South Africa: The NDP- The Right Plan For Private Sector Participation

Last Updated: 6 January 2014
Article by Stanley Subramoney and Lindi Magana

The success of South Africa's National Development Plan 2030 (NDP), regarded as one of the country's most strategic initiatives, will ultimately depend on all the stakeholders involved and whether they are prepared to make compromises to make it work. The Plan cannot be achieved and delivered by Government alone, but requires a joint collaborative approach by public, private and non-governmental sectors together with citizen participation and involvement. Globally development plans are not new. Modern day China's first 5 year plan was structured in 1953 and is currently in its 12th plan.

The NDP aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. Nineteen years into democracy, South Africa has made a number of gains on the economic front, in particular on its macro-economic policy. However, there is still broad consensus in the market that South Africa remains a highly unequal society, with poverty, inequality and unemployment as the three main challenges.  To eliminate poverty and reduce inequality, the economy must grow faster and in a more inclusive way that will benefit all South Africans.

In June 2011 the National Planning Commission released its Diagnostic Report which set out South Africa's achievements and shortcoming since 1994. It identified a failure to implement various policies and an absence of broad partnerships as the main reasons for slow progress, and set out nine primary challenges:

  1. Too few people work
  2. The quality of school education for black people is poor
  3. Infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained
  4. Spatial divides hobble inclusive development
  5. The economy is unsustainable resource intensive
  6. The public health system cannot meet demand or sustain quality
  7. Public services are uneven and often of poor quality
  8. Corruption levels are high
  9. South Africa remains a divided society

This led to the development of the draft National Development Plan (NDP)released in November 2011.

There are a number of initiatives where the Government has already commenced work on different aspects of the NDP. Different sectors from society have formed partnerships and alliances in the hope that the plan will work. The Government and business are also engaged in meaningful dialogue on how the business sector can contribute to the implementation of the NDP.

The proposals contained in the NDP are aimed at moving us from where we are to an improved state. However, the NDP does not offer all the answers and solutions to the current challenges and difficulties, we as a nation face. As Minister Trevor Manuel, Chair of the National Planning Commission, aptly says: "Learning as we implement allows us an opportunity to get better at implementation rather than become better at planning."

South Africa has held steady in the face of the recent economic uncertainty. The country has a large and sophisticated economy, and is recognised for having a number of sound and effective financial systems. South Africa was ranked as the 52nd most competitive country out of 144 surveyed in the World Economic Forum's 2013 Global Competitiveness Index, making it the second highest ranked country in Africa after Tunisia. The country also scored well on the index for the quality of its institutions, ranking first for the strength of auditing and reporting standards, efficacy of boards, and second in protection of minority shareholders' interests.

However, there are weaknesses that the country will have to address to enhance its competitiveness. These include infrastructure, poor quality of primary education and the quality of its maths and science education.

South Africa needs an economy that is inclusive, more dynamic and one in which the fruits of growth are shared equitably. But the latest GDP data released by Statistics South Africa show that for the first quarter of 2013, South Africa achieved a growth rate of only 0.9%. The NDP requires a growth rate of at least five percent or more to place the economy back on the track.

What will South Africa look like in 2030?

The NDP beckons us to look beyond our current challenges to the imperatives of transformation in 20 years. Over the coming decades, demographic changes and economic forces will combine to transform the business landscape. The future will look very different, in particular the way in which the workforce is managed; an explosion of activity and business growth potential has already contributed to a significant increase for companies to move people and source talent from around the world.

Public sector organisations around the world face a stark challenge: adjust to the reality of 'doing more for less' – or even 'doing less for less' – while focusing on what society needs and wants, and doing all this at a time of seismic changes. South Africa's National Development Plan 2030 presents an ever greater challenge and opportunity to redefine service delivery locally, map a course for future development, poverty alleviation and inequality reduction, presenting a vision for the new South Africa in 2030 and beyond. 

The new normal is for governments and public sector organisations to deal with uncertainty while delivering services that are affordable, all set in the context of deficit-reducing budget cuts.

In the longer term, economic and demographic forces are steadily leading towards a fundamental change in the way in which we work. 'Generation C' will have certain characteristics that employers can't afford to ignore. 'Generation C' will have grown up under the influence of Twitter, Facebook, phone apps and iEverything. Technology will have been seamlessly woven into their lives that the distinctions between work, school and life will all be intertwined into one. They will burn their way through a number of employers as they look for career satisfaction and fulfillment. The place of work will consist of more mobile and remote workers. This, however, will be dependent on the access to broadband and other technology enablers.

The role of cities will become increasingly significant as the large majority of people live and work in mega urban cities, tending to desert rural areas. Corporations will need to develop a physical space as well as a virtual space for workers and organisation's customers. Technology will become present in virtually all human activities, with a network organised in clouds. Cities will become intelligent growth zones of opportunity.

