ADV. NGOAKO RAMATLHODI
The Developmental State is a modern concept that has its foundations in the development of society and state.
The State is equally in a state of becoming, and remaking. Indeed, humankind has always been in the process of perfecting instruments of governance, right through feudalism and into contemporary statehood.
Similarly, international governance institutions such as the UN system has also gone through challenging times in the 20TH century.
In South Africa consolidation of the democratic project is in full swing, with the separation of powers between the Judiciary, the Government (Executive) and the Legislature (Parliament).
Everyone is increasingly equal before the law and all enjoys equal rights.
The end of the 19th century saw the culmination of all wars of conquest across Europe, Africa and right across the world and the development of what is called nation states in the contemporary narrative.
The wars had cost millions of lives and resulted in dispossession, colonialism, racism and oppression. Many nations had been conquered, such as the conquest by Prussia to create the modern Germany. Latin America and Asia were not spared from the colonial malaise of the 1800’s.
The French revolution accelerated the development of what in modern society refers to as democracy, equality and non-sexism.
In the midst of all these political and historical developments, there were intervening social and economic developments in these centuries, such as the period of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
The Industrial Revolution for its part revolutionized society and hastened the development of the productive forces. The Industrial Revolution developed what we call motor cars, aircraft, typewriters et cetera. To date the development of trade, migration and cosmopolitan societies of Johannesburg, New York and London could be attributed to the developments of the 19th century.
Africans were influenced by these crucial developments and in return also reaped the developments of society.
At the turn of the 20th century, more and more Africans began their own struggles for independence.
In South Africa, the struggle for free and independent, democratic republic also intensified. Pixley Ka Seme issued a call on all Africans to forget the past and unite together in one national organization. “We are one people, this divisions, this jealousies, are the cause of all our woes today,” he proclaimed.
This was the formation of the African National Congress (ANC) as we would come to know it today.
The ANC was to prosecute the struggle for the free and democratic South Africa for 82 years to realize the objectives of the National Democratic Revolution (NDR). Since the successful prosecution of the NDR in 1994, the National Liberation Movement (NLM) has been seized with the task of transforming society and the economy to the benefit all of South Africa as envisaged in the freedom charter, “The People Shall share in the Country’s wealth”.
Important strides have been made in the improvement of people’s lives, such as over 2 million houses built for the poor. Current statistics from Stats SA showed that as of October 2016, 89.9% of all people have access to water, 77% have access to sanitation, 85% have access to electricity and indeed 77% of our people live in formal housing.
In the January 8th statement of 1984, Cde OR Tambo said, “You are aware that the apartheid regime maintains extensive administrative system through which it directs our lives. This system includes organs of central and provincial government, the army and the police, the judiciary, the Bantustans administrations, the community council the local management and local affairs committees. It is these institutions of apartheid power that we must attack and demolish, as part of the struggle to put an end to the racist minority rule in our country”. (Statement of the National Executive Committee, 8 Jan 1984)
The 1994 breakthrough allowed the revolutionary forces to begin rolling back apartheid laws, develop policies to undo centuries of racial oppression and economic bondage of black majority by a small white minority. The National Liberation Movement (NLM) characterizes this as a colonialism of a special type; a special type emanating from the fact that the colonized and the colonizer are within borders of the same country.
The democratic order began its primary task of uniting our country, fostering reconciliation as well as building social cohesion.
However, it became increasingly clear in the following years that there was a need to accelerate economic growth and redistribution. Our movement has of course responded to all challenges at material times; such as the intervening policies, namely the Growth employment and Redistribution (GEAR), ASGISA, GIPSA and several other policy interventions.
Despite the ANC’s ongoing transformation policies, the task of transforming apartheid special and economic development has proved to be difficult.
We may have underestimated the damage and ravages of apartheid and therefore we have produced the National Development Plan (NDP).
The NDP calls for integrated development that cut across the social and political life. It includes deepening of economic transformations, all round training of the human resources, re- industrialization of the country, increasing the number of artisan and occupational skills, and growing the tax base though massive employment programmes, as well as a raft of social protection and health policies.
In the current trajectory, the 51st and 52nd National Conference of the ANC enjoin the ANC, its alliance and the government to transform the state and the economy so that they all reflect the will of the majority.
This must be done in the context of the creation of the Developmental State. This transformation has proved challenging in the dominant economic sectors of our economy, namely; mining finance and services as a whole. The challenges of transformation are magnified by the fact that of the top 100 companies in the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed companies, there are only 3% of black directors.
A Developmental State is self-defining. Its self-definition does not however, mean that every development be it material, physical or otherwise constitutes a developmental state or elements of it.
A developmental state requires of our nation to build a cohesive state and united in action with its people in civil society, trade unions, the government and its para-statals.
The building of the Developmental State will require that the nation as a whole has a social compact. The social compact will bind all social partners including government, business and labour to have a covenant to do things that would make South Africa a prosperous nation.
