A policy-making framework for social assistance in South Africa : the case of the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency
Makhetha, Maureen Tsebeletso
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After coming into government in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) committed and became a signatory to some of the international, regional and national instruments for human rights and social security such as the international Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Section 27(1) (c)), makes specific provision for the promotion and recognition of human rights such as social and economic rights, provision of health, water, shelter and social security. This includes provision for appropriate social assistance to people who are unable to support themselves and their dependants. For human rights to be effectively realised, policies governing the administration of social grants needed to be updated to address all the inequalities of the past and poverty. Before 1994, the formulation and operationalisation of policy in South Africa was characterised by a lack of transparency, while participation and the inclusion of all affected stakeholders was limited. To address this situation, the primary objective of this study was to develop a policymaking framework for the effective implementation of social assistance by the Department of Social Development (DSD) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). The study included an assessment of the extent to which the existing policy-making framework for social assistance in South Africa has affected policy implementation within and between SASSA and DSD. To achieve this primary objective, a number of secondary objectives had to be achieved. These included: • To explore and conduct a literature survey on the prevailing theories and models of the existing theoretical framework and principles of the public policy-making process and policy implementation; • To analyse statutory, regulatory requirements and guidelines defining the functionality and relationship between DSD and SASSA in the implementation of the social assistance programme; and • To develop guidelines and propose key recommendations on how DSD and SASSA can improve on policy-making processes to achieve a more effective implementation of the social assistance programme. A case study design was followed for data collection, with SASSA Gauteng region as case study. Data was collected by means of interviews using an interview schedule, and was conducted with both regional and local office staff as units of analysis. The empirical findings emanating from the interviews indicated that, although there is some collaboration between DSD and SASSA during the policy-making processes, there are strong indications that this is not cascaded down to the operational levels for implementation. All of the interview participants agreed that the nature of current policy processes is reactionary to problems facing the South African Government. Participants maintained that there is limited or no consultation between DSD and SASSA before any agenda-setting process to determine the level of commitment and buy-in from stakeholders. Within the policy-making context public participation as defined by the UNDP (1981:5) in Cloete and De Coning (2011:91) entails the creation of opportunities that enable all members of a community and the larger society to actively contribute to and influence the development process and to share in the fruits of development. According to the findings, policy formulation and implementation between DSD and SASSA require people with specific policy formulation, policy analysis and general research skills. Monitoring and effective evaluation of impact and analysis of the policy should also be considered as one of the key areas requiring urgent improvement. The recommendations provided are aimed at assisting both DSD and SASSA, in terms of social assistance, and to add value to the current policy-making, implementation, and service delivery processes.
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