'When a NGO comes under fire, its undermines the entire industry,' says analyst.
On Monday, the face of the company, managing director Rob Hutchinson of DearSA, was removed by his two non-executive board members, Sandra Dickson and Ted Blom, following fraud claims.
This week, Blom and Dickson said in a joint statement all DearSA campaigns were under scrutiny. They have also dissociated themselves from any fundraising efforts.
Blom did not want to comment about the row with Hutchinson.
Dickson was appointed as the spokesperson for the duo and said they suspended the service because they can’t take the public’s money under the current circumstances.
In January, an urgent matter between Dickson and Blom against Hutchinson was heard in court but dismissed as not urgent.
Yet the row continues as it is clear neither Hutchinson nor Dickson and Blom are willing to back down from the organisation and the R1.6 million left frozen in a bank account.
A complaint was also laid at the South Africa Service Provider Association which saw the removal of the platform’s website.
Dickson said the financial statements alerted them.
“A blind man with a stick could see things weren’t right,” she said.
Dickson said when they requested recent bank statements, Hutchinson refused to provide them.
She further accused Hutchinson of being the only one who benefitted from the overseas grant, Indigo, and said she was only partially compensated while claiming Blom received no benefits.
In October 2020, Blom requested the organisation’s bank account be frozen for further investigation.
The account can only be reactivated when all three board members sign a mandate.
“He refuses to sign the mandate,” said Dickson.
She said in March last year, Hutchinson said there weren’t any available funds. But she found out overseas grants had paid out.
She said if the dispute among the directors was not resolved, the company would most likely be liquidated and closed down.
Hutchinson said the allegations against him were “rubbish”. He said on Wednesday the work of DearSA would continue despite the dispute.
“Millions of South Africans have engaged with DearSA over the past three years on issues such as Covid-19 lockdowns, the proposed new ID numbering system, 5G roll-out, expropriation, changes to tax laws, the tobacco
ban and many more,” he said.
He said it came as a surprise when the two non-executive board members shut down the public donations bank account and took down the participation website based on “unsubstantiated and ridiculous claims”.
“By removing the website, it shows they don’t give a damn about the organisation,” he said.
Hutchinson said he had secured the dearsouthafrica.co.za participation platform on an overseas ISP to make it harder for anyone to take down the website or jeopardise its functionality.
Hutchinson said Blom and Dickson were not paid salaries because they were non-executive board members who never performed any of the day-to-day tasks.
Next followed a court order where both Blom and Dickson opposed opening a bank account for the organisation.
Ralph Mathegka, a political analyst, said the non-profit organisation industry should be monitored better and those at fault should be held accountable.
“Those organisations don’t get scrutinised as companies, but the bar should be set higher in line with accountability for what is required,” he said.
Mathegka admitted NGO organisations were often viewed with some level of empathy.
“When a NGO comes under fire, its undermines the entire industry,” he said.
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