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No one in South Africa will go hungry in next 10 years says president

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Christian Fernsby ▼ | June 21, 2019
President Cyril Ramaphosa
African economies   President Cyril Ramaphosa

No one in South Africa will go hungry within the next decade, president Cyril Ramaphosa promised on Thursday.

The promise is "fundamental" for the newly elected administration to "eradicate poverty and reduce inequality," the president said in his first State of the Nation Address since his party won the national election on May 11.

To achieve the goal, the country must improve its social wage, reduce the cost of living, and create employment and other economic opportunities, said Ramaphosa.

The wealth gap in South Africa is one of the largest in the world, with less than 10 percent of the population having more than 80 percent of the country's total wealth.

To address the issue of the working poor, the country has implemented a National Minimum Wage (NMW) at 3,500 rand (about 243 U.S. dollars) per month or 20 rand an hour (about 1.4 dollars) since Jan. 1 this year.

Ramaphosa said that early indications are that many companies are complying, and a commission is expected to find out the impacts of the NMW on employment, poverty, inequality and wage differentials by September.

The president also detailed his administration's housing, education and public health goals, among other things.

"In the next five years, the government will accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land to poor South Africans," he said.

It aims to provide more skill-training and economic opportunities for the disabled population as part of the ways to alleviate poverty across the society, and to address the issue of around half a million disable children who were out of school.

The government is also finalizing the Presidential Health Summit Compact, which will mobilize the capabilities of all key stakeholders to address the crisis in clinics and hospitals, Ramaphosa said.

"We set these goals so that the decisions we take now are bolder and we act with greater urgency," he told the applauding audience.

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