Money starts flowing at last to Gauteng care organisations

The Department of Social Development has been scrambling to comply with a court order

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After waiting for months, non-profit organisations have at last started receiving their subsidies from the Gauteng Department of Social Development. Illustration: Lisa Nelson

  • Organisations that provide crucial care in Gauteng have at long last started to receive their subsidies.
  • A number of organisations were on the brink of closing down after waiting two months for their funding.
  • In line with a High Court order the department submitted a list of funded organisations, although three days late.
  • At least one organisation erroneously received a subsidy payment, without signing a service-level agreement.

More than two months into the new financial year, non-profit organisations are finally receiving their subsidies from the Gauteng Department of Social Development. This comes as a relief to the organisations that have been left in limbo, because of delays and chaos in finalising funding allocations by the department for the 2024/25 financial year.

The department has been scrambling to comply with a Gauteng High Court order handed down on 22 May, after the Gauteng Care Crisis Committee, a voluntary association of non-profit organisations, took the department to court on an urgent basis, to compel the department to finalise the funding process and pay subsidies.

The court ordered the department to give all non-profit organisations that had applied for funding, feedback on their applications by 24 May, and to issue service-level agreements by 30 May. The court ordered that organisations be paid within seven days of signing the agreements.

The court also ordered the department to provide a full list of funded non-profit organisations, the value of the funding and a list of organisations whose applications had been unsuccessful by 7 June 2024.

The department missed that deadline, asking the Gauteng Care Crisis Committee for an extension in the early hours of 8 June and providing the list of organisations just before midnight on 10 June.

This is despite department spokesperson Themba Gadebe telling GroundUp that the adjudication panel that assessed funding applications for the 2024/25 financial year, had already concluded its work in March 2024.

Delays in this year’s funding process were caused by a new centralised funding adjudication system, supposedly an attempt to prevent fraud and corruption. Independent adjudication panels were appointed to select the organisations which would receive subsidies from the department’s R2.4-billion budget for funding non-profit organisations.

But after this new adjudication process fell apart, causing catastrophic delays and serious mistakes in the service-level agreements sent to organisations, the department announced it would pay subsidies in line with the agreements signed in the previous financial year, 2023/24, as a “stopgap” measure.

Organisations were then issued with interim service-level agreements so that they could continue to receive their subsidies from last year for the next six months.

This has caused further delays and confusion. Kungwini Welfare Organisation in Pretoria received an unexpected subsidy payment on Saturday but had not seen or signed an interim or any service-level agreement for 2024/25.

Department spokesperson Themba Gadebe confirmed that this payment is a deviation from the Public Finance Management Act and “established standard operating procedures”. He said that the office of the chief financial officer has been requested to “account on some of the errors made and to put in place corrective measures”.

Kungwini already had to shut down one of its programmes in March due to uncertainty over its funding from the department. The organisation ran an outreach programme in Pretoria East for 24 years, serving over 6,000 people, said Daleen Botes, Kungwini’s CEO.

Meanwhile, some organisations who have received interim service-level agreements are still waiting for their subsidies to be paid.

Chantell Venter, a board member and resident of Remme Los, a self-help centre for quadriplegics and paraplegics, says the organisation received interim service-level agreements for their independent living and residential programmes, which were signed and returned on the same day, but only the independent living programme has received its subsidy.

Venter said they experienced a series of issues with the department’s funding process. The funding delays has meant that Remme Los had to rely on donations for most of this year.

The department previously told Remme Los that it had lost the business plan for the residential programme, yet it later issued an interim service-level agreement for that programme. Remme Los still does not know whether the programme will be funded for the third and fourth quarters of this year.

Organisations that have finally received their subsidies say they are relieved.

“We received a payment tranche for one quarter and we are expecting payment for the second quarter in July. This will help us to keep things going while we wait for the finalisation of our service-level agreements for this year,” said July Mathebula, manager at House Otto Self-Help Centre for Quadriplegics.

Mathebula said because of the department’s changes to the funding process, House Otto had received and signed three successive service-level agreements this year, the funding amounts differing each time.

He said he hoped this would be rectified by the time the interim service-level agreements are replaced with new service-level agreements for the third and fourth quarters of this year.

TOPICS:  Social Development mismanagement

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