South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Policy Documents

Introduction to the Reconstruction and Development Programme


1 March 2009

1.1.1The RDP is an integrated, coherent socio-economic policy
framework. It seeks to mobilise all our people and our
country`s resources toward the final eradication of apartheid
and the building of a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist

1.1.2Within the framework for policy represented by the RDP, the
ANC will develop detailed positions and a legislative
programme of government.

1.1.3The RDP has been drawn up by the ANC-led alliance in
consultation with other key mass organisations. A wide range
of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and research
organisations assisted in the process.

1.1.4This process of consultation and joint policy
formulation must continue as the RDP is developed into an effective
programme of government. Other key sectors of our society such as
the business community must be consulted and encouraged to
participate as fully as they may choose.

1.1.5Those organisations within civil society that participated in
the development of the RDP will be encouraged by an ANC government
to be active in and responsible for the effective implementation of
the RDP.

1.1.6This inclusive approach to developing and implementing
policy is unique in South Africa`s political history. The special
nature of the ANC as a liberation movement and the traditions of
the Freedom Charter make it the only political organisation capable
of unifying a wide range of social movements, community-based
organisations and numerous other sectors and formations. Widespread
and broad-based extra-parliamentary support will allow the ANC
within a Government of National Unity to implement the programme.


1.2.1Our history has been a bitter one dominated by colonialism,
racism, apartheid, sexism and repressive labour policies. The
result is that poverty and degradation exist side by side with
modern cities and a developed mining, industrial and
commercial infrastructure. Our income distribution is racially
distorted and ranks as one of the most unequal in the world –
lavish wealth and abject poverty characterise our society.

1.2.2The economy was built on systematically enforced racial
division in every sphere of our society. Rural areas have been
divided into underdeveloped bantustans and well-developed,
white-owned commercial farming areas. Towns and cities have
been divided into townships without basic infrastructure for
blacks and well-resourced suburbs for whites.

1.2.3Segregation in education, health, welfare, transport
and employment left deep scars of inequality and economic
inefficiency. In commerce and industry, very large conglomerates
dominated by whites control large parts of the economy. Cheap
labour policies and employment segregation concentrated skills in
white hands. Our workers are poorly equipped for the rapid changes
taking place in the world economy. Small and medium-sized
enterprises are underdeveloped, while highly protected industries
underinvested in research, development and training.

1.2.4The result is that in every sphere of our society –
economic, social, political, moral, cultural, environmental – South
Africans are confronted by serious problems. There is not a single
sector of South African society, nor a person living in South
Africa, untouched by the ravages of apartheid. Whole regions of our
country are now suffering as a direct result of the apartheid
policies and their collapse.

1.2.5In its dying years, apartheid unleashed a vicious wave
of violence. Thousands and thousands of people have been brutally
killed, maimed, and forced from their homes. Security forces have
all too often failed to act to protect people, and have frequently
been accused of being implicated in, and even fomenting, this
violence. We are close to creating a culture of violence in which
no person can feel any sense of security in their person and
property. The spectre of poverty and/or violence haunts millions of
our people.

1.2.6Millions of ordinary South Africans struggled against
this system over decades, to improve their lives, to restore peace,
and to bring about a more just society. In their homes, in their
places of work, in townships, in classrooms, in clinics and
hospitals, on the land, in cultural expression, the people of our
country, black, white, women, men, old and young devoted their
lives to the cause of a more humane South Africa. This struggle
against apartheid was fought by individuals, by political
organisations and by a mass democratic movement.

1.2.7It is this collective heritage of struggle, these common
yearnings, which are our greatest strength, and the RDP builds
on it. At the same time the challenges facing South Africa are
enormous. Only a comprehensive approach to harnessing the
resources of our country can reverse the crisis created by
apartheid. Only an all-round effort to harness the life
experience, skills, energies and aspirations of the people can
lay the basis for a new South Africa.

1.2.8The first decisive step in this direction will be the forthcoming
one-person, one-vote elections. A victory for democratic forces
in these elections will lay the basis for effective reconstruction
and development, and the restoration of peace.

1.2.9But an election victory is only a first step. No political
democracy can survive and flourish if the mass of our people
remain in poverty, without land, without tangible prospects for a
better life. Attacking poverty and deprivation must therefore be
the first priority of a democratic government.

