Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
TREVOR Manuel's green paper on national strategic planning took more knocks as public hearings in Parliament heard that the new National Planning Commission was likely to sideline the National Assembly.
Aids Law Project head Jonathan Berger told the hearings yesterday that the green paper did not have much to say about Parliament's role in planning the country's long-term future.
Echoing Cosatu's complaints about the green paper, Berger said "the role of Parliament appears to be mediated by the minister".
Berger added that the language of the green paper suggested that "short-term needs might be sacrificed for longe- term planning goals".
As Minister of National Strategic Planning in the Presidency, Manuel wants to set up an NPC of leaders, intellectuals and experts. The NPC will link to the government through Manuel. A committee of ministers, chaired by him, will "feed the work" of the commission back to the government.
Berger said the NPC should either be an advisory panel of experts or a completely independent body free from political influence.
"The green paper suggests a hybrid body that has the appearance of independence only," Berger said.
Business Unity South Africa deputy chief executive Raymond Parsons said the NPC should not be "elitist", and should include business and labour.
Parsons said the green paper should strike the right balance between "the shortcomings of an overly centralised planning system and the unbridled free market system".
Cosatu will make its submission in today. Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has already criticised the green paper, saying Manuel sets himself up as a "super minister".
The union federation will also tell Parliament that the NPC encroaches on the work of the Economic Development Department, led by Ebrahim Patel.