Eastern Cape NGOs face bleak festive season

Hundreds of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) across the Eastern Cape will be having a bleak festive season, as they are still waiting for their funding subsidy-transfers to be paid.

These NGOs were promised that the payments, some of which have been outstanding for more than three months, would be made by no later than the 15th of December. They are still waiting though, as the Department of Social Development battles with cash flow and payment system problems.

As non-payment drags on, thousands of NGO staff, who have dedicated their time and energy to assisting others, could be facing a Christmas with no money in the bank and the very real possibility of not having a job to return to in the new year.

The Democratic Alliance has been engaging with the MEC for Social Development, Phumza Dyantyi, as well as raising concerns in the Portfolio Committee, over the ongoing non-payment of NGO’s throughout the year.

I have spoken to MEC Dyantyi with regards to the non-payment and will be following up in writing to to request her urgent intervention in ensuring these NGO’s get paid.

The Democratic Alliance has been inundated with calls from organisations around the province, who have asked to remain anonymous, who have still not been paid, despite assurances from the Head of Department, Ntombi Baart, that the payments would be made by no later than the 15th.

These organisations all have service level agreements in place with the Department, wherein they fulfil numerous critical social services on behalf of the state and should have been paid in accordance with these agreements.

The provision of these services cost money. Due to the non-payment, some NGOs are now in dire straits, with their reserves depleted, while others have been forced to restructure and retrench staff.

NGOs themselves, in my opinion, need a much more unified action driven NGO membership voice in the Eastern Cape. This voice must be assertive in order to ensure that the Government delivers on its end of thousands of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between government and the NGO sector.

The EC NGO Coalition must make it their business to connect with, influence, inform, lobby and interact with government officials to get them to honour their contractual obligations.

A Democratic Alliance led government will put systems in place that will ensure service providers of the state get paid on time, so that basic service delivery is improved, not hampered.