A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 June 2003
REPORT OF COMMITTEE OF ENQUIRY INTO COMPREHENSIVE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM FOR SOUTH AFRICA: PUBLIC HEARINGS
Chairperson: Mr. E Saloojee (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Business South Africa Presentation
Economic Policy Research Unit Presentation
Commission on Gender Equality: presentation
Commission on Gender Equality: submission
Black Sash presentation
Law and Transformation Programme - Centre for Applied Legal Studies (WITS)
Gender Research Project - Centre for Applied Legal Studies
South Africa Human Rights Commission submission
Basic Income Coalition: presentation
Basic Income Coalition: submission
Report of the Committee of Inquiry into a Comprehensive System of Social Security (Taylor Report) [see under May 2002 documents on Social Development website]
Business South Africa proposed that public works programmes be considered as an alternative approach to the Basic Income Grant (BIG) entitlement. Briefing the Committee on the Taylor Report, Business South Africa noted that while the report criticised the public works programmes as having high administrative costs and other disadvantages, these projects had certain major advantages. Business South Africa explained that public works programmes were quite flexible and catered more for marginalised people whilst BIG merely transferred income from the already severely strained resources.
The South African Human Rights Commission observed that the report had not adequately developed, formulated or initiated a comprehensive social security system. It pointed out that the report was silent about the principle of self-sufficiency which was one of the approaches to financing social security.
COSATU-NEHAWU faulted the Taylor Report for lacking substantial proposals on how to alleviate unemployment. Black Sash pointed out the over-all need for social security in South Africa, noting that out of 13m in poverty only 5m are presently collecting social services. They suggested that if people have financial security, they begin to invest in personal growth and development.
RAPCAN submitted that a social security grant would help to alleviate the problems experienced by South African children, by providing adequate nutrition, decreasing abuse and allowing more children to attend school.
The first of the two presenters from the Centre for Applied Legal Studies addressed the difficulties of access to schools as a result of school fees, which the Taylor Report neglected to address. The second presenter addressed how women would benefit from a social security grant.
The Commission on Gender Equality, discussed their experience with the problems faced by women in South Africa in general and specifically with respect to maintenance issues - stating that a social security grant would alleviate some of these problems.
Business South Africa (BSA) Submission
Mr B Shipman informed the Committee that BSA recognised that administering a means test was costly and often inefficient. He however pointed out that BSA was unable to support the abolition of the means test because the payment of a universal grant without a means test would result in a legal entitlement to the beneficiary concerned. This approach would create a financial obligation on the state, which would be met by taxes. This would in turn result in the reduction of local savings and an increase in the country's deficit (as Government struggles to save). It would be wrong in principle to pay benefits from limited financial resources to persons who would not ordinarily qualify for them. He proposed that assistance to persons who fell outside the Child Support Grant and the Old Age Assistance should be in the form of public works programmes (PWPs). He further proposed that PWPs be considered as an alternative approach to the BIG entitlement. He noted that the Taylor Report had criticised the PWPs as having high administrative cost and other disadvantages. He however felt that PWPs had certain major advantages. South Africa continued to pursue successful PWPs projects and with renewed commitment to making them successful, such projects could make a large difference in helping to alleviate poverty.
Ms Tsheole (ANC) commended BSA for their view that social problems could only be solved through a public private partnership. What about the allegation by BSA that domestic savings were inhibited by the incidence of high taxation?
Mr Shipman noted that South Africa's savings rate was by far lower than that of many middle income countries. If there were to be an increase in taxes this situation would be worsened.
Ms Tsheole asked if BSA has looked at the issue of pensions, especially with regard to the portable pension scheme.
Mr Meiring said that it is a matter of pride in SA that our population is largely covered in this regard (70%-80%). BSA recommends a single fund to replace all funds. All changes should however be made bearing in mind vested rights.
Ms G Borman (DA) noted that the Taylor Report provides that a comprehensive social security system would significantly reduce the poverty gap and asked why BSA thought the PWPs was the way to go.
