Let’s not monumentalise the NDP

The broad context of the NDP
• Global conjuncture – persisting global
capitalist crisis in developed centres, relative
de-throning of neo-liberalism
• South African conjuncture – advances in
consolidating a constitutional democracy –
but threatened by persisting triple crisis
(unemployment, poverty, inequality)
• Danger of NDP being divisive factor – with
avid supporters and equally avid rejecters
What is to be done?
Paradigm 1
ANC, alliance, ANC-led govt – need to move into
a 2nd, more radical phase of the transition,
placing economy onto a new, labour-absorbing
growth path – through state-led infrastructure
programme, linked to re-industrialisation,
including greater beneficiation of natural
resources, and skills development – requires
mobilisation of broadly patriotic forces,
particularly working class and poor and a
capable developmental state
What is to be done?
Paradigm 2
DA, big business lobby, commercial media –
• accelerating growth (“growing the cake”).
• scepticism about state-led industrial programme (“light
• economy best left to market with allowances for state
intervention in cases of “market failure” – but what
• Where DA is in power – efficiency = key focus
For DA social mobilisation objective = mobilise
“outsiders” (business, suburbs, ‘minorities’, alienated
unemployed) against the “insiders” – “twin evils” of BIG
Where does NDP stand?
In name of building national consensus the critical
differences between these paradigms gets fudged
across at least 4 inter-connected dimensions:
• The DIAGNOSIS of our challenges
• The assumptions about “BROAD PARTNERSHIPS”
to drive the “vision-plan”
• Planning Commission’s INSTITUTIONALISATION
and COMPOSITION…and therefore inevitably –
NDP’s diagnosis of our challenges
NDP (p25) –referring to earlier Diagnostic Report – “it
identified a failure to implement policies and an absence
of broad partnerships as the main reasons for slow
• This avoids undertaking a self-critical evaluation of
• Implementation problems often rooted in poor policy
• Absence of broad partnerships might be result of antiworker,
anti-poor policies and/or top-down imposition
of policy “written in stone” (eg. GEAR) – TINA. A
“vision” gets sold, actual underpinning policies left to
4 Policy evaluation – diagnostic
• Why low levels of productive investment?
• So-called “BEE” – has it been transformative?
Developmental? Or inherently parasitic and
compradorist? (1994-2010 R500bn on BEE vs.
R150bn on housing and land reform)
• Why a weak and often disconnected and
incapable state? (tenderisation, agentification,
• What are the systemic underpinnings of
Why low levels of productive
NDP envisages raising investment levels from 16% of GDP (2012) to
30% plus (achieved even in 1980s) – but fails to say HOW, because it
fails to DIAGNOSE WHY investment levels dropped badly post-1994 =
failure to critique policies favouring export of capital:
• Liberalisation of exchange controls; off-shoring of primary listings;
expatriation of dividends (Edcon, Top TV, Walmart); liberalisation of
retirement fund regulation
• Too high exchange rate vs competitiveness (to enhance value of Rdenominated
assets taken abroad);
• Too high a level of interest rates vs domestic investment (to attract
short-term inflow transfusions to compensate for haemorraging of
capital flight)
SOME 20-25% OF GDP disinvested since 1994
Dramatic financialisation of SA
NDP “reports (p129) with some satisfaction that the
finance sector in SA had experienced a tripling of its
output from 1994 compared to 67% for rest of
economy…But what exactly did the financial sector
produce…? It more or less tripled the ratio of assets
to GDP…three times the amount of financial assets
had become necessary to support production of a
unit of output. If this had been for any other input –
the amount of wood for a piece of furniture for
instance – it would have been seen as a disastrous
loss of productivity.” Ben Fine, “Chronicle of a developmental
transformation foretold: SA’s NDP in hindsight”, Transformation 78 (2012)
Ben Fine on SA financialisation contd.
