James Masango MPL
Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.
In the future, the hefty budget cuts for the Department of Social Development’s 2012/13 financial year will be recorded as the cause of Mpumalanga’s humanitarian crisis, as it will be the year that saw one Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) after another close its doors due to lack of funds.
Last week the DA calledon social development MEC Dr Clifford Mkasi to pay outstanding NGOs’ grants as a matter of urgency. Since then, the DA has been inundated with calls from NGOs and Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs), informing us that departmental officials claim incorrect paperwork had been submitted, or that it had been lost. One director of an NGO told us that he had to submit the same paperwork three times, after the previous two applications went missing.
In other instances, NGOs and NPOs are informed in writing that they would receive their funds by a certain date, but that only a portion would be paid over, if at all.
The DA is absolutely convinced that the department purposely uses delaying tactics to delay payments to NGOs and NPOs, because they failed to notify recipients of the impending budget cuts and consequent shortfalls.
It is due to this ineptitude that NGOs and NPOs will eventually have no other choice but to shut down operations. The resulting crisis will see the sick, the elderly and the destitute clamouring for relief from government institutions, who, in the first place, do not have the means or the capacity to take care of the most vulnerable in our society.
To prevent this disaster, MEC Mkasi and the department must act, and they must act soon. Funds need to be re-allocated as interim measure and grants need to be paid, at least until such time that the budget is re-appropriated in September. All grant recipients have to be notified immediately of the budgetary shortfalls, and a payment schedule with allocated amounts must be circulated.
Only a quick and decisive intervention will save us from a humanitarian disaster.