KWAZULU-NATAL MEC for social development Meshack Radebe has challenged government departments to play a more meaningful role in ending the poverty that ravages widows.

"We should not be blind while our poor people starve. I worry about the double standards of politicians who question food parcels that we give to the poor who have nothing to eat, while politicians have food on their tables every day," he said.

He told thousands of people at the launch of Umlalazi's drug action committee in Inkomazi at Eshowe that the government would continue taking care of the poor.

The area suffers from social ills such as domestic violence, a high school dropout rate, crime and poverty.

About 67percent of its residents are said to be unemployed, and youths resort to alcohol and dagga abuse, which drives them to turn violent.

The drug action committee plans to address the social ills affecting the area's youth.

Radebe said widows were the most vulnerable and cannot feed their children.

Radebe received applause when he told officials to continue providing help to poor families. He said widows should play a role in agriculture and he would ensure that the government bought fresh produce from them.

"Widows in rural areas are suffering and we want them to establish agricultural businesses. They must be part of the NGOs that deal with their needs," he said.

The department has set aside R1million to build a one-stop centre in the area, which will house a rehabilitation centre, creche, police station and government offices.