1.2.10How can we do this successfully? It is no use merely making a
long list of promises that pretend to answer every need
expressed. Making promises is easy – especially during
election campaigns – but carrying them out as a government is
very much more difficult. A programme is required that is
achievable, sustainable, and meets the objectives of freedom
and an improved standard of living and quality of life for all
South Africans within a peaceful and stable society.

1.2.11The RDP is designed to be such a programme. To reach the
RDP`s objectives we face many obstacles and we are setting
ourselves a great challenge. Each and every expectation will
not be realised and each and every need will not be met
immediately. Hard choices will have to be made. The RDP
provides the framework within which those choices can be
made. Even more importantly, it will involve both government
and the people in further identifying needs and the obstacles to
satisfying those needs, and will involve both in jointly
implementing realistic strategies to overcome these obstacles.
The RDP is an expression of confidence in the wisdom,
organisational abilities and determination of our people.


1.3.1Six basic principles, linked together, make up the political and
economic philosophy that underlies the whole RDP. This is an
innovative and bold philosophy based on a few simple but
powerful ideas. They are:

1.3.2An integrated and sustainable programme. The
legacy of apartheid cannot be overcome with piecemeal and
uncoordinated policies. The RDP brings together strategies to
harness all our resources in a coherent and purposeful effort that
can be sustained into the future. These strategies will be
implemented at national, provincial and local levels by government,
parastatals and organisations within civil society working within
the framework of the RDP.

This programme is essentially centred on:

1.3.3A people-driven process. Our people, with their aspirations
and collective determination, are our most important resource.
The RDP is focused on our people`s most immediate needs,
and it relies, in turn, on their energies to drive the process of
meeting these needs. Regardless of race or sex, or whether
they are rural or urban, rich or poor, the people of South Africa
must together shape their own future. Development is not
about the delivery of goods to a passive citizenry. It is about
active involvement and growing empowerment. In taking this
approach we are building on the many forums, peace
structures and negotiations that our people are involved in
throughout the land.

This programme and this people-driven process are closely
bound up with:

1.3.4Peace and security for all. Promoting peace and security
must involve all people and must build on and expand the
National Peace Initiative. Apartheid placed the security forces,
police and judicial system at the service of its racist ideology.
The security forces have been unable to stem the tide of
violence that has engulfed our people. To begin the process of
reconstruction and development we must now establish
security forces that reflect the national and gender character of
our country. Such forces must be non-partisan, professional,
and uphold the Constitution and respect human rights. The
judicial system must reflect society`s racial and gender
composition, and provide fairness and equality for all before
the law.

As peace and security are established, we will be able to
embark upon:

1.3.5Nation-building. Central to the crisis in our
country are the massive divisions and inequalities left behind by
apartheid. We must not perpetuate the separation of our society
into a `first world` and a `third world` – another disguised way of
preserving apartheid. We must not confine growth strategies to the
former, while doing patchwork and piecemeal development in the
latter, waiting for trickle-down development. Nation-building is
the basis on which to build a South Africa that can support the
development of our Southern African region. Nation-building is also
the basis on which to ensure that our country takes up an effective
role within the world community. Only a programme that develops
economic, political and social viability can ensure our national

Nation-building requires us to:

1.3.6Link reconstruction and development.The RDP is
based on reconstruction and development being parts of an
integrated process. This is in contrast to a commonly held view
that growth and development, or growth and redistribution are
processes that contradict each other. Growth – the measurable
increase in the output of the modern industrial economy – is
commonly seen as the priority that must precede development.
Development is portrayed as a marginal effort of redistribution to
areas of urban and rural poverty. In this view, development is a
deduction from growth. The RDP breaks decisively with this
approach. If growth is defined as an increase in output, then it is
of course a basic goal. However, where that growth occurs, how
sustainable it is, how it is distributed, the degree to which it
contributes to building long-term productive capacity and human
resource development, and what impact it has on the environment,
are the crucial questions when considering reconstruction and
development. The RDP integrates growth, development, reconstruction
and redistribution into a unified programme. The key to this link
is an infrastructural programme that will provide access to modern
and effective services like electricity, water, telecommunications,
transport, health, education and training for all our people. This
programme will both meet basic needs and open up previously
suppressed economic and human potential in urban and rural areas.
In turn this will lead to an increased output in all sectors of the
economy, and by modernising our infrastructure and human resource
development, we will also enhance export capacity. Success in
linking reconstruction and development is essential if we are to
achieve peace and security for all.

