R32 million allocated to stimulate local economic development

The National Development Agency (NDA) has set aside R32 million for 200 civil society organisations to stimulate local economic development.

This will be done through the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and recruitment of volunteers in all district municipalities.

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu made this announcement during a media briefing in Tshwane on the department’s social relief measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

“This initiative has far surpassed our expectations as it created 2 000 job opportunities and gave our youth, who are the hardest hit by the current high levels of unemployment, opportunities to contribute to their communities while improving the livelihoods of their families.

“Looking at the number of volunteers, I can safely say that more than 10 000 family members benefitted indirectly from the stipends,” Zulu said on Friday.

To date, a total of R6.1 million has been paid to participating Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and volunteers.

She said that eight of the volunteers in OR Tambo District were given 4-6 months’ temporary contracts as social workers under the department’s Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) and are receiving a stipend of R6 000 a month.

“The volunteers comprised of 1 600 women and 400 men. Youth make the largest number at 1 750. To date, the programme has reached 181 171 households, distributed 73 581 food parcels and assisted 147 289 to apply for the Special COVID-19 SRD [Social Relief of Distress] Grant.

“In addition, the NDA availed economic opportunities to 16 women-owned cooperatives across all provinces to produce PPEs to the value of over R1.1 million for the Volunteer Programme,” Zulu said.

Delays in NPOs payments cleared

Zulu also announced that the first and second quarter delays in relation to the transfer of payments to Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) have all been cleared, with the exception of North West, which is still experiencing technicalities with the Central Supplier Database.

Zulu explained that the delays in payments were due to lockdown regulations, confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, and migration from the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP).

To address this, the National Department of Social Development issued a circular to all provinces, with proposed measures to ensure continuation of funding to organisations.

“The circular further advised that in instances where Service Level Agreements (SLAs) were not yet signed or finalised, it was suggested that provinces should extend the 2019 SLAs until September in order to ease the transfer of first and second tranches of payments.

“The Western Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces adopted the circular and they developed their circulars respectively. The non-payment and delays specifically for the first quarter payments were experienced in the Eastern Cape and North West provinces respectively.

“In other provinces, the 10% of NPOs which are not yet paid are mostly due to non-compliance, NPOs changing banking details and delays in submission of claims. Overall, provinces are on course with processing payments for the third quarter,” Zulu said.

Zulu also noted that the department witnessed an increased demand for registration of NPOs between April and September 2020, with 14 762 new applications received during the period.

“Of this number, 9 998 applications were processed while 7 669 NPO successfully registered. We intend to clear the backlog on NPO registration by the end of the current financial year. With regard to compliance monitoring, we are also exploring the digitisation of our services, with most NPOs now able to submit annual reports online.

Over one million food parcels distributed

On food security, the Minister said that the department’s portfolio, which includes the NDA and South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), has witnessed a massive surge in demand for food relief during the COVID-19 lockdown.

She said that over 1.4 million food parcels that benefitted over 7.1 million people throughout the country were distributed.

“We are grateful for many corporate and charity organisations that partnered with us to ensure that no child or family goes to bed hungry during this time. Our centre-based feeding programme is now fully operational in all provinces, and provide cooked meals to vulnerable individuals and households,” Zulu said. – SAnews.gov.za

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