Cash crunch only one aspect of Gauteng NGO problems

Hendrika Kruger MPL

Spokesperson on Social Development

The DA in Gauteng believes that a new funding model and more stringent accountability measures are needed to ensure proper resourcing and operation of non-profit organisations (NPOs) in the province.

According to the Sowetan this morning, Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza lamented the excessive number of non-profit organisations in the province, saying that close to 27 000 NPOs exist of which only 2 033 receive government aid. The MEC also indicated that she wants NPOs to “diversify” and that existing organisations should begin to tackle diverse issues.

Diversification is not a solution or even possible in many instances where NPOs arise from specific identified needs in a particular community. It is unrealistic to expect NPOs to address non-existent or divergent needs unless the realities of the community also changed over time.

Furthermore, the Department continues to fund non-compliant NPOs and bodies who fail to meet the standards set by critical social protection and development legislation. This includes numerous Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres that do not have or follow curricula in some instances.

It is therefore imperative that the Gauteng Social Development Department tackle the cash crunch facing NPOs holistically, starting not only with an alternative funding model, but also with ensuring full compliance by bodies receiving public money and greater cooperation between the provincial departments in the social and protection services clusters.

The DA’s Green Paper on Social Protection recently released commits the DA in Gauteng to measures that strengthen the civil society and non-government organisation sector to ensure that it is appropriately supported through public funds and empowered and effectively regulated to access donor funding.

The DA in Gauteng will also ensure effective co-ordination between the various departments and agencies that provide services and support to the poor and vulnerable, to ensure that services and support are complementary and collectively provide a comprehensive social safety net.

In government we will make use of longer funding cycles to encourage long term financial and operational planning by NGOs and civil society organisations, instead of subjecting these pivotal social protection institutions to the mercy and whim of government officials on a far too regular basis.

At the same time, scrutiny of NPOs and ensuring compliance is pivotal in strengthening the sector and ensuring that the vulnerable in society do not become victims of those who claim to have their best interests at heart.

The MEC, instead of attempting to dictate the focus, work and scope of NPOs in Gauteng, must focus on her own responsibilities in terms of ensuring adequate support, compliance and funding for non-profit bodies in the province.