Joint Media Statement issued on behalf of a Civil Society Working Group nominated to draft an independent Code of Governance for Non Profit Organisations (NPOs) in South Africa.
The Working Group was nominated at a Civil Society Consultative Forum held in August 2010, and includes Chris Mkhize (Chief Executive Officer, Uthungulu Community Foundation); Shelagh Gastrow (Executive Director, Inyathelo - The South African Institute of Advancement); Colleen du Toit (Chief Executive Officer, Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa - CAF-SA); Jimmy Gotyana (President, South African National NGO Coalition - SANGOCO) and as legal adviser, Richard Rosenthal (Richard Rosenthal Attorneys).
For immediate release: Thursday, 8th March 2012
A proposed code of governance for non-profit organisations in South Africa has been released for public comment. The draft Independent Code of Good Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in South Africa aims to encourage best governance practice and was initiated by a group of NPOs at a Civil Society Consultative Forum meeting in August 2010. They recognised the need for South African civil society to formulate and adopt its own distinct code rather than be regulated by government or corporate sector codes. The working group mandated to develop a draft code has already consulted hundreds non-profits across the country, and individuals and organisations now have until the end of April to submit their final suggestions and comments. It is intended that the process should culminate in the formal adoption of the proposed new independent code by the end of July.
Inyathelo Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow says the large and diverse non-profit sector in South Africa needs a code that reflects its unique values and principles. “NPOs are a special kind of institution in that they exist primarily to serve the common good and are not motivated or driven by profit-making or self-benefit. Although we recognise the importance of other governance codes, including the so-called “King III” Code devised under the auspices of the Institute of Directors, we have consistently argued that these do not adequately reflect the values and ethos of the NPO sector. In fact, some of the “King III” principles are completely impractical, unaffordable and unattainable for many non-profits, and they don’t accommodate the distinct principles and accountability requirements of non-profits which go beyond those of the corporate sector,” explains Gastrow.
President of SANGOCO Jimmy Gotyana says the the proposed independent code is intended to be voluntary and will not be imposed. “We believe compliance should be aspirational and supportive rather than prescriptive. Although the code will not have any official or legal status, it is widely supported by the donor community and has the support of the Non-Profit Organisations Directorate in the Department of Social Development. It brings together views and inputs from previous documents, including the SANGOCO Code of Conduct and Ethics. We want the values and principles outlined in the code to be widely understood and supported by NPOs and all sectors of society,” says Gotyana.
The 18-page draft document proposes eight particular 'values' which are of special relevance and concern to the NPO sector, as well as six key leadership principles, and five statutory legal and fiscal principles. Colleen du Toit, Chief Executive Officer of CAF-SA, says it represents a unique opportunity for the NPO community to publicly recommit themselves to certain core values and principles, including fidelity to purpose, democracy, transparency and accountability. “The code deals with how to handle things like conflicts of interest and self-dealing as well as the responsibilities of boards to ensure that scarce resources are spent appropriately in the public interest. There is also a section which affirms the independence and need for impartiality of NPOs so that they are not dictated to by any particular constituency or interest group. Leadership is also identified as an essential ingredient of good governance, and the Code includes six operational principles to facilitate the effective management of fundraising, sustainability and risk,” explains du Toit.
CEO of the Uthungulu Community Foundation, Chris Mkhize, says the working group will be hosting workshops in Cape Town, Gauteng, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein during March and April in order to get further input and encourage dialogue and debate around the draft independent code. “We really want to ensure the widest possible support so we encourage everyone in the NPO sector to attend the workshops or email or call with suggestions and comments. We are confident that collectively we can create a benchmark for good governance in South Africa to ensure NPOs become more effective and earn well-deserved donor support and public confidence,” says Mkhize.
For interview requests, please contact:
Shelagh Gastrow – Executive Director, Inyathelo
Mobile: 082 494 2996
Colleen du Toit – Chief Executive Officer, CAF-SA
Mobile: 083 646 8469
Chris Mkhize – Chief Executive Officer, Uthungulu Community Foundation
Mobile: 082 692 6405
Jimmy Gotyana - President, SANGOCO
Mobile: 073 615 7665