We are hoping that many of you are already aware of the above Bill and that you have submitted your response to it. If not, this newsletter briefly updates you on the intentions of the Bill and the issues that are concerning the non-profit sector about the Bill, as comments must be submitted by no later than Friday, 10 June 2022.
The Bill seeks to amend the current Non-Profit Organisations (NPO) Act, 1997 (Act 71 of 1997) which was intended to create an enabling environment in which NPO’s could be formed and could function optimally. The amendments proposed in the Bill are primarily intended to address the challenges faced by smaller NPO’s but also include the setting up of an NPO Registrar to strengthen the servicing, monitoring and promotion of transparency and accountability of NPO’s.
The NPO Working Group, convened by Inyathelo, that has considered the Bill has made a case for the Bill to be withdrawn in its current form so that the Department of Social Development (“DSD”) can engage stakeholders in and beyond the sector in a meaningful consultation that will enable a redrafting of the current legislation to take place within a coherent NPO policy framework. A real opportunity for mutual co-operation could be opened up which would meet the real challenges faced by the sector.
There is great concern that, if implemented in its current form, the revised legislation would create more onerous rules for NPO’s and yet not improve the capacity of DSD to fulfil its mandate. Whilst there are some positives (such as removal of the reference to generally accepted accounting practice and the inclusion of provisions to check the names of NPO’s applying for registration for duplication), there are some key areas of concern that have been raised and that are supported by Ziyo:
- A Registrar is proposed but it is not clear if that Registrar would be independent and move out of the DSD; there are already concerns about the capacity and resources of the DSD so these must not be stretched yet further.
- Poor drafting – the Bill is poorly drafted, open to interpretation and lacks precise alignment between the DSD’s stated intentions and the actual amendments contained in the Bill.
- The Bill proposes the appointment of deputies for the 3 office-bearers on an NPO’s governing body (section 12 (2)(h)); the sector agrees that governance is an issue but that this is not addressed by the provisions in the Bill.
- The Bill requires the registration of international NPO’s out of fear that some NPO’s could be caught up in money laundering and finance for terrorist activities. While there is agreement on the need to counter corruption and terrorism, there are concerns that the sector could become over-regulated.
If this newsletter prompts you to act, you can write to Mpho Mngxitama and submit your comments and recommendations via email to Mphomn@dsd.gov.za. When writing, please indicate which particular clause of the Bill each comment relates to, provide a clear proposal on how the particular clause should be amended and provide detailed motivation for the proposed amendment.
Also, the NPO Working Group has drafted a petition requesting the withdrawal of the Bill; if you would like to add your name to this, please see: https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/have-your-say-tell-dsd-to-withdraw-the-draft-npo-amendment-bill.
We do hope that there will be a positive response to the issues raised by the sector and send you our best wishes,
The Ziyo team