The aim of the UDM strategy for public works is to create jobs on a large scale with Planned Sustainable Development programmes. The result will be productive and safe environments that will improve the quality of life of the people and communities of South Africa through rapid and extensive economic and social infrastructure development focussed on uplifting marginalised communities.
Current government policy can be accused of exacerbating poverty. A disturbing amount of people is unemployed and many people are deprived of basic social infrastructure such as houses, schools, clinics, water and electricity. Since 1994, micro-economic development has been neglected. Relatively few infrastructure projects of note have been initiated while existing infrastructure, particularly South Africa’s roads network, are deteriorating due to insufficient maintenance. Many capital expenditure programmes earmarked for maintenance of existing infrastructure have either been put on hold or cancelled. Infrastructure backlogs that were induced by Apartheid are still evident. Large parts of South Africa suffer from imbalances and backlogs in infrastructure that relegate these areas, and the communities that live there, to an unacceptable social and economic status.
Government has pursued policies that have led to job losses and low economic growth. The UDM proposes long-term solutions for job creation in our Economic policy. However, we recognise that these measures will take time to make a lasting difference. Certain realities of economic transformation will lead to further job losses. Our response to this is threefold:
• To address poverty the UDM advocates a poverty alleviation initiative through a Basic Service Subsidy for to assist poor people to afford basic rates.
• To address unemployment in the short term the UDM aims to turn the Department of Public Works into a generator of infrastructure on a large scale which will create job opportunities.
• The introduction of a Skills Creation programme, funded with ½ percent of income tax providing appropriate skills for people to enter the labour market.
Recognising that this important initiative that Public Works has to undertake, and acknowledging the importance of dealing with poverty and unemployment immediately, the UDM will seek private sector partnerships and where necessary provide the capital itself for this vital initiative. The ANC spends billions on arms, but the UDM will channel money towards job creation and infrastructure development. The UDM has built into its Economic policy the provision for a Manageable Budget Deficit, which will allow the government to finance this initiative.
2. Planned sustainable development programmes
The aim of Planned Sustainable Development programmes is to create productive and safe environments that will improve the quality of life of all South African people and communities, especially those who are economically deprived and marginalised.
The Planned Sustainable Development programmes will be driven by the central government through the Department of Public Works and will involve various government departments and agencies, as well as business, labour, civil society and the affected communities.
Within economically deprived or marginalised areas, such as urban informal settlements and the former homelands, people find themselves on peripheral, relatively undeveloped land, far from jobs and other opportunities.
They are isolated from much-needed social services and facilities like schools and clinics. New housing often entails relocation, disrupting existing social networks and survival strategies of the poor.
These areas lack not only social infrastructure, but also infrastructure like roads, electricity and water that is necessary for economic growth and job creation.
The result is slums and squatter camps in urban informal settlements and rural areas, where no planned development takes place.
The present piecemeal approach by government to development is clearly a recipe for disaster. Planned Sustainable Development programmes, that coordinate all efforts at uplifting marginalised areas and creating infrastructure whilst creating, jobs will become the sole purpose of the Department of Public Works.
The UDM will endeavour to settle people in areas with specific prospects of job opportunities in their vicinity. Communities must be in a position to afford to pay for services rendered and to be economically viable.
There must be a shift from crisis management with regards to development, to a pro-active Planned Sustainable Development approach.
In terms of Planned Sustainable Development programmes, secure tenure to homeowners is fundamental to any housing intervention strategy. This will go along way in reducing the risk of evictions and the easier provision of essential services and care to communities.
Rapid reforms targeted at urban and semi-urban communities must be addressed urgently. The government must release unused land in its custody.
Planned Sustainable Development programmes must recognise that SA requires an urbanisation strategy and a plan to assist rural development.
According to the last population census, only 53.5% of all South Africans were living in urban areas. This level of urbanisation clearly indicates that the urbanisation process in South Africa has not yet been completed and that we are in urgent need of an urbanisation strategy for the country. Such an urbanisation strategy has to include at least the following:
• Identify urban geographical areas where new communities can be established.
