Social Security Seminar

A space for civil society and others to reflect on and actively work towards the progressive realisation of social security (assistance and insurance) as a constitutional right.

Aim of the Project

The right to social security, including social assistance, is entrenched in South Africa’s constitution as a fundamental human right. Government is under the obligation to realize this right progressively as an important tool to address poverty and inequality. 
In November 2016, the Department of Social Development (DSD) released the Comprehensive Social Security Plan through National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). Missing from this plan is income support for those between 19 to 59 years, who are unemployed or precariously employed.

South Africa’s positive economic growth over a 20 year period has not translated in any meaningful employment creation. Roughly half of our population, including two thirds of all children, live in poverty. The prospects of the economy generating any jobs for a population that has missed out on education, training and skills that match the labour market needs are very slim.

While the country should endeavor to grow the economy, create employment opportunities such as implementing industrial policies, consider labour market reforms and expanding public works opportunities, these initiatives, realistically assessed will not accommodate the most desperate in the near future. 

Apart from developing a considered response via NEDLAC, the Black Sash together with civil society partners will engage in research, education and advocacy to ensure that the plan going forward addresses the need for income support. 

2018 Seminar

This report documents presentations made at the third Social Security Seminar on a range of topics related to comprehensive social security for South Africans, in particular adults aged 18–59, among whom there is a high level of unemployment and no social assistance. 
The purpose of the seminar was to engage in the complexities of social security in South Africa and to take forward the formation of a Coalition focused on comprehensive social security advocacy. Presentations by multiple experts provided a stimulus for those assembled to use as a departure point for group work that built towards a campaign concept and elements to inform a draft strategy.

2016 Seminar

In 2016, the Black Sash, Economic Policy and Research Institute (EPRI) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung organised a two and half day seminar titled Facing a World Without Full Employment: Social Assistance for All. The aim of the seminar was twofold: to deepen the collective knowledge of the challenges facing unemployed and poor adults and to develop an advocacy strategy.

2015 Seminar

Our first annual Social Security Seminar was hosted by the Black Sash in partnership with Action Aid and EPRI in August 2015. A space was created for civil society and government to reflect on the road travelled to date and to work towards the creation of a social security agenda for the next 10 years. Speakers included Prof Viviene Taylor (UCT), who provided an overview of the context and the challenges; Professor Alex van der Heever (WITS) who was clear that a “social insurance fund is vulnerable to government corruption and government services…and requires an investment in an Education & Public Reach 15 accountability framework”; and Brenda Sibeko (DSD) who noted the challenges of “a fragmented policy-making unit.”