Pretoria: There needs to be a clear objective at local, provincial and national government to address poverty and inequality, says National Planning Minister Trevor Manuel.
“Without the close interaction of these three agencies, no transformation is possible,” he said at the Carnegie III conference which opened at the University of Cape Town on Monday.
The National Planning Commission had identified poverty and inequality as the two biggest challenges currently facing South Africa, Manuel said.
“We still have a great deal of work to do to ensure that these two scourges are relegated to history. I am hoping that Carnegie III will produce a handbook that will set out a range of practical steps aimed at eliminating poverty, not just here, but across the world. It is the kind of handbook that people and their governments across the globe are calling out for”.
The conference aims at providing a national platform for ideas about strategies to address poverty and inequality. It follows the Carnegie I and Carnegie II past deliberations.
Manuel said the diagnostic overview released in June last year identified the “pervasive” spatial challenges as one of the reasons for trapping and marginalising the poor. “Many of the proposals address deficiencies in government very directly, especially because the responsibility for addressing the spatial challenges spans the three spheres of government”.
There was a need for addressing poverty through very significant institutional reform and realignment at one level. These institutional reforms, however, include a focus on facilitating the participation of communities differently.
There is recognition, said Manuel, that the legislation governing local government, the Municipal Structures Act and Municipal Systems Act, in particular, lays the basis for strong participation by communities.
“However, in reality the feedback loops remain open and lead to enormous frustrations that frequently explode in angry protests. Amongst the proposals is the re-energising and empowerment of communities,” he said.
He said the National Development Plan, recently handed over to President Jacob Zuma, addresses several areas to deal with poverty and reducing inequality.
“I believe that the real strength of both our endeavours – the NPC’s and Carnegie lll, will be in our ability to tie together in a mosaic of actions for transformation.”