Finally, these first five principles all depend on a thoroughgoing

1.3.7Democratisation of South Africa. Minority control and
privilege in every aspect of our society are the main obstruction
to developing an integrated programme that unleashes all the
resources of our country. Thoroughgoing democratisation of
our society is, in other words, absolutely integral to the whole
RDP. The RDP requires fundamental changes in the way that
policy is made and programmes are implemented. Above all,
the people affected must participate in decision-making.
Democratisation must begin to transform both the state and
civil society. Democracy is not confined to periodic elections. It
is, rather, an active process enabling everyone to contribute to
reconstruction and development.

1.3.8An integrated programme, based on the people, that
provides peace and security for all and builds the nation,
links reconstruction and development and deepens
democracy – these are the six basic principles of the RDP.


1.4.1There are many proposals, strategies and policy programmes
contained in the RDP. These can be grouped into five major
policy programmes that are linked one to the other. The five
key programmes are:

  • meeting basic needs;
  • developing our human resources;
  • building the economy;
  • democratising the state and society, and
  • implementing the RDP.

1.4.2Meeting Basic Needs. The first priority is to begin to meet the
basic needs of people – jobs, land, housing, water, electricity,
telecommunications, transport, a clean and healthy
environment, nutrition, health care and social welfare. In this
way we can begin to reconstruct family and community life in
our society. In this chapter, achievable programmes are set out
for the next five years. These include programmes to
redistribute a substantial amount of land to landless people,
build over one million houses, provide clean water and
sanitation to all, electrify 2,5 million new homes and provide
access for all to affordable health care and
telecommunications. The success of these programmes is
essential if we are to achieve peace and security for all.

1.4.3Our people should be involved in these programmes by being
made part of the decision-making on where infrastructure is
located, by being employed in its construction and by being
empowered to manage and administer these large-scale
programmes. These major infrastructural programmes should
stimulate the economy through increased demand for
materials such as bricks and steel, appliances such as
television sets and washing machines, and many other
products. In addition, the industrial sector must develop new,
more efficient and cheaper products to meet our basic
infrastructural needs.

1.4.4Developing Our Human Resources. The RDP is a
people-centred programme – our people must be involved in the
decision-making process, in implementation, in new job
opportunities requiring new skills, and in managing and governing
our society. This will empower our people but an education and
training programme is crucial. This chapter of the RDP deals with
education from primary to tertiary level, from child care to
advanced scientific and technological training. It focuses on young
children, students and adults. It deals with training in formal
institutions and at the workplace.

1.4.5The underlying approach of these programmes is that
education and training should be available to all from cradle to
grave. The RDP takes a broad view of education and training,
seeing it not only as something that happens in schools or
colleges, but in all areas of our society – homes, workplaces,
public works programmes, youth programmes and in rural

1.4.6A key focus throughout the RDP is on ensuring a full and equal
role for women in every aspect of our economy and society.
With this emphasis and with the emphasis on affirmative action
throughout the RDP, we must unlock boundless energies and
creativity suppressed by racism and discrimination.

1.4.7In training, particular attention is paid to the challenges posed
by the restructuring of our industries as we fully re-enter the
world economy. These challenges can only be met through the
extensive development of our human resources.

1.4.8An arts and culture programme is set out as a crucial
component of developing our human resources. This will assist
us in unlocking the creativity of our people, allowing for cultural
diversity within the project of developing a unifying national
culture, rediscovering our historical heritage and assuring that
adequate resources are allocated.

1.4.9Because of apartheid, sport and recreation have been
denied to the majority of our people. Yet there can be no real
socio-economic development without there being adequate facilities
for sport and recreation in all communities. The RDP wants to
ensure that all people have access to such facilities. Only in this
way can all our peoples have a chance to represent their villages,
towns, cities, provinces or country in the arena of sport and to
enjoy a rich diversity of recreational activities.

1.4.10The problems facing the youth are well known. If we are to
develop our human resource potential, then special attention
must be paid to the youth. Our human resource policy should
be aimed at reversing youth marginalisation, empowering
youth, and allowing them to reach their full potential.
Programmes for training, education and job creation will
enable our youth to play a full role in the reconstruction and
development of our society.

1.4.11This programme for the development of our human resources
underpins the capacity to democratise our society, thus
allowing people to participate on the basis of knowledge, skill
and creativity.

1.4.12Building the Economy. The economy has strengths and
weaknesses. Mining, manufacturing, agriculture, commerce,
financial services and infrastructure are well developed. At
present we have a large surplus of electricity. These are
strengths we can build on. But so far they have not benefitted
all our people. A process of reconstruction is proposed to
ensure that these strengths now benefit all our people.

