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South Africa unveils plan to end poverty by 2030

South Africa’s former finance minister Trevor Manuel on Friday unveiled a plan to end poverty by creating 11 million jobs by 2030

“Today’s South Africa looks very different from the one we left behind in 1994 (at the formal end of apartheid). Yet for many poor South Africans, there is still much that looks the same, highlighting serious shortcomings in our development goals,” said the first report of the National Planning Commission, headed by Manuel.

About 39 percent of South Africans currently live under the poverty line of 419 rands ($53, 38 euros) per month but the plan says that that figure can be reduced to zero over the next two decades.

Among the main challenges cited in the report are that too few South Africans are working and many blacks still receive inferior education.

To bring down the unemployment rate from the current 25 percent to a target of six percent, the plan proposes a new focus on promoting labour-intensive industries, making exports more competitive and reinforcing the government’s role in economic planning.

“To do all of this and many of the other things that I’ve detailed in the plan, we need stronger leadership both in government and from communities,” Manuel said in presenting the plan to President Jacob Zuma.

“Leadership is about problem solving.”

The Commission calls for major investment in infrastructure, including construction of proper houses in shantytowns, public transport and irrigation schemes.

It supports greater use of renewable energy but also of fracking — the controversial means of extracting shale gas — if environmental concerns are addressed.

The plan says anti-corruption units at the police and the public protector’s office, a government watchdog, should receive more funding.

The report assumes average economic growth of 5.4 percent over the next two decades, rosier than the medium-term predictions of most economists, who see growth at 3.0 to 3.5 percent.