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    Court orders Gauteng government to pay non-profit organisations

    The provincial social development department must provide funding contracts to successful organisations by the end of May.
    Members of non-profit organisations funded by the Gauteng Department of Social Development protested last week because of delays in funding allocations and subsidy payments. Photo: Masego Mafata / GroundUp
    Members of non-profit organisations funded by the Gauteng Department of Social Development protested last week because of delays in funding allocations and subsidy payments. Photo: Masego Mafata / GroundUp

    • Non-profit organisations in Gauteng took the social development department to court because of delays in funding allocations and subsidy payment.
    • The Gauteng High Court has ordered the department to finalise funding applications submitted by non-profit organisations and to issue service-level agreements by the end of May.
    • Organisations owed funds must be paid within seven days of the agreements being concluded, the court ruled.

    The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg handed down an order on Wednesday compelling the provincial Department of Social Development to address the funding crisis faced by non-profit organisations across the province.

    In an urgent matter brought before the court by the Gauteng Care Crisis Committee (GCCC), a voluntary organisation of non-profit organisations in the province, Judge Ingrid Opperman ruled that the department must:

    • Conclude its funding adjudications by Friday 24 May for all social work organisations that had submitted applications.
    • Issue service level agreements to all successful organisations by 30 May.
    • Pay all monies due to organisations within seven days of the service level agreements being signed.
    • Provide a report by 7 June, with a list of all organisations that have been approved for funding and, on request, provide a list of organisations who have not been approved for funding, with reasons. The report must also include a list of all organisations that have been approved for funding but have not finalised service-level agreements.

    The GCCC argued in court that this order is necessary to ensure the department finalises what has been a lengthy and chaotic process for organisations that provide social services to vulnerable people across the province, including child and youth centres, women’s shelters and homes for people with severe disabilities.

    The department changed its funding adjudication process this year, appointing external panels to select which organisations should receive funding.

    At the same time, a series of forensic audits launched by the department in the past year have contributed to delays in the funding process.

    Almost two months into the new financial year, some organisations that have received funding from the department for decades have not yet received confirmation that they will be funded for the 2024/25 financial year.

    Several organisations have had to close, others have limited their service offerings, while a number of organisations are on the brink of closure.

    Lisa Vetten, chair of the GCCC, said in her founding affidavit that “only a limited number” of organisations have been informed that their funding applications were successful.

    Vetten said that organisations were expecting that the adjudication process would be completed by the end of February, but the process was only concluded at the start of April, after the start of the new financial year.

    Last Friday, organisations picketed outside the department’s head office, demanding the immediate payment of subsidies and the finalisation of service-level agreements.

    The picket took place after Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, earlier that week, promised to reverse cuts to the department’s budget, pay the subsidies by 24 May, and review complaints about service-level agreements.

    Advocate Ori Ben Zeev, arguing for GCCC, told the court on Wednesday that the uncertainty and delays by the department were precisely why a supervisory court order was necessary.

    This article was originally published on GroundUp.

    © 2024 GroundUp. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

    Source: GroundUp

    GroundUp is a community news organisation that focuses on social justice stories in vulnerable communities. We want our stories to make a difference.

    Go to: http://www.groundup.org.za/
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