Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has reiterated that social grants are only a temporary measure to address the basic needs of the poor.
Zuma said the country cannot continue to have people depending on social grants, emphasising that only people who are really in need should get them.
"About 13 million people currently receive social grants from the State," Zuma said on Saturday, adding that South Africa should not be proud of this number, which is likely to increase, since this was only a short term measure.
"There is something wrong in the fact that more than 13 million people depended on social grants. We must do something to correct the situation," the President told delegates at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) annual summit.
This year's summit was themed "The world economic crisis and its impact on growth and development".
In anticipation of an economic recovery, Zuma said, the government will have to play a critical role.
"At the core of our efforts, will be the focus on building a developmental state with the strategic, political, administrative and technical capacity to give leadership," he said.
President Zuma also noted that government's monitoring system would work better if social partners support it.
Recently, the Presidency released a Green Paper on National Strategic Planning and a Policy Paper on Improving Government Performance.
"These are important steps towards building a developmental state that works better for South Africa, in the planning processes. We will seek the engagement of social partners, especially in developing our long term vision for South Africa," said President Zuma.
He said the main thrust at present continues to be to minimise the impact of the economic downturn on the country's productive capacity.
Zuma however, noted that government's first priority was to speed up growth and transform the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods.
He said the key elements that government would focus on include maintaining a stable pro-employment macro economic environment.
It will also concentrate on the implementing of trade and industrial policies to create decent work on a large scale.
Government would also undertake interventions to create a more inclusive economy, expanding opportunities for the poor to access the labour market and broadening the impact growth.
Strengthening competitiveness and promotion of small and medium sized enterprises and co-operatives will be another focus of government, he said.
"While it is clear that all priorities should receive urgent attention, we indicted in the Medium Term Strategic Framework that it may be necessary to phase them in and sequence their implementation taking into account the availability of resources," said President Zuma.