Hundreds of community leaders from at least 40 different informal settlements in Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday gathered under the aegis of the “Solidarity Helping Hand Organisation” to discuss their problems with the President of the ruling African National Council (ANC), Jacob Zuma.
Zuma returned to the white informal settlement (Bethlehem) after promising earlier this year to tackle the community’s problems.
In their meeting with Zuma, the white community leaders chronicled the growing problem of white poverty in Pretoria.
Zuma’s team at the rare meeting consisted of ministers, government officials and the executive mayor of the Tshwane Metro Council, Gwen Ramokgopa.
The meeting agreed that the department of social development would provide a mobile unit where poor white people could register for social grants.
Officials of the department are also to provide the poor whites with advice regarding social services.
The poor whites also exhibited products they made in the informal settlements in an attempt to get support from the department of social development for their community projects.
“The myth that white poverty in South Africa doesn’t exist took root as a result of President Thabo Mbeki’s recent famous “Two Nations” speech.
Mbeki had said that South Africa consisted of two nations – the poor and black, and the white and rich.
According to a report by the Solidarity Helping Hand Organisation released Wednesday, only 54 per cent of all white people in South Africa can afford a house worth more than US$ 25 000.
The number of white people that do not have access to housing increased from 83,000 to 131,000 or by 58 per cent between 2002 and 2006.
Those living in structures in backyards increased from 36,000 to 54,000.
It is expected that this figure, despite the decrease in the population figure o f white people, will increase by 7,500 units annually.