This week in 1994: Democracy 25

NDP pic
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This week we focus on the country’s first road map to transformation, the White Paper on the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP).

The paper was released on the 21st of September 25 years ago and set the tone for a kind of country the African National Congress (ANC) government wanted to see.

It sought to ensure fundamental transformation of South Africa by addressing poverty and gross inequalities that were caused by apartheid’s unjust and racially discriminatory laws.

“Addressing inequalities will expand markets at home, open markets abroad and create opportunities to promote representative ownership of the economy. The expansion of the South African economy will raise state revenues by expanding the tax base, rather than by permanently raising tax rates,” read the paper.

It was also aimed at rebuilding the country’s economy which was battered by years of isolation and economic sanctions the international community had imposed on the apartheid regime.

The focus was on getting the economy on the path of high and sustainable growth.

Below are the plans set out to achieve this feat:

The paper advocated for business, civil society and labour to work with government to make the transformation of the South African society a reality.

While scholars deem the policy to have been successful in some areas, including social security, it is said to have fallen flat on achieving economic growth.

Poor fiscal and economic legacy inherited from the apartheid government; the lack of skilled managers and failure to collect new taxes are cited as some of the reasons for this failure.

It was changed in 1996 when government adopted the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (Gear) strategy.

The strategy sought to stimulate faster economic growth to provide resources to meet social investment needs.

The country’s economic plan has changed thrice since then as inequalities persist and the country’s economy remains sluggish.

South Africa is now operating under the National Development Plan (NDP), which seeks to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.