Motlanthe visits War on Poverty projects

Ga-Kgatla – Government needs to intensify its fight against poverty if South Africa is to meets its Millennium Development Goals, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has conceded.

“There is a consensus that we have to do more ground work in addressing this problem because for us to realise our development goals as a country we ought to deal with the abject poverty first,” Motlanthe said.

He was speaking during a visit to Limpopo at the weekend as part of government’s War on Poverty campaign launched in 2008. The campaign, headed by Motlanthe’s office, led to the establishment of anti-poverty War Rooms in all nine provinces with the aim of alleviating poverty in the most deprived communities by 2014.

Ga-Kgatla village, which is situated about 150km from Polokwane, was chosen as a pilot site for the speedy implementation of household-based services to address poverty in the village. The village has some of the highest levels of unemployment and poverty in the country.

But during his visit on Saturday, Motlanthe was told that services such as access to low cost houses, electricity, water supply and access to health care have been successfully implemented in the area since 2008.

He also visited families who have since been rescued from the shackles of poverty through various initiatives such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and state-funded community driven projects.

Jeannet Morutho, a 37-year-old woman, was among those in the community identified as “change agents”. Before she was recruited to be part of the EPWP, there was no one with an income among the 11 members of her family. Moruthu is now an active community worker and a great resource in the village.

Another 21 youths from Ka-Kgatla have been sent for skills training, with some currently employed in the EPWP working on the maintenance of roads.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has assessed 13 youths from the village for possible recruitment into the army. The Provincial War Room is in the process of compiling the final number of youths who have been recruited into the army as some applied in other provinces outside of Limpopo.

Motlanthe also discovered that all children of school going age have been taken back to school – although a few drop-outs have since been reported.

But like in many provinces, one of the major challenges facing the community of Ga-Kgatla is the migration of young and able-bodied community members to Gauteng in search of economic opportunities.

The outward migration by the youth leaves only the very young, old and frail in the village.

Tebogo Mashamba is a 17-year-old matric pupil and already thinking of leaving the village after passing his exams. He said things are not always easy for young people in villages like Ga-Kgatla. “I do want to gain skills and improve the conditions in my family and community but for me to do that I need better education which I don’t think we have here,” said Tebogo.

Officials said the migration of young people out of the village caused challenges in the identification of suitable household change agents to invest in. Those left behind are poorly educated and skilled and would require substantial investments in appropriate skills before they can be gainfully employed.

By Chris Bathembu, BuaNews

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