NPOs threaten to take Gauteng DSD to court over funding squabbles
About 62 nonprofit organisations (NPOs) in the children's sector in Gauteng are threatening to launch a court battle to force the department of social development (DSD) to reinstate funds.
This is after the department funded about 200 aid organisations in the province, leaving about 62 without any funding.
Earlier this year the DSD informed organisations at the last minute their monthly payments were being cut with immediate effect. This move sparked a huge outcry, protests and distress, with the DSD eventually funding them.
Oupa Shumeni, the provincial chairperson of the Civil Society Forum said they were planning to take DSD to court to force it to fund the remaining NPOs.
“It is a war between us and the department. We are trying to reverse their decision through the court — so we are filing an application with the high court, and we will take it from there,” said Shumeni.
Earlier last month, the disgruntled NPOs under the forum handed a memorandum to the office of premier Panyaza Lesufi expressing their concerns and frustration regarding the reinstatement of the funding.
They said in the memorandum the NPOs had been treated with “utter disgrace and disrespect”, undermined and deprived of resources to operate and carry out their work of delivering community services.
Among their demands was the reinstatement of the 62 NPOs by signing the Service Level Agreement (SLA), and funding of the organisations mainly from Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg. They also demanded the reinstatement of the 6% increase in the 2023/2024 financial year.
Towards the end of August, the forum sent a communique to the funded organisations about its plan of action against DSD regarding the funding, citing the DSD's “arrogance”.
“DSD has now responded to our memorandum submitted at the premier’s office on August 10 by saying that the department will not be in a position to fund the 62 organisations due to budgetary constraints,” read the communique sent to other NPOs seeking solidarity.
Their plan of action included a temporary shutdown of all member Gauteng children-sector NPOs providing home community based care (HCBC) and drop-in-centre (DIC) services in all five regions for 14 days, from September 4-21.
“This decision is not taken lightly and is aimed at highlighting the critical nature of our situation as NPOs in the children sector. Daily picketing at regional DSD offices will be done by all sector NPOs in their respective regions.
“Since the shutdown period also falls into the dates of programme reports submission to DSD, we appeal to the NPO managers not to submit any reports to DSD during this period, as this act will jeopardise other NPOs as well as the purpose of the shutdown itself,” read the communique.
After the communication, DSD HOD Matilda Gasela sent a precautionary letter to NPOs funded by the department informing them that participating in the shutdown would be a violation of their contractual agreement.
“This communication serves as a precautionary intervention to all NPOs who have signed service level agreements with the department for the 2023/2024 financial year,” read the letter.
Gasela wrote that the department reserves the right to terminate the SLA without further notice if NPOs participate in the shutdown.
Shumeni said DSD said it couldn’t afford to absorb those 62 organisations, hence the shutdown.
The department confirmed the HOD letter but indicated it wasn't aware of the temporary closure and the looming legal action.
“They [the unfunded NPOs] did not meet the funding requirement when the applications for funding closed last year, October 31 2022 due to noncompliance to municipal bylaws,” said the department.
DSD said when it receives the court papers, it will assess the claim and decide on the best response “going forward.”
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