Homes, care centres left in the lurch

Eastern Cape Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi
File picture: Brian Witbooi

Organisations facing financial stress after department fails to pay subsidies

Old age homes and care centres for children and frail patients are in dire financial straits after the Eastern Cape Department of Social Development failed to pay their subsidies this month.

The finalisation of service level agreements between the department and the organisations have not been signed due to a social worker strike – leaving them unable to afford food, nappies or staff salaries.

Some organisations were last paid in February.

Riaan Marais, from the Oosterland Youth Centre, said they had also been told that department head Stanley Khanyile had not finalised the subsidies because of internal politics at the department.

Earlier last month, the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition sent an urgent memorandum to Social Development MEC Nancy Sihlwayi and Khanyile, asking them for answers.

But while receipt of the memorandum was acknowledged, none of the questions were responded to.

The organisations were unable to lodge claims or paperwork with the department between February and March because of a social worker strike.

Social Development spokesman Mzukisi Solani did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Maureen Andreka, from the Algoa Bay Council for the Aged, said they needed about R100 000 to pay service providers and staff as they had not received any subsidies since March.

Black Sash volunteer Jonathan Walton, who serves on the board of the McKaiser Old Age Home in Grahamstown, said they had also not received any money.

“Politicians like to call this a challenge. I hate that word,” he said.

“It is a problem. Their [Social Development] policies are good on paper but they are insufficiently resourced.

“I don’t think they ever bother to check the economic data before they decide on a subsidy.

“We have to find money every month for electricity, water and diapers.”

Walton said the old age home had not even heard back about an appeal it had lodged, complaining that they were under-funded in the 2015-16 financial year.

“This is a constitutional violation,” he said.

Walton said they had been expecting to hear about their increased subsidies this month, after Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo made an announcement to this effect during the budget.

“We haven’t heard anything. We are a small facility and we are battling financially,” he said.

The DA’s spokesman on social development, Kobus Botha, said the late and protracted payments by the department placed unnecessary financial stress on NPOs that rendered core social services on behalf of the department.

MTR Smit Children’s Haven director Tanya Eales, 48, said the Overbaakens facility was under tremendous strain as they were looking after 95 children.

“We need to fundraise to pay salaries and our municipal account,” she said.

“Our children go to 23 different schools. They need lunch and we need petrol to go to all these schools. We are struggling.”

Thandusana Home for Babies director Lorna Lamerton, 65, said the department’s inconsistency had caused a crisis at the Newton Park facility.

“If we don’t get money for the children, we can’t care for them,” she said.

“Each child needs to get R28 a day but we never get it.”

Marais said they were facing a financial crisis.

“We are carrying the cost until the department decides to pay. It’s a waiting game,” he said.

Ekuphumleni Old Age Home director Mongameli Peter said they were all victims of the strikers’ actions.

“Those people [who were] on strike administer our funding claims,” he said.

“Our claims have not been processed because there were no workers.”

Leave a Reply