South Africa has come a long way since the advent of democracy. Significant progress has been made since 1994, notably through the introduction of a democratic system, and constitutional and legal provisions, that promise people equal rights, protection against discrimination, and extended access to basic services.

We have faced a myriad of challenges, some of which unfortunately, still prevail today. This is evident particularly where employment and education is concerned. There are still a large number of people without the very basic amenities. Although South Africa has progressed through social and economic transformation, transformation has occurred marginally, as many South Africans are still not free from tyrannies of poverty and inequality. This was mainly due to government using an approach that provides results within a single term in office. A strategic approach was therefore needed to solve challenges across a longer time frame, by using medium term programmes as mere stepping stones toward the achievement of a longer term goal.

Before embarking on the process of planning, the National Planning Commission to first initiated a problem identification phase in order to identify and analyse the key challenges confronting the country.
The Commission initiated a diagnostic analysis to identify and examine key challenges and obstacles that have an impact on the social and economic development of the country. An extensive period of public engagements and consultations took place during the analysis. The NPC hosted a multiple forums across the country and engagements through a live online national communication platform dubbed the “NPC Jam”.

The NPC Jam is an award winning IBM solution that enables participants to participate in online collaboration and brainstorming sessions, discussing a range of ideas surrounding social, economic and business challenges. The NPC engaged over 10 000 participants in an online national discussion, which included business, youth, NGOs, community based organisations, civil society organisations, government officials and academics across the country.
To ensure the collection of data that is purely representative of the perspectives and views of a majority of South Africans, the Commission hosted numerous public forums across all nine provinces to determine and secure a broad agreement with regards to the challenges faced by millions of people in South Africa. The commission also held workshops with experts in various sectors as a means of generating input into the diagnostic for the development of the National Development Plan.

The responses and deliberations were scrutinised and examined by the commission and synthesized into a report, now known as the “Diagnostic Report”.
The Diagnostic Report highlights the main challenges confronting the country and examines the underlying causes. The diagnostic report is composed of five chapters, which focuses on broad issues of the economy, human conditions, material conditions, nation building, and institutions of governance.
The Diagnostic Report outlined nine challenges that affect the development of South Africa. The following were identified as challenges facing South Africa:
  • too few people work
  • the quality of school education for black people is poor
  • infrastructure is poorly located, inadequate and under-maintained
  • spatial divides hobble inclusive development
  • the economy is unsustainably resource intensive
  • the public health system cannot meet demand or sustain quality
  • public services are uneven and often of poor quality
  • corruption levels are high
  • South Africa remains a divided society