Poverty is multi- faceted and can be manifested in hunger, unemployment, exploitation and lack of access to clean water, sanitation, health-care and education. Poverty is not confined to any one racial group in South Africa, but it is concentrated amongst Blacks, particularly Africans. There is a need to monitor poverty and the poverty alleviation programmes (PAPs) that are in place, to see that the needs of the poor are addressed with the urgency the situation demands and to take corrective actions where mistakes have previously occurred.
Some of the policies of the past, such as segregation and discrimination, left a legacy of poverty and inequality. Up to the early 1990s the apartheid system of the government had PAPs that were biased towards providing health, education and housing services to the White minority to the detriment of the Black majority of the South African population.
The post-apartheid government's agenda is to address poverty and redress inequality amongst all societies. Through its poverty policy framework, the Reconstruction and Development Programme and its macro-economic prescriptions of Growth, Employment and Redistribution policy, the government has implemented new PAPs and extended some of the past programmes to address poverty. It is essential to evaluate these existing and past PAPs to see if they are reducing the poverty gap. This paper would review past PAPs and how effective they were in alleviating poverty and compare this to existing and even the proposed programmes to see if they are reducing poverty. In doing so, the paper will be highlighting the successes and failures of these programmes with a view of coming up with recommendations on how to effectively implement such programmes in future and to avoid repeating the mistakes that occurred previously.