Mr Shipman explained that PWPs were quite flexible and placed assets and infrastructure into the local communities, whilst the BIG merely transferred income from the already severely constrained resources. Furthermore the BIG involves putting all one's eggs in one basket, which is not a sustainable approach.
The Chair pointed out that they were facing time constraints and that written submissions would be taken into account by the members.
South African Human Rights Commission Submission
Mr Thitanyane, HOD for the Research Department, pointed out that the Taylor Report had outlined the gaps that existed within the social security system and that key problems had to be discussed. He however faulted the recommendations which he said do not address some of the identified problems. The report had not adequately developed, formulated or initiated a comprehensive social security system in that regard. The report was for instance silent about the principle of self-sufficiency which was one of the approaches to financing social security. The principle of self-sufficiency means that, where possible, the future beneficiaries should be encouraged to make provision for their own future needs.
Mr Thitanyane added that the report had failed to address the question of private insurance and that it did not provide measures or recommendations which would ensure that everybody had access to social security and private savings. The social security system should strive to adhere to international norms and standards as provided for by various international human rights instruments.
Ms Borman asked if the SAHRC had at any time commissioned research on how the BIG would be funded.
Mr Thitanyane explained that the SAHRC's position was informed by the constitutional provisions on basic human rights, which the country had committed itself to fulfil. He observed that taxes were paid so that the government made provision for service delivery and the protection of human rights. He noted that the important issue when deciding how much to allocate was that of sustainable economic development. Initially it is not the amount that matters but the principle. The State must expeditiously find ways to provide social security to the poor and unemployed.
Ms Tshoele asked if the SAHRC had looked into the time-frames within which these programmes could be rolled out.
Mr Thitanyane explained that time-frames would ideally take into account the country's history and the imbalances the social and economic development had spawned. In addition it is important to take into account the present economic situation in the country. Thus the introduction of the grant would be subject to the availability of resources and it is unreasonable to expect everything to happen overnight. However, one should also consider how available resources are being utilised, e.g. by alleviating corruption.
Ms Borman noted that the SAHRC was of the view that the Child Support Grant (CSG) should be extended to cover children under 18 years old and sought clarity on whether this was on a phased-in basis.
Mr Thitanyane expressed the wish that the CSG should be extended to all children who were in need of support as required by the international law. SAHRC was aware of the government's efforts to extend this facility to bring more children in the net and urged for a speedy roll-out of the program. He warned against the negative impact on the human rights image if the government pontificates on the matter.
Dr Jassat observed that the principle of social security programme was that one must have worked and contributed to the pool of resources from where income was drawn out at old age. He asked the SAHRC to explain its push for non-citizens to be made beneficiaries of the system.
Mr Thitanyane acknowledged the fact that the issue of non-citizens benefiting from the social security program was quite problematic noting that international law stated that there should be no discrimination on the basis of nationality. In addition the International Convention on the Rights of the Child also provides for this. Ideally there would exist no discrimination, but each country takes care of its own citizens first. However one should take into account the situation where a person has lived and worked in SA for the past 20 years. Preventing such person from benefiting would amount to unfair discrimination. These benefits should be based on past contributions. It is important to note that refugees' rights are protected by international law.
