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Book Launch: Towards an Instrument for the Portability of Social Security Benefits in the Southern African Development Community

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region continues to experience a spontaneous migration of citizens, who move across borders in search of employment prospects and a better standard of living.

The entitlement to social security benefits usually depends on periods of employment and residency in a specific country, nationality, immigration status and other factors which often marginalise non-citizens.

While they may have lost their entitlement to social security benefits in their country of origin due to relocating, non-citizens may also face restrictive conditions on access to the host country’s social security system.

Academics and civil society groups convened at the Nadine Gordimer Auditorium, UJ Kingsway campus, on the evening of October 16, 2017 for the launch of the book, Towards an Instrument for the Portability of Social Security Benefits in the Southern African Development Community.

The book was launched by the Southern Africa Trust, together with the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law (Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg) and the UJ Law library to highlight challenges facing non-citizens and to recommend ways in which policy can be utilised to achieve a regional mechanism for the portability of social security benefits.

“Until countries operate regionally, they will continue to experience these challenges at a national level,” said Dr Bhekinkosi Moyo, Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Africa Trust.

“Such challenges have made it very important to establish a regional mechanism that will allow for the portability of social security benefits without people having to travel to South Africa, for example, to access their benefits,” said Dr Moyo.

The study informed the development of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Portability of Accrued Social Security Benefits within the Region Policy Framework, which was adopted by the SADC Employment and Labour meeting of ministers and social partners in Gaborone, Botswana, during May 2016.

Prof Letlhokwa George Mpedi, who is a co-author of the book, expressed his gratitude regarding its successful completion and publishing.

“SADC can also learn from the experiences of comparative regional communities which have concluded or adopted social security coordination instruments,” said Prof Mpedi.

“The regional communities have either concluded or adopted instruments for the free movement or facilitation of movement of persons and for the right of residence. Furthermore, many of the regional communities have adopted an instrument for the coordination of social security or are in the process of adopting one,” he said.

Due to discriminatory provisions in national social security laws and the “nationality or territoriality principle” of social security systems, non-citizens aren’t always granted access to social security. Such principles and provisions hinder the cross-border portability of social security benefits.

Towards an Instrument for the Portability of Social Security Benefits in the Southern African Development Community explores the following topics:

  • Concept of social security coordination;
  • International labour standards and social security coordination;
  • SADC institutional and regulatory frameworks and their role in promoting the coordination of social security in the region;
  • Comparative SADC agreements and national portability provisions;
  • Comparative social security coordination instruments;
  • Status of SADC national social security systems; and,
  • Conclusions and policy recommendations for a regional mechanism for the portability of social security benefits.

Download the eBook here.

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