South Africa’s social challenges will not be addressed by higher economic growth alone. This came out during a panel discussion hosted by hosted by Southern Africa- Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED), which is a research partnership.

It includes government, the private sector and non-profit organisations to provide evidence-based research on policies to grow the economy and create jobs.

According to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation’s Rudi Dicks, the country must deal with several structural issues before any inclusive growth can take place.

South Africa has drafted a slew of policy proposals to address the country’s high unemployment and widening inequality. However, there has been very little progress to reverse the challenges.

Unemployment has increased to just under 28% and poverty continues to affect most communities. Speakers at the event shared their thoughts on how government, business and labour can work together to reduce poverty.

Dicks says discussions on economic growth should include wealth distribution. He was joined on stage by Chairperson of Anglo Gold-Ashanti, Sipho Pityana.

“It’s true there’s nothing inevitable about growth resulting in creation in employment, but without it there’s no likelihood of employment,” says Pityana.

The promulgation of the National Minimum Wage was raised as another bold step to reduce inequality in the country. Access to quality health care is another divide between rich and poor that South Africa is still grappling with.

Congress of South African Trade Union’s President, Zingiswa Losi says the labour federation has proposed the use of tax rebates to help fund the National Health Fund.

Pityana has also warned about hidden unemployment in the public sector. He says rising debt levels in state-owned companies make it difficult to sustain the current job levels.