Comprehensive social security discussion paper released at Nedlac

By Janice Roberts


Last week, the government released the much-anticipated consolidated document on comprehensive social security reform.

According to the Department of Social Development, “the report is the culmination of several years of extensive research, debate and deliberations within and outside government, including international partners who provided useful research and other inputs to support the proposals.”

Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini informed NEDLAC (National Economic Development and Labour Council ) that the document was initiated in 2006 when Cabinet appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Comprehensive Social Security Reform.

“The reform proposals in the paper are key actions to accelerate progress towards 2030 NDP targets of rolling back poverty and inequality, and improving access to a safety net through a social compact, and as such require multiple stakeholder interests to be negotiated.”

For this reason, Minister Dlamini has emphasised some principles to inform the consultation process.  “These include the need for universal access for all, social solidarity across income groups, transparency in government subsidies for social security and risk pooling within a common National Social Security Fund (NSSF).”

The NSSF is expected to:

• Take responsibility for the proposed mandatory contributions for the provision of retirement, death and disability benefits for all workers.
• Reduce the burden on low income earners and a contribution subsidy is also suggested to ensure coverage of all workers.

Other proposals include the need to enhance social assistance provisions to ensure that no deserving beneficiaries fall within the cracks; enhancing existing social insurance funds, and ensuring considerations for regulatory reforms for the retirement industry.

In addition to the NSSF, Minister Dlamini also raised the need to consider income support for the age group 18-59 who are still excluded from social assistance.

“We acknowledge the reform agenda is wide reaching and the issues are complex, so the proposals will not be implemented overnight.  However, there is an urgent need to engage openly in order to alleviate and prevent poverty, reduce vulnerability, and empower all individuals, families and our communities to participate in our economy.

“We need to debate these issues and agree on a set of proposals suitable for our country, recognising our Constitutional obligations in the provision of social security,” the Minister said.

She called upon all interested parties, communities and stakeholders from across the lengthy and breadth of the country to participate actively in consultations about what she termed “a crucial document” in government’s social protection programme of the democratic government.

The document can be found at:

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