South Africa’s challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality cannot be changed without a capable, professional, ethical and developmental State, speakers noted during a webinar hosted by government agency the National Planning Commission (NPC) on February 23.
The NPC envisages a capable and developmental State and has drafted a paper titled 'NPC Position Paper: Capable, Professional and Ethical Developmental State'.
A developmental State is one that prioritises economic development and growth, is heavily invested in and uses industrialisation with various export-oriented strategies and has skilled and highly trained politicians and administrators, states the NPC.
The NPC stipulates that “a developmental State builds the capabilities of people to improve their own lives, while intervening to correct historical inequalities”.
NPC Youth commissioner Tessa Dooms said the NPC aimed to develop a capable nation through the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).
To do this, the NPC has determined five pathways.
Firstly, there is building a capable State, which Dooms highlighted as the most important pathway.
Secondly is the need to grow an inclusive economy.
The third pathway requires active citizenry and engaging everyone in the country around the mission of developing the country, but in an inclusive way that ensures all stakeholders partake in the process.
The fourth pathway entails enhancing quality of life and is therefore focused on the social and healthcare sectors.
Lastly, there is the need to look at the District Development Model (DDM) and how this can be improved.
The DDM aims to improve the coherence and impact of government service delivery with a focus on 44 districts and eight metropolitan municipalities around the country as development spaces that can be used as centres of service delivery and economic development, including job creation.
Other speakers indicated that it was too early to tell if the DDM is able to drive a developmental State.
Dr Pulane Molokwane said that while a developmental State had been envisioned since the advent of democracy, not much progress has been made since 1994, bar some baby steps.
She noted some progress in fighting absolute poverty, but said this was not enough.
While she acclaimed that the government had great plans, policies and intentions, she said the implementation of these had always fallen short, especially in the past few years.
“The decisions made by the State over time have not really been implemented, therefore, we need a State that is capable, better organised and, more importantly, we need a professional public service,” Molokwane emphasised.
Implementing a developmental State required a joint effort, with neither the government nor the market developing the necessary capabilities alone, speakers emphasised.
Molokwane said that building a capable State required deliberate institutional and legislative reforms; a social wage, combining access to basic services and social grants; and the capacity and organisation of the State.
She also highlighted the need for strong institutions to underpin the State’s capacity to formulate and implement developmental policies and programmes, integrate all plans and mobilise society behind the NDP.
There is also the need to professionalise the public service.
Further, strong leadership, active citizenship and effective government are required, as is leveraging the country’s strong and diverse private sector and civil society to build capabilities that will ensure the country achieves its targets.