State guts aid to ECs vulneralble: Daily Dispatch

Budget slashes to charities will also cost jobs

This is irresponsible, uncaring, unlawful, unreasonable and procedurally unfair

SEVERAL Eastern Cape nonprofit organisations are devastated by drastic budget cuts this financial year.

Child Welfare in East London and King William’s Town, as well as a Port Elizabeth mental health centre will have to halve their staff and others may have to shut shop completely.

The Dispatch has seen the social development department’s budget for the 29017-18 financial year, which started on April 1.

It shows that NPOs such as East London Child Welfare budget has been slashed from R2.2-million to a mere R253 118. The same goes for Christian Social Services in East London, whose budget has been cut from R2-million to R253 118. Hardest hit is Nelson Mandela’s Uviwe Youth and Child services with a cut from R4.6-million to just R527 966.

The organisations offer support to society’s most vulnerable members – needy children, disabled people, the elderly and the HIV-positive.

East London Child Welfare (ELCW) provides counselling and has safe houses in various communities across Buffalo City Metro, handling about 3 000 cases a year.

The centre’s budget was slashed from R2.2-million to R253 118. Director Tracia Haywood said the budget cuts would mean that they would have to service fewer areas as they would not have enough staff to cope with the workload.

Sanca Eastern Cape, which handles around 1 500 cases of drug and alcohol abuse cases a year, also confirmed the budget cuts. Regional head Roger Wiemann said a meeting would be held today to discuss the impact. from R2 501 124 to R1.09-million. Its reviewed organogram for this year also reveals that the society will be forced to retrench four of its eight full-time social workers and three of its chief social workers.

Opposition parties reacted with shock to the cuts, with the DA’s Kobus Botha writing a letter to social development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi, asking her to explain the reasons behind the drastic changes.

The matter was also discussed at a portfolio committee meeting held on March 28 with MPLs demanding answers.

“The department must also furnish the committee with a plan on how it will ensure that the 50% budget cut on transfers to NDA will not affect the capacitation of NPOs and NGOs negatively,” reads the report.

Botha, who sits on the committee, said the slashes would definitely impact negatively on the work done by the NPOs and also reverse attempts to absorb unemployed social workers.

“This is irresponsible, uncaring, unlawful, unreasonable and procedurally unfair.

“The portfolio committee should be convened as a matter of urgency and the officials called to account and show some teeth in fighting for the poor.”

Social development spokesman Mzukisi Solani did not respond to questions sent to him last Tuesday. — Simthandile Ford Simthandilef@dispatch.co.za

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