Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL
DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development:
DURING last week’s 2015/16 Budget Speech, Finance MEC Belinda Scott announced with much fanfare that tariffs paid to Social Development Non-Government Organisations (NGO’s) would be increased by 6%, while assuring the people of KZN that service delivery to the poor would not be affected by provincial government cost-cutting measures.
Yesterday, during the KZN Department of Social Development’s budget hearing, a very different picture emerged.
In the absence of Social Development MEC, Weziwe Thusi, her departmental HOD Nokuthula Khanyile made the following shock announcements;
- Total NGO Tariff payments are down R32.5 million (4.1%)
- Payments to NGOs providing services to the elderly are down R4.3 million (4.1%)
- Payments to NGOs providing HIV/AIDS services are down R28.9 million (41.3%)
- Payments to NGOs providing Early Childhood Development (ECD)and Partial Care services to children are down R21.5 million (8.9%)
- Payments to NGOs providing Child & Youth Care (children’s homes and shelters) are down R6.5 million (8.1%)
To add to this, the budgets of NGO’s providing Child Care and Protection services remain static with a mere R78 000 (0.9%) increase. This is in spite of the deaths of two children as a result of abuse and the desperate calls from communities regarding underfunding and lack of capacity within of Child Welfare Organisations.
Despite these drastic cuts, the Office of the MEC – which is an administrative and not a service delivery office – receives a 25% increase in its budget. It appears that the MEC is quite comfortable with working in luxury on the back of the province’s poorest and most vulnerable.
NGOs form a vital role in the expansion of social services to the poorest communities in KwaZulu-Natal, especially where the department lack its own capacity. The budget cuts will have a devastating impact on the roll out of vital social welfare services in poor communities. It will result in many vital NGOs becoming financially unsustainable and shutting their doors.
Yesterday’s announcements further emphasise the rift that exists within KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial cabinet. It is clear that these two MEC’s do not even communicate with each other. While the Finance MEC made one cabinet decision in her Budget Speech, the Social Development MEC sees it unnecessary to enforce this decision – all to the detriment of the poverty stricken people of this province.
The Democratic Alliance will interrogate the department on the issue of NGO tariff increases during the next Social Development portfolio committee hearing, to be held on Friday in Pietermaritzburg.
This debacle shows once again that the ANC-governed KwaZulu-Natal is a province of broken promises.