Socioeconomic inequalities: ‘State has made significant strides’

Deputy President Paul Mashatile said the government has made significant strides in addressing socioeconomic inequalities. This through social welfare programmes in housing, healthcare, education, and social services.

“Over the past few decades, the South African government has taken significant steps to address historical injustices and strive towards achieving social cohesion and socio-economic empowerment for all its citizens,” said Mashatile on Tuesday.

Special public lecture

He was delivering a special public lecture on the 30th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy at the invitation of the University of Johannesburg’s School of Public Management, Governance, and Public Policy, in partnership with the College of Business and Economics.

Mashatile also touched on the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) policies. He believes the policies have promoted economic transformation. They have also ensured the marginalised become part of the mainstream economy, he said.

He said the state has raised R1.5-trillion in new investment commitments, of which over R500-billion has already flowed into the economy. This demonstrates the government’s commitment to building an inclusive and growing economy. 

Load shedding

“We have made further strides in addressing load shedding. Ensuring energy security, enhancing logistics systems, and improving ports and rail networks.”

In addition, the country’s second-in-command said government was on track to accelerate land redistribution. Black South Africans, he said, now own around 25% of farmland. This while the state supported 1,000 industrialists in Black-owned firms.

However, despite these achievements, challenges remain in achieving a more inclusive and equitable society.

“The triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality, as well as corruption, continue to pose obstacles to the nation’s progress. In addressing these challenges, we are conscious that, as government, we must strengthen social compacts by working together with all sectors of society.”

Mashatile highlighted the achievements that have been made over the past 30 years.

Transport infrastructure, agricultural sector

These include investment in transport infrastructure such as the Gautrain, the Freeway Improvement Project and Bus Rapid Transport. The agricultural sector, financial services sector as well as a thriving automotive sector, he said.

He said infrastructure investment was key to the country’s growth, and told guests that projects worth about R21.4-billion have been completed.

“I would like to see more young people and women-led businesses being involved in these projects. Because young people are the future of our country. And women carry the hardest burden of communities.”

Mashatile also took the time to acknowledge some of the challenges that the youth in the country face. “Hence, over the years, we have been investing in initiatives for the development of our youth and our future.”

Public sector

In addition, he said government has decided to move with speed to professionalise the public sector.

“I would like to assure you and the people of our country that, as the government, we are committed to the delivery of quality services to our people.”

This includes dealing with increased water and sanitation issues, as well as the energy availability factor.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the Deputy President to lead a task team on the water crisis in the country. And one of the urgent priorities is to fix the ageing infrastructure.

“We have already started this work. Just this evening, we are meeting as the Water Task Team. On Friday we will be visiting eThekwini as well as other regions later on. This will be to engage with the provinces as to how best we can resolve the eminent water challenge.”

Water task team

Since the announcement of the Water Task Team’s establishment, his office has received numerous requests. These are from individuals seeking to assist and collaborate with the government.

He said the Department of Water and Sanitation has already allocated R10.1-billion to municipalities. This was through the regional bulk infrastructure grant. R4.6-billion was allocated through the water services infrastructure grant. And R1.4-billion through the municipal recovery disaster grant, to address water challenges.


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