Presidency releases NPC Diagnostic Overview
Yesterday in Parliament, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel released a new Diagnostic Overview document developed by the National Planning Commission, as well as elements of South Africa’s draft Vision Statement for 2030.
Manuel framed the release as an ‘engagement about our collective future as a nation’, with the aim of ‘through dialogue, consultation, debate and analysis… [turning] these elements into a vision statement for South Africa for 2030 that all South Africans can support’.
In his speech, the Minister highlighted nine key challenges facing South Africa and identified by Commissioners, while also acknowledging the ‘tremendous progress’ made in the country thus far. These challenges are:
- Too few South Africans are employed
- The quality of education for most black people remains poor
Poorly located, inadequate and poorly maintained infrastructure
Spatial challenges continue to marginalise the poor
South Africa’s growth path is highly resource-intensive and hence unsustainable
The ailing public health system confronts a massive disease burden
The performance of the public service is uneven
Corruption undermines state legitimacy and service delivery
South Africa remains a divided society
On this final point, the Diagnostic Overview reports the following:
‘We have made significant progress in uniting our country since 1994. Racism and prejudice has declined and we have infinitely more interaction, as equals, between black and white South Africans. Despite this progress, we remain a divided society and the major dividing line in society is still race. To resolve these divisions will take time and a careful balance between healing the divisions of our past and broadening economic opportunities to more people, particularly black people.‘ (p 26)
The report also explores the consequences of ‘mistrust and short-termism’, the ‘poor performances of some public institutions’, and crime for prospects of national unification.
These are important issues, and there is clear coherence with some of the themes and indicators of the SA Reconciliation Barometer. However, I also want to note that our nationally-representative survey has found the following in recent rounds:
- When asked about the ‘biggest division in the country’ in 2010, 25% of South Africans responded that this was between ‘supporters of different political parties’ and 25% between ‘poor and middle income/wealthy South Africans’. A further 21% replied that the biggest division was between ‘people of different races’.
- In 2010, just under half (47%) of all South Africans believed race relations have improved in the country since before 1994.
- Levels of interaction and socialisation have increased between South Africans of different historically-defined race groups, but these remain highest among the most affluent households.
On behalf of the Reconciliation Barometer project, I am encouraged that addressing these source of social division is regarded as an important priority for South Africa, and look forward to opportunities to engage further with the Commission!