political allies to be assuaged. Realistically we must understand that, subsequent to the finalization and acceptance of the NDP, for good or ill an election campaign has intervened and some policy ‘zig-zagging’ is inevitable. With a general election pending, there could be further distractions and implementation may not be able to proceed as rapidly as desired in the meantime.
Yet the strong official rhetoric about the NDP so far has created expectations that the commitment to align policies to the NDP framework is serious and that there will be no turning back on the basics. The government is responsible for a large share of the recommendations in the plan and as previously indicated, the NDP is already a compromise document which has been carefully sequenced. ‘Politics’, once said economist John Kenneth Gailbraith, ‘is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable’. This seems to accurately frame the dilemmas of current policymaking in SA.
How much room is there to manoeuvre? Time is not on our side. The political and other leadership who are responsible for driving the implementation of the NDP must understand that the scope for error is small. There are likely to now be serious trade-offs between perceived vacillation in implementation and economic performance. NDP is presently seen by many key decision-makers as an essential bridge for SA between the present and the future. It must not be treated as several previous socio-economic programmes have been handled, where policy and implementation have often gone to die. The problem is that SA’s track record on implementation is poor but here is an opportunity to do it differently and better. The opportunity must not be frittered away but seized with both hands by the public and private sectors alike.
Apart from the expectations of the nation at large, it is business, markets and international credit-rating agencies who will react negatively to any serious lapse from the commitment to the NDP. At a time when our current account deficit is 6.5% of GDP both the IMF and the SARB have warned that it requires only that foreigners stop investing in SA for the consequences to be severe. Should they withdraw past investment capital the impact could be dire. While the plan now belongs to the nation as a whole, the government is nonetheless seen to remain the effective custodian of the plan. The NDP as an anchor for future policy making and economic steersmanship must not be seen to drag. The state sets the credibility bar for society as a whole. Unless there remains a clear and unequivocal commitment to the broad framework of the NDP, there is a risk that any bad lapses in this regard could contribute to a further credit-rating downgrade. Constant reaffirmation and gradual tangible implementation remain essential.
5. THE WAY AHEAD
There is no magic just in the words ‘National Development Plan’ as such: it is not a key which will spontaneously unlock the door to Utopia. It means instead embarking on a new tough but rewarding economic phase in SA, in which everything depends on the effective implementation of the ‘right’ decisions. A growth rate of 2.5% to 3% cannot be the ‘new normal’ for SA and we need to do much better. Having set ourselves broad socio-economic goals, we must decide how they can best be attained within the shortest compass of time, while recognizing the need to deal with any unintended consequences that are likely to emerge. SA now has the best chance since 1994 of substantially raising its economic performance and its ‘game’ in the years ahead.
It may be said: ‘Well, if the NDP has so many positive features, why is there strong criticism and resistance from some quarters?’. Healthy debate is absolutely necessary for the successful implementation of any plan, and especially for a roadmap like the NDP which places so much emphasis on active participation. Although the NDP seems to enjoy broad support from many stakeholders in SA, the areas of criticism can be divided into two overall categories – ideological and technical. It is inevitable that all blueprints and roadmaps that are ‘centrist’ will be attacked from both left and right, and so it has been recently with the NDP. All these perspectives have their place in the debate, as long as we understand that further procrastination will come at an ever-increasing cost to SA in present circumstances.
We also forget how many times many earlier well-intentioned socio-economic programmes in SA have been victims of delay, weak implementation or ideological resistance. The NDP covers familiar terrain. ‘Centrists’ need to speak up now if they believe in the NDP. We cannot wait until the costs of conflict have risen high enough to force compromise and compel our society to come to its senses. We need to concentrate our efforts on the best means of implementing the NDP in ways where there can at least be a ‘shared vision’. We need to become a nation of pragmatists. A prominent Chinese leader, in explaining an important element in China’s economic success over several decades said (and he was not speaking racially): ‘ Does it really matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches the mice?’
Where several critics of the NDP may be at fault is in not judging it by the test of using it. Of course, the NDP has several pitfalls, but on the whole it is greatly superior to most of its predecessors. Many critics of the NDP look at the new model car from the kerb of the pavement and point out all sorts of features which they think unsatisfactory or unacceptable. But they lack the courage to get into it and drive away in it. If they do so, they would not want to return to the old ways of doing things, but to get real movement into a better future for all. Critics set themselves too easy a task if they merely pick holes in the plan now being pursued and ignore the opportunity costs of the alternatives.
Following on a top-level meeting with the NPC in July 2013, President Jacob Zuma said the government was going ahead with the NDP, regardless of next year’s election or those who have criticized the document. He said those who took exception to the NDP should provide alternatives, as the government was forging ahead with a drive to implement the plan. This is presumably his answer to those groups or individuals who may intend ‘to talk the NDP to death’! Once the 2014 election is over and a renewed mandate had been given by the electorate, there must nonetheless be a sense of urgency, no complacency and a strong determination to see the NDP through by a second-term President with no expectation of re-election and who can afford to take a strong line.
We should recall that the democratic elections in SA in 1994 offered great promise and unleashed a volume of hope, not all of which has been realized. Widespread hope is the most useful force that can be offered by political and civil leadership. The hope of democracy when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the advent of democracy in 1994, and the hope of countless previous socio-economic programmes since then were winds of opportunity. But these big winds of opportunity do not wait for boats to be built or for navigation to be perfected. If ships are not ready for them, they blow themselves out. They pass, and they are not easily recalled. And so it is with the implementation of the NDP. At some point soon tough decisions have to be taken and implemented by both the public and private sectors, if momentum is to be created and traction gained.
To make all these good things happen will require a collective effort from key stakeholders in the economy, especially business. That is why your focus on the NDP here today is highly relevant to what South Africa needs to achieve in the years ahead. The crucial role of good and effective leadership is echoed in the NDP itself. In the post-election phase there must emerge, as a continuing element in the life of this country, a cadre of political, labour, business, civic and administrative leaders who can be relied upon to implement the NDP framework in coherent and sensible ways. A developing society, with the acute challenges of a country like SA, particularly needs to encourage this kind of leadership. It is leadership that wins the confidence of the nation by demonstrating its capacity to tackle problems successfully and implement policies, that will make for a better future by 2030.
We urgently need to build a national economic purpose, in which all major stakeholders need to participate. Without an overall framework like the NDP at this juncture, we cannot generate an economy which will be bigger, stronger and better by 2030. We need a broad overriding, long term roadmap that extends beyond the electoral and short-term business cycle to create the framework and direction for future policy. SA’s lacklustre economic performance needs much of the magic that the NDP could deliver. It lies largely in our hands to create that magic.