1.4.13But we must also address serious weaknesses in our
economy. There are still very clear racial and gender
inequalities in ownership, employment and skills. Past industrial
policies assisted in creating employment and were an
important factor in developing industry but they were also
accompanied by repressive labour practices, neglect of
training, isolation from the world economy and excessive
concentration of economic power. The result is a low level of
investment in research and development, low and
inappropriate skill levels, high costs, low productivity and
declining employment.

1.4.14Central to building the economy is the question of worker
rights. Past policies of labour exploitation and repression must
be redressed and the imbalances of power between
employers and workers corrected. The basic rights to organise
and to strike must be entrenched. And negotiations and
participative structures at national, industry and workplace level
must be created to ensure that labour plays an effective role in
the reconstruction and development of our country.

1.4.15In the world economy, the demand for raw materials
including minerals has not grown rapidly and there is intense
competition in the production of manufactured goods. The General
Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT) was recently updated to
achieve substantial reductions in tariff levels. Our economy must
adjust to these pressures if we are to sustain economic growth and
continue to develop a large domestic manufacturing sector that
makes greater use of our own raw materials and minerals.

1.4.16A central proposal in this chapter is that we cannot
build the South African economy in isolation from its Southern
African neighbours. Such a path would benefit nobody in the long
run. If South Africa attempts to dominate its neighbours it will
restrict their growth, reducing their potential as markets,
worsening their unemployment, and causing increased migration to
South Africa. If we seek mutual cooperation, we can develop a large
stable market offering stable employment and common labour
standards in all areas.

1.4.17The pressures of the world economy and the operations of
international organisations such as the International Monetary
Fund (IMF), World Bank and GATT, affect our neighbours and
South Africa in different ways. In the case of our neighbours,
they were pressured into implementing programmes with
adverse effects on employment and standards of living. It is
essential that we combine to develop effective strategies for all
Southern African countries.

1.4.18In building the economy, programmes dealing with the
following areas are dealt with: linking reconstruction and
development; industry, trade and commerce; resource-based
industries; upgrading infrastructure; labour and worker rights,
and Southern Africa.

1.4.19Democratising the State and Society. Democratisation is
integral to the RDP. Without thoroughgoing democratisation
the resources and potential of our country and people will not
be available for a coherent programme of reconstruction and

1.4.20In linking democracy, development and a people-centred
approach, we are paving the way for a new democratic order.
This chapter sets out the role of the Constitution and Bill of
Rights, of national, provincial and local government, the
administration of justice, the public sector, parastatals, the
police and security forces, social movements and NGOs, and
a democratic information system in facilitating socio-economic

1.4.21Implementing the RDP. The RDP raises many challenges in
its implementation because it involves processes and forms of
participation by organisations outside government that are very
different to the old apartheid order. To implement and
coordinate the RDP will require the establishment of effective
RDP structures in government at a national, provincial and
local level.

1.4.22This chapter deals with the proposals for coordinating and
planning the implementation of the RDP. This requires
substantial restructuring of present planning processes and a
rationalisation of the complex, racist and fragmented structures
that exist. The RDP can only be people-centred if the planning
and coordinating processes allow the active involvement of
democratic structures.

1.4.23Understandably, the first questions asked are: What will the
RDP cost? Who will pay for it? These are important questions
and in developing a programme to finance the RDP, certain
key points are taken into account: of the expenditure on the RDP is not in fact new
– rather it is the better organisation and rationalisation
of existing systems that will unlock resources; must improve the capacity of the financial sector to
mobilise more resources and to direct these to
activities set out in the RDP, from housing to small and
medium-sized enterprises; must ensure that electrification and
telecommunications will be self-financing; funds must be reallocated and rationalisation
must be effected in many areas; and reformed tax systems will collect more
tax without having to raise tax levels (as the RDP
succeeds, more taxpayers will be able to pay and
revenue will rise), and funds will be raised in a number of areas.


1.5.1All over South Africa, including in People`s Forums, the same
questions are posed over and over:

  • how will the ANC create jobs?
  • when will you build houses?
  • how can we get water and electricity?
  • what about education?
  • when will we have a fair and effective police force?
  • will you give us health care?
  • what about pensions?

1.5.2The RDP attempts to provide achievable, realistic and clear
programmes to answer these questions. But it goes further
than this and encourages people and their organisations to
participate in the process. In the conclusion we outline
proposed concrete steps to make such participation possible.