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Toward a multi-pronged angle on the collective war on poverty

This article will give light to the war on poverty, from a charitable front and further advocate for more consolidated, collective efforts toward nation building from all government, community and private and business sectors to be that much more intentional and steadfast in this fight. It will draw on the ancient life-coping skill and philosophy of Ubuntu to highlight the need for Africa to “really repeat it without changing, adding or subtracting from its admonitions”, (Broodyk. J, 2006, p.2& 7). That is against the backdrop of its responsibility and obligation to execute mandates of the Sustainable Development Goals, verily goal 1; to eradicate poverty in all its forms (abject, spiritual and that of lack of moral instruction or lawlessness, emphasis mine), to align that with the National Development Plan 2030 strategy on poverty which it maintains must be through drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society.

South Africa in 2023 is home to 60.414,495 million people. In an article by Dr Asanda Mtintsilana, penned on the 20th February 2023 Hunger in SA 1:5 at risk, she goes to great lengths to elucidate the breath and width of poverty employing various benchmarks and measurements that ultimately reveal that 7.8 million people out of close to 40 million sampled were socially vulnerable and food insecure, women topping the list of the socially vulnerable. When the issue of overpopulation is interpreted in economic terms, there is in essence a shortage of resources per capita. Where does that then place gogo-lead families left with children of deceased sons or financially abandoned after their daughters were retrenched and matrifocal family households of unemployed beneficiaries of either an old age grant or child support grant? How dire does the picture look when the element of abject poverty and abuse add flat notes that continue the generational condemnation of a discordant impoverished crescendo?

The White Paper on Social Welfare (1997) will form the backbone on the argument for an urgent call toward an agenda for action and anecdotes from the Frida Hartley Shelter’s Give Back Fridays’ Soup Kitchen Drive will further accentuate the need for an intentional effort and political will to migrate from lip service from the unaffected with sentiments to commonly share the burden to a more deliberate stance from Municipalities Food banks and their Special Programmes Units to also throw in their five loaves and two fishes. Yes, to cast their nets deeper because multitudes of South Africans are in pressing need of the most basic of needs from Maslow’s Hierachy; namely food and shelter.

Provisions for an implementation framework for social protection and developmental welfare services are writing on the wall on the White Paper on Social Welfare (1997) whose core is the substantive issues in the restructuring of social services, programmes and social security. There are of course challenges identified by the White Paper on Social Welfare; mainly a lack of national consensus on the face of poverty and who is obligated to step in, on financing, breaking or ‘functionally’ and inactive partnerships, the lack of an enabling environment and at the heart of it all, the inappropriate approach that has relegated welfare services to specialized fields that are ‘charity-based’ and countless others.

On the 24th of February 2021 residence of Yoeville, Johannesburg and Hillbrow queue outside the Frida Hartley Shelter. It is both is mostly older women and mothers with babies on their backs, young people also anticipate help from the shelter. A pool of young men who are normally at the Shelter on a daily for food also are quieting here. Children seem delighted to be having their first meal for the day. They are served a salivating, deliciously spiced rice and potato curry soup with herbs. One can see from how they dip in that truly, the way to any person’s heart is through their stomach.

The biblical scripture, “I even I am He who comforts you. As who, his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isaiah 51:12) comes to mind with each story from those interviewed and expressed the deep need the soup kitchen responds to.

“I came to the shelter from July last year, I cannot afford affordable housing, I am a year from being a pensioner, my son tragically died in an accident in Cape Town and left me with his younger son, who luckily stays with his mother. To come here and be fed is such an underrated deeply appreciated service.” When asked on whether she had received any trauma counseling for the death of her son, she negated the question and the pain in her eyes really spoke to the need for a multilayered work in the lives of our people.

The other young man in his mid thirties comes from Hillbrow and makes use of the Shelter Orphan, he believes that “ he is there to spread the Gospel and talk about the love of God.”

A women with four children sells Tuppaware to make a living and really relies on the mercies from this service of food, as her retired mother who used to be a nurse brings the grand children to the Give back Fridays. “The need mntase.” Were her remarks.

A young mother of two, who dropped out of school, is also here. She seeks cleaning jobs and really praises the food from the Soup Kitchen.

In conclusion. If the sentiments of Majale, M (2004, p.4) that “the enabling approach also requires governments to recognize, promote, protect and ensure the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate, housing, which is enshrined in various international human rights treaties and instruments, for example the right to adequate housing”. Then that will require more concerted efforts in strategic fiscal planning integrating a hybrid of Ubuntu principles to not loot state funds and fight poverty at eye ball range.


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