Working together, moving South Africa forward

“Our economy needs a major push forward,” President Jacob Zuma said at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2015 subtly implying that all South Africans should be sharing in the county’s wealth. Just a year before in 2014, the National Development Plan (NDP) and Vision 2030 was designed and implemented to create an inclusive society, offering a better life for all, it presented an opportunity to share in the country’s wealth. Many South Africans’ participation is limited despite the numerous programmes, plans and initiatives being backed by government.

Working together with the NDP and presented to society as the ‘Fixer’ is the 9-Point Plan. It forms part of the Presidential SONA. Intended to accelerate economic growth and create much needed jobs the 9-Point Plan speaks to nine specific focus areas of government for the next year. The plan groups together various sectors, and breaks these down allowing government the room to zone into each sector.

Crippling South Africa’s growth and greatest challenge is unemployment, the current unemployment rate sits at 35% much of this is made up of youth.  To address this the government has implemented projects such as the Expanded Public Works Projects which have alleviated the burden of some young people but has not given them a concrete solution. Keith Gottschalk local political analyst and Political Science Lecturer at the University Western Cape comments on this, “The expanded public works projects have been a lifeline for many, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that seven million jobs need to be created for people with only matric or less there is no substitute for incentivizing business to do this.” This presents a worrying scenario for the country as its still confronted with challenges of higher education and in some provinces basic education too. As we approach SONA 2017, education should be a top priority on the
9-Point Plan. To be a productive nation, we need skilled youth who are going to present new and innovative ideas on how to move the country forward.

Grouped under Operation Phakisa, the Oceans Economy and Tourism have been the focus of the current administration. In recent years, the South African tourism sector has been booming. Strategies such as the Global Marketing Strategy have been implemented by the Tourism Ministry to keep attracting visitors to the country and further grow the sector. The marketing strategy enhances trade relations between countries which could potentially benefit South Africa and translate into additional job creation.  

Gripping headlines globally has been South Africa’s mining sector, the sector has experienced an increase in retrenchments, mine closures and illegal mining activities. This has been noted in the plan, government has committed itself to rebuilding mining towns and expanding South Africa’s mining activities to add to the growth of the economy.  

In addition, to the already mentioned points, government has since recognized that small businesses also have a huge role to play in growing the economy. Over the last few years’ government has been in support of small businesses. Incentives, grants and funding have been set aside for women and young people. As a result there has been a rise in women-owned businesses. Laws have been relooked to favour growth of small businesses, the bidding process has also revised and makes it easier for businesses to work with government. Gottschalk further adds, “The Auditor-General’s report makes it clear that the top priority is to clean up the Supply Chain Management System. The tendering systems are now focused on empowering businesses, tenders are awarded to the lowest bidder and no contractor should be paid before the work is done.”

For the last four years, the energy crisis has been top of the government’s priority list, the Department of Energy has committed itself to improving the state of our energy crisis with the implementation of energy renewable programmes. The department has made great strides in this regard with the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme. A total of 52% of job opportunities that came from this programme have been given to youth.

Rural renewal and development has seen the agro-processing sector grow, progress has been made with transforming the Land Bank into a strong development finance institution that will play a bigger and effective role in rural and agricultural development.

All this work must be followed through with the advancement of state reform, access to internet, transport infrastructure and the basic sanitation services. Too many boundaries exist between the rural and urban areas, often the rural areas become lost due to the inaccessibility to information. Budgets have been set aside by government for all segments of the plan, however some communities still experience exclusion as the funds do not reach them.  

The country sits in anticipation as the SONA approaches South Africa would like to see a plan that materialises and does not remain. A comprehensive plan that targets higher education, and offer a constructive solution to the country. During 2016, a large percentage of youth benefitted from the 9-Point. South Africa wants to see an increase in the opportunities presented to the youth. South Africans would also like to see the 9-Point Plan speak to corruption.  

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