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NGO’s hampered by slow social grants payouts

The more than 300 bikes recently distributed to the province's community health workers are the first of many, say the North West Department of Health
A community health worker rides a bike during his rounds in the North West NHI pilot district, Dr Kenneth Kaunda. (File Photo)
Written by Ramatamo Sehoai

Despite the Gauteng Social Development Department’s commitment to settle outstanding grants to a number of aid organisations taking care of the province’s vulnerable groups, requirements for these grants have been heavily criticised.

For many Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) who depend on government grants for their survival, experience unnecessary delays while trying to meet these requirements, and many have been brought to near collapse.

Les Sanabria, Chairperson of the Gauteng Welfare Forum, said his organisation has around 300 projects in the province and they have been waiting for their quarterly grant since March this year. This long wait for their funding, he said, has badly affected their operations.

No services

“No money means no services can be rendered and no salaries can be paid. Imagine how this impacts on the thousands of people that we are taking care of. Even the new rule that says projects must be independent with their own constitutions, different from their mother organisations, is causing a lot of confusion,” he said.

No money means no services can be rendered and no salaries can be paid. Imagine how this impacts on the thousands of people that we are taking care of.

Other NPOs expressed the same sentiments but asked not to be identified for fear of victimisation by the department.

The department defended itself, saying that many NPOs did not comply with the NPO Act, and so a vetting process had been introduced and had slowed the signing of Service Level Agreements (SLA).

The vetting included checks that NPOs had their Green Status or could prove that they had submitted reports to the National Department of Social Development as required for NPO certification.

“Some NPOs are still operating under umbrella bodies, and registration of these bodies, both as NPOs and service providers on our payment system is no longer desirable as the Gauteng government has discontinued conduit payments. Many NPOs have one name on the NPO certificate and another on the bank account. Some have account numbers which show them to be in one region when they are in fact in another,” Gauteng Social Development claimed in a statement.

They further cited a need to tighten procedures following a scathing report from the Auditor General that had found that many NPOs failed to comply with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Delayed payments

“The department is as concerned about the adverse effect the delay in payment of NPOs has on the vulnerable, the destitute and the frail. It is for this reason that we do all we can to ensure that this sector of our community is kept active in order to continue making a difference.”

Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza said so far they have signed service level agreements with over 85% of the province’s NPOs, and those that are still non-compliant will be visited to ensure they receive assistance.

“We will be paying particular attention to the NPOs that look after children and the frail to ensure that even if they don’t comply we are able to provide them basic needs like food,” she explained.

About the author

Ramatamo Sehoai

Ramatamo Sehoai is an award-winning community journalist from Alexandra Township who curved his health journalism at FrayIntermedia and Mail & Guardian. He has written for numerous publications as a freelancer and won fellowships. Ramatamo is one of our Gauteng based citizen journalists and hosts a weekly talk show at Alex FM. He is also studying towards a BA Honours in Journalism and Media studies at Wits University.