Gauteng Premier, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane;
Deputy Minister of Social Development, Mrs Maria Ntuli;
MECs and HODs present;
Director-General, Mr Vusi Madonsela;
Academics and Members of the NPO sector;
Ladies and gentlemen;
This Non Profit Organisation’s (NPOs) summit is taking place at a time when South Africa is commemorating the 56th anniversary of the 1956 Women’s march against pass laws. While much progress has been made in the fight for gender rights over the last 18 years, there is still much work to be done in the quest for gender equality. The same can be said about much of the issues pertaining to social transformation in South Africa. We have made progress in the fight against poverty, inequality and unemployment, but clearly, much more needs to be done. It is precisely because of the scale of the work required to improve the lives of South Africa’s most vulnerable people that we are having this summit - to develop workable and lasting strategies as partners in social development.
The development of a stronger partnership between government and the NPO sector is the primary reason for our getting together today. Over the last few months we have traversed the country meeting with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Community Based Organisations. Provincial summits were held in each of the nine provinces, preceded by district meetings.
Many of you participated in both the district and provincial discussions where we discussed the work and challenges of government and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). As a sector you made recommendations on how the sector can be strengthened in a range of areas. This summit will seek to sharpen these recommendations in the commissions over the next few days.
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is going to be a working summit where we collectively develop strategies to improve our abilities to improve services to the poor and vulnerable. I hope that despite the differences between government and civil society and the differences within civil society itself, that what will bind this collective over the next few days is our shared commitment to fight poverty, inequality and unemployment.
I need to emphasize that often we speak of civil society as if it is a cohesive and organised sector. The provincial dialogues reminded us that civil society is actually a mirror of society itself. We saw the rich organisations, we saw the poor organisations, we saw organisations that were inclusive and we saw organisations that still actively excluded people on the basis of race and class. We witnessed the disparities between organisations that had access to resources and met with many organisations doing good work without many resources at all. In sum, we experienced the inequalities and disparities within South African society within civil society itself.
Ladies and gentlemen, the last time there was a summit of this nature was in 1996, convened by the then Minister responsible for the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP). That summit dealt with ways in which government and NPOs could partner, but also dealt extensively with transforming the state. At this summit we need to deal with the transformation of the NPO sector itself as well. We cannot have a situation wherein a few large organisations are able to access huge resources and many community based organisations struggle 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 into 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 and so that we can target our services to the poorest of South Africans. This is the essence of what we all need to do better, ensure that we provide services to those who need us the most, so that all of us benefit from a democratic South Africa.
That being said, the provincial dialogues did also give us a sense that there are many NPOs which seek to improve the lives of vulnerable people. These included organisations working with people with disabilities, women, older persons, children and orphans. Such commitment is important as it complements the vision and mission objectives of our department. In addition, it is also evident that South African NPOs are contributing to South Africa’s efforts to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets.
You may be aware that much of our work depends upon the efficient functioning of Non Profit Organisations that render services on behalf of government. We often refer to these types of organisations, probably the majority among you as a key part of our value chain. Up to 60 percent of the welfare services budget in the provinces goes to NPOs who render services for us. 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. I am stressing the word, “partnership” as the scale of the social problems in South Africa is such that government alone cannot change the lives of our people.
Neither, can the Non-Profit 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.
We were impressed by the fact that the NPO sector itself employs a significant number of people. In Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces, many people are employed by NPOs. Many people in our rural communities are working for NPOs in various capacities such as Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres meanwhile others are taking care of orphans and older persons.
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.
In conclusion, let us ensure that this summit assists us to find solutions for the challenges that have been identified. This includes the lack of infrastructure, and insufficient resources. There are also legislative processes underway which are aimed at addressing some of the concerns raised at the provincial dialogues.
In commemoration of the 1956 struggle heroines and all who contributed immensely to the liberation of all South Africans including women, let us interact and exchange ideas for the transformation of the NPO sector. In the same spirit please join me in celebrating the appointment of Minister Dlamini-Zuma as the first female Chairperson of the African Union Commission. This is a shared victory for all South Africans and women in particular. Malibongwe!
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SA: Bathabile Dlamini: Address by the Minister of Social Development, during the Non Profit Organisations (NPOs) summit, at the Birchwood Hotel and OR Tambo Conference Centre, Gauteng (15/08/2012)