Johannesburg: President Jacob Zuma has praised non-profit organisations (NPOs) for the sterling work they do to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.
Addressing more than 1 000 NPOs from across the country at the National NPOs Summit in Johannesburg on Thursday, Zuma emphasised that the non-profit sector should remain an indispensable partner to government as it pursues the development agenda.
He further encouraged the organisations to have an open relationship with government so that they could call on it whenever they were faced with a problem in their communities.
“The doors and windows must be permanently open for NPOs. These are people who interact with the poorest of the poor on a daily basis and we [government] need to interact with them,” Zuma said.
The sector includes NPOs, charities, community groups, faith-based organisations, community development clubs and foundations.
“We have seen a significant growth in the sector since 1994 due to the enabling environment fostered by the democratic government. The Department of Social Development reports an increase of 14% per annum in the sector.
“The activities have also expanded from anti-apartheid petitions and protests to active service delivery initiatives in key areas of HIV and AIDS, child care, poverty reduction, victim empowerment programmes, social crime prevention, economic development and policy advocacy,” Zuma noted.
In recognition of the invaluable contribution of the NPO sector to South Africa’s economy and social well-being, Zuma said government enacted the NPOs Act in 1997 to create an enabling environment and align them with the Constitution of the Republic.
“There are now about 100 000 organisations in the NPO sector and more than 85 000 are registered in terms of the NPO Act. It is the culture of transparency and respect for funders that the NPOs have opted to register and do everything above board … We acknowledge this sound management practice.”
He further urged the NPOs to find out more about the work of the National Development Agency (NDA) so that support to the sector can be strengthened. In addition, the National Lottery Board provides funding for the NPOs in the welfare sector, arts, culture and heritage sector as well as sports and recreation sector.
He also encouraged the NPOs to make the National Development Plan Vision 2030 – which was handed over in Parliament on Wednesday – a reality.
“To make a long lasting success of the National Development Plan, we need the whole scale, constructive mobilisation of civil society and widespread backing and collective ownership of its goal.”
The three-day summit, which started on Wednesday, focuses on the need to strengthen relationships between government and the NPO sector and provide a platform for effective partnerships between government and the non-profit sector as mandated by the Non-profit Organisations Act 1997.
Held under the theme “Working Together to Fight Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality”, the summit will also assist in ensuring coordination and integration among all the stakeholders.
The President noted that the summit gave them a chance to look at what both government and NPOs are supposed to do to improve the lives of the nation.