09/08/2012. President Jacob Zuma delivers his Women's Day Celebrations speech at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Parliament, Cape Town -

The National Development Plan (NDP) is such that all South Africans should identify with and embrace it, President Jacob Zuma said on Wednesday.

“Regardless of our political differences, we broadly agree on the need to build a united, non-racial, non-sexist, and prosperous South Africa,” he told a joint sitting of Parliament's two Houses.

“We may disagree on methods, but the end result is not difficult to agree 1/8up 3/8on. The national plan describes that final destination that we are all moving towards,” he said.

The sitting was called for National Planning Commission Minister Trevor Manuel to present the revised NDP to Zuma.

He said the commission had conducted its work guided by the Constitution, which was the ultimate national development plan, outlining the type of society that needed to be built.

The commission's diagnostic document released last year outlined key problems, including too few people working, poor quality of school education for blacks, poorly located, inadequately and under-maintained infrastructure, spatial divides hobbling inclusive development, and an unsustainable, resource intensive economy.

Others were that the public health system could not meet demand or sustain quality, public services were uneven and often of poor quality, corruption levels were high, and that South Africa remained a divided society.

“Very few countries are able to take such a strong self-critical view. It demonstrates how mature we are politically, and how determined we are about turning the situation around,” Zuma said.

In November last year, the commission produced a draft NDP for 2030 with a comprehensive set of policy proposals.

Following extensive further consultation, the commission had now produced the revised NDP, which submitted that the long-term objectives should be eliminating poverty and reducing inequality.

“There is further consensus that creating jobs and improving the quality of education are our highest priorities.

“There is also a large degree of consensus on the key elements of the plan and of a social compact that will guide our country over the course of the next two decades,” he said.

While achieving the objectives of the plan required progress on a broad front, three priorities stood out.

These were: raising employment through faster economic growth; improving the quality of education, skills development, and innovation; and building the capability of the state to play a developmental, transformative role.

“Given our struggle against unemployment, a scourge that renders many families restless and in distress, we are encouraged by the long-term employment creation proposals, which are in line with our new growth path framework.”

The plan proposed adopting strategies that brought about faster economic growth, higher investment, and greater labour absorption.

“It states that we should reduce the unemployment rate from 24.9 percent in June 2012 to 14 percent by 2020, and to six percent by 2030, which would require an additional 11 million jobs. This would help us tackle youth and women unemployment.

“We believe that it is an achievable goal if we set our sights to it, and transform and de-racialise (sic) the economy to enable it to perform in a manner that will enable growth and job creation. We can and also should make our economy receptive to employing young people.”

Youth unemployment should be of concern to all across political divides. The problem could not be a political football, but should unite all behind finding a solution, as the youth was the future of the country.

“The National Development Plan tells us that it is possible to create a future that is many times better than the present. We can do it if we set our sights to it, and begin planning in earnest for 2030, instead of looking only at the next financial year or the next five years.”

All sectors of society had to engage with the plan.

“It is a common road map for all of us, regardless of political affiliations.”

Zuma said the document would be discussed at next month's Cabinet lekgotla, to harmonise it with existing development initiatives. - Sapa