EC body to boost growth plan: Stimulating agriculture a core focus

Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle yesterday unveiled the new provincial planning commission chaired by himself and deputy Professor Lizo Mazwai.

Speaking in East London Masualle declared that the planning commission’s core mandate would be to ensure stimulation of agriculture in the province towards becoming the food basket of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The daily operations of the planning commission will be headed by Mazwai while other commissioners are Craig Sam, Dr Monde Mnyande, Patience Nqeto and Dr Nandipha Toyota Ndudane.

Premier Phumulo Masualle, third left, with members of the Eastern Cape planning commission; from left, Professor Lizo Mazwai, Dr Nandipha Ndudane, Dr Monde Mnyande, Pinky Nqeto and Craig Sam. Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

The premier said the job of the previous commission was mainly to draw up the provincial development plan (PDP) in line with the national development plan (NDP), an ambitious development trajectory of the government to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.

But the focus now would be on implementation of the PDP towards the realisation of its goals and ensure synergy between the plan and actions of the provincial government.

Included in its “core mandate”, the planning commission will be expected to:

lFacilitate the finalisation and popularisation of the PDP for provincial growth and development towards vision 2030 as envisaged in the NDP;

lGuide, monitor and advise the implementation and institutional alignment of the PDP’s development priorities;

lBuild a strategic partnership with institutions of higher learning which will provide direction for development of the province; and

lGive advice to the provincial government on priorities, especially in education, health, infrastructure development and growing the ocean economy.

“While government is preoccupied with doing, that doing must be supported in a very scientific way by constant reflecting on that which gets done and coordinate that implementation.

“We are proceeding with the implementation. This commission is about ensuring that our plans as government speak to the actions,” Masualle said.

He outlined his provincial government’s PDP priorities. Top of the agenda was transforming agriculture as a game-changer with emphasis on the implementation of the agriculture commercialisation programme which aims to drive commodity production with a bias towards emerging farmers and communities.

Other priorities include:

lRevitalising the economic development of small towns and townships;

lImplementing education transformation launched last year to improve the education system in the province; and

lAssisting the provincial government to institutionalise operation masiphathisane. This is the Masualle administration’s accelerated and community-based service delivery vehicle.

Masualle conceded that all would be a pipe dream without solid infrastructure.

“Infrastructure plays a crucial role in facilitating development. We have sought to have in the planning commission a chapter that is going to focus on infrastructure development.”

He said the planned rail links between East London and Gauteng and Durban was being “kept alive” to assist in logistics in line with envisaged manufacturing in the province.

Asked about contradiction between the NDP, which was seen to be “neo-liberal”, and the leftist “radical economic transformation” view, Masualle said: “From time to time there would be such views but we should not lose focus.” —