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Cosatu tells UNISA SBL panel ‘formal NDP stance will soon be spelled out’

Cosatu has during the past week finalised its formal position on the National Development Plan (NDP) and will soon publicly spell out that position in greater detail, said Cosatu president Mr Sdumo Dlamini today. He was speaking at a thought leaders panel discussion he participated in, together with planning minister Mr Trevor Manuel and Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) Special Policy Advisor, Prof Raymond Parsons.

Unisa SBL CBNC Panel June 13 sml
The discussion was hosted jointly by the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL), together with broadcaster CNBC Africa, which will broadcast the discussion on Thursday 27 June 2013 at 14h00 CAT on DSTV Channel 410.

According to deputy-director: Communication and Marketing of SBL, Cristal Peterson, the panel discussion was hosted in order to create a platform for debate among South Africa’s leadership and to bring closer together government, the private sector and labour.

“Our view is not rejectionist,” said Mr Dlamini, “but rather we agree on the need for such a strategic plan, though we do not fully agree with this one as yet. Our stand is that the plan is not perfect and we seek a broader level of accord on it. In our view, any plan should be one capable of delivering a quick win to the immediate socio-economic challenges facing this country.”

Mr Manuel said that only a handful of countries had sustained strong GDP growth through the current global economic crisis and they were countries with long-term growth strategies. “Yes, our plan is not perfect but no plan can capture every aspect of the life of a country. It is something which needs to be measurable, and not just financially measurable – it needs to address education, access to public services and the type of places we live in.

“Without a 20-year roadmap we will not know where we’re going, and without regular milestones we will not know how well we’re doing against targets. The NDP aims to spell this all out. There will be obstacles along the way, and we need the consensus of everyone if we are to surmount such obstacles,” he said.

Mr Parsons strongly supported the NDP, saying: “It is a good document that shows where we could be in 20 years. However, too much time has been wasted in interminable debate on policy in South Africa – the time has arrived to sign off and commence implementation.” He believed a disservice was being done to the poor and unemployed of South Africa, who simply wanted the parties to achieve such accord and get on with it.

“Even if we do not agree on every detail, we need to send out a strong message as to where we as a nation are heading.”

Mr Manuel pointed out that while other groups were working to protect the interests of their constituency, whether business or labour, government’s mandate was much broader extending to the entire country, including the poor and unemployed. “Our current development path is out of sync with the need to create full employment. We agree with our colleagues as to the many weaknesses of our economy, whether dysfunctional education or the huge wealth gap, but cannot sit around waiting for a perfect agreement – what we are talking about is a long-term process that we have to at least commence with and work on the imperfections as we go.

“For instance, we cannot be sure that the idea of a youth job subsidy will work in practice – yet we have to be prepared to give it a try, and maybe pilot in just one province.”

Mr Dlamini added: “It is myopic to think we can talk of full employment in 20 years’ time. People want jobs now. We want a plan that addresses the current problems.”

In his response Mr Manuel said that this plan is a link between the present and the future. “If we cannot arrive at the trade-offs necessary to achieve accord, we will be letting down future generations” he concluded.

Following the discussion, Professor Elmarie Sadler, acting executive director and CEO of the SBL, said: “The NDP is going to have such a major impact on business and society that we all have to be clear as to what will be expected of us. As a learning institution with a strong focus on the public sector throughout Africa, we felt it was incumbent upon us to take the initiative”.

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