On 5 April, NPOs in Gauteng who receive a subsidy from the Department of Social Development (DSD) were called to a meeting in Gallagher Estate and were informed of impending cuts to the subsidy, by MEC for Social Development, Mbali Hlope. It was explained that approximately R417.6 million would be transferred to Research and Development. Two weeks later, these organisations were informed that their Service Level Agreements were ready for signing, and it became apparent that most organisations had received subsidy cuts of up to 61%.
Thankfully Premier Panyaza Lesufi has since committed to reinstating the subsidies that NPOs received in the 2022/2023 financial year by 15 May. He said he would “call an urgent meeting with the Premier’s Budget Committee, to deal with the funding of the elevated priorities so the NPO budget can be allocated to approved and compliant NPOs…”
Such cuts to NGO budgets would have seen most of these organisations either having to downsize and retrench staff, cut back on services, stop various programmes or worst-case scenario, close their doors entirely.
The impact of these cuts, should they have gone ahead, would have been two-fold: the most vulnerable in our province would have been left with limited or no services at all, and staff would have been retrenched on a massive scale.
It should be noted that these NPO’s offer services to the most vulnerable in our society, namely children, the aged, the mentally ill and the mentally and physically disabled. A cut in subsidies would have meant the most vulnerable would no longer have received the services that are currently offered to them (both residential and outpatient) and this would have had a disastrous effect on these individuals and on our province as a whole. Children in need of care would have been returned to their abusive environments, foster care and adoption processes would no longer be offered, and families who do not have capacity would have been forced to take care of their vulnerable family members themselves.
SAPPIN applauds those that fought against this decision, raising not just the voice of their organisations but the voice of the vulnerable who cannot speak for themselves.
Although we triumphed in this case we need to continue to keep our eye on government and ensure that we can continue to provide our valuable services to our best ability.