Mixed bag towards achievement of NDP

Pretoria- A deluge of data on the demonstrable progress made in improving the living conditions of the poor was released by government on Sunday.

The 2014 National Development Indicators - an initiative by the government’s Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, tracks progress made in various areas of development. Some of the indicators have data ranging from 1994 to 2014.

There are 86 indicators in all which are clustered into 10 themes ranging from the health of the economy, growth and transformation, to poverty and equality, employment, education, health and social cohesion, among others.

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said the indicators are used as criteria to measure progress and assist government to track, using quantitative measures, the effectiveness of government policies and interventions towards achieving the national goals in areas of development as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP) Vision 2030.

“These indicators play a crucial role in assisting government and the public to track the effectiveness of government policies and interventions using aggregate data.

“They employ quantitative measures to track progress made in implementing policies against national targets based on data sourced from research institutions, government databases and official statistics,” said Minister Radebe on Sunday.

The trends paint the picture of a country that is improving in many areas, doing a bit better than the broader public consensus in a few others such as the delivery of basic services like water and electricity, literary and tourism arrivals. However, it also pointed to challenges in others like unemployment, inequality and perception on corruption.

In the case of economic growth and transformation, the report reveals that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate in South Africa averaged 3.7% in the past 10 years, while annual growth rate averaged 1.5% in 2014.

This is despite government’s target 5.4% which is embodied in the NDP.

Minister Radebe said this was due to the fact that the global economic recovery since the downturn of 2008 has been slow and uneven across continents.

He also attributed this slow growth to the poor global economic conditions which continue to impact on South Africa’s export markets as well as the country’s mining sector facing an acute crisis partly as a result of the dramatic drop in commodity prices.

However, he said government has put in place initiatives to stimulate the economy.

These include government’s infrastructure build programme, the war room on electricity, the Operation Phakisa on the Ocean Economy and on Mining, and the Nine-Point Plan announced during the State of the Nation Address.

Another negative was the unemployment rate which was consistent to the Labour Force Surveys published by Statistics South Africa.

The Development Indicators 2014 reflected that one in four adults of working age and actively seeking employment remained unemployed during the period under review.

In 2014, youth unemployment reached a peak of 48.8% amongst the 15-24 year age group and 29.6% among the age group 25-34 years of age.

This was exacerbated by a lack of appropriate skills as well as the shortage of suitable post-school education opportunities for youth.

Minister Radebe said South Africa’s high levels of unemployment requires the economy to be on a labour-absorbing growth path, as well as the development of entrepreneurship among youth, in terms of interest, skills and creation of opportunities.

This, he said, will depend on a successful “reorientation of the economy to raise labour demand, with matching improvements on the supply side”.

Re-industrialisation and economic diversification are also necessary to boost job creation, and these factors are at the heart of the NDP 2030, the New Growth Path and the Industrial Policy Action Plan, he said.

The unemployment figures, according to Minister Radebe, has spurred government into action and not into despondency.

Among the actions taken include the investment in infrastructure which has boosted youth employment in construction, the Expanded Public Works Programme which has expanded the intake and participation of young people as well as the recently launched employment tax incentive which encourages private-sector employment of new entrants to the labour market.

Another down trend was recorded in poverty and inequality. South Africa has among the most unequal societies in the world.

When using the Gini-coefficient measurement, it shows that South Africa’s inequality increased from 0.64 in 1995 to 0.67 in 2005 but has since improved to 0.65 in 2010/11.

The report said the decline in inequality is largely as a results in the share of household income by the highest income decile declining from 54.4 % to 50.6% between 2005 and 2010. Data shows that out of 100 households, 45 live below the poverty line.

Limpopo and the Eastern Cape have the highest number of poor households at 63.8% and 60.8% respectively. Gauteng and the Western Cape recorded the lowest with 22.9% and 24.7% respectively.

