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Accepted Paper:

The Politics of Sustaining Zambia's Social Cash Transfer Programme  
Hangala Siachiwena (University of Cape Town)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the factors militating against the sustainability of Zambia's Social Cash Transfer (SCT) programme. Despite a rapid expansion of programmatic social protection after 2011, political support for SCTs has declined, at the expense of programmes that serve clientelist purposes.

Paper long abstract:

Zambia experienced a democratic change in government in 2011, which had implications for programmatic redistribution. The newly elected government expanded donor initiated Social Cash Transfers (SCTs) into a national programme as part of its pro-poor agenda. It assumed primary responsibility for funding programmes from international donors and more than doubled coverage of beneficiary households. This was significant because the previous administration was reluctant to scale pilots into a national programme, arguing that cash transfers were unproductive handouts that would encourage laziness and dependency. After a change in President in 2015 from the same governing party, SCTs continued to expand and were rolled out nationwide. Despite the rollout, payments to beneficiaries have been erratic, and a scandal involving the misapplication of donor funds for SCT beneficiaries was unearthed. Moreover, the government has in recent years prioritised the expansion of empowerment schemes, seemingly at the expense of SCTs.

Using process tracing evidence, this paper shows that commitments to expand cash transfers are inconsistent with what has been achieved in practice. The paper argues that the notional implementation of SCTs is informed by the governing party’s putative commitment to a pro-poor agenda as well as the influence of donors and government technocrats. However, the political and ideological interests of elites in the ruling administration have prompted the government to prioritise other forms of redistribution that serve as mechanisms for clientelist politics.

Panel P27b
The politics of expanding and sustaining social protection: continuities and ruptures in unsettled times II
  Session 1 Thursday 1 July, 2021, -