South Africa

GROUNDUP

Gauteng premier breaks promise to pay nonprofit organisations by 24 May

Gauteng premier breaks promise to pay nonprofit organisations by 24 May
The Gauteng Department of Social Development has missed Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s deadline to pay nonprofit organisations by 24 May. (Archive photo: Ihsaan Haffejee)

The Gauteng Department of Social Development has not yet paid all the organisations it has signed agreements with in spite of promising to do so by Friday, 24 May. Organisations say they are running out of food and cannot pay staff salaries.

Despite promises by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi that they would be paid by 24 May, many nonprofit organisations across the province say they are yet to receive their subsidies from the provincial Department of Social Development.

In a meeting with organisations on 14 May, Lesufi promised that those that had concluded funding agreements with the department would receive their subsidies by 24 May. The new financial year started on 1 April, but many organisations have still not received subsidies for the first quarter of the year.

Delays in funding have forced several organisations to close and others to limit their work. A number of organisations are on the brink of closure. GroundUp is aware of many organisations with successful funding applications that have still not received service-level agreements.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘The stress levels are just awful,’ says NPO awaiting funding decision from Gauteng government

Department spokesperson Themba Gadebe told GroundUp that a recent court order, compelling the department to finalise funding agreements by 30 May and to pay subsidies within seven days of the agreements being signed, “supersedes” Lesufi’s promise to pay organisations by 24 May.

“The Department is compelled to stick to the timelines given by the court,” said Gadebe.

The court order was obtained by the Gauteng Care Crisis Committee, a voluntary body of nonprofit organisations. The committee had approached the court on an urgent basis last week.

In an affidavit presented to the court, department head Bongani Ngomane argued that a court order was unnecessary, because “the Department anticipates having completed [the funding process] on or before 24 May 2024, and to have informed all applicants of the outcome of their applications by that date.”

Organisations told GroundUp that things were “chaotic” at the department’s offices on Friday, as people sought answers about agreements and the payment of subsidies. They said a lack of communication from the department forced them to go to the department’s offices in person.

Epilepsy Gauteng was one of the organisations that received and signed service-level agreements almost a month ago, yet no funds have been paid to its account.

Director Aileen Langley said they have no money to cover expenses including food and staff salaries. “We have already received notice that our electricity will be cut and our staff won’t be paid for the second month in a row,” she said.

Included in the services run by Epilepsy Gauteng are residential programmes that provide 24-hour care for people living with epilepsy, neurological disorders and intellectual disabilities. The organisation has had to rely on staff members to work on a voluntary basis, and there are not always enough to care for all the residents.

“A resident was physically attacked by another resident over the weekend. This is a direct result of not having an adequate number of staff on duty to prevent or manage such incidents,” Langley said.

Thoko Budaza, executive director of People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa), said she rushed to the department’s offices on Friday after hearing at the last minute that she had to physically collect the service-level agreements.

“There were about a hundred people when I got there. We were all being treated so inhumanely. Most of the officials couldn’t give us answers,” she said. Many people, herself included, went home empty-handed, without a service-level agreement or an explanation.

One delay after another

In her founding affidavit in the court case, the Gauteng Care Crisis Committee’s chair Lisa Vetten said the funding process had been beset by delays and confusion since September 2023:

  • By September 2023, some organisations submitted new business plans for the next financial year, “at the request of regional offices”.
  • But during a meeting with senior officials on 4 October 2023, the Department said an official call for the submission of business plans would be circulated the following week. This did not happen.
  • Meanwhile, some regional offices were telling organisations that they did not need to submit new business plans.
  • At a meeting with senior officials on 24 October, organisations were told again that the call for submissions would be made the following week.
  • On 26 October, a voice note from a department official informed organisations that the call for submissions would appear in newspapers the following week, that the previous three-year funding cycle would be terminated, so all organisations would have to submit new business plans, and that “strict compliance” would be required.
  • On 1 November, the call for submissions was advertised in newspapers, the closing date being 3pm on 20 November 2023.
  • A template for the business plans was distributed on 3 November.
  • On 6 November a new template was provided.
  • On 10 November a WhatsApp voice note from a department official told organisations to submit the applications to the Agriculture department, not the Social Development department (MEC Mbali Hlophe is the MEC for both departments).
  • On 20 November, the day of the deadline, the department confirmed the address had changed to the Agriculture department and the deadline for submissions was extended to 27 November.
  • On 3 December, organisations received a Funding Checklist, which required new documentation. Organisations had already submitted business plans without knowing about the new compliance criteria.
  • The adjudication panels were supposed to meet between 7 February and 28 February 2024, but only on 20 March did the Department announce that the funding allocations will be finalised by the end of March and funding would follow by the end of April.
  • Funding applications were not finalised by the end of March, but in April, after the start of the financial year, the Department announced that allocations had been completed.

In his affidavit to the court, the department head said that the delays had “not been unreasonable”, because the funding process had been restructured to prevent fraud and corruption.

He added that “the office of the HOD has also been recently vacated, resulting in some administrative challenges within the Department.”

