Radebe, Manuel at odds over National Development Plan

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File: Then Minister in the Presidency for National Planning Commission Trevor Manuel greets Minister Jeff Radebe.

PRETORIA - Former finance minister Trevor Manuel’s assertion that the National Development Plan (NDP) was failing was a “patent lie”, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.

Manuel, who was one of the architects of the NDP, said recently that the plan was no closer to realisation than when it was adopted.

Manuel, who is also a former minister in the Presidency, chaired the National Planning Commission which helped to put the plan together.

Radebe said the government had made significant progress in recent years.

Given that Manuel had seen the NDP through its development and introduction, it was disingenuous of him to claim that it was a failure. For Manuel to bring this up after leaving the government amounted to armchair criticism.

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Delivering the budget speech for the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation in Parliament, Radebe said: “It remains true that South Africa is a better place to live in compared to the pre-democracy era, and the lives of the majority of ordinary South Africans have improved since the dawn of democracy.

“Our economy grew at an average of 3.2% a year from 1994 to 2012, and GDP increased in real terms from R1.6-trillion in 1994 to just over R3-trillion in 2015,” Radebe said.

“Employment has grown from 9.5-million persons in 1994 to 16-million at the end of 2015,” he said.

However, South Africa’s challenges remained daunting.

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“We have not made the required progress in promoting inclusive growth and transforming the economy and society for the benefit of the black majority of our citizens…

“The brunt of unemployment is borne mostly by youth, who are the majority in our population,” said Radebe.

“Ownership of the economy by black people, as measured by shareholding on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, is still minuscule,” said Radebe.

The economy’s continued underperformance relative to its potential was diminishing the government’s ability to address the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality decisively, Radebe said.

The NDP noted by 2030 GDP should have risen 2.7 times, requiring average yearly GDP growth of 5.4%. But it was forecast at about 1% for 2017.