Suffer the poor as GP Social Development fails to spend millions

Millions of rands have gone unspent by the social development department, while non-profit organizations (NPOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) struggle to cook the pans.

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

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

“According to the ministry’s annual report, most programs have been hit hard by underspending. The social services program was underspent by R17.9 million, which is mainly attributed to unspent funds for antiretroviral food parcels and the budget allocated to HIV-related social behavior change which was not fully spent at the end of the fiscal year,” Nt’sekhe said.

“The department also spent R13.2 million less on food service programs, due to delays in implementing mobile addiction services, as the department only engaged NPOs from the third
from quarter.

Nt’sekhe said that over the past four years the department has spent over R1 billion.

“It is concerning that all of the continued underspending in this department is severely affecting the delivery of services to the poor,” she said.

Gauteng Social Services Welfare Development Forum chairman Les Sanabria said it was unacceptable for the department to return money to the treasury.

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

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“We are tired of the excuses where the ministry attributes the non-payment of NPOs on time to computer problems,” he said.

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

“The early childhood and youth centers are facing six-week payment delays. It seems that the ministry does not realize that the NPO sector also has staff and debts to pay,” he said.

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

Cradle of Hope founder Melodie van Brakel said late payments were a problem every year.

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

Van Brakel said the system is breaking down.

“The Minister of Social Development is useless. If they offered us 20 million rand today, I wouldn’t take it.

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

“For six years, I applied for a scholarship. All the piles of paperwork, weeks of preparation and we still haven’t received a dime,” she said.

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

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Joel C. Hicks