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SOCIAL SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS: THE SOUTH AFRICAN EXPERIENCE. Dr B Simpson, School of Social Work and Community Development, University of KwaZulu- Natal, Durban, South Africa. South Africa. BACKGROUND:. Facts about South Africa Population: 49,99 million

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  1. SOCIAL SECURITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS: THE SOUTH AFRICAN EXPERIENCE Dr B Simpson, School of Social Work and Community Development, University of KwaZulu- Natal, Durban, South Africa

  2. South Africa

  3. BACKGROUND: • Facts about South Africa • Population: 49,99 million • Almost one third (31,4%) are age 15 and below • 7,5% are aged 60 and above • Racially diverse society – majority of population are African who have different cultural and linguistic traditions

  4. BACKGROUND, cont • SA has long history of colonial and apartheid oppression of African people by White minority • 1994: First democratic election • 1996: New constitution adopted with Bill of Rights – intention was to ensure that human rights were at the heart of all legislation and that human rights abuses would never again occur in SA

  5. POVERTY IN SA • Official unemployment rate: 25,3% • Unofficial unemployment rate: Approx 40% • An estimated one third of economically active Africans are in full time employment • Most job seekers in their 20s and 30s have never had employment – concern because these young people are not gaining skills and experience for the future

  6. POVERTY IN SA, cont • Poverty as a human rights issue: • Range of social problems associated with unemployment – obvious effect on food security, shelter, health but also crime, disengagement with political processes, loss of hope for the future • THEREFORE, imperative that we address poverty

  7. INEQUALITY IN SA • Gini co-efficient: 0,578 (10th in world) • Higher among African households than non African households (so inequality no longer between African and White, but between Africans) • Range of social problems associated with inequality – growing alienation and anger that poor people have not benefited from new government

  8. SOCIAL SECURITY AS A HUMAN RIGHT • UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: • Art 22: right to social security • Art 25: right to security in event of unemployment, sickness, widowhood, disability, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond the control of the individual • Also: International covenant on economic, social and cultural rights

  9. SOCIAL SECURITY AS A HUMAN RIGHT • The SA Constitution • Section 27.1 of Bill of Rights: right to social security • Section 28 specifically guarantees the rights of children to care and protection, including social services

  10. THE SA WELFARE SYSTEM • Pre 1994: Residual welfare system • Focus on curative services – casework with individuals and very little community work • Tended to be based in urban areas with neglect of rural areas • Residential care for vulnerable people • Paternalistic view of welfare (worthy and unworthy people)

  11. THE SA WELFARE SYSTEM, cont • IN ADDITION: The welfare system was discriminatory • Apartheid enforced through wide range of legislation • Race determined benefits and access to services • Benefits and services were unequal

  12. THE SA WELFARE SYSTEM, cont • Post1994: Developmental welfare approach with the adoption of the White paper for Social Welfare 1997 • Rights based approach to social welfare • Greater focus on preventive and community based programmes, especially those that would link people with opportunities for income generation • Interestingly, retained the commitment to social security as a poverty alleviation measure

  13. SOCIAL SECURITY IN SA: • New government inherited fairly well established, albeit discriminatory system of social security: • 1928: Old Age Pension for Whites • 1944: Old Age Pensions extended to other race groups but Whites received higher amount • 1947: Maintenance grant for single parents • Also: War veterans pension, disability grants and foster care grants were introduced

  14. SOCIAL SECURITY IN SA, cont • Post 1994: SA has 6 non contributory, means tested state grants: • Old age pension (and War veterans pension):R1080.00 per month (+/-100 euros) • Child support grant (which replaced maintenance grant): R250.00 per month • Foster care grant: R710.00 per month • Disability grant: R1080.00 per month • Care dependency grant: R1080 per month

  15. SOCIAL SECURITY IN SA, cont • SA also has contributory social assistance measures: • Unemployment Insurance Fund: Employed people contribute to this fund and can claim benefits when unemployed and women on maternity leave can claim maternity benefits. • GAPS: There is no protection for never employed or those unemployed for long periods of time

  16. SUCCESSES • Wide coverage: • Nearly 14 million people get social security • 66% of these are getting the CSG • 18% are getting the OAP • 12% are getting the DG • OAP supports entire households

  17. SUCCESSES, cont • CSG linked with • Improved school attendance • Improved health in terms of growth • Children who live with mothers more likely to be getting the grant

  18. CHALLENGES • Means test still excludes whole categories of people • Child headed households • Street children • People who are just above the threshold • Old people who own property but have low income • People who don’t have identity documents

  19. CHALLENGES, cont • Unintended consequences • HIV+ people not taking ARVs • Recipients of grants not accepting part time work (so they are not getting experience) • Community perceptions that teens are falling pregnant to access grant but leaving infant in care of grandparents • Low level of support, especially CSG, keeps people poor

  20. CHALLENGES, cont • Concerns about • Sustainability: only 10% of population pay taxes • Long term effects of ‘culture of dependency” in terms of work seeking behaviour, sense of self worth and emotional well being

  21. SOME QUESTIONS?? • Is social security the best way to reduce poverty and inequality?? • Is right to social security an “absolute” right? • If social security is not comprehensive and universal, can it be considered a human right? • What is the role of social workers in ensuring that those who are eligible, receive what is their “right”? • What is the role of social workers in working towards a better society (where social security would not be needed?)

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