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By unknown | Jan 12, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ido Lekota

Ido Lekota

The ANC at the weekend launched its 2009 election manifesto, which, if it is voted into power, will see the new government becoming more interventionist than it was under former president Thabo Mbeki.

The interventionist approach will include the creation of a "super ministry", which will ensure integrated government planning and implementation.

Yesterday, ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus baulked at the notion of a "super ministry that overrides the authority of other ministers" but confirmed that there were plans to establish "a planning entity that will eliminate the silos often created within various government structures".

It is envisaged that such an entity - which is expected to be headed by ANC policy head Jeff Radebe - will be located within the presidency. The manifesto also envisages a more welfare state aimed at ensuring that the poor have access to basic services like health and education, and also create a safety net for the poor.

This will include the introduction of a national health insurance - which will ensure that all South Africans, including those who cannot afford to pay for it, have access to quality healthcare. The principle is that those who can afford will pay to carry those who cannot.

The manifesto also seeks to improve access to tertiary education by the poor, by reviewing the current National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

One of the criticisms against the fund has been that, while it was intended to help those with no access to funding, it created a situation where students from poor families became burdened by debt by the time they started working.

Niehaus said there were limitations to the extent that tertiary education can be free, "but the commitment is to gradually create a situation where the poor can access free education and those who can afford pay for it".

On the welfare front, the government promises to gradually extend the child support grant to children between the ages of 15 to 18, with a condition that they attend school. This is aimed at alleviating the plight of teenagers from poor families who do not have a means of livelihood and no access to education.

The manifesto also tackles the thorny issue of land reform and rural development.

Its focus will be on food security and the development of rural areas to stem the migration of people to urban areas.


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