• Determine where and how existing urban areas can be improved and expanded.
• Find ways to protect and maintain existing urban infrastructure and build new infrastructure.
• Determine a new urban housing policy, including aspects such as density, land tenure, property rights, permanency of a job, etc.
• Develop innovative new mass urban transit systems.
• Protect surrounding rural areas (farm land, forests, etc.) from urban sprawl.
• Provide in the needs of urban populations, e.g. water, power, sewerage, schools, health care, open spaces.
2.2. Rural revitalisation
The UDM will pay particular attention to rural revitalisation, against the background of an accelerated urbanisation strategy. Many rural areas are experiencing a crisis with regard to resources and service delivery. Visible strategies will be established especially to assist emerging farmers, focussing on access to resources including capital, land, infrastructure and training. The government’s role will be restricted to creating an environment conducive to entrepreneurial and agricultural development, such as building dams and water supply for farming activity.
The government must introduce programmes, which employ and train the unemployed in agricultural, tourism and community development projects. These programmes will be transformed into self-sustaining, privately owned businesses that have the potential to grow, accumulate assets, and create employment. The role and institution of traditional leadership will be recognised.
3. The new role and function of the Department Of Public Works
3.1. Coordinating role in Government
• The department will become specialised in all aspects of Planned Sustainable Development, cooperating and coordinating with all other government departments and agencies responsible for development and infrastructure, to determine the correct mixture of economic and social infrastructure development that each marginalised area requires.
• The department will have a central unit monitoring and implementing Planned Sustainable Development programmes, strictly coordinating nine provincial units to ensure that development in one province does not compete with, or negate, development in others.
• The department will be elevated to play a central role in all government activities. To assist in this task the UDM proposes the establishment of a Presidential Council on Planned Sustainable Development, with nine provincial sub-structures to assist with the planning and coordination involved in this strategy. The Council will include at national and provincial level, among others, civil society, business, labour and the affected communities, to ensure that consultation actually occurs and that cooperation and consultation becomes the core principle of this Council.
3.2. Job creation
• The department will strive to create jobs in all its activities. The focus of these job creation efforts will on small business development. Revised business-government relationships in expanding physical and social infrastructure development should be explored, for instance in the building of roads. Mechanisms must be considered to bring in private sector capacity in a partnership with the public sector. There is great potential to create jobs through emerging small businesses in such infrastructure programmes.
• The department is uniquely placed to engage in infrastructure development by sub-contracting and training skilled and unskilled people to handle aspects of infrastructure construction and maintenance. It will mean that these emerging small businesses will have contracts for the period of that specific infrastructure development project, and thereafter will have the necessary skills and experience to continue unaided as viable privately owned businesses.
• The department will work in close cooperation with the department of Trade and Industry and Investment SA.
• The department will seek creative and innovative partnerships with the private sector.
• The department will work in coordination with all government development agencies to ensure that funding and activities fit into Planned Sustainable Development programmes. In that way several sources of income for development can be combined to maximum effect.
• The department, with the support of government, will seek international funding through international lending and development agencies.
• The department will, as far as joint regional development programmes, seek partnerships with neighbouring countries, in order to collectively access international funding.
• The department will have the responsibility to coordinate all the infrastructure requirements of other departments, such as the building of clinics by the department of Health. Where necessary the departmental funding for such infrastructure will be enhanced by the Department of Public Works.
• The proceeds or savings from restructuring of public enterprises will be earmarked for infrastructure development to ensure that this funding goes directly towards the social and economic upliftment of marginalised communities.
• The department will, in close consultation with the National Treasury, receive a larger portion of the budget, and will also have access to additional funding through government borrowing, within the framework of a Manageable Budget Deficit.
• The department will seek to dispose of all non-essential assets and property in order to finance its activities.