The Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini held a meeting with the Ministerial Task Team on Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) to discuss administrative matters relating to the NPO sector, the registration status of NPOs, and also reach agreement on the way forward with regards to de-registration of NPOs that failed to comply with the NPO Act (Act No.71 of 1997).
The Ministerial Task Team comprised of representatives of government, civil society organisations, business and other entities such as the National Lotteries Board and the South African Revenue Services. The Task Team was established in August 2012 following the declaration of the NPO Summit with the view to ensure formal, regular and inclusive dialogue between Government and the NPO sector, and to address the challenges confronting the sector.
The meeting noted that currently there were 64 476 organisations registered with the NPO Directorate in the Department of Social Development. Of these, 23 034 have been de-registered for failure to comply with the NPO Act.
According to the NPO database, many of the affected were NPOs registered before 2007 and they have never submitted annual reports (inclusive of financial and narrative reports) since registration. To date, 29 286 registered NPOs are compliant with the Act, while 35 190 remain non-compliant although not de-registered.
The Minister has mandated the Task Team to develop a Plan of Action to address all issues emanating from the NPO Summit to ensure fast track the full implementation of the Summit resolutions.
The Minister and the Task Team appreciated that the de-registration process was in full compliance with the provisions of the NPO Act and agreed to work together to promote the objective of the NPO Act which seeks to encourage the NPO sector to voluntarily commit to good governance, transparency and accountability.
The meeting decided on the following:
- The de-registered NPOs will be reinstated and reflected as registered on the NPO database, while rigorous efforts will be undertaken to ensure compliance and correct their status;
- The NPOs which were not de-registered but are non-compliant will also be given an opportunity to submit their reports within this six months period.
- The meeting noted that the bulk of the NPOs affected by the decision were those that provided welfare services to the most vulnerable groups such as children, older persons and people with disabilities.
- The meeting further applauded the Minister’s decision to provisionally reinstate all the de-registered organisations as the decision is in the best interest of beneficiaries that receive services from the affected organisations on behalf of Government;
- The Department of Social Development will popularise the guideline for use by NPOs in compiling their reports to ensure compliance with the NPO Act;
- The submission of outstanding documents by NPOs will be decentralised;
- The Department of Social Development will work to improve communication with registered organisations to ensure that organisations on the NPO database are aware of their registration status and compliance requirements;
- The parties agreed to work together to improve communication between the department and the sector through amongst others, regular and inclusive dialogue, provincial road shows especially in areas mostly affected by the de-registration process, intensify communication campaigns through mainstream and community media;
- The parties further agreed that there was an urgent need for a national Call Centre as a permanent and long-term measure to deal timeously and effectively with public enquiries and the sector as a whole;
- The meeting agreed on the need to fast track the full implementation of the NPO Act. Pursuant to this, an advertisement for call for nomination of members to serve on the Panel of Arbitrators and Arbitration Tribunal will be placed in the media for the Minister to make appointment of Panel members, as per the NPO Act;
- The department is in the process of strengthening its own internal capacity to respond more adequately and effectively to needs of the NPO sector as a key development partner;
- The meeting also emphasised the importance of monitoring and evaluation of the process that is currently being put in place to redress the pressing challenges facing sector; and
- The Minister re-affirmed Government’s commitment to the long standing partnership with the NPO sector and reassured the meeting that Government will continue to work with the sector, especially during this time of global financial difficulties when working together is more important than ever before.
- Further discussion between the Minister and the Task Team will take place on an on-going basis.
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