Sagner, Andreas; Mtati, Raymond Z.
Politics of pension sharing in urban South Africa.
In: Ageing and Society, Vol. 19, No. 4: pp. 393-416
Analysing the practice of pension sharing, this article looks at social and
cultural dimensions of ageing in an urban African residential area, Cape
Town's Khayelitsha. First, the paper discusses pension sharing as a futureoriented
security strategy. Many older Africans in Khayelitsha believe that if
they do not share their pensions with their kin, they do not have much chance
of being helped in times of need. Pension sharing as an instrumental act is
rooted in the perceived underdevelopment of the state social security system
on the one hand, and in the very character of African kinship and the ¯uidity
of today's urban domestic units on the other. Partly triggered by poverty and
mass unemployment, African pensioners are under severe normative pressure
to share their grants within their families. Taking into account African notions
of old age and of personhood, and considering the widespread devaluation of
older Africans in social constructions, pension sharing provides older Africans
with an (easily available) means by which they can earn (self-)respect.
Further, state policies indirectly enhance the normative pressure on pensioners
to share their old-age pensions. On a symbolic plane the practice may be
construed as a political model that conceptualises duty as the inner bond of the
social world. In conclusion, it is propounded that the concept of (intergenerational)
reciprocity is inadequate to account for pension sharing or
practical provision of old-age care.