Protecting the most vulnerable in our society has always been at the centre of the ANC policy to address the poverty that continues to plague the lives of our people. There is no doubt that there are significant numbers of people who are living in poverty, however, there is equally significant progress made to respond to this challenging effort to eradicate poverty.
In an election year, it is expected that there will be contestation against ANC delivery, however, facts outweigh the criticism. As recently as August 2018 the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) made the point in its report, “Life in South Africa: Reasons for hope” that “the tone and inflexion of media and other reporting and activist commentary became predominantly negative… we felt that the nature of the climate of public opinion was such that it was necessary to produce a document that would remind South Africans, and those who watch us from abroad, that, despite our troubles, we are also a country in which a lot has gone right”.
It further said, “the quiet majority deserves a lot of credit for the things that have gone right and can justly be proud of what has been achieved”.
The report is a demonstration that the implementation of our programmes for the social transformation of our society is indeed bearing fruit. The people of South Africa have their hopes and aspirations on the ANC to continue changing their lives. Although challenges persist, we have a comprehensive programme to continue on this trajectory to grow South Africa.
It is a further demonstration that a vote for the ANC is a vote for hope and for a commitment to changing our people’s lives. It is a vote for the improvement in the living conditions of our people.
To demonstrate this progress and celebrate what freedom and democracy have brought to our people, that ultimately restored their dignity, it is important to take stock of some of these developments.
We have already delivered 4.7 million housing opportunities, which includes free houses that have been built, benefiting over 14 million people. We intend to work with the private sector to develop major development projects that bring together economic nodes, human settlements, smart technologies and public transportation that impact on spatial transformation. We will also release land in the hands of the State for human settlement.
In the past 25 years of our democracy and freedom, we have also ensured that six out of 10 South Africans have access to clean drinking water. Water is a basic need which should be accessed by everyone in our country.
In education, we have achieved near-universal access to basic education for young children aged seven to 14 years of age. In the midst of poverty and economic hardships, 90% of public schools have become no-fee paying schools. In addition, we have also subsidised some of the learners in fee-paying schools. This has arguably led to a significant improvement in school attendance from 51% in 1994 to 99% today.
In higher learning, the ANC government has ensured that millions of young people acquire higher education and skills to enable them to have a brighter future. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has assisted over 3.5 million students who are today professionals in our society like teachers, doctors, journalists, social workers and accountants, among others. This has led to an increase in the middle class, which the SAIRR report says has improved by 79.3%, measured by an increase in registration of cars on eNaTis.
In caring for the poor and vulnerable in our society we also introduced a comprehensive social security plan with varied interventions. Currently, South Africa has over 17,5 million people on social grants benefiting children, the elderly, people with disability and veterans.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund has been extended to help most workers (including domestic workers) and the benefit payment period has been increased from six to 12 months. ANC government has also introduced unprecedented legislation in South African history, the National Minimum Wage, which will improve the wages of at least six million workers who are currently being paid below the national minimum wage level of R20 an hour.
South Africa has witnessed an increase in unfortunate and barbaric acts of gender-based violence. The ANC condemns these acts and will work tirelessly with all of society to rid our society of this scourge. The 2018 Presidential Summit Action Plan brings together all stakeholders. It calls for speeding up of education programmes aimed at offering psychological and social support to vulnerable learners, and work with young children to change social attitudes.
In addition, we plan to capacitate the police and the court system to support survivors of gender-based violence and sexual assault. We will also scale up the network of Thuthuzela Care Centres and other victim empowerment centres for a more effective response to incidents of violent sexual acts.
We also need to rid our society of any form of discrimination, for we will never achieve any full social transformation if the demons of racism and racial discrimination persist in our society.
In its conclusion, the SAIRR says “There is a lot to be proud of and in no way is it true to say that ‘South Africa is no better than it was in 1994’ or that ‘South Africans have refused to work together to bring about change’.”
The journey towards social transformation is not complete, the ANC remains committed to ensuring that the poor and the most vulnerable in our society are empowered to lift themselves out of poverty while creating adequate social nets. Working together with our people we can bring about change.
As President Cyril Ramaphosa eloquently puts it, “this is a moment of renewal. It is an opportunity to restore our democratic institutions and return our country to a path of transformation, growth and development. The country’s future is now in the hands of those who believe in it the most. The voter. Together with the people of South Africa, the ANC is ready to write the next chapter in our country’s history”.
Vote ANC, let us grow South Africa together! DM