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Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, launched the report on Overcoming poverty and inequality in South Africa: an assessment of drivers, constraints and opportunities at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Tuesday, 27 March 2018.

The report is an outcome of a collaborative effort between the Department of Planning, ​Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), and the World Bank (WB). The study is meant to contribute to the realization of South Africa’s national targets of eliminating poverty and reducing inequality. The outcomes of the assessment are envisaged to bolster national planning around poverty and inequality.

The findings of the research show that South Africa’s poverty levels are extremely high, very persistent, and that poverty affects certain designated groups more than others. A fundamental determining factor in this regard is the legacy of apartheid which, as we know, was a system designed to exclude Black South Africans from full participation in the economy. While race remains a factor in terms of the ability to find jobs and wage determination, unemployment is worse for females than for males. This gap has, however, been closing over time.

The study reveals that households’ demographic characteristics such as family size, structure and race play an important role in the determination of the socio-economic status of the family and its level of poverty. It also states that poverty is higher among female-headed households and that black South Africans consistently bear the highest poverty burden and poverty declines with the higher levels of education. When the study considered poverty across different age groups, it found that poverty is highest among children, defined as individuals below the age of 15.

Poverty in South Africa has a clear spatial dimension. The highest poverty concentration remains in the rural areas. In 2006, approximately 60 percent of the poor were in rural areas, with the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo being the three poorest provinces in South Africa. Gauteng is consistently the province with the lowest poverty rate estimated at 19 percent in 2015. At 26 percent in 2015, KwaZulu-Natal was home to the largest share of the poor in South Africa.

The research further confirms that South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world with incomes that are highly polarized. In delivering the keynote address, Minister Dlamini-Zuma said, “Government has a huge interest in finding effective and sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty and inequality in our country”.

South Africa’s social protection system represents a major intervention aimed at alleviating poverty and helping vulnerable households to deal with unforeseen shocks. Since the end of apartheid, the government has progressively expanded its fiscal programs to help address poverty and inequality while maintaining generally sound fiscal management. Close to 17 million low income individuals have access to the direct transfers.

Minister Dlamini- Zuma  remarked that the  report being  launched today confirms that social assistance in South Africa has proven successful in reducing extreme poverty and to supplement social safety nets. It is imperative that government in partnership with the private sector continues to implement the creation of poverty-reducing job opportunities and programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programmes (EPWP). Promotion and support of SMMEs and a skills revolution is paramount.

“We require integrated anti-poverty strategies that must also address complex structural factors, such as the enduring effects of the apartheid system; skills constraints; the capacity of the State; the high wealth and income inequality gap; inadequate economic growth that benefits the few; the high disease burden of the poor, in particular HIV and Aids, radical socio-economic transformation, skills revolution, industrialisation, empowerment of women and youth”, said Minister Dlamini-Zuma.

The Country Director for the World Bank in South Africa, Dr Paul Noumba Um said this joint work is aligned with the World Bank’s twin goals of helping countries in their efforts to overcome extreme poverty and increase the incomes of people in the bottom 40% by 2030. It provides evidence-based analysis to help identify ways to make policy more effective.

“The World Bank is ready to work with government of South Africa as a partner in development. We bring to the table global experience, technical support and knowledge as well working with other partners to leverage all the financial resources and mechanisms at our disposal”,  said Dr Noumba Um.

Minister Dlamini-Zuma concluded by stating that Government calls upon all stakeholders, in the public, private and civil society sectors to contribute in dealing with the triple challenge of poverty and inequality and need the participation of communities in reclaiming their own dignity from the dehumanising scourge of poverty and inequality.

Download the World Bank Report 2018 here​

Enquiries: / 083 276 0786 or Mmabatho Ramompi on 076 4803513 or

Zandi Ratshitanga/ 073 888 5962

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Issued by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)

27 March  2018​ 

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