Of pensions, carers and homes for the aged

  • Monica Ferreira Editor, Southern African Journal of Gerontology


South Africa and Namibia are the only African countries to have a universal, non-contributory old-age pension system. Although the value of the South African social pension is low in terms of real income (an amount of R470 payable monthly, to be increased to R490 on 1 July 1998 - approximately USS100), the pension is generous by standards in other developing countries.Males and females may become eligible for a pension, according to a means test, from the age of 65 and 60 years, respectively. The take-up rate of the pension is virtually 90 % in the case of black Africans and coloureds, lower in the case of Indians (62 %), and far lower in the case of whites (20 %), who historically were the most advantaged racial group under the apartheid system.As generous as the social pension provided by the South African government may be, and as valued as the pension income is by its beneficiaries, the countrys social-security system is however not without problems.Central and provincial governments are aware of duplicity and even multiplicity in pension pay outs - where ghost pensioners, for instance, collect a pension at more than one pension pay point. Irregular pension claims and payments consume scarce pension resources. Maladministration of pension budgets by some provincial governments has led, for example, to the nonpayment, or delayed payment of pensions.Nevertheless, it is popularly contended, although thusfar unsubstantiated, that between five and nine members of a household in which a pensioner resides benefit from the monthly pension.


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