President Jacob Zuma says South Africans must use Mandela Day on 18 July to take forward the fight against poverty.
The Presidency on Friday said 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.
President Zuma said the collaboration of all sectors to fight and alleviate poverty in the country has been commendable. He called on society to continue working with government to fight poverty, inequality and unemployment to improve the living conditions of the poor and the working class.
"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 to food," the President said.
The people of South Africa are also encouraged to be actively involved in various initiatives to change their lives and uplift their communities out of poverty.
The President encouraged all to promote food gardens for households, support for cooperatives, Small, Medium & Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) and other initiatives that will help alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life.
Government runs 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 have been taken up by the youth.
During 2015/16, 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. The Presidency said more than 60% of the beneficiaries were young people.
Other initiatives, such as the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC); Community Works Programme (CWP), SMMEs support and financing, will be intensified to address unemployment.
"We believe that South Africans, young people in particular, have greater opportunities to change our environment and communities for the better. [They can] help us to grow our economy and contribute ... to the prosperous country that Tata Madiba lived and died for.
"The youth must be inspired and groomed to be agents of change in fighting for freedom from poverty, inequality and unemployment," said President Zuma.
Government reaches close to 17 million people, mainly older persons and children, through social grants, said the President.
"In honour of Madiba, South Africans are encouraged to engage in meaningful and constructive community work by dedicating themselves to improving 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," said President Zuma.