Address by His Excellency, President Jacob G Zuma on the occasion of the Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) Summit, Birchwood Hotel, Boksburg
16 August 2012Programme Director,
Minister of Social Development, Ms Bathabile Dlamini,
Deputy Minister, Ms Maria Ntuli and all MECs here present,
Chairperson of the Social Development Portfolio Committee, Yolanda Botha,
Representatives of corporate foundations, members of academia, donor and development institutions,
Distinguished guests and delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good morning to you all.
Sanibonani nonke, Molweni, Dumelang!
On behalf of government, I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity given to us to participate and address this crossroad summit of South African Non-Profit Organisations.
This meeting underscores the importance of partnerships between government and the NPO sector in the pursuit of the common goal of building a better life for all our people.
This Summit has come at the right moment in our history. This year, South Africa celebrates 100 years of selfless struggle for liberation.
The Summit therefore enables us to acknowledge the important contributions of Non-Profit Organisations in the struggle against colonial oppression and apartheid.
South Africa has long had vibrant non-profit organisations that provided important frontline services to help meet the needs of those involved in the liberation struggle and the destitute.
From faith‐based formations, community based organisations and various constellations of civil society organisations – the oppressors felt the pressure through the work of Non-Profit Organisations supporting the work of the liberation movement.
We had organisations supporting detainees, prisoners, organisations exposing human rights abuses in urban and rural areas, organisations exposing police brutality, others mobilising to get troops out of townships or against conscription, many still were working to promote food security and development to enable people to survive under difficult conditions.
We learned during that period, the value of the Non-Profit Sector, the Non-Governmental Organisations, charities, community groups, faith-based organisations, community development clubs and foundations and a host of others.
Siyazibonga kakhulu izinhlangano ezingalethi inzuzo, ama- Non-Profit Organisations, ngeqhaza lazo emzabalazweni wenkululeko.
Sisho izinhlangano zomame, zentsha, amasonto, ezemfundo, izinhlangano ezilwela amalungelo kanye neziningi nje ezazisebenza emphakathini zenza impilo ibe ngcono kubantu ababethwele ijoka lengcindezelo.
Lomhlangano usinika ithuba lokuzibonga zonke lezizinhlangano ngomsebenzi ongaka ezawenza.
Usinika futhi ithuba lokubhekisisa okufanele sikwenze sesibheke phambili, sesilwela manje ukuthuthukisa isizwe, sixoshe indlala, ububhwa nokungalingani ezweni.
We have seen a significant growth in the sector since 1994, due to the enabling environment fostered in by the democratic government.
The Department of Social Development reports an increase of 14% per annum in the sector.
The activities have also expanded from anti-apartheid petitions and protests to active service delivery initiatives in key areas such as HIV and AIDS, child care, poverty reduction, victim empowerment programmes, social crime prevention, economic development and policy advocacy.
In recognition of the invaluable contribution of the NPO sector to South Africa’s economic and social well being, government enacted the Non-Profit Organisations Act in 1997 to create an enabling environment and align them with the Constitution of the Republic.
At that time, there was an estimated 10 000 registered organisations in both the formal and informal NPO sector.
There are now about 100 000 organisations in the NPO sector and more than 85 000 are registered in terms of the NPO Act.
The registration figures are highly impressive, given that except for welfare organisations seeking direct support from the Department of Social Development, registration under the NPO Act is voluntary.
It is the culture of transparency and respect for funders that the NPOs have opted to register and do everything above board. We acknowledge this sound management practice.
As government we appreciate the work of the NPOs as they complement our work and at times reach communities quicker as some are based within communities.
Many NPOs do valuable work in the field of child protection, prevention of women abuse, legal aid provision, food security provision, victim empowerment and a host of others.
We recall the invaluable support we received from NPOs as government during the drafting of the Children’s Act of 2005. It was remarkable that government and NPOs could work together so well on a piece of legislation, and in the end, the product is supported and implemented by all. There are lessons for all of us in the work that was done then, over 10 years.
We also appreciate the support of NPOs in government campaigns to register people for social grants, especially older persons and the children for the child support grants.
At the height of the social grants extension campaign a few years ago, we relied on many community based organisations and NGOs to identify needy families in various areas, and to assist them to apply for social grants.
Organisations such as the Black Sash and the religious sector played a key role in this regard.
Working together with NPOs we have certainly done more.
There are new NPOs on the scene, others promoting good work in enforcing the role of men in fighting women and child abuse.
