UJ’s Prof Letlhokwa George Mpedi examines SA Child Support Grant

​The Child Support Grant (CSG) is one of the key social protection interventions that have been put in place to alleviate child poverty in South Africa.

According to Letlhokwa George Mpedi, who is the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the CSG is one of those success stories of the post-apartheid South African social protection system which carries valuable lessons for other countries, especially in the developing world, that desire to introduce a tax-financed basic income scheme targeted at children.

Professor Mpedi pointed out that South Africa has three children’s grants, namely: the CSG, the Forster Child Grant (FCG) and the Care Dependency Grant (CGD), when he delivered his inaugural address in the Council Chambers, Madibeng Building, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus on Monday, 20 November 2017.

“All these grants are part of the social assistance programme and, thus, non-contributory based. The CSG and CDG are means-tested. Unlike the other two children’s grants, FCG is exempt from the means test. The CSG is payable once per month per eligible child and its value is ZAR 380.00,” said Prof Mpedi.

He highlighted that the CSG succeeded the State Maintenance Grant in 1998. Thus, the CSG predates the International Labour Organization (ILO) Social Protection Floors Recommendation 202 of 2012. “The CSG, in combination with the other children’s grants, plays an important role in South Africa’s quest to fulfil the recommendation’s obligations. It should be recalled that the recommendation directs that social protection floors should comprise, amongst other guarantees, basic income security for children.”

Prof Mpedi critically reviewed the CSG as provided in the South African social assistance system and assessed the CSG on the basis of the following principles contained in the recommendation: (a) state responsibility, (b) universality of protection, (c) entitlement based on law, (d) adequacy and predictability of benefits, (e) non-discrimination, (f) financial solidarity, (g) good governance, (h) coherence of policies, and (i) social participation. This was followed by a discussion on legislative deficits and implementation failures pertaining to the CSG.

Prof Mpedi concluded his address by observing that the CSG is one of the key social protection interventions that have been put in place to alleviate child poverty in South Africa. “The CSG is built on a strong legal foundation which is spearheaded by the Constitution. The fundamental rights and constitutional values that undergird the CSG unashamedly point towards a rights-based approach towards the provisioning of a tax-financed basic income security for children in South Africa. Benchmarked against the principles contained in the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, it goes without saying that the CSG is an appropriate mechanism through which South Africa can strive towards the realisation of its obligations pertaining to children as outlined in the recommendation. This is the case despite the fact that the CSG was in place long before the recommendation was adopted,” he said.

Prof Mpedi completed his B Juris degree (1996) and LLB degree (1998) at Vista University. In 2001 the LLM degree in Labour Law was conferred upon him by the then Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg). He was twice the recipient of the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) award (in 2000 and 2001, for purposes of doing research in Germany for his LLM dissertation and LLD thesis respectively). A National Research Foundation (NRF) doctoral research award was also granted to him (2002).

Upon completing his LLB he was employed as a Junior Lecturer in the Department of Mercantile Law at Vista University (Mamelodi Campus). He joined the Centre for International and Comparative Labour and Social Security Law (CICLASS) at the then Rand Afrikaans University as a researcher in 2000. In August 2003, Prof Mpedi accepted a position as a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Social Law in Munich (Germany). Upon his return from Germany in 2006, he was employed as a Deputy Director at CICLASS. In the same year the LLD degree in Mercantile Law was conferred upon him by UJ.

Prior to his current position as Executive Dean, Prof Mpedi served as Head of Department of Practical Business Law (January 2011 – December 2012), Vice-Dean (January 2013 – December 2015) and Director at CICLASS (January 2009 – December 2015) at UJ’s Faculty of Law. He lectured labour law and social security to LLB, post-graduate and certificate students and has delivered papers at numerous national and international conferences. Prof Mpedi publishes on labour law and social security.

He is an NRF rated scholar. Prof Mpedi is placed in the B category at level B3 (researcher who enjoys considerable international recognition by peers). He has received several awards for his scientific contribution and academic leadership. These include a Congressional Gold Medal awarded by the American Association of Jurists of Labour and Social Security after the conclusion of the first World Congress of Labour Law and Social Security, Chihuahua, Mexico, 9-12 October 2012; two awards in 2016 by CEO Titans – Building Nations Awards within the sector of Education and Training: Academic – Prof Mpedi received both the South African and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional Awards, in recognition of his efforts and leadership in research, industry development, social responsibility and his strategic vision for the sector; the Titans: Building Nations, Continental Award for Education and Training: Academic; and the South African and SADC Regional Awards in this sector, the first step to being honoured with the esteemed Continental Award.

Prof Mpedi serves on the councils of the following organisations:

  • Southern African Social Protection Experts Network.
  • Southern African Institute for Policy and Research.
  • South African Judicial Education Institute.

On 1 November 2017, Prof Mpedi was elected as the President of the South African Law Deans Association.

Read Letlhokwa George Mpedi’s Professorial Inaugural full address entitled: The Child Support Grant in the Republic of South Africa: does it comply with the ILO Social Protection Floors Recommendation 202 of 2012.

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