8 February 2022


Media Statement


CAPE TOWN: The Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu, launched the inaugural Social Security Review publication on 8 February 2022 in Cape Town.

The inaugural Social Security Review publication themed “Evolution of Social Security in South Africa: An Agenda Action” is a call to the active participation of all stakeholders in the development of our country.


Although the Department commissioned this Review, it contains ten (10) peer-reviewed chapters authored by different authors who are experts in their own right. There are unique synergies and continuity as the reader is taken through a journey that unpacks the historical context and provokes debates on various social security policy areas in the context of our Constitution and the developmental agenda envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It goes further to highlight the agenda for action, including the importance of establishing social protection floors below which no citizens should live.


Key highlights from the chapters indicate that:

  1. Since 1994, our system has become more inclusive, with coverage now extended to more than 18 million beneficiaries.
  2. Social security in South Africa is entrenched in the Constitution, which obligates the State to implement measures to ensure the progressive realisation of this right.
  3. South Africa has also aligned itself to international instruments that promote the right to social security, such as the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation Convention 102 and Recommendation 202, and the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UNCESCR).
  4. Globally, there has been a remarkable expansion of social protection policy adoption by both developing and developed countries, informed largely by an understanding of social protection’s contribution to inclusive development and equitable growth. Empirical evidence suggests that inequality negatively affects economic growth and well-designed redistributive schemes reverse the trajectory.
  5. Policy considerations that determine equity, efficiency and developmental impact influence the balance between targeting and universalism in social protection. Inclusion and exclusion errors, stigma, dignity, misconceptions, and social tensions are key factors in any programme design in terms of targeted and universal provision.
  6. In the face of the triple challenges of deepening poverty and worsening levels of inequalities and unemployment, a social protection floor must be premised on social justice, social solidarity and cross subsidiarity to achieve a decent standard of living of life and progressive realisation of the constitutional rights.
  7. Comprehensive social protection systems require the solid institutional capacity to formulate appropriate policies and deliver at the required scale.
  8. Digital innovation and partnerships are critical in the Social Development Sector, particularly in the financial inclusion of our social grant beneficiaries.
  9. Quantitative Models are critical in policy development. For instance, the South African tax-benefit-Microsimulation Model (SAMOD), is a tool that allows policy analysis around the impact of the current tax and benefits regime on poverty and inequality.
  10. Understanding how and why an institution was established is critical. SASSA is a typical example. While authors focused on the first 10 years, it helps to understand the context under which the Agency was established for grant administration. The agency plays a central role in the realisation of access to social security rights in South Africa. Over the years, there have been notable improvements in quality-of-service delivery and business processes.


The Department commissioned the peer-reviewed Social Security Review publication to contribute to knowledge generation and provide thought leadership in the social security policy and legislative environment, by institutionalising a regular publication that can act as a reference resource for use by social policy practitioners, researchers, journalists, ordinary citizens and other stakeholders. This is critical for awareness and appreciation of our social security system and helps facilitate public participation in the national policy and legislation discourse.


South Africa’s policy approaches continue to seek ways to engage all stakeholders in the country to develop a shared agenda to address deprivations and vulnerabilities of the poor while promoting strong systems to prevent those who have incomes from falling into poverty.


The launch of this Review came at a time when we have been confronted by the global Covid-19 pandemic which exacerbated the domestic triple challenges of high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. This has brought into sharp focus the importance of social security and social protection measures in times of a crisis.


Noting the dire situation of those unemployed adults, the government intervened by providing the Social Relief of Distress R350 grant. The number of applicants demonstrates the levels of need and how this grant has provided a lifeline for those who received it. From the DSD’s Rapid Assessment Study on the utilisation of the R350 grant, some young women have used this grant as start-up capital for their businesses and they are sustaining their families.


Social security plays an instrumental role in alleviating and preventing poverty, and social assistance has to date been one of the most extensive and effective poverty alleviation programmes of the South African government.


The Department will be calling for the submission of chapters shortly for the Social Security Review Volume 2. The publication can be accessed on the website of the Department on www.dsd.gov.za here: https://www.dsd.gov.za/index.php/documents?task=download.send&id=372&catid=73&m=0


Media enquiries may be directed to Ms Lumka Oliphant on 083 484 8067 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.