Economic Policy Research Institute Submission
Dr Michael Samson, Director of Research, informed the Committee that the means test served to exclude may of the poorest from access to social grants. In addition it is expensive to administer, with the take-up rate in the poorer provinces being much less than those in the wealthier provinces.With regard to PWP, these only reduce one-sixth to one-third of the poverty in the country and can therefore not serve as a substitute for a Comprehensive Social Security package. The two initiatives serve different purposes and are not mutually exclusive. Even if one were to achieve a 100% take up rate of the existing grants, poverty would only be reduced by 36%. BIG however would eliminate 70% of poverty and would therefore effectively eliminate destitution. It would liberate people to look for work and to find jobs successfully. The poor in SA face risks, which they are unable to grapple with if they have no security. BIG will ultimately increase investment and economic growth. Since the poor tend to buy South African made products, there is therefore an increase in the number of jobs available.Can SA afford BIG? A tax analysis demonstrated that South Africa could raise taxes by five percent of national income without undermining international competitiveness. The BIG would only require an increase in taxes of two percent of national income and that the positive growth and development effects would improve the affordability of the grant in the medium to long term. BIG is the most effective policy option for eliminating destitution and reducing poverty. Effective social security reform is developmental, generating a positive growth impact that promotes job creation while improving the effectiveness of social delivery hence reducing dependency. He concluded that although the cost of BIG was substantial it is an affordable one and he noted that this cost element fell over time as the growth impact is realised.
Ms Mars (IFP) asked Dr Samson to offer some thoughts on how such a complex system would be managed for effective delivery.
Dr Samson pointed out that research had looked at various mechanisms of delivery such as the one proposed by the Department of Home Affairs on the new ID card which he said would hasten the process of delivery. BIG was one area of service delivery that required less bureaucracy and reducing duplication of functions would cut down on administrative costs.
Mr Masutha (ANC) asked if there was room for the Committee to repackage the proposal in such a way that income poverty would be eliminated without running the risk of cultivating a culture of social dependency. Perhaps the CSG could be extended to reach more people.
Dr Samson reiterated that the extension of the CSG was very useful but that there was a need for national consensus around the whole issue. Extending this grant could result in a need to extend it even further. The abolition of the means test is the key to a Comprehensive Social Security System, since it results in a low take-up rate.
Ms Borman asked Dr Samson to explain his remark that people with social grants were better poised to secure jobs.
Dr Samson explained that a grant provided households with security to survive in order to take the risk of looking for a job which otherwise they would not be able to afford.
Ms Chalmers (ANC) asked how the programme would succeed if there were no banks in many parts of the country.
Dr Samson replied that banks did not exist where there was no money and that the roll-out of BIG would definitely attract financial services to those areas.
Dr Jassat asked if a grant like the BIG has been implemented anywhere else in the world.
Dr Sampson replied that the closest example is that of Brazil, where the grant has proved to be effective in improving on the quality of education.
Ms Lamani (ANC) asked if any research had been undertaken anywhere in the world to show that PWPs did not create wealth in rural areas.
Dr Samson cited Argentina where aggressive public works programmes did not impact the level of poverty in that country. He explained that although PWPs do succeed to a small margin, it did not help as far as social security was concerned and tend to benefit males and urban dwellers.
Ms Lamani (ANC) however pointed out that according to the annual report of the Public Works Department most of the beneficiaries of the PWPs are women.
Ms Tsheoli asked how BIG would affect inflationary trends in the country.
Dr Samson explained that BIG would be financed through raising taxes which would not increase the overall spending but would rather reduce spending on imported goods by high income earners in addition to increasing consumption of locally manufactured goods.
Mr Masutha asked how BIG would mitigate against a situation where people would use disability rather than poverty as a means to access entitlement to social security.
Dr Samson noted that BIG would bring all South Africans into the net hence complications regarding people with disability would not arise.
The Chair asked what the cost of BIG was estimated to be.
Dr Sampson replied that the gross cost was estimated from between R40 billion and R60 billion. Everyone would receive a grant but those who are wealthier would have to pay this back in the form of taxes, resulting in the situation where only the poor get to retain and spend the grant.
Dr Jassat (ANC) asked how one would ensure that the BIG benefits would not be abused by beneficiaries.
Dr Samson replied that 90% of the poor spent their income on the bare essentials and that the government survey that was carried out every five years on expenditure patterns confirmed this view. There are cases where people abuse grants, but evidence has shown these cases to be anecdotal.
Ms Lamani asked how beneficiaries would be identified.
Dr Sampson replied that all South Africans would have to register. The process would be similar to that undertaken for the first democratic election.
