NGOs threaten protests over ‘crippling’ bank charges

Several struggling NGOs have pleaded with banks to stop charging them crippling bank charges or face nationwide protests and even legal action.

The NGOs‚ under the South African Non-Profit Organisations Federation (Sanpof)‚ claim they are subjected to high bank charges as if they are profit-making businesses.

“We’re not in the business of business‚ we’re in the business of community development‚” said Sanpof president Nkululeko Nxesi.

On Wednesday‚ representatives of NGOs from across Gauteng marched to the head offices of the Banking Association South Africa (Basa) in Parktown‚ Johannesburg‚ to complain about crippling bank charges taking up to over 10% of their donor‚ private sector and state funding.

Sanpof handed a memorandum with demands to Basa managing director Cas Coovadia and the association’s financial inclusion senior general manager‚ Khulekani Mathe.

The federation‚ which claims it has over 100 member NGOs‚ is demanding that banks develop a national standard policy on how to deal with NGOs.

It also wants a joint NGOs and banks summit to be held.

Nxesi accused banks of creating financial and institutional instability in NGOs.

Sanpof deputy president Albert Makhubela said they would fight for a state-owned bank if charges were not eliminated.

Makhubela runs Masa‚ an NGO providing services such as home-based care and orphans and vulnerable children in Tembisa.

He threatened to stage sit-ins if Basa’s response was not favourable.

Nxesi‚ director of the Community Development Foundation of SA — an Eastern Cape-based NGO active in curbing initiates’ deaths during the province’s initiation seasons – said the sector should also consider setting up its own bank.

He said for every R100‚000 spent by an NGO over R10‚000 went toward bank charges.

“Banks have no uniform system of dealing with NGOs‚” said Nxesi‚ adding that NGOs were undermined by the government and the private sector.

He said they did not rule out taking legal action against the banks.

Coovadia has undertaken to respond to the NGOs within 14 working days‚ meet Sanpof’s executive and take their demands to the banks.