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CESR and partners follow up on South Africa’s CESCR review


South Africa


On February 7, 2022, CESR and partners took part in a workshop held by the South African government and South African Human Rights Commission which provided an update on the government's progress in implementing the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) recommendations. 

The workshop comes in the wake of the CESCR’s assessment in November 2021 which found that South Africa had made “insufficient progress” in respect of all four recommendations it had listed as urgent during the follow-up review from its Concluding Observations, which were:

  • To ensure that those between the ages of 18 and 59 with little or no income have access to social assistance

  • To expedite the adoption of the Social Assistance Amendment Bill of 2018 to increase the level of child support grants for orphaned and abandoned children living with relatives

  • To design and regularly update a composite index on the cost of living 

  • And to ensure that all migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking children have access to education regardless of their immigration status.

This work builds on the shadow report that CESR and partners submitted to the CESCR on the occasion of South Africa’s first review in 2018. 

Prior to the assessment, CESR (in conjunction with its civil society partners in South Africa) published an Op-Ed in the Daily Maverick which called upon the South African government to urgently implement the CESCR’s recommendations. After the assessment, CESR and partners published a follow-up Op-Ed that stressed the significance of the finding that South Africa had made insufficient progress in respect of all four recommendations. The Op-Ed called on South Africa to urgently implement the CESCR’s recommendations in order to comply with its international obligations. Moreover, it argued that implementing the recommendations would give effect to the transformative vision of South Africa’s Constitution, namely: to establish a society based on human dignity and equality. 

During the workshop, The Department of Social Development announced the outcome of its deliberations on a basic income grant and said that further announcements would be made during the State of the Nation Address (SONA). Notably, during SONA on February 10, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the Special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant would be extended until the end of March 2023. At present, it is the only grant which provides income support to unemployed South Africans between the ages of 18 and 59. 

The one-year extension of the grant should be regarded as a victory for members of civil society, including CESR, who have urged the South African government to introduce a basic income grant to ensure that all who live in South Africa can live with dignity.