SA NGOs to Benefit from the African Platform

sustainability funding ngos
Wednesday, 25 March, 2015 - 10:41

SANGOCO joins the African Platform for Social Protection, with the hope that its membership will also benefit its members

Collaboration, sustainability and knowledge sharing were some of the buzzwords that dominated Day 2 of the Social Protection Workshop, which was hosted by the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), in partnership with the African Platform for Social Protection (APSP), from 12-13 March 2015 in Johannesburg.
 
APSP chief executive officer, Tavengwa Nhongo, urged delegates from SANGOCO-affiliated members to embark on collaborative work instead of tackling development challenges as individual organisations. Addressing the SANGOCO provincial delegates, Nhongo said he believes that collaborations create an opportunity for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to easily raise funds for their development work.
 
He adds that the APSP - a network of organisations operating at national and regional levels, with a commitment to promoting and strengthening the social contract between states and citizens – will create linkages with civil society organisations (CSOs), including SANGOCO, to engage with other role players on the continent to push the development and/or implementation of policies and programmes on social protection.
 
He believes that SANGOCO’s membership to APSP will enable it to receive support with social protection knowledge and information, learn and share through exchange programmes, attend conferences, and engage with other stakeholders with the view to promote social protection and the work of various CSOs. Its membership also provides an opportunity for SANGOCO to forge partnerships with other CSOs on the African continent. 
 
Nhongo stated that he was intrigued by the view that SANGOCO should be funded by the state. He explained that in a lot of countries where APSP works, national organisations like SANGOCO - unless if there is another one like it - receive funding from the state. The funding is aimed at helping the organisation to sustain itself. He added that national organisations that are funded by government only worry about raising money to implement development projects and/or expand their existing initiatives. This, he said, will go a long way in enabling them to continue representing the interests of their members while remaining sustainable.
 
“The money you must be cracking today should be for programmes. You should be looking at ways to expand your work.”
 
In response, SANGOCO president, Jimmy Gotyana, says SANGOCO is willing to work with the South African government to tackle development challenges faced by the poor. He warns, however, that too much reliance on government funding could limit the organisation’s inability to hold government accountable, among others.
 
The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) supports the view that NGOs should develop informative and interactive web platforms. Websites are of great benefit to NGOs because for many, they serve as an access point to the organisation, they raise awareness about what the organisation stands for and also link various stakeholders - donors (potential and existing) and the beneficiaries.
 
Nhongo recalled that when he came across SANGOCO on the Internet he immediately called the organisation on contact details listed on its website. To his surprise, the person who responded to his call was not someone who works for the organisation. Also, if one sends an email to SANGOCO using the organisation’s official email address (also listed on its website), the email will end up in the inbox of an individual who is not working for the organisation. “…essentially the SANGOCO email and website have been hacked.” He further urged SANGOCO to sort out its website, adding that if he did not check the contact details provided on the website, he could have deposited the funds aimed at the workshop to a wrong person.
 
Meanwhile, Gotyana admitted that SANGOCO, an organisation with a rich history, faces a number of challenges today. He pointed out that some of SANGOCO’s achievements include its contribution to the establishment of the Department of Social Development’s NPO Directorate - which is responsible for registering nonprofit organisations in the country. Also, SANGOCO was party to the establishment of critical institutions like the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC). Sadly, the organisation is not part of NEDLAC processes today and is rather expected to play an ‘observer role’ while smaller organisations are recognised. They also blamed the weakening of SANGOCO on the poaching of its senior staff by government and other sectors.
 
One of the other challenges the organisation faces is individuals who claim to be doing things in the name of SANGOCO when they have no ties with the organisation. Gotyana called on the delegates to expose such individuals since they are not even accountable to its national or provincial leadership. He maintained that it is not correct that, “An organisation with a rich history like SANGOCO, is not represented within critical institutions in South Africa while smaller organisations get recognition.”
 
One only hopes that SANGOCO’s membership to APSP will not only benefit itself but also its members.
 
 - Butjwana Seokoma is heading SANGONeT’s Civil Society Information Programme. He attended only Day-2 of the Social Protection Workshop. 

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