Government, working together with the social sector, has committed to forge deep paths upon which every South African will develop their skills and contribute to their family, community and the realisation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP).

Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, said that this is particularly true for youth, women, people with disabilities and the rural populations of the country.

Zulu was delivering a keynote address at the official opening ceremony of the Presidential Social Sector Summit at Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg.

The two-day summit is held under the theme, ‘Fostering Social Cohesion to Enable Socio-economic Participation in Communities’.

The summit brought together 600 delegates across nine provinces to deliberate on five thematic areas, namely resource mobilisation, transformation and job creation, capacity building, regulatory framework and community development.

“We invite the sector to innovate indigenous and responsive paths by which our communities, in particular the demographic groups I have mentioned, can move towards improving and protecting their dignity and integrity, while increasing their productivity, contributions to economic growth and self-sufficiency,” Zulu said.

The Minister emphasised that building a socially successful nation is reliant on families, the community, educational institutions and every State department in the life of every South African child and young person.

She said that a responsible, productive, patriotic and resilient citizen is a product of the sufficient reinforcements of all these contributions.

Zulu said the role of families in directing learners’ career choices towards artisanal and entrepreneurial vocations needs to be improved and sustained.

“This will improve educational throughput rates, reduce dropouts and increase the economic absorption of graduates, as well as total entrepreneurship activity among young people,” she said.

Tackling inequality

The Minister further called on the country to focus on the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality, including the value chain of our economy.

Zulu emphasised that the focus must be put more on an economy “that is not opening up”, particularly to young and black people, to be able to own the means of production.

“Together with the social sector and in pursuit of the social economy whose importance the President emphasised earlier this year during SONA, this sixth administration of our democratic government pursues the realisation of the form of social development that recognises that the comprehensive success of our society is intrinsically linked to the well-being of each and every South African,” she said.

Zulu said her department is looking at social entrepreneurship because they believe that if people can be empowered, they will be able to change their lives.

“Through this Social Sector Summit, we are each confirming our determination to build a better South Africa for all, especially the ordinary South Africans, whose daily lived experiences we seek to enhance.

“As we sign and implement the framework agreement, we do so for those millions of South Africans who yearn to realise their dreams and aspirations, to belong, to free the potential of their lives, and to embody the purpose of their lives,” Zulu said.

Zulu emphasised that government and civil society must find each other and different interest at play must not tear apart government and civil society working together.

Speaking on the Sustainable Strategies to respond to Social Ills and Contemporary Issues, the Deputy Director-General for Women Economic Empowerment in the Presidency, Namhla Mniki, said the response required from all role players is “urgent”.

“The way in which we are thinking about solutions needs to radically transform from what we have been doing all along to actually become impactful and results orientated in what we need to achieve as a country.

“In all analysis that has been done by multiple stakeholders, we can conclude that our problem is that we have lacked a comprehensive coherent strategy to address poverty and unemployment,” she said.

Mniki said building blocks towards a social compact need to be put in place to address challenges the country faces.

“Every household in this country needs to have a ‘no poverty guarantee’. We must agree as a nation that it is unacceptable to have any household living in poverty in this country. The no poverty guarantee is designed to break the cycle of poverty and further guarantee households out of generational poverty,” Mniki said.

She said social partners need to begin to see civil society as active agents in creating a conducive environment for change to ensure that SA’s social economy is “awake and active”.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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