South African Deputy President Baleka Mbete has released an antipoverty strategy document for discussion.
“Towards an Anti-Poverty Strategy for South Africa” was released last week. Persistent poverty remains the prime cause of public dissatisfaction in SA and beyond and is a root of human and civil insecurity.
The document concludes that government is, on the basis of the draft strategy it contains, seeking “to solicit inputs and commitments from various stakeholders on their role in eradicating poverty and get inputs and comments as well as commitment and buy in on some of these government proposals.”
It adds that “inputs and comments will be consolidated and included in the current draft to develop an antipoverty strategy for SA” and “an antipoverty plan that commits all various role players in the fight against poverty.”
An explanatory note attached to the strategy adds that “democratic South Africa” has been waging a war on poverty since 1994. “This is reflected in the types of policies adopted by government as well as in the spending on social policies.”
A look at the national budget shows about 60 cents of every government rand is spent combating poverty, with 20 cents going to social welfare, a further 20 to health and another 20 on education. Housing, subsidized transport and water with sanitation takes another large chunk out of the state budget.
Mbete`s office says the “challenges inherited from apartheid are massive. These range from an anti-poor economic structure to a deliberate denial of access to basic services and infrastructure, assets, education and training as well as settlement patterns that placed the poor far from economic opportunities and that discouraged establishment of opportunities in poor areas.
“Much of government’s work is already aimed at addressing poverty and ensuring a better life for all, and significant progress has been made in this regard. Anti-poverty initiatives have been successfully mainstreamed into the planning and implementation of government programmes and in the budgeting process. Moreover, government’s policy orientation has been targeted to the poorest of the poor.
“However, there is still much that needs to be done. Certain groups in our society continue to find themselves in poverty. These groups include for example, women, particularly those who are single parents, children, the youth, the aged and families where one or more family member has a disability. Trends also show that there is growing inequality between the poor and rich members of society, associated with race, gender and location,` the cover note adds.
“The adoption of an anti-poverty strategy will ensure that the work that has already begun is harnessed more effectively. It will enable a strategic focus and broaden the scope of government’s initiatives to deal with a wider range of issues linked to poverty and social exclusion. It will provide measures that tackle the root causes of poverty, including addressing inequality of opportunity, combined with a commitment to giving people freedom.
“But the fight against poverty cannot simply be the responsibility of central government. It must involve all sectors of society, all spheres of government, other parts of the public sector, businesses, and voluntary and community organisations.
“The overall objective of the strategy is to eradicate poverty. At the centre of the fight against poverty: the creation of economic opportunities and enabling or empowering communities and individuals to access these opportunities.
“The provision of a safety net in the form of social assistance and the provision of basic services continues to be critical, but it also seeks to empower individuals and communities to support themselves.”