Eliminating poverty one step at a time


The National Development Plan (NDP) focuses on the elimination of poverty and the reduction of inequality through uniting South Africans to unleash their energy, ensure economic growth by building capabilities and enhancing the capability of the state and leaders to work together to solve the country’s complex problems.

Norman Mbazima, chairperson of Anglo American’s flagship corporate social investment programme, the Chairman’s’ Fund, is working with government to reach the goals of the NDP. As the nation celebrates Mandela Month, he explains how corporate South Africa can make a significant change by aligning with the NDP in order to help build South Africa in partnership with government.

The objectives of the NDP are to reduce the number of people who live in households with a monthly income below R419 per person from 39 percent to zero as well as reduce inequality, from 0.69 to 0.6 as measured by the Gini coefficient, by 2030. This is a big task that has been set out for the country and it should not be the sole responsibility of government to achieve, and therefore it is imperative for the public and private sector to work together in partnership.

The private sector is uniquely placed to contribute to education, health and sustainable community development by aligning their efforts with the critical milestones in the NDP. This is important in terms of the programmes that these companies support and how they work with their beneficiaries in order to achieve the milestones set out in the NDP.

As corporate South Africa, we must support education programmes that focus on alignment with national strategies. This includes a focus on early childhood development that includes teacher and parent involvement, increasing education access for children with disabilities, and bolstering maths, science and language development., System strengthening is also a key focus of the NDP and should include a focus on primary school teacher development, management and leadership at school and district level, and improved infrastructure, especially for rural schools.

Where health care is concerned, we should cooperate with government to strengthen the public healthcare system based on the six pillars of a good and effective health system as defined by the World Health Organisation. These include leadership and governance, financing health systems, health information, service delivery, human resources, and medical and drug supply systems.

These six pillars can be used as criteria for the selection of programmes that companies will seek to partner with or support. Healthcare is critical to the development of any country and should be seen as an important part of any company’s corporate social investment programme.

In addition to the strengthening of education and health systems, sustainable community development is one of the most important elements of poverty alleviation. This includes skills training, job placement and/or employment creation as well as support for agriculture and community development projects that enhance social cohesion and address social ills through prevention and early intervention.

In addition, community care, access to quality welfare support for those in need and capacity building support for community-based organisations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) must be supported by corporate companies to ensure sustainable community development.

The NDP gives corporate South Africa a road map to achieving its objectives. The NDP requires specific critical actions required by the country to form a social compact to reduce poverty and inequality. An increase in employment and investment can be directed by a strategy to address poverty and its impacts and to broaden access to employment and decent wages.

Mining can play an important part in achieving these objectives and critical milestones because the industry contributes to the South African economy, accounting for about 17% of South Africa’s GDP in 2012. If poverty and income inequalities are addressed, the economy will grow and create more opportunities for the mining industry to contribute even more to the GDP.

Anglo American's Chairman's Fund which was started in the 1950s, has been contributing to poverty alleviation through various programmes to develop communities, long before it became mandatory to invest in social development of communities. It is one of the most inclusive funders in the country and the partner of choice in development. As one of the dedicated instruments used by Anglo American to channel its corporate social investment, it was named the top corporate social investment grant-maker in South Africa last year for the eighth time.

Over the years, assistance from the fund has ranged from small grassroots initiatives to major capital building projects and large-scale service delivery programmes in partnership with provincial and national authorities, focusing on areas such as HIV/AIDS, healthcare, welfare, education and enterprise development.

The Chairman’s Fund’s views, policies and approaches to social development have been developed working in partnership with government as well as the various communities where we operate. Therefore corporate South Africa can, according to the objectives and critical milestones of the NDP through sustained intervention, create the environment required to deliver on the objectives of the NDP.

It has been the mission of the Chairman’s Fund to partner with stakeholders to understand the country’s developmental challenges, use its resources to support and add value to practical interventions and communities and create new opportunities by addressing urgent social needs.

The successes and valuable experience of the Chairman’s Fund can be used to help other corporate companies to design and implement similar programmes. It is time for corporate South Africa in general and the mining industry specifically, to join hands and help our country alleviate poverty and dismantle the income inequalities prohibiting our country from developing to its full potential.

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This edition

Issue 42