The grim state of affairs in South Africa often blinds citizens of the good that many organisations do in aid of the less fortunate.
When those we elect to lead us place themselves and their interests above everything else, it is often the poor that suffer the most.
That is why our news pages have exposed the rot within the state while the hard-pressed taxpayer finds it difficult to make it to the next pay cheque.
The year 2023 has been one of ups and downs with very little to cheer about. Somehow we have survived the hikes in interest rates, fuel prices and the cost of food and other necessities.
Many fellow South Africans, including big firms, were however not able to survive the difficulties 2023 presented.
Eskom’s load shedding and the mounting troubles at state-owned enterprises, in particular Transnet, resulted in some companies shutting or moving operations elsewhere, leaving thousands of employees stranded.
It barely came as a surprise to see alarming unemployment figures – the highest in the world.
Picking up the pieces are NGOs, who are now pushed to step up their efforts in assisting to avert what could be catastrophic.
It then boggles the mind why the government would slash their already small budgets, despite the pivotal role they play in our communities. Government’s failures are well documented and need not be mentioned again.
But perhaps the case of desperate mothers who resorted to killing their children and themselves because of poverty should serve as a reminder of what could happen when the state fails to fulfil its obligations.
In their November 20 opinion piece, Western Cape Association for Social Work exco members Dr Riedewhaan Allie and Sharon Follentine lamented the chaotic administration of the subsidy payment system and frequent delays in grant payments from the Department of Social Development (DSD), saying: “This placed a burden on the resources of organisations who were expected to pay social work and staff salaries from regular loans and overdrafts. What was supposed to be a trusting relationship and partnership between NPOs and provincial DSD has now broken down completely.”
If this continues we can expect a tough and long year. For now, let us celebrate and commend the NGOs and NPOs for their sterling work. South Africa will be poorer without their intervention.