On 17 April 2023, Non-Governmental Organisations were protesting in Commissioner Street, Johannesburg to voice out their displeasure at the Department of Social Development cutting the funding for the NGOs. Reports say the people working in the organisations that were protesting were very angry and wanted immediate answers.
NGOs are working hand in hand with the government by, among other things, providing support for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs). Now this raises questions whether the government is shifting focus to something else that will benefit the OVCs or it is shifting funds to something that is not connected to OVCs nor interested in their sustainability and operations.
The Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, was asked why the DSD is cutting funding for NGOs during a radio interview. Lesufi responded saying that there was confusion, going on to say the DSD was confused. According to some reports, the NGOs received letters clearly stating that there will be funding reductions. NGOs think this shows a lack of accountability, responsibility, abuse of power, and a lack of common understanding that dominates the systems and procedures in where decisions impacting the working class and underprivileged communities are taken.
The DSD is ensuring that the poor remain poor. The cutting of funds goes as far as cutting the livelihoods of those that benefit from these NGOs. Firstly, there are children that are extremely vulnerable and are relying on a fully financed and resourceful NGO to get an early supper, clothes, to engage with other children; to have psychological support, learn and discover their talents, and most importantly to be moved away from bad habits common in the communities, like substance abuse, crime, theft, rape and so on.
EPWP workers who volunteer in these organisations come from vulnerable homes, others from youth-headed households battling to make ends meet with the stipend received. The stipend cut will leave the volunteers with non-liveable amounts leading to a cut in monthly groceries. Workers cannot purchase everything they need and cannot provide support for siblings’ schooling and transport costs. the situation also has impact on the high rate of unemployment because since stipends cannot be paid anymore, some staff face retrenchment.
The HIV/AIDS statistics are also heading to the top as many go hungry and resort to sleeping with older men for food security, crime increases as people resort to stealing. Hunger leads to malnutrition.
26-year-old Motshidisi Motloung who worked at PUSH, an NGO, for over two years says it is a drastic change and terror for the NGOs. She starts off by saying it has been difficult to adjust to the new change, “I have anxiety and stress every morning when I go to work because it just might be my last day. I am the breadwinner at home my parents are old, so they are relying on me for the household needs. What is happening with [the] Department of Social Development is affecting me financially as I must cut on grocery expenditure and personal expenditure. Food consumes my whole stipend; I cannot even purchase medication nor save money for unforeseen circumstances. I foresee closure and I worry about how my family, and I will survive because there is a scarcity of jobs as well.”
Cycles destroyed by NGOs are now recreated by the very government that created them in the first place. There are many underlying issues that this transition affects in terms of health, living conditions, and occupation. In terms of health underprivileged communities are headed right back to the conditions that make them vulnerable to sickness and diseases, which agreed with the Gluckman Commission which found that health services in South Africa are accessed by those with means to pay.
There is no improvement in the living conditions because crowding remains within these communities which induces a tendency toward teenage pregnancy underlied by poverty. As far as occupation is concerned, vulnerable people work hard for a non-liveable wage because decisions are taken by those in leadership that only want to feed themselves.
This article is an opinion piece submitted on 05 May 2023. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Karibu! Online or Khanya College. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.