The Southern Africa Trust, in partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law (CICLASS), with support from the Flemish Government hosted a public dialogue on “Cross Border Migration and the Portability of Social Security Benefits” on Wednesday 25 March 2011 at the Southern Sun hotel in Pretoria. The dialogue gathered government representatives from Mozambique, Lesotho and South Africa, government agencies, trade unions, research centres and civil society organisations. The purpose of the dialogue was to discuss the critical issues arising from the increased movement of people in the region in general and South Africa in particular, and how these affect their entitlement and access to social protection. Specifically, the forum would focus its attention on:
- Sharing knowledge on existing gaps and shortfalls with respect to the access migrant workers have to social security benefits in South Africa and their portability within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries;
- Analysing how South Africa and SADC are dealing with the issues of portability of social security benefits by migrants;
- Making recommendations to the South African government and SADC on ways to improve access to and the portability of social security benefits of migrants working in South Africa and in other SADC countries; and
- Defining elements of a strategy to mobilise civil society including migrant workers and social partners in order to place the portability of social security benefits on the integration agenda of mainly South Africa and SADC in general.
The dialogue identified a certain number of issues impacting the portability of social security benefits. These include among others, the fragmented social security policy in South Africa that lacks a clear and common approach on cross border migration in the region, the institutional challenges and the precedence of immigration law in South Africa on labour law.