Johannesburg - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the government wants to improve the living conditions of every South African.
In a budget speech that made several references to the end of apartheid in 1994, Gordhan said on Thursday that reducing social inequality "has not been easy and our progress has been uneven".
Gordhan's budget came amid labour unrest in South Africa's mines that has exposed the gap between the rich and poor nearly two decades since the end of apartheid. He said the strikes are "a cause for urgent reflection."
To create jobs the government plans spending R40bn of the R969.4bn budget on infrastructure projects.
Gordhan said South Africa's budget deficit is projected to be 4.8% of gross domestic product in 2012.