Johannesburg: Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini says there is a need for the Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) sector to transform, particularly in matters of governance.
Speaking at the National NPO Summit on Wednesday, Dlamini said they could ill-afford to have a situation whereby a few large organisations were able to access massive resources, yet many community-based organisations struggled from day to day.
“Discussions on transformation should include issues of governance within the sector and also the constituencies that NPOs within the social development sector work with. Too many well-resourced NPOs are concentrating their services in urban and well developed areas of our country, while there is a critical shortage of services in poor and rural areas.
“As a collective, we need to discuss this so that we can direct our services to the poorest of South Africans. This is the essence of what we all need to do better, to ensure that we provide services to those who need us the most, so that all of us benefit from a democratic South Africa,” Dlamini said.
Held under the theme, ‘Working Together to Fight Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality’, the summit, which is the culmination of provincial dialogues conducted in all nine provinces, focuses on the need to strengthen relationships between government and the NPO sector.
The purpose of the summit is to provide a platform for effective partnership between government and the NPO sector as mandated by the Non-profit Organisations Act 1997. It will also assist in ensuring coordination and integration among all the stakeholders.
Acknowledging the services rendered by the NPOs on behalf of government, Dlamini said they often referred to these types of organisations as key links in government’s value chain, as up to 60% of the welfare services budget in the provinces was allocated to NPOs who render services for government.
“Clearly we need to be active in strengthening this component of our value chain. It is a crucial partnership, the strengthening of this partnership should be the business of this summit. We should seek to work together to improve the services we render to the poor and vulnerable,” Dlamini said.
She added that the scale of social problems in South Africa was such that neither government alone could change the lives of people, nor could the NPO sector make an impact without working in partnership with government.
“Part of our discussions should also then focus on what areas government should and can do on its own, what areas of work require strategic partnerships with the non-profit sector so that we can integrate our work and improve the quality of services we deliver to our people.”
Dlamini was pleased to see during the provincial dialogues that the NPO sector employed a significant number of people in provinces such as Limpopo and the Northern Cape, where lots of work was done in rural communities in various capacities such as Early Childhood Development centres, orphanages and care homes for the elderly.
“To realise more positive results, I think we still need to introduce more radical changes, which will benefit both the NPOs and our communities. After the summit, we should be able to realise more changes in the NPO sector.
“As we engage and interact in this festival of ideas, let us bear in mind that we are not doing this for ourselves but for the benefit of all South Africans. Your opinions and contributions will be the success of this summit.”
The key issues expected to be discussed during the summit include funding and resource mobilisation, a ten-point plan and capacity building for NPOs.
Director-General for the Social Development Department, Vusi Madonsela, noted that many NPOs had high hopes, depending on the outcome of the summit. He was optimistic that through the commissions, resolutions would map the way forward for the relationship they want to have with NPOs.
“The theme of the summit holds a great deal of promise for NPOs throughout the country,” Madonsela said.
Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Rural Development and Agriculture, Nandi Mayathula Khoza, said working in partnership, government and NPOs could achieve their goal of bringing change in communities.
“We all have a responsibility to reach out to our children and women experiencing gender-based violence. We need to work together to address social ills,” said Mayathula Khoza.