The Non-Profit Organisation Working Group, a committee mandated by 180 non-profit organisations, has called on South Africa’s Department of Social Development to withdraw the draft NPO Amendment Bill, and to re-draft the Bill in consultation with the NPO sector. The group has expressed concern about the poor drafting of the Bill and potential unconstitutionality of certain provisions. On 2 June 2022, after a series of engagements and exchanges with the Department, the Working Group issued a petition calling for the draft Bill to be withdrawn.
The Department of Social Development published the Draft Non-Profit Organisation Amendment Bill 2021 in October 2021. Through the amendments, the Department said it aimed to address challenges faced by smaller NPOs, tackle misuse of NPO structures, and establish an NPO Registrar to “strengthen the servicing, monitoring and promotion of transparency and accountability of the NPOs.”
The NPO Working Group’s petition identifies several issues with the Bill, including:
- Vague drafting in the bill, which leaves it open to interpretation;
- The lack of precise alignment between the DSD’s stated intentions and the actual amendments;
- The proposed new structure for NPO boards, which requires additional deputies;
- The proposed clean-up of the NPO database, for which little clarity was provided as to the conditions under which organisations would be deregistered; and
- The compulsory registration requirement for international NPOs. While the stated aim of the compulsory registration requirement is to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism through NPOs, the group argues that registration alone will not prevent illicit activities, and that registration could lead to the sector being “over-regulated with draconian controls”.
Prior to the launch of the petition, the Working Group had issued a joint letter to Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu on 28 April 2022, to express its concerns about the proposed Bill and request that it be recalled.
The Working Group also previously advocated for an extension of the deadline for comments on the draft Bill, as the initial two-week period – ending on 31 October 2021 – left the NPO sector little time to respond to the amendments. The extension was granted, with the new closing date for submissions set for 10 June 2022.
- Access the NPO Amendment Bill here
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