The ‘National Working Group on Comprehensive Social Security Reform’ in South Africa (which includes ‘Black Sash’, ‘National Welfare Forum’, ‘Studies in Poverty and Inequality Institute’, and the ‘South African Council of Churches’) would like to pay tribute to the outgoing Minister for Social Development, Dr. Zola Skweyiya, on his retirement from parliament.
We commend Dr. Skweyiya on the manner in which he has exercised leadership in the Ministry of Social Development. He has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in directing debates and proposals towards a more progressive Comprehensive Social Security System in South Africa. Dr. Skweyiya has served the people, the government and his party with distinction, probity and dignity.
As far back as 2002, Dr. Skweyiya acknowledged that a Basic Income Grant would be “one of the excellent ideas we (as South Africans) might consider introducing…” Although income support for the unemployed and working poor has not yet been introduced, he has personally taken us a long way down the road towards providing better social protection for vulnerable South Africans. It is a journey we cannot afford to abandon as a society.
Dr Skweyiya’s acknowledgement of the role played by civil society, faith-based organisations and the private sector in “improving the quality of life of those less fortunate” underscores his own commitment to work together to realise the ‘Right to Social Security’ enshrined in our Constitution.
We look forward to working closely with the incoming Minister to construct a roadmap which includes detailed plans to realise Dr. Skweyiya’s vision for a Comprehensive Social Security System that integrates social insurance and social assistance, and includes appropriate protection and programmes for the millions of unemployed adults in our country.