31 January 2013

South Africa: Social Development Minister Meets With NPO Task Team

Pretoria — Rigorous steps will be taken to ensure that non-profit organisations (NPOs) - who were deregistered with the NPO Directorate - are fully compliant with the legislation governing NPOs.

These organisations will also be provisionally reinstated on the NPO Directorate's database. They will be given a period of six months to get their houses in order.

This emerged after a meeting with the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, and the Ministerial Task Team on NPOs to discuss administrative matters relating to the sector.

The Department of Social Development on Thursday said the meeting, among others, resolved to reinstate the deregistered NPOs, and that the NPOs will be reflected as registered on the NPO database.

"The meeting applauded the minister's decision to provisionally reinstate all the deregistered organisations, as the decision is in the best interest of beneficiaries that receive services from the affected organisations on behalf of government," said the department in a statement on Thursday.

NPOs which were not deregistered but are non-compliant will also be given an opportunity to submit their reports within the six-month period.

The task team was established in August 2012 following the declaration of the NPO Summit with a view to ensure formal, regular and inclusive dialogue between government and the NPO sector, and to address the challenges confronting the sector.

The meeting noted that currently, there were 64 476 organisations registered with the NPO Directorate in the department. Of these, 23 034 have been deregistered for failure to comply with the NPO Act of 1997.

According to the NPO database, many of the affected were NPOs registered before 2007 which had never submitted annual reports (inclusive of financial and narrative reports) since registration.

To date, 29 286 registered NPOs are compliant with the Act, while 35 190 remain non-compliant although not deregistered.

Dlamini has mandated the task team to develop a plan of action to address all issues emanating from the NPO Summit to ensure the speedy implementation of the summit resolutions.

"The minister and the task team appreciated that the deregistration process was in full compliance with the provisions of the NPO Act, and agreed to work together to promote the objective of the NPO Act, which seeks to encourage the NPO sector to voluntarily commit to good governance, transparency and accountability," said the department.

The meeting also decided that:

- the department will popularise the guidelines for use by NPOs in compiling their reports to ensure compliance with the NPO Act;

- the submission of outstanding documents by NPOs will be decentralised;

- the department will work to improve communication with registered organisations to ensure that organisations on the NPO database are aware of their registration status and compliance requirements.

The parties agreed to work together to improve communication between the department and the sector through, among others, regular and inclusive dialogue, provincial road shows, especially in areas mostly affected by the deregistration process.

The meeting noted that the bulk of the NPOs affected by the decision were those that provided welfare services to the most vulnerable groups such as children, older persons and people with disabilities.

The parties further agreed that there was an urgent need for a national call centre as a permanent and long-term measure to deal timeously and effectively with public enquiries and the sector as a whole.

"The minister reaffirmed government's commitment to the long standing partnership with the NPO sector, and reassured the meeting that government will continue to work with the sector, especially during this time of global financial difficulties when working together is more important than ever before," said the department.

Further discussion between the minister and the task team will take place on an ongoing basis.

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