South Africa to launch 'war on poverty'
28 July 2008
South Africa is to launch a nationwide campaign to reduce poverty among the country's poorest citizens, President Thabo Mbeki said on Sunday.
Briefing reporters in Cape Town on Sunday on a three-day Cabinet meeting that took place in Pretoria last week, Mbeki said the campaign would kick off in August, focusing on the most deprived wards in all nine provinces.
The most deprived households identified in the poorest wards would be visited periodically during the campaign by a team of professionals and community workers to identify their specific needs, accelerate their access to government services, and provide safety nets.
The long-term goal was for South Africa's poorest households to receive assistance and support in a co-ordinated and sustained way, with a national "war room on poverty" leading the campaign from the office of the Deputy President.
The teams would go "from household to household" in the identified areas in order
to make the most direct, helpful interventions to take these households out of poverty, Mbeki said.
The strategy would include motivating each household to make its "own contribution" to its struggle against poverty.
According to a Development Indicators report released earlier this month by the Policy Co-ordination and Advisory Service unit in the Presidency, income growth among South Africans, combined with the expansion of social grants, had resulted in a rise in income among the poorest of the population since 2000.
The percentage of South Africans living on less than a 2007 benchmark of R462 a month had decreased from 58% in 2000 to 48% in 2005.
Taking population increases into account, the number of South Africans lifted out of poverty since 1996 had reached 9-million, the report found, with about 12-million now supported by one or more of the various forms of social grants provided by the government.
Mbeki said that last week's Cabinet meeting
had noted that South Africa was on track towards achieving its medium-term goals of halving poverty and unemployment by 2014.
"Even though many challenges still need to be tackled, attaining high and sustained economic growth is and will continue to be a key part of our strategy to achieving these medium-term goals," Mbeki added.