Basic Income Grant Coalition Submission
Mr Neil Coleman, of the Basic Income Grant Coalition informed the Committee that BIG would help guarantee a minimum acceptable standard of living for all which he said was a key aim of a comprehensive social protection and a goal of the White Paper for Social Welfare of 1997. BIG would benefit particularly vulnerable groups such as women and children that were currently living in abject poverty. Child-specific grants were often assumed to be the most effective way of satisfying both this principle and the obligations in section 28(1) of the constitution. A number of difficult questions remained to be answered regarding the payment of grants, including how these grants would be paid to child-headed households. BIG would eliminate means testing and other eligibility requirements and would thus reduce administrative complexity and costs. It was essential that consultative mechanisms be used to identify and address these issues. The Coalition supports a phased approach and urged Government to introduce this grant quickly, but in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Mr Sidney Kgara, Cosatu Parliamentary Officer said that his organisation supports the Taylor Report's argument that redistribution is necessary for growth and that mass poverty restricts domestic demand and undermines the productivity of the people. He noted that the report makes the valid point that high unemployment is the major cause of poverty and stated that poverty in turn reduces incomes and increases inequality. He however faulted the report for lacking substantial proposals on how to alleviate unemployment. He pointed out that his organisation welcomed the support for active labour market policy but that this approach will not relieve the incidence of unemployment where the job market is shrinking steadily relative to the labour force.
Mr Mark Sweet, Nehawu Parliamentary Officer faulted the Report for not stating unambiguously that the increased contributions would not be extracted from the working poor. He expressed the fear that the proposals in their current form could end up adding to the financial burden on the poor. He called for an explicit commitment to avoid that eventuality.
Ms Tsheoli said that, while the focus of the hearings were on the social development aspects of the report, she was concerned about the way in which the health and Road Accident Fund aspects were being dealt with.
Mr Sweet noted that the Taylor Report had made a good recommendation on the involvement of the civil society but issues of delivery had not been properly dealt with. Delivery would require a dedicated and concentrated focus. The report proposes that RAF and UIF aspects remain in the Department, which would have units dedicated to these areas. The 1996 assignment to the provinces was incorrect.
The Chair asked for an explanation on the distinction between the National Health Insurance (NHI) and Social Health Insurance schemes (SHI).
Mr Sweet explained that the SHI keeps a two tier system in place (private and state institutions). The NHI provides for universal coverage. He expressed regret that efforts by the government to over-regulate medical schemes had crowded many schemes out of business.
IDASA HIV/AIDS and Public Finance Unit Submission
Ms Guthrie of IDASA HIV/AIDS and Public Finance Unit commended the Taylor Committee for its comprehensive, thorough and detailed examination of the key problems facing the country's social security system. She also commended the committee for its accurate evaluation of the existing social security system and for their important and far-reaching recommendations. This input showed a commitment to social solidarity, to a reduction of inequity and disparities, to enhancement of opportunity for all and overall to the development of South Africa.
Ms Guthrie pointed out that IDASA believed in the principle of income support mechanism for persons in need of support and therefore it applauded the committee's call to extend the current social security coverage. She faulted the current system pointing out that it was fragmented and limited, noting that it in particular fell far short of providing minimum support for persons affected and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS as well as unemployed adults. She called for a further examination of the most effective means of addressing the current gap in the social security system.
Ms Tsheole asked why IDASA had argued against extending the foster care grant to orphans.
Ms Guthrie clarified that she was not against extending the facility to orphans but rather she had contested the lengthy and inappropriate process of delivery. The CSG provided a more accessible route.
Ms Borman said that it had been claimed that the foster grant created 'perverse incentives' for parents to put their children into foster care and asked if there were statistics to support this allegation.
Ms Guthrie replied that there were no clear cut statistics and that these cases were anecdotal. She pointed out that her report was based on the findings by UCT's Children's Institute.
