Former President Thabo Mbeki has taken a big swipe at the current government in the country.

The stalwart has lambasted leaders who are self-centered and concerned only with accumulating wealth.

South Africa’s spiralling poverty is a result of poor leadership in the country, said Mbeki.

Mbeki was reacting to figures released by Statistics SA on Tuesday, which show that half of South Africa is poor.

“If it was a matter of policy failures it would be very hopeful because you can then look at this policy… If you have a leadership which in reality and practice is not interested practically in the upliftment of the masses of the people, this policy review will not take place,” the former statesman told eNCA at the opening of the African Leadership Forum currently taking place in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni.

“Where you have this problem of a leadership that is self-centered, that’s concerned about it perpetuating itself in power, accumulating all the wealth and so on, then it’s not a policy issue, it’s a leadership issue,” Mbeki added.

According to the statistics agency’s Poverty Trends in South Africa report, between 2006 and 2015, more than 30 million citizens languished in poverty, with those most vulnerable to poverty in the country being children aged 17 or younger, women, black Africans, people living in rural areas and people with little or no education.