Against this backdrop, Africa is set to become one of the major battlegrounds for large multinationals. Natural resources have long been the focus for organisations entering the African arena, but investors are attracted to the fast-growing infrastructure and consumer markets on the continent.

The NDP acknowledges the global shift of economic power from West to East, and the rise of the African continent. Africa accounts for about 18 percent of total exports and nearly a quarter of manufactured exports. The South African Government has taken a number of initiatives to assist business to operate and do business in other countries. These include measures to relax cross-border regulations and tax requirements. Similar measures are in place for foreign companies wanting to invest in African countries using South Africa as their regional headquarter.

In our view, tomorrow's public body will need to act quite differently; more like a living organism, adapting to change, creating prototypes and evolving to address society's needs as they develop. The Government and public sector leaders have a key role in this shift, re-focusing their organisations on their changed environments and projecting a clear and vibrant picture for the future.

One big challenge is to find new ways of how to lead strategic collaborations and partnerships with stakeholders from other sectors of society. The NDP 2030 provides public and private sector as well as society at large this unique opportunity to jointly plan, deliver and implement a new South Africa.

The NDP also aims to uplift the country's education system in line with international norms. Before 1990, less than a quarter of black learners completed matric. In 2012, this figure is close to two-thirds. By 2030 between 80-90 percent of learners should complete 12 years of schooling and or vocational education, according to the NDP. The goal is to also increase enrolment at universities by at least 70 percent. Some of the ways in which these goals can be achieved is by introducing incentive schemes to reward top performing schools; improving the infrastructure at poor schools in rural areas and improving the competency of teachers and principals. These initiatives will go some way towards uplifting and promoting the quality of the country's educational system.

What role can business play?

Business is allocated a definitive role to play in the NDP. Without business, the objectives of the NDP cannot be achieved. Accordingly it is crucial for business and the Government to work together to drive competitiveness and promote long-term growth, as well as the creation of jobs.

Undoubtedly there is a shared agenda where business can share collaboration and joint responsibility with the Government on issues, such as developing a skilled workforce, protecting intellectual property and dealing with the consequences of climate change. However, collaboration needs persistent engagement. A long term view, investment in relations and effective governance arrangements all need to be in place to achieve desired outcomes. Otherwise businesses and governments risk the possibility of distrust and parochialism and investing sub optimally in the country and economy they both seek to build.

Education is the cornerstone of any economy particularly in the new knowledge economy. Both government and business have a vested interest in ensuring the best systems possible. The issue arises as to how to integrate the private sector in education and define an agreed role for them.

Another area ripe for collaboration between business and Government is innovation and the protection of intellectual capital. Governments need to foster innovation. Fostering innovation is vital to creating competition and promoting growth. Yet governments often face legal, tax and fiscal considerations when deciding on their policies. Successful innovation requires a focus on well-functioning markets, low corporate taxes, appropriate R&D incentives and support for higher education and foreign direct investment – all areas which are priorities for government attention. Innovative public sector organisations have the ability and capacity to incubate ideas and delivery models and accelerate their impact by scaling up via rapid prototyping.

South Africa needs to fix the future, starting today. If the NDP succeeds the South Africa of today will look very different in 2030. The economy will be more inclusive, more dynamic and in which the fruits of growth are shared equitably. So how can this vision be delivered? Firstly, public sector must view themselves through three different lenses that guide their behaviour:

  • Citizen-centricity: meeting citizen needs effectively, affordably and in a timely manner
  • Internal/external balance: getting the right balance between managing internal organisational efficiency/effectiveness, and externally delivering 'good growth'
  • Sustainable outcomes: strategically building the assets for society by managing the 'capitals' needed for long-term prosperity – such as economic, social, environmental, financial, cultural etc.

In addition, there are four key characteristics that the leading public sector body of the future must exhibit. These will influence the behaviour needed to deliver the outcomes and impacts:

  • Agile: ready to anticipate situations, and adapt and react to unforeseen events in a speedy and cost-effective manner
  • Innovative: capable of incubating ideas and delivery models, accelerating their  impact
  • Connected: collaborating across sectors/borders/organisations to give service delivery through partnerships/co-ventures/co-creation/co-design
  • Transparent: being truly accountable for actions and outcomes, in today's era of eroding trust and legitimacy.

We do not underestimate the scale of the transition needed, in South Africa. The challenges we're faced with require a major shift change in skills, education, and service delivery capability. Making change happen will require agile, inspirational leadership and a talent strategy which majors on attracting, developing and retaining people with the necessary attitudes and behaviours.

It will require both politicians and officials holding their nerve as they make the transition from old-style static, bureaucratic organisations to dynamic, adaptive entities capable of responding calmly but effectively to disruptive events and rising to new challenges.

The future is a matter of choice we therefore collectively need to ask ourselves what the opportunity cost of not participating, becoming involved and supporting the planning, institutionalisation and implementation would be?

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions