24 January 2013

South Africa: Department of Social Development Failing NGOs

press release

The administrative ineptitude of the Department of Social Development has resulted in thousands of NGOs not being informed of the possibility that they may be deregistered.

It was reported today that more than 70 000 NGOs are either non-compliant with the Nonprofit Organisation Act or have been deregistered due to non-compliance. These include numerous well-known NGOs which have taken government to court for failing to deliver to South Africans. If these NGOs are not registered, and labelled as non-compliant, they could potentially lose their funding , not just from government, but also from other sources.

The NPO Act requires the NPO Directorate, which falls under the Department of Social Development, to monitor the compliance of NGOs with the Act. Compliance includes annual submission of a narrative report on the organisation's activities as well as submission of its financial statements and the accounting officer's report on these financial statements.

In terms of section 20 and section 21 of the NPO Act, the NPO Directorate must inform NGOs of non-compliance or the possibility of deregistration.

However, the Directorate seems to be failing in this duty. Some NGOs have reported that they were never informed of their non-compliance. This could be due to the fact that the Directorate does not keep their records updated. In one case, records of board members had not been updated since 2002.

In fact, the Auditor-General has been dissatisfied with the Department's non-monitoring of NGOs for the last six years.

NGOs should not be punished for the Directorate's inability to function properly. This is yet another function of the Social Development Department that is failing our citizens.

I will be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development to request that Minister Dlamini and the Director of the NPO Directorate appear before the committee to explain why the Directorate is failing to keep updated records and inform NGOs of any changes. They must also present a plan to rectify the situation.

NGOs and the people who benefit from the work they do should not be allowed to suffer as a result of the Department's incompetence.

Mike Waters, Shadow Minister of Social Development

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