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Access to Socio-Economic Rights for Non-Nationals in the Southern African Development Community

By: Open Society Foundations

This report was commissioned by the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA) to inform their advocacy strategy for the next five years in the SADC region in respect of the rights of non-nationals, as well as the cross-
cutting issues of access to socio-economic rights (including health rights) that address the requirements of people affected or infected by HIV and AIDS. It was agreed at the beginning of the enquiry that an investigation of this nature should be accompanied by an enquiry into the levels of access of nationals themselves to socio-economic rights in each country, in addition to questions of access by non-nationals.

The main findings of this work suggest that access by refugees and asylum-seekers to social protection in the southern African region is pretty parlous. Access by citizens also needs to be improved. Although there are guaranteed rights of access and formal institutions of delivery for enjoyment of the rights in many of the participating countries, the quality of services provided often undermines the value of that guarantee. This is especially true in respect of the right to health care and education. Many of the respondents advised that the low standard of quality of the provision of these services led to many already vulnerable people using their limited income to purchase private services, thus reducing their ability to provide for their other needs and requirements. Access to social security was in general limited to formal contributory social insurance pensions for formal sector workers and civil servants.