Welcome remarks by the Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini, to representatives of civil society in a meeting with the Brazilian Delegation
11 Apr 2012
Deputy Minister Paes and your delegation,
Deputy Minister, Ms Maria Ntuli,
Director-General, Mr Vusi Madonsela,
Representatives from NGOs, business and academia,
Ladies and gentlemen.
We are happy to welcome you today on the second leg of our discussions. We are particularly encouraged by the presence of representatives from civil society, business and academia, whom we regard as crucial social partners in the fight against hunger and poverty.
Our view is that South Africa needs a vibrant civil society that is eager and ready to help address the many challenges facing society. It is for this reason that we invited you to this meeting, so that we can learn together from the Brazilian experience and ultimately emerge with a progressive way forward for our country in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
As you know, the current government is in the midst of its term of office following the mandate given to us by the people in 2009. In particular, the ruling party reflected the following in its Election Manifesto as major challenges facing our society: high unemployment, poverty, deepening inequality and rural marginalisation.
As a response to these, we said that our government will focus on the following priorities during this current term of office:
- Creation of decent and sustainable livelihoods,
- The fight against crime and corruption, and
- Rural development (including land reform as well as food production and security).
In this regard, we emphasised the need to maintain, and where necessary, expand the existing social policies and programmes.
Government has over the past years adopted different strategies to combat poverty and hunger. These include the Integrated Food and Security Strategy which has since been incorporated into the Integrated Food Security and Nutrition Programme under the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The War on Poverty Campaign that was launched in 2008 also gives priority to reducing food insecurity among low income households. Our social assistance programme, which includes cash transfers to vulnerable people, has also been effective in reducing poverty and particularly malnutrition among children. While our response has helped shield many people from poverty, there is an urgent need to enhance our efforts towards “food for all”.
We believe that the Brazilian experience can provide us a basis to fight hunger and poverty in line with the promises we made to the people when they voted us to government in 2009.
Brazil and South Africa have emerged from troubled pasts to establish democracies and build unity amongst our diverse societies.
We share the need to overcome wide disparities between the rich and poor. We also face tremendous challenges to eliminate poverty, create employment and provide health and welfare services to the majority of our people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me highlight that we have already visited Brazil, including in 2010 when we signed Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) on social development and social security, which also led to a number of exchanges in these areas. As you know, there are other platforms on which we interact with Brazil as a development partner which include BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa) where cooperation amongst these countries is promoted including in the field of social development.
We therefore saw it fit to have this bilateral engagement with our Brazilian counterparts, as countries of the South, to share best practices through which we can deal with the common challenges we face.
Through our visits to Brazil, we have come to notice that they have made the fight against poverty a priority and an essential step in the development of their country. They continue to implement various activities aimed at reaching the most vulnerable citizens, wherever they are. We are eager to learn about your comprehensive national poverty alleviation plan and their successful zero hunger program.
We have noted that through the comprehensive national poverty alleviation plan named “Brasil Sem Misera” their objective is to lift 16.2 million Brazilians out of extreme poverty through cash transfers initiatives, increased access to education, health, welfare, sanitation, electricity and productive inclusion and that another 800 000 families and 1.3 million children will be added to the Bolsa Familia program. These are initiatives that excite us and we will have presentations on these programmes which we encourage you to interact with.
The challenges of poverty and unemployment in South Africa have contributed significantly to the worrying living conditions and many of our people live, and our bilateral engagement during these two days is a confirmation that we are indeed committed to tackling this challenge.
The South African Constitution commits government to take reasonable measures, within its available resources, to ensure that all South African have access to adequate housing, healthcare, education, food, water and social security.
The Department of Social Development launched the Food for All Campaign as a measure to address incidents of extreme hunger and malnutrition. This is also as a vehicle to restore the dignity of many South Africans, including children, who experience particularly hunger and malnutrition.
As I conclude, I wish to once more extend our gratitude for your presence and hope that today’s interactions will be beneficial for all of us. Most importantly, I hope that we will after this meeting work together based on the lessons we have learned to eradicate hunger and malnutrition in South Africa.
Issued by: Department of Social Development
11 Apr 2012
[ Top ]