Staff salaries, fuel costs, food and municipal services are among some of the bills running late at Gauteng NPOs.
Non-profit organisations (NPOs) have blamed the Gauteng department of social development for the suffering of hundreds of welfare recipients because of delayed services caused by months of late payments by the department.
According to the Gauteng Welfare Social Services Development Forum chairperson, Bishop Les Sanrabia, old-age homes and other institutions had to close or curtail programmes while others who have applied for funding have not been registered as a result of delayed funding and correspondence by the Gauteng government.
“There are projects that are still awaiting their fourth tranche dating to the last financial year. Many of the organisations have not received their first payment even though they signed a service level agreement,” Sanrabia said.
Gert Jonker, founder of The Bethany House, said the issue of late payment of subsidies by the social development department dated back two decades.
The service level agreements between the department and organisations appears to be part of the problem.
“Contracts are signed only when the new financial year has commenced….then [the department] delays paying the agreed upon tranches for months in some cases. A few years ago the situation improved slightly, but this year it is as bad as previously.”
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Bethany House Trust is a child protection organisation which operates two child and youth care centres. It also houses a shelter for homeless persons and gives abuse victim empowerment services.
These services have been carried out under strenuous conditions over the past few months. Staff salaries, fuel costs food and municipal services are among some of the bills running late at Gauteng NPOs.
Last week, the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to social development MEC Morakane Mosupyoe requesting that payments be sped up after numerous NPOs made distress calls to the party over depleting funds as the backlog continued.
Responding to this, Mosupyoe’s office issued a statement last week claiming it has been hard at work remedying the delays in the payment of subsidies.
Since the last week of April, the department said it had started with the release of first quarter payments to non profits. These would be made on a weekly basis, it said.
Delays have been caused by unforeseen circumstances that the department has managed to resolve, it said at the time. Secondly, some NPOs could not be called to sign service-level agreements (SLAs) at the time because their NPO registration status had expired.
But Sanrabia challenged the department’s stance, claiming not a single NPO had received payment.
“In any case the SLA would not then have been signed. Having regard to the fact that some of these organisations signed as far back as the 15 April 2021, and still await their subsidy, your statement that [department] has started payment on 26 April 2021 is not true. Kindly provide us with the list of those who have received payment thus far and we will retract our statement,” said Sanrabia in a scathing statement.
Some NPOs have been struggling as far back as October 2020 to obtain their compliance certificate from the
National NPO Directorate with no success. Phones have remained unanswered and offices closed while emails have also been unacknowledged.
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However, the sector has been coping with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen many NPOs close down temporarily or permanently as a result of reduced funding and donations.
“Staff depend on their salaries and here we are in the middle of May with staff still awaiting to receive salaries for work they completed in April.
“This is unfair and inhumane. Not only does the non-payment affect staff, it robs our beneficiaries of essential services as staff are unable to travel to service beneficiaries due to the lack of funding,” says Sanrabia.
Department spokesperson Feziwe Ndwayana said the department still stood by its previous statement and assured that the issue was being dealt with.