Mogomotsi Magome

A PROMINENT city NGO faces a financial crisis that may see it having to shut down some of its programmes for the disadvantaged and vulnerable people around Tshwane.

The Tshwane Leadership Foundation (TLF), which runs programmes and homes for vulnerable women and children, has failed to pay staff salaries for May and will probably face the same scenario at the end of June.

As things stand, the foundation is facing a critical financial shortfall of about R500 000 to survive for the next three months.

It has also lost about 32 percent of its staff since January last year; it now has about 95 staff members, down from 130 last year.

This has raised concerns about the long-term sustainability of the foundation, which has lost significant local and international donors in the last few years.

It has even resorted to selling off some of its assets in order to generate money and keep the foundation afloat for as long as possible, which might see some of its programmes and centres having to share resources

Among some of its flagship programmes are Potter’s House, which cares for vulnerable and abused women and Lerato House, which cares for young girls affected by abuse, prostitution and human trafficking.

Another of their programmes which has proved popular among young people around Tshwane in the last four years is its School of Creative Arts, which teaches various forms of arts to disadvantaged youth. The arts school might be one of the first casualties if the foundation is forced to start scaling down on its programmes.

The Pretoria News last year reported on the same scenario of the foundation’s failure to pay salaries, which was described by its management as a temporary cash-flow problem. But the TLF has admitted that the situation is now a broader “financial crisis” that is likely to cripple the organisation.

An employee who preferred to remain anonymous, said the non-payment of their salaries had hit most employees very hard. She said staff members were struggling to pay rent and electricity where they live and to buy basic things like food.

“What is really sad is that at the end of every month, we are not sure whether we will get paid or not. Last month we were all paid R1 000, which is far from what we are supposed to get. If they are struggling to pay salaries from May, how are they going to pay us for the month of June? It’s very hard for staff,” she said.

Acting chief executive Wilna de Beer said the TLF was awaiting payment of money promised by certain national government departments.

The outstanding money was more than R600 000, including the R450 000 annual amount usually granted by the Gauteng provincial department of health. No contracts for this funding had been signed yet, casting further doubt as to whether they’ll receive this money from the department.

Another R200 000 from the national department of social development, which was promised last year, was also yet to be received.

De Beer said cutting off programmes would be a last resort, but at the moment there were no plans to do so. “We have lost many donors. One of our international donors decided to donate money to other charities on the African continent saying there was more need there.

“Another of our donors has left us to donate to organisations in KwaZulu-Natal because of the prevalence of HIV/Aids there. So it is not only a cash-flow problem, but a financial crisis on a broader scale. We hope we are never in a position where we’ll be forced to shut down some of our programmes,” said De Beer.

[email protected]