Introduction and Background
Although one of the most promising, the SADC region is one of the poorest in the world. The context in Southern Africa that informs the state and development of social security systems relates to:
The emphasis of SADC (which presently consists of fourteen states) has changed from вЂњdevelopment coordinationвЂќ to developmental, economic and regional integrationвЂќ. This is bound to influence social security policy making in the future.
- economic features comprising limited productivity, persistently high inflation rates, high and increasing informal sector employment, skewed income distributions;
- demographic characteristics, with reference to uneven population densities, low life expectancies, high birth rates, differing patterns of retirement; and
- issues of governance, relating to emerging democracies and weak subsystems for public administration.
The SADC objectives are set out in the founding Treaty, which include the promotion of economic and social development, the establishment of common ideals and institutions, among other objectives. According to article 5 of the Treaty, some of SADCвЂ™s objectives are to achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. In order to achieve these ideals, a programme of regional integration, collective self-reliance and interdependence of member states is envisaged.
The task of developing social policy has been entrusted to the SADC Employment and Labour Sector, and its Sub-committee on Occupational Health and Safety and Social Security. The sector has given a central place to the protection of vulnerable groups and the development of common approaches in its activities.
It is also clear from examining both the policy documents and activities of SADC that a commitment to the development of enhanced social protection does exist.
These objectives of the Treaty can only be reached through the creation and development of viable social protection measures and structures throughout the region. A regional collaborative approach is therefore required. This approach should include all governmental as well as non-governmental sectors of society in order to address the issues of universal social protection for all in the region.
It is, therefore, important to start this process by identifying current social protection measures in the SADC region, and evaluating the extent to which these successfully relate to and address issues of poverty and social exclusion, and enhance the standard and quality of life.