Social exclusion has become a cause for concern in contemporary societies. It has become a global phenomenon that requires the participation of several players. Adopting constitutional and legal frameworks that seek to promote inclusiveness of social protection programmes has become more imperative than ever before. More often than not economic shocks have left many people not only marginalised but also vulnerable to the hazards and vicissitudes of life. In order to provide social protection cover, it is incumbent upon governments to intervene by way of providing adequate social security to the citizenry. Post-colonial governments inherited social security systems lacking inclusivity. Rising unemployment levels, poor performing economies, natural calamities and the HIV/AIDS epidemic have forced progressive and responsible governments the world over to re-think on social security strategies.
Social security systems that existed during the colonial era were purposely designed to exclude the natives. The Government of Zimbabwe inherited a social security system that was exclusionary. Formal social protection was a privilege of the elite hence soon after independence the need to address the imbalances of the colonial era became a priority. The introduction of a national social security system was to achieve social inclusivity through the establishment of more schemes catering for the different segments of the Zimbabwean community. The National Social Security Act [Chapter 17:04] of 1989 brought into existence a formal and compulsory social security policy which was to coexist with other social protection intervention strategies of the past. The purpose of this study is to provide a critical overview of the social security policy of the Government of Zimbabwe.
The qualitative study established that the prevailing economic challenges triggered massive retrenchments which exposed the citizenry to social exclusion. The majority of the people have opted for the informal sector economy in order to earn a living. The problem with this traditional form of employment is that, currently, formal social security has not been extended to cover the informal sector. To establish the relevance of the existing social security systems, a review of literature on social protection strategies was adopted. Views of community members who are supposed to be the ultimate beneficiaries of the various social security schemes were established through the use of interviews and general discussions. Also analysed in this study are the attempts by governments in general, and the Zimbabwean Government in particular, to extend social security to the informal sector. An examination of journal articles and reviews of general reports on the overall performance of social security schemes in developing countries suggest that social security intervention strategies have not been very effective in cushioning people against economic shocks and hardships. Efforts aimed at achieving social inclusivity have been inhibited by a number of challenges. In the absence of formal employment, concerted effort to extend social security coverage to the informal sector has not yielded positive results. All forms of employment, formal or informal, should be harnessed, if social inclusivity is to be achieved. The various social protection strategies adopted by Government over the years should be synchronised in order to improve the general welfare of the people. The current situation which is characterised by the scarcity of resources does not require a disjointed and fragmented approach. The study recommends the creation of more social security schemes to cater for the different segments of the Zimbabwean community. Accountability and transparency should be the foundation for better management practices capable of retaining public trust. It has been concluded that for the Zimbabwean populace to enjoy their right to social security the Government of Zimbabwe needs to adopt a multisectoral approach.