Wage war against poverty

The war on poverty is South Africa's most important priority and our greatest challenge. Eradicating poverty is essential if the gains of our new democracy are to be consolidated. It is a precondition for social justice, peace and security in our land.

The war on poverty is South Africa's most important priority and our greatest challenge. Eradicating poverty is essential if the gains of our new democracy are to be consolidated. It is a precondition for social justice, peace and security in our land.

South Africa today is burdened with unacceptable levels of inequality between rich and poor. Many of our people live below the breadline and are exposed to persistent hunger, disease, illiteracy, unemployment and homelessness.

Much has been achieved since 1994, but there is still a long road to travel. We South Africans need to focus our energies and marshal all our resources in a great national effort to eradicate poverty and its associated evils.

Our government has committed itself to enhancing social development. Poverty is about lack of access, lack of power, lack of income and resources to make choices and to take advantage of opportunities. The human face of poverty is often a woman or a child.

People-centred strategies to fight poverty must directly involve the poor in finding solutions to their problems. All of society needs to be involved in the struggle for social development.

Priorities in the war against poverty require responding to the challenges of globalisation - both its opportunities and its dangers.

Necessary steps include fighting unemployment and landlessness, increasing access to credit for the poor and encouraging small-scale production and entrepreneurship in the formal and informal sectors.

The wage and salary gap between high-income earners and low-paid workers must be addressed, as must be the situation of the working poor. Children in poor households, the disabled, the elderly and other vulnerable groups need special attention.

The government must create the democratic space and effective governance that will help empower the poor and give support to initiatives on the ground. Community organisations, the religious sector, NGOs, trade unions, women, youth, business and many others need to mobilise against poverty.

Tshepo Diale, GaRankuwa

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