19 February 1997
SOCIAL WELFARE WHITE PAPER MARKS MAJOR SHIFT IN WELFARE STRATEGY
GOVERNMENT DECLARES WAR ON POVERTY
The White Paper on Social Welfare marks a fundamental shift in South
Africa`s welfare strategy, from the inherited system, which is unequal,
unjust, divisive, inefficient and fragmented, to a new, integrated system
which is equitable, sustainable, accessible, people-centred and developmental.
The White Paper was drawn up by the Welfare Ministry after extensive
consultations, over a two-year period, with NGOs, community-based organisations
and individuals. The approach has been open and participative, ensuring
that all stakeholders had a voice in drawing up the new strategy.
Apartheid`s Welfare Legacy to South Africa
The Government, in 1994, inherited a system which was based on the dogma
of apartheid. This system was devised and led by bureaucrats and imposed
upon the citizens of South Africa without consultation and without reference
to their real needs. It was inappropriate, riven with corruption and penalised
those it should have been helping. A legacy of the National Party Government`s
welfare system is that:
- two-thirds of all South African children live in poverty
- over three million South African households are in poverty
- 2.3 million South Africans suffer from malnutrition
- almost 95 per cent of South Africa`s poor are black
- 75 per cent of poverty is concentrated in rural areas, especially in
the former homelands.
The New Approach
The White Paper on Social Welfare is a pledge by the new Government
to pursue a new approach, under which social welfare will bring about sustainable
improvements in the well-being of individuals, families and communities.
A national plan of action for the next five years will be developed
by national and provincial welfare departments, in consultation with all
stakeholders, to implement the fundamental shift in welfare policy that
War on Poverty
As a key component of the new strategy, the Government is declaring
war on poverty. In particular, it will develop policies and programmes
- providing social protection for people impoverished by unemployment,
ill-health, maternity, child-rearing, widowhood, old age and disability
- providing assistance to groups most at risk, such as African women
and children, those with special needs and those living in rural areas,
informal settlements and farms
- enhancing social integration and providing support, empowerment, dignity,
self-esteem and improved competence to help individuals and families to
break out of structural barriers
- promoting self-sufficiency and independence and enhance peoples` access
to economic and social resources
- providing employment programmes for vulnerable people and those with
- strengthening family and community networks
- incorporating nutritional objectives into programmes
- increasing the access of rural people to programmes.
Guiding Principles of the New Strategy
Policies and programmes under the new social welfare strategy will be
based on the following guiding principles:
Equity resources will be equitably distributed and will address
racial, gender, geographic, urban/rural and sectoral disparities. Equality
of opportunity and the social mobility of people with special needs will
Non-discrimination services and programmes will promote tolerance,
mutual respect, diversity and the inclusion of all groups.
Democracy consultation and participation in decision-making will
be promoted among the public, welfare organisations, interest groups and
other role-players and service providers.
Quality of life the system will raise the quality of life of
all people, particularly the disadvantaged, the vulnerable and those with
Human rights services and programmes will be based on respect
for human rights.
People-centred past policies will be replaced with just and people-centred
Sustainability strategies will be financially viable, cost-efficient
Partnership policies and programmes will be developed and promoted
in partnership with organisations in civil society, the private sector
Collaboration an inter-sectoral approach will guide strategy
design, formulation and implementation.
Decentralisation appropriate functions will be devolved to local
government level, to promote access to services and to improve coordination,
local empowerment and greater responsiveness to meeting needs.
Quality programmes will strive for excellence and the provision
of quality services.
Transparency all welfare organisations and institutions will
be transparent and accountable at all levels, including delivery.
Accessibility organisations and institutions will be accessible
and responsive. Barriers to participation will be removed and special training
will be provided to develop accessible services.
Appropriateness programmes, methods and approaches will be appropriate,
will complement and strengthen people`s efforts, enhance their self-respect
and independence and will be responsive to the range of social, cultural
and economic conditions.
Ubuntu people are people through other people, so the principle
of caring for others` well being and the spirit of mutual support will
Key Political Lines
The ANC Welfare Ministry is reversing decades of discrimination and
social injustice. It is promoting equity and equality. It is making social
justice a national priority and a collective responsibility. It is putting
people and families at the heart of the strategy. It is making the delivery
of welfare services more efficient, more relevant and more accountable.
It is promoting community participation and community development. It is
integrating services and collaborating with all stakeholders, service providers
and other government departments. It is ensuring that programmes are affordable
and effective. It is enhancing social integration. Most of all, it is meeting
the real needs of the people of South Africa with real policies, real programmes
and real services.