The effectiveness of poverty reduction strategy in post-apartheid South Africa.
South Africa’s post-apartheid government has embarked on numerous poverty reduction strategies in order to address poverty and inequality in the country. However, these strategies have been largely ineffective. Government has spent billions of rands in poverty response which has been met with limited success. After 21 years of new governance, more than 50% of the population is still poor and inequality in the country is among the highest in the world, despite the numerous poverty reduction strategies being implemented (World Bank, 2014b). This dissertation looks at the effectiveness of poverty reduction strategies since 1994, from a qualitative rather than quantitative perspective. In order for poverty reduction strategies to be effective, they would have to tackle the root causes of poverty; namely the lack of education and marketable skills, poor health and unemployment (Taylor, 2011). This dissertation therefore critically reviews and evaluates the country’s poverty reduction strategies by examining their impact on the main causes of poverty. This critical review is done with the aim of highlighting possible limitations of these strategies, in order to improve poverty response in the future. These strategies include the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), Growth Employment and Redistribution (GEAR), The Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA), The National Development Plan (NDP) and the Social Assistance System. From this critical review it becomes evident that the main limitation in these strategies is that they do little to tackle the main cause of poverty, especially unemployment. They have instead focused more on providing social welfare to the poor. This dissertation comprises of six chapters. Chapter one is an introductory chapter which outlines the background, rationale, objectives, research questions, methodology and structure of this dissertation. Chapter two outlines the literature on the definitions and measurement of poverty in South Africa. Chapter three covers the causes of poverty. Chapter four critically evaluates South Africa’s poverty reduction strategies. Chapter five covers poverty reduction successes the international front, where it highlights some useful lessons that South Africa can use in improving its poverty response in the future. Examples of these lessons include the importance of focusing on employment creation as well as creating a favourable climate for employment growth, in order to successfully reduce poverty. Chapter six provides a summary of the main findings of this dissertation and provides policy recommendations based on the limitations and lessons learned from chapter five and six respectively. Some recommendations are that poverty reduction strategies in South Africa require more focus on employment creation and creating a favourable environment for employment growth. This includes; using accommodative monetary policy, increasing investment and entrepreneurship, increasing employer subsidies in the future and enhancing labour flexibility. It is also essential that there is strong implementation of strategies and good leadership, in order for these strategies to be more effective. In addition, there should be a move away from the heavy emphasis placed on the social assistance system so that government can make a deeper impact on poverty and create a more sustainable economy.
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