Social security rights: Campaigns and courts

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Socio-Economic Rights in South Africa: Symbols or Substance?, 2011, pp. 253 - 274
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© Cambridge University Press 2014. Introduction Almost one third of the South African population (16 million people out of a total population of 50 million) benefit from social assistance grants as at 30 September 2012 (South African Social Security Agency [SASSA], 2012). The social security system in South Africa has grown dramatically over the past decade and a half. It is considered by government and non-government sectors to be the most successful poverty alleviation programme in the country, given its wide reach and developmental impact on high levels of poverty and unemployment. This chapter tries to understand which strategies were most effective in ensuring that the government met and increased its obligations to realise the right to social security in South Africa's Bill of Rights. The chapter suggests that litigation played an important role, in combination with advocacy and lobbying by civil society, to both pressure the government and support progressive elements within it to implement and expand the reach of the right to social security (through extending existing grants). Efforts to introduce new grants within anti-poverty campaigns and through lobbying and advocacy strategies were less successful in achieving realisable results, although they may have contributed to change in symbolic and political terms by raising awareness of socio-economic rights provisions and of the high levels of unmet needs in poor communities.
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