Free State Social Development MEC urges support for township NGOs

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Free State MEC for DESTEA and Acting MEC for Social Development, Thabo Meeko. Photo: Screenshot-Free State Legislature Facebook

“We cry year in and year out when our mothers and kids, especially girls, are brutally murdered and raped but we are not worried about the budget towards that.”

The acting MEC for Social Development in Free State has issued a cry for increased support and financial backing for nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) in the province, especially in townships.

Highlighting the critical role played by these organisations in addressing societal issues, MEC Thabo Meeko emphasised the urgency of collective action to combat escalating problems. The province recently experienced a worrying increase in abduction, murder, and rape of young girls, amongst other social concerns.

These incidents not only threatened the safety and well-being of residents but undermined community cohesion and stability, resulting in Premier Mxolisi Dukwana’s decision to take a stand and lead a march against gender-based violence in December.

During the recent consideration of the Appropriation Bill and the second Adjustment Appropriation Bill in the provincial legislature, Meeko said challenges facing the province, including a recent spike in the abduction of women and girls, are predominantly concentrated in townships. He called on financial backing for township NGOs, stressing their grassroots presence and community-focused initiatives are positioned to address issues afflicting residents.

“We are a very funny nation: we cry year in and year out when our mothers and kids, especially girls are brutally murdered and raped but we are not worried about the budget towards that.

The reason why we are inspired if you congratulate us on this thing we are doing about the social workers (the department was able to source more funding and increase its budget to hire social workers permanently) is that at the belly of our efforts to defeat this thing is our social workers and NPOs,” he decried.

Meeko said 60% of NGOs funded by the department are not in the townships, and it is the NGOs that are under the umbrella of Engo that took them to court and the department paid R120 million after winning its case against them. He said part of the reason the department lost the case was the transformational space for NGOs.

“These NGOs must be in the areas where our people are. They must have capacity; they must employ social workers,” Meeko pleaded.

OFM News/Kekeletso Mosebetsi