President Jacob Zuma has called upon South Africans to use Mandela Day on July 18 to intensify the fight against poverty. AP Photo/Themba Hadebe

 Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has called upon South Africans to use Mandela Day on July 18 to intensify the fight against poverty.

The Nelson Mandela International Day, marked in honour of the world icon and late President Nelson Mandela, will this year be observed under the theme #ActionAgainstPoverty.
 
In a statement from the Presidency, Zuma said that the collaboration of various stakeholders to fight and alleviate poverty in the country had been commendable and called on the sectors of society to continue working with Government and others to fight poverty, inequality and unemployment, so as to improve the living conditions of especially the poor and the working class in the country.

“Too many of our people live in poverty in spite of progress that government is making in fighting poverty, inequality and unemployment. As guided by the National Development Plan’s vision for rural revitalisation, inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction, we must work together to intensify poverty alleviation programmes and initiatives to ensure that our people receive basic human needs, especially food production to ensure access food," Zuma said.

"The people of South Africa are also encouraged to be actively involved in various initiatives that would change their lives and uplift their communities out of poverty.”

The president encouraged the promotion of food gardens for households, support for cooperatives, SMMEs and other initiatives that would help alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life.
 
The statement said that government ran effective poverty alleviation programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which has since 2014, created more than two million work opportunities towards the attainment of the target of six million work opportunities by the end of March 2019. Of the work opportunities created, more than a million had been taken up by youth.
 
During 2015/2016, more than 61,000 work opportunities were created through environmental programmes such as Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, Working on Fire and Working for Ecosystems, while more than 60% of the beneficiaries were young people. Other initiatives such as the National Youth Science Corps (NARYSEC), Community Works Programme (CWP), SMME’s support and financing would be intensified to address unemployment.
 
“We believe that South Africans and young people in particular have greater opportunities to change our environment and communities for better, help us grow our economy and contribute each and on their own to the prosperous country that Tata Madiba lived and died for," Zuma added. "The youth must be inspired and groomed to be agents of change in fighting for freedom from poverty, inequality and unemployment.”

The statement further pointed to the almost 17 million people, mainly older persons and children, who received social grants from government.

“In honour of Madiba, South Africans are encouraged to engage in meaningful and constructive community work by dedicating themselves to improve the lives of poor people and uplift the lives of those in need, to build a united and more caring society for a better life. Let us individually and collectively continue to make a difference in addressing the most pressing challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment,” Zuma said.