Ms Chalmers questioned the call for universal provision of free anti-retrovirals and wondered whether this was a call to offer medication to HIV positive people who were still in good state of health.
Mr Nhlanhla Ndlovu, IDASA Researcher, explained that most people were afraid to come forward for testing because they did not see any motivation behind this call. Free access to anti-retrovirals would encourage people to get tested. Idasa felt that anti-retrovirals should be provided to persons based on their CP4 count, as provision of the drugs should be determined by need.
Ms I Frye, Black Sash, thanked the Portfolio Committee for holding public hearings on this issue. She spoke on the legal and social need for social services in this country. 98% of the eligible population is collecting their pensions. Out of the 13m in poverty, only 5m are collecting social services. R62b is given in tax credits, mostly to the lower income bracket, but since 40% of South Africans are unemployed, they are not the beneficiaries of this. Refer to presentation document for further detail of the presentation.
Ms O Kasienyane (ANC) noted Black Sash's comments that social assistance should aim to move away from dependency and asked for clarity on the dependency syndrome.
Ms Frye said that World Bank and United Nations reports on the matter indicate that if people are guaranteed to receive money each month, they use a portion to invest in their personal development. Income security enables people to take risks rather than depend on charity.
Ms N Tsheole (ANC) asked if Black Sash had done a study to determine the impact of the lack of an up-to-date population register on introducing a comprehensive security system. She asked whether a central data system had been considered in this regard.
Ms Frye responded that Home Affairs is currently looking at creating a central database system. She commended the ANC on their drive to get people to register. If people know that they are entitled to the money they will come forward.
Prof L Mbadi (ANC) stated that Black Sash has a unique perspective as they work with people on the ground. He asked if they had a consolidated view from the potential beneficiaries.
Ms Frye noted that since her clients are living in poverty they all supported the income grant. Presently, they complain about the delays both within the Department of Social Services in receiving money and within Home Affairs in receiving documents.
An ANC member inquired about the solvency of social insurance funds. In most cases they have difficulty in staying solvent, for example unemployment insurance.
Ms Frye responded that both Unemployment Insurance and the Road Accident Funds have had huge problems with insolvency. She added that the incorporation of civil servants into the Unemployment Insurance Fund was an important initiative. With regard to the Road Accident Fund, she pointed out that restructuring was taking place. Investigations were taking place in order to bring these initiatives into a single debate.
Ms Borman (DA) said that Black Sash had recommended a central social assistance agency. She felt that this in itself would not solve the problems of delivery. What did they propose?
Ms Frye added that it would cost R23/24 per payment through private delivery, and using banks would decrease this cost. The use of a central agency was a complex issue that needed investigation. There might be benefits realised through centralisation, like greater efficiency. She noted that their submission demonstrates what needs to be changed.
The Chair noted that early intervention with HIV patients as proposed by Black Sash, would not prevent them from being disabled. He asked what their comprehensive submission would be on this issue.
Ms Kallman, Black Sash, responded that early intervention with HIV patients, gives them increased access to nutrition, which decreases suffering and prolongs life. Poverty accelerates the onset of AIDS.
An ANC member asked for information on the costs of administering the grant.
With respect to the costs of administration, the proposal they put forward fits with existing programmes. They suggested that it was necessary to explore the capacity of delivering the service as part of a smart card system. They suggest that one should not employ new processes in the administration of services, but enhance the current initiatives.
The Chair said that the first democratic government had inherited a ridiculous situation, including massive unemployment. He asked if their opinion was that social security should be maintained over a long period of time, or if it should be looked at as temporary and only in the present context.
Ms Frye expressed their view that it should be looked at as an income support rather than an income replacement. It needed to help people take their own initiatives. They did not wish to see dependency, but many people need access to basic nutrition and income security. Once the basic needs are taken care of, more children will be able to attend schools, improving their situation in the long-term.
