Tshediso Matona has been Secretary for Planning in the Presidency for almost three years.
A big part of his job is to convene the National Planning Commission, which is made up of 25 independent commissioners, chaired by the Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
The NPC is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP).
Matona’s educational background includes a degree in Economics and Politics from the University of Cape Town and a Master’s in Development Economics from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom.
In an interview after the DPME Budget Vote speech in Parliament recently, Matona admitted that his job has been tough, but he is seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.
Matona said that more could have been done to implement the National Development Plan.
“In retrospect, the way we engaged with implementation as a country could have been better.
We needed a sense of common buy-in and cohesion in terms of our approach to implementation
by government, which has to lead the implementation,
but also by other social partners, such as organised business and labour.
We did not have that. “There was almost an assumption that, because this was such a good thing, everybody would voluntarily fall in line with it.
In government, we just got departments to sign onto this in terms of the things that they were going to do which, in many cases, had been ongoing business, with no sense of an NDP approach.
“What we needed, in fact, was a new approach with a sense of urgency, focus and determination. For me, that constitutes the most fundamental problem.
You don’t spend all this effort to generate a plan which, by many accounts, is a good plan. It has good vision and covers all the fault lines of our country and our economy.
It can always be better here and there, but overall, in terms of the thrust, it is good.
You don’t develop a plan like this and then almost leave the implementation to chance.”
Matona said the plan has lacked a systematic, coordinated and clear approach to implementation.
“And I can say this now with a greater sense of confidence than I would have been before December, it has lacked leadership.
“I think that the current circumstances are good for the plan, the conditions have re-emerged for a recommitment and, hopefully,
a more methodical way of reinforcing buyin, leadership and accountability to the nation.”
Matona said that, despite the problems, there had been progress in a number of areas,
which were identified as new initiatives of government inspired by the NDP.
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