In realizing this goal, the ANC and its alliance are in agreement in the building of this desired state. This end state is the same scenario envisaged in the NDP Vision 2030.
This will require the following:
To continue strengthening institutions of the state do deepen democracy, economic and social rights. The building of democratic institutions will require of all of us in the state and government to appoint properly qualified individuals in government in order to create an effective and capable government and state.
Bad practices, such as employment of unqualified people including nepotism must be abolished to ensure that people with the technical and political know are appointed to lead and transform the economy as the resolutions from the 53rd National Conference correctly argue.
In our quest to deepen the understanding of our movement’s theory of development state, The 53rd National Conference resolves to ensure bold forms of state intervention, including through financial regulation and control, including through a state owned bank; progressive and redistributive taxation; wage and income policies that promote decent work, growth and address poverty and inequality; progressive competition policies that promote growth and employment, and address poverty and inequality; a well-resourced state-led industrial and trade policy; increased state ownership in strategic sectors where deemed appropriate on the balance of evidence, and more effective use of state-owned enterprises.
In order for our movement and the democratic government to realize this goal it is crucial that greater care must be placed on increasing the ability of the leadership of the public service to meet these needs. The cadre that our movement and government needs is a cadre that will roll back corruption in state and society.
Our public service should be more and more professional, accountable and be guided by our movement’s values of Batho Pele.
All these means our movement should be able to deploy cadres with right professional skills to be able to deliver on the promise of a better life for all.
Our experience in the last 22 years has showed that where there are skills relevant to the work, the public service is delivering on the mandate of our people and people’s aspiration. The Auditor-General in his audit outcomes show this.
Cadre deployment should also be matched against the skills if this developmental state is to take off the ground.
The Developmental State would be a State without corruption.
It will have at the heart of its employees, the desire and need to serve without expecting any reward, as employees are already rewarded through salaries and other associated benefits.
The Developmental State will get rid of wastage in the system of government, and pilferage that occurs without stealing of legitimate social programmes, such as social grants and other form of social assistance. Let’s make corruption history!
The end state of the Developmental State as envisaged in the NDP needs proper funding.
The success of the NDP will raise incomes and close income inequality and make poverty history.
However, this programme will need to be financed, and experience in the last two decade shows that the private sector is on what could be referred to as investments strike.
Grant Thornton released a report in 2013 in which they argue that South African companies were sitting on large sum of cash and not investing in the economy because of confidence and other factors.
It is estimated by the South African Reserve Bank that the private sector may be sitting of something between 578 – billion 1.38 trillion in cash reserves as of 2013.
There are no signs that the private sector is going to change direction or course to be in pursuit of the same goal as the ANC, namely; eradicating poverty, eliminating inequality, abolishing racism and sexism, and reducing unemployment to at least 6% by 2030 as called upon by the NDP.
Currently, the state is in no position to drive the Developmental State using its own resources without the participation of the society as a whole.
The private sector is sitting with huge financial resources like pensions. But these are only involved in currency speculation with little tangible benefit to ordinary people, such as members of the pension funds.
Many pensioners when they retire return to their areas of birth which more often than not, is in the rural areas and not in towns.
This means that pensioners spend many of their prime years developing cities which do not benefit them when they become pensioners.
Moreover, some of the workers remain poor even on retirement and have no housing or medical coverage, and therefore become a burden on the State.
To deepen the developmental state, government has to increase its investment in infrastructure and maintenance.
The trade unions, for their part, have agreed to the use of pensions to increase investment in infrastructure. The funds held by provident and pension funds could be harnessed to create the building block for a capable state.
These funds run into trillions and are sitting in many JSE- listed companies. Unlocking these funds would unleash one of the greatest recoveries after the Marshall Plan.
Even 20% of prescribed assets as agreed with labour and business at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) would release massive financial resources to build more roads, bridges, houses and therefore stimulate the economy.
This will build new road networks and decrease the time of travel from one town to the next.
Small and big business will benefit from shorter times to do business and so will the workers take shorter time to work.
It is for our country and all its stakeholders to agree on the minimum programme for the creation of the Development State.
Amongst the conditions we contemplate is the fast-tracking of the state-owned bank to focus on developing the rural economy and the many black people who do not have collateral resources.
The development of the state housing company has already seen its development with Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS). This is still at its embryonic stage and we will be observing its success so that it could catapult our country to the desired government housing company.
When we harness the energy of all our people towards the Developmental State, we will create the possibility of linking villages through bridges and roads; and therefore create new markets and new economic fronts. Our people’s standard of living will improve as more and more people would have proper housing and thereby release government from being the sole provider of housing to low income earners.
This task begins now.
CDE ADV NGOAKO RAMATLHODI IS A MEMBER OF THE ANC NEC AND THE MINISTER OF PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION