Poverty's tight grip on South Africa

"Definitions of poverty vary according to who is doing the measuring, be it the World Bank, governments, aid agencies or nongovernmental organisations, or people who live in conditions of poverty.

The language around poverty is constantly expanding to reflect more inclusive approaches to the issue. In this guide, we explain the differing definitions of poverty and how poverty is measured."

Eusebius McKaiser with the help of Thabi Leoka as well as Anele Nzimande had a robust discussion on poverty in South Africa.

Leoka says poverty is difficult to define and borrows the definition from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA).

How Stats SA defines poverty is that 30.4 million South Africans live in poverty, this is a population of about 55 million people. These are people who live on less than a thousand rand a month.

Thabi Leoka, economic strategist

Poverty is a function of two things; low wages and the composition of the household.

Anele Nzimande, Producer of The Big Debate

Nzimande explains that income sharing in a household is one way to insulate low income earners from poverty. She goes on to say the problem isn't only unemployment but stresses the need for job creation, in addition to a decent income.

I think it is very uncomfortable for anyone to claim and say they are poor, while it doesn't mean they don't acknowledge their living conditions.

Anele Nzimande, Producer of The Big Debate

If you call yourself poor, it almost gives off the impression that you have given up on all your aspirations says Leoka.

Leoka chimes in to say if South Africa had fully efficient social services, such as free education, someone earning R4000 a month, would have an income that went further.

Thabi Leoka is an economic strategist and Anele Nzimande produces for The Big Debate and is a former legal researcher at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies under the Business and Human Rights unit.

Listen to the debate on poverty in the audio clip below:


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