Last week, Trevor Manuel, the Minister of National Planning and top-dog of the National Planning Commission (the NPC), begged South Africans to make their voices heard once again. His team is in the process of formulating a vision statement and 20 year development plan for South Africa – and by the sounds of it, are still in the very initial stages of the process.
If South Africans feel that the concept of service delivery is a foreign one to their government, then they should also consider educating their politicians about the concept of stakeholder value. Wonkie believes the 26-fat National Planning Commission has shown little real value to the South African public since its creation by Jacob Zuma after the 2009 elections.
“Tell us about the South Africa you want”
… Trevor Manuel
That insightful prompt comes after over 2 years at the helm by the ex-finance minister. At worst, in a global corporate, such a visioning exercise takes no more than a couple of days – including consultation. Regardless, the question here is not one of whether government should be as efficient as corporates, or whether the two are even comparable. It is question of value, the return on investment – ROI. If you’re one of the 26-fat team, the ROI is great – you’re getting paid heaps for producing… well, quite frankly, very little. If you’re in the largest stakeholder group however, the general public, your ROI is currently negative.
Consider this perspective: the public made their voices heard in the last national election. Regardless of race, they voted based on the naive belief that the promises made by campaigning politicians would be delivered. That, Mr Manuel, is what South Africa wants. Spending 2 years and still not knowing the goal of what you’re supposed to be planning toward deserves an audience with a firing squad.
Instead, South Africans can look forward to an additional squandering of tax-payer funds through a host of public forums over the next few months. Sadly, the result of all this effort will get South Africa no closer to where it needs to be. The inevitable conclusion will be that the country needs a plan to address some key challenges:
- Stupidly high unemployment
- An education system that doesn’t work
- Poor public service delivery
- Rampant crime and corruption
- Disease and a health care system that cannot cope
These are already known, accepted challenges by both government and the public. Pontificating using dictionaries and expensive panels to rephrase and repackage the challenges does not help the country. The question the National Planning Commission should have been focusing on answering, Trevor “Choice not Fate” Manuel and deputy chairman Cyril Ramaphosa, is what is the plan to do something about the challenges?