But the report notes that the impact of social grants and other interventions in the fight against poverty have played a major role in reducing poverty. Social assistance programmes have expanded from covering 2.7 million in 1994 to over 12 million in 2014.

South Africa recorded a high number of service delivery protests. In 2012, there were 173 while in the first half of the 2014, the number of service-delivery protests recorded at 134 against a total of 155.

South Africa’s perceptions of corruption improved from 42 to 44 out of 100 and the ranking improved from 72nd to 67th out of 175 countries.

Despite the slight improvement, Minister Radebe said the perception of corruption in South Africa and the consequent poor performance when compared to other countries are not what they should be.

“Corruption in both the public and private sectors impedes service delivery, undermines public confidence in the state and the economy, and reduces economic growth, competitiveness and investment,” said Minister Radebe, adding that a culture of zero tolerance needs to be developed across society, with businesses and citizens also playing their part.

A range of institutions and measures have been put in place since 1994 to counter corruption such as preventing public servants from doing business with the state and better management of the risks related to government procurement processes.

Although the number of learners writing their National Senior Certificate pass rate is at 75.8% in 2014, the number of learners taking up science and mathematics was not impressive when compared to other countries like Indonesia, Tunisia Chile and Philippines.

The report noted South Africans’ life expectancy increased by 8.5 years from 52.7 years in 2004 to 61.2 years in 2014. Infant mortality improved from 58 to 34 deaths per 1000 live births between 2002 and 2014.

Over the same period, data shows that under-5 mortality decreased from 85 to 44 deaths per 1 000 live births.

When compared to other African counterparts, South Africa has achieved the second fastest rate of decline in under-five mortality after Rwanda.

“South Africans are living for longer, a milestone worthy of celebration,” said Minister Radebe, who attributed this increase to the constant improvement in implementation of comprehensive strategies to combat the quadruple burden of diseases inclusive of communicable disease – primarily HIV and AIDS and TB – and the reduction in infant and child mortality rates through the vigorous strengthening of the Expanded Programme of Immunisation.

South Africa also contributed to halting and reversing the spread of HIV which is stipulated in the Millennium Development Goal 6.

The number of HIV positive persons on antiretroviral treatment in South Africa was at 2.8 million in 2014, which is a significant portion of the global target of 15 million. The number of people on antiretroviral treatment has now reached 3.5 million. The global target was achieved ahead of schedule in 2015.

The percentage of households in low living standards (LSM 1 to 3) decreased from 40% to 11% over the period 2000 to 2013.

Regarding access to basic services, although the number of households has expanded from 10.8 million to 15.6 million between 2002 and 2014, the share of households accessing basic services increased from 77% to 86% in the case of electricity, from 80% to 86% for water infrastructure, which exceeded RDP standards.

The proportion of households accessing sanitation went up from 62% to 80%.

A positive trend in education is the number 5-year olds attending early childhood development facilities has more than doubled from 39% in 2002 to 87% in 2014.

The country also saw a positive trend in the number of South African adults who are literate. Data shows that it went up from 73% in 2002 to 84 % - which compares favourably to other African and Middle Eastern countries in international comparisons.

On crime, the report shows that between 2002 and 2013, the number of serious crimes reported was reduced from over 5000 to 3 500 per 100 000 population.

Since first assessed in 2006, data also showed that South Africa persistently performed well in terms of the public having access to budget information and provided with the opportunity to participate in budget process at national level.

In 2012 the country was rated second out of one hundred countries.

More South African are also paying their tax revenue. The income tax register has been expanded from three million taxpayers in 1996 to almost 20 million in 2014.

This was attributed to the economic growth, a broader tax base and more effective revenue collection.

The country’s tourism also continues to shine. Almost 15 million international travellers arrived in South Africa in 2013 which is more than double the number in 2005.

This meant that tourism generated 4.6% of total employment in 2012, up from 4% in 2005 and contributed R93 billion to GDP in 2012, more than double the R45 billion in 2005.