The contract of previous head of department Matilda Gasela came to an end in April. Gasela had been appointed to head the department in 2023, despite an SIU investigation recommending her criminal prosecution for fraud allegations dating to her time at the Department of Agriculture. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Jax Snyman says:

    Why am I not surprised: Panyaza ‘Lefoolyou’ has form when it comes to making ‘unfunded’ promises

  • Gretha Erasmus says:

    Every week we are hearing of care homes facing closure. Some orphanages older than a hundred years. Government funded retirement homes, homes for the disabled, shelters. All closing in Gauteng. There is a crisis bigger than Life Esidemeni happening in social services with the defunding of countless care homes for different vulnerable children and adults. What is happening with all the children and elderly and disabled whose care homes suddenly don’t have service level agreements anymore? People will be /are already dying and disappearing. How is it possible that so many established care homes suddenly don’t qualify for Gauteng funding anymore? Where must all their people go? To new fly by night care homes that were newly established and suddenly received service level agreements that decades old homes can’t get? The Life Esidemeni patients didn’t die because they were dumped on the streets. They died because they were moved to new start up care homes who couldn’t manage them
    Life Esidemeni was a set group of patients one could track. But now? The death toll could be ten times more.

    Why has Gauteng government defunded so many decade old established care homes?

    How many of the care homes /NPOs receiving funding now from Gauteng are newer than 3 years?

    Is there a way to collate all the people at risk now from the closing of previously funded care homes in Gauteng, and to be able to track what happens to them?

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:

      The answer is simple. The anc in general and in particular lesufi don’t care at all for ‘the people’. All they care about is self gorging at the trough of taxpayers’ money.

  • Cachunk Cachunk says:

    This moron is a poster child for anc scum. Utterly useless cadre. Couldn’t run a bath.

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      100% spot on. This is why your provincial vote is, in many ways, more important than the national one: we need to rid Gauteng of this liar and rid ourselves of the murderous ANC regime that slaughters the most vulnerable in our province with the flick of a pen, doubtless borrowed from the couch stuffer.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Ndlozi is whispering in Lesufis ear, don’t, there are only white benificiaries, and of course we know that he is the puppet of the EFF

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    This is what happens when a populist idiot with no skills decides that being Premier means you can throw billions at unsustainable pet projects that funnily enough bear your name, but can’t manage day to day administration. Lest we forget, the chaos in Joburg is Lesufi’s fault directly: Kabelo Gwamanda was his personal pick for mayor simply so the ANC could retain control of the city and its juicy coffers. I wonder if these payments are not forthcoming because the money’s been siphoned off for his vote-buying populist rubbish? An absolute scoundrel!

  • hilton smith says:

    Anc cares

  • eeloff44063 says:

    Please keep reporting about this. The company I work for made a small donation to one of the affected NPOs and their situation is dire. The people keep showing up to work without knowing if they’ll receive a salary, let alone the stres of not knowing where funds will come from to keep doing what the do – child welfare, social services and adoptions. It’s a disgrace.

  • William Kelly says:

    Lesufi lies. Is anyone at all surprised? As for providing leadership, he is all talk and zero work. He assumes leadership to be a series of talks, posing for the camera and pushing populist rubbish. The reason there is chaos here is because there is no substance behind the man whatsoever, and of course he’s run out of money (a natural consequence of incompetence and populism).

  • Rae Earl says:

    The mere fact that the ANC does nothing about Lesufi’s lunacy and hopeless incompetence is indicative of the fact that Ramaphosa retains useless cadres like Lesufi to support him in parliament. Typical of the president’s gutless lack of leadership and dithering meandering and absence of decision making. Vote them out or carry on sliding down the mineshaft of misery they have created.

  • William Kelly says:

    I will add that we have seen this all before somewhere. Like the Life scandal and the VBS saga, it’s those that cannot fight back, those that actually NEED care and succour from society at large that have what little funding is left over from the greed of VIP Protection, perks and ‘priviledges’ that the cANCer take for themselves first, are the ones thrown to the wolves. We are on our own. Oh and Mr Kiewsetter do come and show me tax morality in action please?
    What can we do? Donate directly, claim the donation from your tax bill and minimise your tax exposure through whatever means you can. Starve the beast.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Pansy lied yet again….. sure the Courtgave until 30th May but in no way does it say it could not be earlier.

  • Lynda Tyrer says:

    He is a malignant liar and no one should accept what he promises.

  • Dermot Quinn says:

    The ANC hate non profits. They are more efficient, hold the govt to account and embarrass them> while elections are on the ability to hide and ignore goes up exponentially. Even more than the rest of the year, their eyes are not on the ball but on the wad of cash at the end of election day…..
    evil doesnt even describe it. Marikana, Esidemeni et al and the electorate give them another chance…
    the mind boggles

  • Susan Goldstein says:

    Seems the ANC is good at making grandiose promises just before elections – follow through not so much!

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    “Gauteng premier breaks promise to pay … ” What ? No! Surely a mis-print. Surely … ?

  • Gretha Erasmus says:

    Please continue reporting on this issue. There are thousands of lives at stake. And hundreds of jobs. One report noted that the reason for the sudden defunding is that the Lesufi youth brigade was suddenly doing inspections instead of the social workers who are qualified and know which are the good care homes that they can place people in. According to a another news article, a new committee that needed R15 million to decide where the funding must go, and instead of the social workers who get a degree to know what to do, Lesufi’s youth brigade was suddenly deciding. What a mess. These are people’s lives Lesufi is playing with.

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