August 22 2017 –WHILE most Zimbabweans continue to flock to SA, or seek to have their stay extended in SA, or streets of gold, statistician-general Pali Lehohla says the number of poor people in Mzansi has increased dramatically, with poverty becoming more intense.
Releasing the Poverty Trends in SAa report in Pretoria, Lehohla said the low economic growth and the drought had condemned many to a life of poverty.
“What has happened regarding the poverty headcount across … the poor are at 55 percent, non-poor at 44 percent. If we are to compare these numbers from 2006 to 2009, we can see that indeed poverty was declining, but we can see poverty beginning to pick up,” Lehohla told reporters.
“From 2011 to 2015, poverty has actually swung upwards from 21 percent, by four percentage points to 25 percent, then from 36 to 40 percent, and from 53 to 55 percent on the upper bound poverty line. If we think about the drought, the negative growth that South Africa is facing, surely the poor are getting impacted.”
Lehohla emphasised that the numbers of poor people is significantly on the rise.
“The number of the poor is increasing as a consequence of all these other things that are occurring, including obviously the drought,” he said.
“What is the number of poor persons in South Africa? We can see that the number has been increasing over time, at least from 2011. You can see that you have your 30 million. When you look at non-poor, it’s at 24 percent. That number of non-poor has increased also quite significantly but when it comes to people living in poverty we can see that the numbers have increased quite dramatically.”
Lehohla said the report also showed that the most vulnerable to poverty in South African society were children aged 17 or younger, women, black Africans, people living in rural areas, people residing in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces, and people with little or no education.
“The children are in poverty, and I think that is a very important point to understand. Children are in the majority for those people that are poor. I think that is a key challenge. If your children are poor, they are less likely to go to school. Even if they are in school, they perform badly,” said Lehohla.
He said poverty amongst children is driven by a different set of factors which are different from what pushes adults into poverty.
“The majority of children are poor because they are in poor households. Across urban and rural, by sex, we can see poverty manifesting itself in different provinces. So the future, which is the children, are in poverty,” said Lehohla.
Earlier, Lehohla revealed that more than 30 million South Africans are languishing in poverty.
“When you look at economic growth, you can see that our target is 5.4 percent per year, but that the growth is not going in that direction. We have had two quarters of negative growth – which is a technical recession. We do know that unemployment is very high and we have seen that in our quarterly labour force survey,” he said.
“We know that the number of the unemployed has increased, of course, against a growing population. The number of the unemployed has actually grown quite dramatically. If we were to measure the unemployment from 2008 to 2017, the likelihood of staying unemployed has increased by 10 percentage points. So there is no end in sight, in relation to that society is [experiencing], and this applies to quarter two of 2017.”
The Poverty Trends in South Africa report, released on Tuesday, is titled “An examination of absolute poverty between 2006 and 2015”.
Poverty estimates are essential for monitoring and tracking progress towards achieving the poverty targets outlined in government’s National Development Plan (NDP) and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. – ANA