Source: The Independent on Saturday
The KwaZulu Natal MEC for Social Development, Weziwe Thusi, has prmised that “in the current financial year there will be no budget cuts for NPOs”, but that the department will be embarking on a rationalisation process.
She made the statement yesterday at a press briefing in Durban, following growing alarm raised by the NPO sector that their subsidy budgets were going to be slashed at the end of this month, which could result in the crippling of social services across the province.
Thusi said the department had meetings with NPO representatives this week at which they had “found each other” after a “very fruitful meeting with the aggrieved NPOs”.
She added her promise of no budget cuts came despite the fact the Department of Social Development “has experienced severe budget cuts on its budget allocations due to the slow economic growth, which has resulted in less revenue for the government”.
Thusi added that “in the current financial yearalone, we had our budget cut by 3 percent, amounting to R83.1 million”.
Last month, the KZN directors’ network for NPOs said the department had called a number of meetings with different NPOs during which cutting posts was discussed.
But yesterday, the MEC said one of the key issues raised at this week’s meeting was NPOs highlighting poor communication from the department.
“The misunderstanding may have been caused by the lack of proper communication on the side of the department. As we value the role of NPOs, we have accepted our shortcoming and have moved swiftly to remedy the situation,” said Thusi.
Another issue raised by NPOs was the dysfunctional NPO forums, where the department and forums meet regularly and the MEC confirmed that forums at local, district and provincial level would now be “vigorously driven”.
With regard to the rationalisation process, Thusi said they needed to “address the imbalances in the spatial distribution of services, which were still biased towards mostly urban areas”, adding that some communities were unserviced or under-serviced.
“The department has adopted a ward-based approach in delivering services to the people”, she said.
This follows a ward-based audit of social services carried out last year.
There had also been queries with regard to under expenditure by the department, which the MEC said was only 3.4 percent or R98.9 million of its R2.7 billion budget for the past financial year.
This was because of “cost containment measures due to the known economic doldrums affecting the country”.
This included transfer payments to NPOs where the causes of under-expenditure ranged from withdrawel of funds due to non-compliance by certain NPOs, delays in payments because of disputes in the amounts claimed, and delays in the funding of some new services, due to long processes in supporting their establishments and ensuring compliance with relevant laws.
Chairperson of the KZN directors’ network, Zama Mabaso, said the meeting with the department had opened up dialogue and it would comment further at a planned joint press conference to take place soon.