Ending poverty will have to be a joint effort

I go to Cape Town for business and pleasure quite a lot.

I go to Cape Town for business and pleasure quite a lot.

As I have noted in this column many times, it is easy to notice, and just as easy to forget, the terrible squalor in parts of that city.

The route from the airport is lined with the most depressing shacks, evidence of the poverty that grips the lives of many of the Cape's poor.

But then you get into the city and there the prosperity is overwhelming: bars, restaurants, people enjoying themselves.

I flew into Cape Town at the weekend and the pilot took us over the many shacks around the airport.

To see them dotted over those desolate, sandy wastelands that have only sand and no vegetation is to see hell on earth.

There is just nothing there. No trees, no flowers, just nothing.

I can imagine that in the blustery Cape winds the dust that rises up and envelopes these places is enough to kill asthmatics, for example.

People should not live like this.

I was reminded once again of Tony Blair's phrase that poverty in Africa remains a "scar on the face of humanity".

This is an example of that horrible scar; this is indeed our constant reminder of that scar.

There are many places like this in South Africa.

In Alexandra township, and in many other shacklands across this country, fear and hunger and desperation walk the land. What is to be done?

We are a blessed generation in many ways because we can learn from what our compatriots north of the Limpopo have done and where they have failed.

We can learn from the best across the globe and implement what works here. This is what we should do.

It is time we stopped blaming apartheid and colonialism for our problems and inaction.

The point is that our economy is doing relatively well and President Thabo Mbeki has managed to put some of the basics in place.

Now all we have to do is articulate a coherent vision of what we want to do to remove poverty from our shores within the next 10 years.

We need our leaders to provide vision and leadership and I am convinced that South Africans of all colours, all races and all creeds will follow and work hard to achieve these goals.

The job of eradicating poverty is not a job for one man, woman or political party. It is a job for all of us.

Crucially, though, it is for our leaders to come up with policies that do not enrich just a few, but continue to open up spaces for the poorest of the poor and enable them to access the massive wealth that lies hidden in our economy.

We can do it.