“A sector that had grown many times faster than the rest of
the economy, with the putative function…of mobilising and
allocating investment and spreading consumption over lifetimes
through credit, had in practice:
• Mobilised finance to go abroad
• Failed to raise domestic investment
• Prompted instability and credit-fuelled excessive
consumption; and
• Excluded its benefits from over a third of population…
It had appropriated something like a quarter of GDP with
added irony of counting this as a contribution to production.”
How do we mobilise to address
challenges? Partnerships with whom?
Class Asymmetry in NDP
NDP tends to assume that “investors”, “business interests” are a
uniform reality (and fails to adequately distinguish between Minerals-
Energy-Finance Complex and, for example, manufacturing, agricultural
Contrariwise – devotes considerable attention to stratification within
working class and poor – public/pvt sector, formal sector employed,
informal sector, unemployed, youth, etc.
NDP’s “broad partnership” assumptions:
• essentially a “partnership for growth”, in which
• the interests of financial capital = the “national” interest; and
• Implicit, unionised formal sector unions (in public and pvt sector) =
“the blockage to growth”
What is the strategic “partnership” that
the NDP should have sought to build?
A PROGRESSIVE NDP in the 2nd phase of the
transition should seek to be A COMMON
PLATFORM FOR alliance + broader working class
& poor + developmental state +
“patriotic”/productive capital
Current hegemony of Financial Capital
NPC’s institutionalisation
Trevor Manuel: “The commission…is an
interesting construct…my initial thought was to
have the commission structured more along the
lines of the Indian Planning Commission which
has about half a dozen ministers on it…chaired
by the PM …I lost that battle…It was about
wanting to follow a construct whose relationship
to implementation would be understood.” (Daily
Maverick, 4 March 2013).
National Planning Commission
• 25 part-time commissioners– not an organic state
planning entity – (myth of the “neutrality” of
“experts”?, myth of a “win-win” for all?)
• What is connection of NDP to IDPs, PGDS, NGP,
etc. etc? – (see April problem with IRP nuclear
• Gave itself 18-months to produce a 20-year
vision-plan – 484-pages (supposedly fit-forimplementation
AND consensus building )– an
impossible task!!
COSATU’s draft critique of the NDP’s
ch3 “Economy & Employment”
• On jobs, NDP envisages mostly low-quality,
precarious jobs outside formal sector – SMMEs,
service sector – exactly sectors showing net job
losses over last years
• On worker rights – erode rights through focus on
low paid SMMEs and making dismissals easier
• Weak on critical re-industrialisation – envisages a
shrinkage of manufacturing sector from 12% of
GDP (2010) to 9,6% in 2030
• GINI co-efficient target unacceptably modest –
0,70 (2009) to 0,60 (2030) – we’re already at 0,65
Any Positives in NDP?
The following = brief list of some positives that
must be consolidated:
• Importance of long-range planning to achieve
strategic discipline across the state and state
entities (no vanity projects – GFIP, Gautrain etc)
• Centrality of a capable developmental state
• NHI, Demilitarisation of Police, infrastructure
build programme, transforming human
settlement, promoting accountability and fighting
Did ANC’s Mangaung Conference
rubber-stamp NDP?
• “We must work towards implementation of
recommendations of NDP…” (Res’n on Soc Dvpt)
• “we embraced NDP as a platform for united action by all S
Africans…an important basis for the devpt of a long-term
plan” (Conference Declaration)
• “NDP is a living and dynamic document & articulates a
vision broadly in line with our objective…ANC will continue
to engage with the plan…” (Ec Transformation resolution)
• “the NDP was adopted without benefit of drawing from a
White Paper on international relations, which led to a
limited perspective on international relations.. (Resolution
on International Relations)
Way forward
• First, refuse to “monumentalise” NDP (it is NOT written
in stone)
• Second, much more aggressively take on the diagnostic
silences of NDP – low productive investment, BEE,
tenderisation of state, systemic underpinnings of
• Third, build a broad consensus around reindustrialisation,
infrastructure build, skills for a new
growth path; and
• Fourthly, with incoming 2014 administration – establish
a more organic State Planning capacity (building on
experience of NPC, but also PICC, etc.

Chris Hani institution 2018 Frontier Theme