Suffer the poor as GP Social development fails to spend millions

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Millions of rands were left unspent by the department of social development, while nonprofit organisations (NPOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) struggle to keep the pots cooking.

Democratic Alliance Gauteng shadow MEC for social development Refiloe Nt’sekhe said the poor and vulnerable people who were solely dependent on NGOs and NPOs were now suffering and at risk of starvation as the Gauteng department of social development failed to spend R438.1 million of its annual budget.

Nt’sekhe said the information was revealed in the department’s annual report for the 2020-21 financial year.

“According to the department’s annual report, most of the programmes were severely affected by underexpenditure. The social welfare services programme was underspent by R17.9 million, which is mainly attributed to unspent funds on antiretroviral food parcels and the allocated budget for HIV social behaviour change not fully spent at the end of the financial year,” Nt’sekhe said.

“The department also underspent by R13.2 million on restorative services programmes, due to delays in the implementation of substance abuse-related mobile services as the department only contracted NPOs from the third
quarter onwards.”

Nt’sekhe said in the past four years, the department has underspent over R1 billion.

“It is concerning that all the continuing underexpenditure by this department severely affects the rendering of services to the poor,” she said.

Gauteng social services welfare development forum chair Les Sanabria said it was unacceptable for the department to return money to the Treasury.

Sanabria said the department had failed to meet its financial obligations to the NPO sector.

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“We are tired of excuses where the department blames the failure to make payments to NPOs on time on computer glitches,” he said.

Sanabria said a service level agreement was a contract and added the department was in breach of contract.

“Child and youth care centres are faced with six-week delays in payment. It seems as if the department does not realise that the NPO sector also have staff and debts to pay,” he said.

The Cradle of Hope house of safety for abused women and children in Krugersdorp has housed hundreds of homeless people and fed thousands through its soup kitchen.

Cradle of Hope founder Melodie van Brakel said the delay in making payments was a problem every year.

“It’s shocking. We do not get government funding. We get God funding,” she added.

Van Brakel said the system was falling apart.

“The social development minister is useless. If they offered us R20 million today, I wouldn’t take it.

“I’m not interested in the department’s bullying, power games and corruption,” she said.

“For six years long, I have applied for a grant. All the heaps of paperwork, weeks of preparation and still we haven’t received a cent,” she said.

“I decided seven years ago they can keep their money.”

marizkac@citizen.co.za

Source: citizen