Former Finance Minister On Work of Legislatures [document]

Former Finance Minister Mr Trevor Manuel gave a frank and “thought-provoking” presentation on the National Development Plan (NDP) and the role of the legislative sector at the Secretaries’ Association of the Legislatures of South Africa (Salsa) seminar in Durban today.

In his presentation titled “Perspectives on the National Development Plan and the role of the legislative sector”, Mr Manuel said Parliament was “very linear” and that the NDP was based on a systems approach. The primary objective of the NDP is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030 and is the country’s blueprint plan for development. President Jacob Zuma set up the National Planning Commission, with Mr Manuel as chairperson, in 2010. The commission was mandated to draw up the NDP.

The Salsa seminar, under the auspices of the South African Legislative Sector (SALS), is reflecting on the past 20 years of a democratic South Africa and is also planning ahead for the years to come. As with the NDP, SALS has its own 2030 vision. The legislative sector is using the systems approach in its mission to attain the 2030 SALS vision. The legislative sector places a high premium on collaboration through shared knowledge and information among the country’s legislatures.

Mr Manuel also touched on the 2014-2019 Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). He cited three examples (quality basic education, a long and healthy life for all, and all people in South Africa are and feel safe) pertaining to the MTSF. Turning to the NDP, he stressed that the plan was a result of extensive consultation processes with various members and representatives of society.

The commission released its diagnostic report in 2011, which revealed that South Africa was battling with nine challenges:

Too few people are employed.

The quality of school education for black people is poor.

Infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained.

Spatial divides hobble development.

The economy is unsustainably resource intensive.

The public health system cannot meet demand or sustain quality.

Public services are uneven and often of poor quality.

Corruption levels are high.

South Africa remains a divided society.

According to NDP 2030, the three objectives that stand out are raising employment through economic growth improving the quality of education, skills development and innovation and building the capability of the state to play a developmental and transformational role.

Mr Manuel said delegates had to ask themselves if the legislatures were equipped or in a position to supervise the implementation of the NDP and MTSF. “There was nothing self-evident about the NDP when it was drafted,” he said, adding that the NDP should not be looked at in a linear way.

After Mr Manuel’s presentation, Mr Justin Bundi, Clerk of the National Assembly of Kenya, shared his experiences in terms of key strategic interventions and questions towards the realisation of the vision of the legislative sector. Mr Bundi said public participation was of critical importance. As such, Kenya’s legislature made sure that the public was included in the decision- and law-making processes of the National Assembly. He said the institution has had its own budget office for the past five years and this has produced positive results.

The three-day development seminar comes to an end tomorrow. On the final day recommendations for a way forward will be made based on the group discussions and plenary sessions.

All legislatures in South Africa are represented at the seminar. Delegates are using what is called “systems thinking approach” as they look at ways of improving and strengthening the legislative sector.

Cedric Mboyisa

Source : Parliament of South Africa