The National Planning Commission has won the cabinet’s endorsement for its long-term strategic plan for the country – a commitment underscored by plans to move on implementing key targets.
The decision is a victory for the commission’s head, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, who is now expected to be appointed chairman of the cabinet committee to be established to drive the process.
His cabinet colleague, Minister in the Presidency in charge of performance monitoring and evaluation Collins Chabane told journalists on Friday the committee would develop targets and integrated development plans.
An indication of the cabinet’s commitment to the plan is the involvement of the government’s directors-general.
Chabane said the Forum for South African Directors-General (Fosad) will work with the cabinet committee in aligning departments with the 18 targets identified by the commission as key to attaining the plan’s objectives.
“The lekgotla welcomed the national development plan developed by the National Planning Commission and endorsed the objectives and the 18 key targets in attaining these,” Chabane said.
“The lekgotla also acknowledged the national development plan as a strategic framework to form the basis of future government planning.”
He said a government-led process to involve citizens in “owning” the plan would be launched, and Manuel and the commission are expected to lead this drive. This represents a shift from the commission’s previous advisory role to one that will be more hands-on.
The lekgotla, chaired by President Jacob Zuma, involved not only cabinet ministers but also, on its final day, provincial premiers and directors-general of national departments.
The Sunday Independent understands this development has been hailed by the planning commission as a significant victory, although there is also recognition that political battles still lie ahead, particularly with regard to the economy and labour.
A key goal of the plan is to bring about a public service that is less vulnerable to the kind of politicking that attends party leadership battles and a state able to sail through the choppy waters that accompany any changes in administration.
Insulating those in charge of running government departments and programmes from political interference is one aspect of proposals to make the state more efficient.
Together with giving the Public Service Commission more powers, this lays the basis for dealing with some of the systemic problems afflicting the civil service, including corruption.
It also means that whatever happens when the ANC goes to Mangaung in December to elect a new leadership, there will be an anchor in terms of strategic direction.