Poverty is a direct baby of apartheid and not the making of the ANC-led government, said President Jacob Zuma in Parliament on Thursday.
Zuma was responding to questions when he was confronted by statistics about the gradual increase in poverty levels in the country.
In August this year, Statistics South Africa released the Poverty Trends Report for 2006 to 2015, which showed that 30.4 million people (55.5% of the population) were living in poverty.
This is an increase from the 53.2% – 27.3 million people – reported to be living in poverty in 2011.
Liezl van der Merwe, from the Inkatha Freedom Party told Zuma that inequality had increased under his presidency. But Zuma rubbished her stance, saying the ANC-led government was solving the problems of inequality and poverty.
“It’s not a failure. It’s the size of the problem,” he said.
In a follow-up question, Kenneth Meshoe, ACDP leader, again put it to Zuma that under his leadership government had failed to address rising poverty levels, and asked him if he would not consider calling early elections.
“Firstly we have not denied that the problem we are tackling is big,” Zuma responded. “But it’s an apartheid problem. We are solving it. We’ve always said ‘we’ve made progress but we need to do more’.”
Zuma said the ANC had the best policies to address poverty. “And they’re the most accurate ones,” he said. “An early election? I don’t think so.”
“No party’s policies are better than those of the ANC. We are dealing with the issues – we have time. We have been given five years by the Constitution.”
He then laid into the what he termed the vague policies of opposition parties. “We don’t even know what you’re going to say if we give you a chance today (to rule). At least people know what the ANC does.”
Zuma also stressed the importance of radical economic transformation to “correct the imbalances” in the economy.
“For us to totally lift the poor out of poverty we have to ensure radical economic transformation. The black majority must participate as owners, managers and controllers and benefit from the wealth of the country. They should not be workers only,” Zuma said.
By: Fin 24