South Africa holds Poverty Hearings

Archbishop Njongo Ndungane is the Chief Commissioner during the 2008 Poverty Hearings in South Africa. He writes writes of the human emergency in his country:

The greatest instigator of this desperation is lack of employment, which means people have no income to fend for themselves. Young people – whether school drop outs, matriculants, or those with tertiary education are all saying they cannot find jobs. This means with or without an education, this economy is not producing jobs. What kind of an economy is able to produce wealth for the rich, but no employment for the young people who are the future?

Unemployment among young people is driving them into disillusionment, hopelessness and bitterness. For them, the future remains bleak. A number of them expressed frustration and anger at their inability to access youth funds like Umsobomvu. An angry young man in Cape Town said, “Hunger creates hatred. I see people with money and I want to rob them.”

Poverty is a deadly cocktail that is causing a state of emergency. The words of an elderly woman in Kwa-Zulu Natal are indicative of this; I am saying to the power brokers – death has come knocking – please come help us.” The anger, the frustration and the feeling of hopelessness especially among young people is a recipe for possible disaster. Just as we have experienced in recent times an outbreak of anger and violence through the xenophobic attacks, a stage has been set for another eruption. Enough is enough. South Africa must act now. Most of the policy provisions to cater for the poor are enshrined in the constitution, and reflected in various policies including ASGISA and Vision 2014.

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