Hundreds of Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) are battling to keep their doors open as private funding dries up under the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent enforced lockdown.
Fundraising initiatives, many of which require face to face interactions, have all but ground to a halt, while corporate funding has also been severely affected, with funds being redirected to Covid-19 relief measures.
In the face of these challenges, NPOs, which are at the coalface of tackling the numerous social challenges in the province, and who are often the implementing agents for the Department of Social Development, are now more reliant than ever on government funding.
Despite this, the Department has still failed to payout, or has paid out late, subsidy payments to these NPOs. This has had a direct knock-on effect on the NPO’s ability to pay staff and deliver services, at a time when they are needed most.
These services include residential facilities for the elderly, people living with mental and intellectual disabilities, youth care services, to name but a few.
A recent snapshot survey by the Democratic Alliance (DA) of NPOs in the province, found that only 15% of the NPOs contacted had received their subsidy payments for the current financial year, which started in April 2020. The vast majority who took part in the survey have not received any subsidy payment from the Department for almost five full months.
Survey participants also revealed that many had requested PPE from the Department that, to date, has not been received.
Although the Covid-19 pandemic has hampered the service delivery of many government departments, using it as an excuse for late payments of regular subsidies cannot be tolerated.
The problem of late payment of subsidies to NPOs has persisted for many, many years.
I have written to the Social Development MEC, Siphokazi Mani-Lusithi, and have submitted parliamentary questions requesting clarity on the delays in payment but, to date, have received no answers.
While the MEC is failing to provide clarity on the reasons why NPOs have not yet received this much need financial support, organisations, their staff and the people of the Eastern Cape who rely on their services, are suffering.
The DA in the Eastern Cape will continue to fight for the NPOs and those who rely on their services. We cannot allow an inconsiderate and mismanaged government to continue to destroy the lives of the most vulnerable in our province.