Others assist us in promoting HIV testing and the expansion of access to anti-retroviral drugs. We cannot as government, do all this work alone. Many run child care centres in communities which provide care and nutrition to children, allowing women to earn a living.
It is therefore appropriate and instructive that this Summit selected the theme “working together to fight poverty, unemployment and inequality”. We firmly believe that this sector will continue to play an important role in shaping the next hundred years of deepening democracy in our country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In addition to providing much-needed services, NPOs also play an important role in promoting volunteerism and job creation.
While there is no official data in this regard, there is an abundance of dedicated, professional and experienced people who work in this sector and make up South Africa’s workforce.
Similarly, we have witnessed a surge in the number and registration of cooperatives in the last ten years.
According to data from the Department of Trade and Industry, there are currently more than fifty four thousand (54 000) registered cooperatives throughout the country.
Given the size of the non-profit sector and its potential, it is important for government to harness the power of the non-profit organisations in tackling development challenges.
Some of the support that government provides came through the establishment of the National Development Agency (NDA).
Its mandate is to eradicate poverty by granting funds to civil society organisations and assisting with training and sharing of development experience between civil society organisations and relevant organs of the State among other services.
Since its establishment in 2000, the NDA has to date distributed over one billion rand in grants, with specific focus on rural development poverty eradication initiatives, early childhood development, social cohesion and gender-based violence.
We urge you to find out more about the work of the NDA so that support to the sector can be strengthened.
In addition, the National Lottery Board established in terms of the Lotteries Act (Act No 56 of 1997, as amended) provides for funding of NPOs in the welfare sector, arts, culture and heritage sector as well as sports and recreation sector.
In addition to NDA support, government provides certain tax exemption for NPOs as well as tax relief to individuals and corporations that support this sector.
Ladies and gentlemen
This NPO summit is taking place at a moment of profound global political and economic change.
In the past four years the world economy has experienced the worst economic crisis and global political turmoil that the world has ever seen.
Unfortunately, the crisis has led to a shrinking of financial support to many NPOs locally. We hear that many companies no longer provide corporate social assistance as they did in the past, due to financial constraints.
This situation threatens the viability of many NPOs that play an important role in meeting social service needs and in promoting development.
I am therefore pleased to note that this conference will discuss opportunities for supporting the NPO sector to ensure financial sustainability.
We trust that you will emerge with ideas on how to ensure financial sustainability of the sector under these difficult economic conditions.
We urge the private sector as well not to make the NPOs the first area of focus when they have to undertake financial austerity measures.
They should appreciate the contribution of the sector in promoting social cohesion and stability in many communities and society in general.
This diverse sector must be supported in order for it to grow and continue supporting our people.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me emphasise that the NPO sector remains an indispensable partner for government as we pursue the development agenda.
Yesterday, the 15th of August, was a historic day for us as the National Planning Commission handed over the National Development Plan Vision 2030 in Parliament, after extensive consultations with all sectors of the South African society.
Throughout the process of consultation, we attached the greatest importance to working closely with civil society, and to gaining the sector’s support for our proposals.
At the core of the National Development Plan is a shared vision for the future aimed at eliminating poverty, promoting a long-term agenda for inclusive economic growth, national building and social cohesion, building a developmental state, social protection and building safer communities.
In this context, I would like to highlight here the integral role of civil society in making the Plan a reality.
To make a long lasting success of the National Development Plan, we need the whole-scale, constructive mobilisation of civil society, and widespread backing and collective ownership of its goals.
The Plan is a very good example of the extent to which civil society and the social partners are involved in the decision making process of government. We thank you for your participation in the production of the National Development Plan.
The Plan must now be implemented by all of us.
I trust that you will find an opportunity to engage with the Plan at some point, to distil from it, suggestions and programmes that this sector can implement to assist with socio-economic development in our communities.
The vision of society painted in the National Development Plan can be realised only if we work together.
Compatriots, I have personally witnessed and have been humbled by the good work done by your sector in many communities throughout the country.
In addition, I speak from experience since I run a few NPOs myself such as the Jacob Zuma Foundation, Jacob Zuma RDP Education Trust and the Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative.
I know personally the contribution that such NPOs can make in support of the work of government, to improve the lives of many people that government cannot reach fast enough.
I have no doubt that government and NPOs will continue to work together meaningfully, as we have done so for many years, to address the challenges confronting our society.
I trust that you will emerge from this Summit with a common resolve to intensify our partnership to advance our common agenda for development.
Let us continue to work together, to do more to improve the lives of our people.
I thank you.