President Jacob Zuma says for government to completely alleviate poverty, radical economic transformation should be realised to include all citizens in economic participation.
The President said this when he took questions from Members of Parliament at the National Assembly on Thursday. This was the President's last question and answer session at the National Assembly for the year.
"Work is continuing to boost economic growth through the implementation of our Nine Point Plan focusing on areas including manufacturing, agriculture, tourism, mining, telecommunications and others.
"Ultimately, for us to totally lift the poor out of poverty, we have to ensure radical economic transformation.
"The black majority must participate in the economy as owners, managers and controllers and benefit from the wealth of the country. They should not be workers only. Programmes such as promoting black industrialists and supporting black small businesses are aimed at changing the patterns of ownership so that we can see a difference in the lives of our people," the President said.
The President was responding to a question from ANC MP Beverly Abrahams, who had asked what programmes have been implemented to fight poverty in light of a recently released Stats SA study on the rising poverty levels in SA.
The President said since 1994, government has introduced programmes aimed at eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.
He said government has reduced the numbers of people experiencing the worst levels of income poverty significantly.
"Most of the achievements in reducing extreme levels of income poverty can be attributed to government's comprehensive social protection programme," he said.
Giving details of some of the programmes, the President said government provides social grants to 17 million people, which translates to 31% of the population. Out of these, over 10 million of the recipients are orphans and vulnerable children.
He said government also provides support through the Social Relief of Distress programme to individuals and households faced with destitution, undue hardship and disasters such as fires and floods.
"This support includes cash, food parcels or food vouchers and school uniforms that are provided to the distressed family for a minimum period of three and up to six months."
The President also said:
Over nine million children from impoverished households are exempted from paying school fees and they also receive free meals at school to ensure access to education regardless of the economic status of the parents;
Students from poor households attending technical and vocational education colleges also study for free to promote access to education;
Government also subsidises Early Childhood Development Centres and supports close to a million children of the poor and the working class attending these centres;
Through the government's Household Food and Nutrition Security Programme, more than 200 Community Nutrition and Development Centres provide over six million meals to more than 300 000 beneficiaries per annum;
Indigent households with no source of income do not pay for water, electricity, refuse collection and sanitation;
Free basic services are provided to over three point five million households.
The President also said government also provides free health care to the poor by subsidising their hospital bills, depending on the individual's income and guided by the Uniform Patient Fee Schedule Policy.
"Importantly, Government also runs public employment and development programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work Programme which provide regular work opportunities and training for thousands of people especially women and the youth.
"As at the end of September 2017, the Community Work Programme has provided over 230 000 work opportunities.
"Over three million work opportunities have also been created in Phase Three of the Expanded Public Works Programme."
"The solution is to build an economy that is growing, which is inclusive and which benefits all citizens. It should also be an economy that supports aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to enable growth and job creation."