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DSD late and non-payments leaves local NPOs in dire financial straits

Commissioner Street in Johannesburg was closed down by NPOs as they did not receive any funds from the Social Development Department for two months and the Gauteng Crisis Committee has escalated the matter to High Court.

NPOs in Gauteng gathered to express their displeasure with the funding delays of the provincial Department of Social Development (DSD), despite a meeting with Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi where he intended to address the problems.

This comes as some NPOs retrenched staff and closed their doors because of delays in receiving funding, while the DSD scrambles to finalise the signing of service level agreements (SLAs).

The department’s budget was slashed by R233m in March. This caused frustration in the different NPOs, as they had to keep their services running to the public, even though DSD did not provide them with much-needed funds for two months.

According to the CEO of St Mary’s Children Home, Sonja Harmse, this unfortunate situation caused by DSD has increased their workload and has a major effect on their stress levels because they are the ones who have to keep the ship afloat, no matter. The matter has had them as an NPO saying no to things they normally offered to their beneficiaries because they need to preserve what they have in order to last longer.

“We have managed to keep the ship afloat by asking for donations, hanging in on faith, constant prayer, advocating and lobbying with action groups. Also, we sold unnecessary furniture/goods but are close to reaching a stage where all our extras will be depleted,” Harmse said.

No funds despite promises

Furthermore, Harmse said if DSD continues with the delays, their organisation, which existed for 122 years, cannot continue to offer the holistic and needed support to orphans and vulnerable children of all races.

Affected NPOs gathered in Gauteng Department of Social Development following delayed funds.

On May 14, during a meeting with members of NPOs and two members of her executive, Mbali Hlophe, the MEC for Social Development, and Jacob Mamabolo, her finance counterpart, Lesufi declared the budget will be reinstated, and they had prioritised immediate reimbursement to the NPOs.

However, to date, the stakeholders from the various NPOs that were protesting confirmed that they did not receive any funds.

Acting director of the stakeholder relations of DSD, Khosi Radebe, said Lesufi was in a meeting with relevant stakeholders as the protesters were protesting to resolve the matter.

“The reason behind the delayed payments is that we have launched a new system for payments and are still verifying all NPOs we have listed still exist and abide by our rules and regulations,” Radebe said.

Digging deep to keep going

The Comaro Chronicle also spoke to Nkosi’s Haven CEO based in the Johannesburg south on how this impacted their organisation.

According to Nkosi’s Haven CEO, Gail Johnson, DSD does not fund them. However, they have outreach programmes that assist local NPOs to deliver their services fully to their beneficiaries.

“During this DSD non-payment period, we had to strengthen our hands even further to the NPOs that we normally help as they were facing difficulties in providing full services to their people.

“As Nkosi’s Haven, we have witnessed the pain the DSD-funded organisations were going through as they also had to dig in their personal pockets to keep their services going,” she said.

By the date of publication, NPOs confirmed with the Southern Courier / Comaro Chronicle that they had not received funds from DSD nor had they signed the SLAs.

The Gauteng Crisis Committee took the matter to Johannesburg High Court to ask for assistance on May 22.

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