South Africans must join hands to ensure the National Development Plan (NDP) succeeds for a prosperous joint future.
The NDP belongs to all of us, and so it behoves all of us to take charge in our respective spheres of influence to start a new season of hope, and to let the NDP actions and objectives blossom across our country. This is how we can demonstrate that the NDP is making a difference in our people's lives, said Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, on Friday.
Delivering a keynote address at the fourth annual public lecture on the NDP, Minister Radebe reflected on the lessons learnt, the emerging challenges encountered and how the country can enhance better implementation of the NDP.
The lecture was titled 'The NDP five years on: lesson learnt, challenges, enhancing implementation'. It marked the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the NDP Vision 2030.
The NDP places a focus on youth development and the role of women. The plan rests on six pillars which include mobilisation of all South Africans; active engagement of citizens in their own development; expansion of the economy and making growth inclusive; building of key capabilities - human, physical and institutional; building a capable and developmental state and fostering strong leadership throughout society.
Youth at epicentre of development
Minister Radebe said youth are at the core of South Africa's development agenda, as the NDP takes a futuristic perspective in its approach.
The NDP singles out the youth as the major catalysts in boosting economic growth. It puts youth empowerment at the epicentre of development strategies.
It is important to note that the scourge of unemployment is not a government problem alone. It is a societal problem. Youth development is therefore a matter of national importance. To ignore the plight of youth will be a major risk in the socio-economic condition of our country.
The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) has initiated the National Youth Development Ambassador Programme to mobilise young South Africans to be active role players in economic growth.
The Minister said government's mission is to transform the economic landscape and make it more inclusive and address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
We have recently initiated the NDP Ambassador Programme, which is premised on promoting youth entrepreneurship to boost economic growth, increase employment, and reduce poverty and inequality.
We intend to work with vibrant young people who are proud to serve the nation and are between the ages of 18 and 35. The selected contingent of young people must be committed individuals who are prepared to drive change in our society.
The NDP brand ambassador programme is aimed at providing a platform for young people to share ideas that will take South Africa forward. The Minister said this is an important venture to ensure that the youth are self-sufficient.
He said the youth of today are the ones who will witness the fruition of Vision 2030, and they must be the key drivers of NDP programmes today.
When we invest in youth, we invest in the future of our country. Future projections indicate that an estimated 65% of children entering primary school today will most likely work in roles that do not yet exist.
We must expose the youth to as wide a variety of technological innovations as possible. Any initiative that seeks to empower the youth is an investment towards the future of our country, said the Minister.
He said every government and business programme should have a special focus on youth development.
We must invest in skills development so that we can produce young men and women who will become exceptional innovators and make a meaningful contribution to economic growth.
Let us explore ways in which government, youth and business can collaborate in creating jobs that are required to grow an inclusive economy as envisaged in the NDP.
Women empowerment is one of the fundamental areas in the transformation of South African society.
Since 1994, the country has witnessed the increasing proportion of women in national and provincial legislatures. To date, approximately 42% of all parliamentarians are women, which the Minister said it is still eight percentage points short of the 50% target.
He said the percentage of women in legislative bodies has improved from 38.4% in 2011 to 41.2% in 2015.
The Gender Inequality Index reflects gender-based inequalities in three dimensions improved from 0.462 to 0.394 representing a 14.7% progress.
However, the Minister said women still make up a large percentage of the poor, particularly in rural areas.
He said the NDP takes gender, along with race and geographic location, into account; proposing a range of measures to advance women's equality.
Highlights of the NDP achievements
Through the implementation of Operation Phakisa, government has developed very specific interventions in the Oceans Economy, Health, Education, Mining and Agriculture sectors.
Operation Phakisa programmes in the Ocean Economy have since 2014 unlocked R7 billion in investments and created 6 903 jobs.
One of the achievements is the establishment of the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer in the National Treasury.
The Employment Tax Incentive Act, aimed at helping young people enter the labour market, was passed by Parliament in 2013 and implementation began this year.
We are implementing incentives and support services for investors through our Special Economic Zones (SEZs) programme. As part of the suite of SEZs, the six Industrial Development Zones (IDZs) established between 2002 and 2014, have attracted about 59 investors with an investment value of more than R10.7 billion.
Source: South African Government News Agency