Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Botswana comprise a cluster of
southern African countries which provide monthly non-contributory
benefits to their elderly citizens. This paper seeks to understand the
differing political and socio-economic conditions in which the three
pensions evolved and suggest what implications pensions may have for the
nature of the citizen-state relationship.
The paper argues that the motivation behind the long-established South
African and Namibian pensions was 'supply-driven' to serve political
ends. This has shifted over time and today all three pensions are
increasingly 'demand-driven', that is, they serve welfare objectives
of reducing poverty and promoting equality, although they must still
remain acceptable to political and economic elites. This is demonstrated
by analysing both ideological and practical facets of the pensions,
including the design, the institutional home of the pension and the
influence of geopolitical factors. It leads to the conclusion that a
bond has built between citizen and state based on three characteristics.
Firstly, their ability to foster social solidarity by reinforcing the
value and contribution of the elderly to the household and restoring to
pensioners a regained sense of citizenship; secondly the persistence of
pensions which then become entrenched in the expectations of the
citizenry, even before the sense of social contract develops in the
political arena; and finally, acknowledgement by the state of its role
in and moral commitment to provide welfare to its citizens, and the
political expediency of doing so. These three mutually-reinforcing
characteristics, maintain the momentum of the pension which, in turn,
reinforces the contract.
The politics behind the non-contributory old age social pensions in Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. CPRC Working Paper No. 83, CPRC Working Paper No. 83, Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC), Manchester, UK, ISBN: 1-904049-82-6, iv + 40 pp.
The politics behind the non-contributory old age social pensions in Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. CPRC Working Paper No. 83.