Resource and Prevention of Children and Neglect (RAPCAN)
Ms Rosemary Boldman submitted that income security would help alleviate the suffering of youth in South Africa. More children would have adequate nutrition, education and abuse would decrease.
Ms Borman provided the example of children left alone while the parent looked for work. She wondered if, in RAPCAN's experience, there were any other recommendations besides financial assistance.
Ms Boldman responded that there were a number of problems with child welfare that needed to be addressed. They propose a comprehensive social security system, which should include free education for children. There are many examples of children being excluded from schools because of non-payment, despite new rights.
Ms Borman mentioned the situation where children are abused while their parents are out job-hunting and inquired about the increased reporting on abuse. Ms Boldman affirmed that there was an increased reporting on abuse, which could be either positive or negative. This could either mean an increase in reporting or an increase in the amount of abuse. She suggested that the South African Police (SAPs) and the courts need more training on how to deal with this. She suggested that the introduction of a Comprehensive social security system would enable parents to access nursery schools for young children and would prevent stress associated with poverty, which often gives rise to abuse.
Ms Kasienyane asked why they recommended an extension of the CSG, while simplifying access to the Child Disability Grant (CDG). The CDG is substantially more than the CSG, therefore would it not have a larger impact if more children were entitled to it?
Ms Boldman responded that by simplification of the CDG they meant with respect to the definitions provided. Presently it is up to the discretion of the worker and if a child is "not disabled enough" they may not be eligible for money. The CDG needs to be more easily accessible. Children with HIV/AIDS should be regarded as having special needs.
Ms Chalmers asked what interaction they had with business and if there was any accommodation of children of workers in their plans for the comprehensive package.
Ms Boldman responded that there were no close ties with business, as most of their work is done within communities.
The Chair asked for clarity on the submission that children of 12 years could expect never to receive a Child Care Grant.
Ms Boldman said that if a child were 12 in 2003, they would not access the fund in 2004 or 2005, despite the increase in age limit. In 2005/6 the fund will be accessible for ages 11 - 13, and the hypothetical child would be turning 14 and therefore unlikely to receive money.
An ANC member stated that their submission did not acknowledge the efforts government is making to protect children, therefore it was not correct to say that the state was a perpetrator of the abuse. He wondered to what extent they could ensure that the grants were benefiting the intended beneficiaries, that is, the children and not the grant collectors.
Ms Boldman stated that they did not dismiss the government's attempts, and that they had made good strides with the Children's Bill. One could never be 100% sure that the money was going to the children, but then neither could you be 100% sure that working parents were spending their money on their children.
Law and Transformation Programme - Centre for Applied Legal Studies (WITS)
Mr S Wilson gave a legal analysis of the right to basic socio-economic conditions. The basis of their submission was that the Taylor Report's policy recommendations to address problems, gaps and inconsistencies of the current social security paradigm for children should have included concrete recommendations relating to access to education.
Ms Tsheole asked for clarity on the statement that the right to education preceded economic considerations. Were they trying to say that even if the family had no money for basic necessities, children should be sent to school?
Mr Wilson responded that the Bill of Rights implied a ranking system for division of resources, which must be followed first, and hopefully there would be enough money to go around. The Constitutional Court has not specified particular requirements, but has made every law subject to the reasonableness standard. Therefore there is a reasonableness qualifier to the right to education.
Ms Mars asked if he would say that it is necessary to look again at the admission policy for normal public schools.
Mr Wilson stated that the government had implemented school fees regulations that provided for exemptions but it is over-complex. It gives governing bodies far too much discretion, which when combined with the poor resources base, allows them to turn away children who cannot pay.
The Chair asked if they had instituted any action against this.
Mr Wilson responded that they had published an advice book and offer free legal advice to parents. They are in the process of talking with the Gauteng Department on the basis of specific schools, as they would like to see no fees, especially for the poorest schools.
Ms Borman commented on the schools she had visited where the fees were around R100 per year and 50 - 90% are unable to pay. The schools had also provided one meal per day. She asked to what extent the schools are obliged to provide meals from a social welfare point of view.
Mr Wilson responded that the meal programmes are being expanded up to the end of the primary phase. They would like to see this extend to the end of the secondary phase, but there are not enough resources to implement this.
The school fees are very low in some areas, and certain families do not qualify for exemptions because of this. However, in families with 2 or 3 children, the fees add up, and it becomes difficult for the families to pay.
Ms Tsheole noted the important role that local governing bodies and schools could play in identifying the families that are actually in need, and exempting their children from the fees. If anything, they are the most apt to answer who the poorest people are.
The Chair concluded the discussion by asking Mr Wilson to tie their submission into the discussion about a social security system.
Mr Wilson said that there are a number of informal arrangements, especially in rural areas. The problem is that the principal often becomes the sole interpreter / arbitrator of the legislation. They are able to tell the community as little or as much as they wish. Not only does this need to be changed, but there also needs to be a significant increase in core funding.
The Department of Education has stated that assistance with school fees is the responsibility of another Department. It has to be decided where to prioritise this. The issue of school access costs was not in the Taylor Report, and they thought the Committee could benefit from their analysis.
Commission on Gender Equality (CGE)
Commissioner N Siqwana-Ndulu discussed CGE's experience with the problems faced by women in South Africa in general and specifically with respect to maintenance issues. CGE believed that a social security grant would alleviate some of these problems.
Prof Mbadi stated that men always run away from maintenance orders, and asked how successful they were at enforcing them.
Ms Siqwana-Ndulu responded that maintenance orders were one of the most difficult things to enforce. They do assist women with processing their complaints, and working through the system.
Ms Tshivhase raised the issue of the abuse of widows, where other male relatives squander the inheritance she receives from her late husband.
Ms Siqwana-Ndulu stated that it was difficult to know if women in these circumstances were being exploited if they did not complain.
Ms Tsheole asked if they had conducted any research regarding the impact of CSG. She added that CGE also must play a role in educating men regarding maintenance issues.
Ms Siqwana-Ndulu explained that they have started a pilot project in three districts to research the impact of the CSG, which they are intending to extend across the country. With respect to the education of men, the CSG recognises that their mandate includes men and they are looking at a variety of issues surrounding them. They are actively working with a number of men's groups, including Men for Change and Men's Forum.
Gender Research Project - Centre for Applied Legal Studies
Ms B Goldblatt stated that the need for gender equality must inform detailed planning of a comprehensive social protection package. Women's practical and strategic gender needs must be addressed. Free childcare should be provided to all who need it. Primary care givers of children, the sick, elderly and disabled should be assisted in order to enable them to seek work, engage in income generating activities other than household labour. They should be remunerated for their caring work.
An ANC member questioned their recommendation to open collection days on Saturday. He wondered if the unions would accept this and what pressures this would cause in terms of budget. He added that some women do abuse the system as they have cases of women being caught and imprisoned for six months.
Ms Goldblatt responded that they had not looked into the details of the Saturday service, but only offered it as a possible suggestion, and they were open to other ways of alleviating the problem. She added that although abuse of the system did occur, it was only in exceptional cases. She was aware of the case to which the member referred and she was certain that there were other cases. However one should bear in mind that the abuse of grants would not be limited to the recipients of the CSG and one can safely assume that most poor people who receive the CSG use it to purchase food and pay for education and other necessities. In their experiences in the sector they had not encountered widespread abuse. Also, legislation provides for the reporting of persons who abuse grants.
Ms Tsheole asked about the gender bias of HIV infections. She wondered if the higher percentage of women infected, was simply proportional to their population or if they actually had a higher rate of infection.
Ms Goldblatt responded that they did not have the exact figures on this, but she suspected that women actually did have a higher rate of infection than men. Physiologically, women are more vulnerable to infection and coupled with the high rate of sexual violence in South Africa, women are more likely to get infected.
The meeting was adjourned.