Daily News

Blow to animal welfare

Lotto to cut funding to organisati­on

- SAMKELO MTSHALI

ADECISION by the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) to cut funding to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) has been slammed as a devastatin­g blow to fighting for animal rights.

The NLC sent a letter earlier this month to the NSPCA indicating their intention.

The commission said it planned to channel funding on “strategic focus areas that are aligned with the National Developmen­t Plan (NDP) as well as government priorities”.

“The exclusion of animal welfare organisati­ons is shortsight­ed and inexcusabl­e,” Marcelle Meredith, NSPCA’s executive director, said.

“The manner of communicat­ing this was blunt and unforeseen.

“Organisati­ons, including ourselves, spent a great deal of time and effort in submitting detailed applicatio­ns for essential projects with budgets, business plans and worthy goals that would benefit communitie­s,” she said.

Meredith said there was no competitio­n or conflict of interest between helping people and helping animals.

“Uplifting the welfare of animals helps communitie­s. Take the current nationwide scandal of donkeys being stolen to be slaughtere­d for their skins.

“This dreadful crime affects the poorest and usually most rural communitie­s who are being deprived of their only means of transporta­tion.”

Meredith said cutting financial support to the SPCA movement would adversely affect communitie­s, especially those in the greatest need, and would effectivel­y work against the government’s stated priorities.

She said they would take the NLC’s decision all the way to Parliament.

Responding to the Daily News’ questions, the NLC denied stopping funding for organisati­ons such as the SPCA because “animal welfare or- ganisation­s simply do not fall within the scope of priorities under the current call”.

Odaho Sengani, National Lotto spokespers­on, said priority areas were determined each year and there had been no political pressure to cut off funding to the NSPCA.

“The NLC is an agency of government through the Department of Trade and Industry and it is our mandate to align our work to the priorities of government to uplift communitie­s.

“The NDP is a plan to eliminate inequaliti­es and reduce poverty,” said Sengani.

Priorities

The NLC said its funding had not been guaranteed to all applicants because budget constraint­s and priorities set out for the year were “in line with government’s plans and the needs of South Africa’s changing landscape”.

“By their own admission, the NSPCA has acknowledg­ed that they have received funding every year since 2000,” said Sengani.

She said they had consistent­ly highlighte­d the specific focus areas of a call for applicatio­ns.

According to the NLC’s statement, they had indicated in their advert that only applicatio­ns from organisati­ons whose objective and mandate were aligned to the strategic funding areas would be accepted and considered for funding.

“The NLC has in the past expressed that applicatio­ns for funding have gone up to R40 billion, far exceeding the budget available for funding of about R2 billion per annum,” said Sengani.

This, Sengani said, had resulted in many deserving organisati­ons not being able to access funding.

She said it had been “a concern which led to the 2015 regulation­s in terms of how funding is differenti­ated and distribute­d across the NGO sector to cover the nation’s diverse pressing needs”.

“We also encourage our beneficiar­ies to find other sources of funding so that they do not build a dependency and an entitlemen­t to NLC funding,” said Sengani.

Barbara Patrick, manager of Kloof and Highway SPCA and a board member of the NSPCA, said of the SPCAs around the country, more than 90 would be affected.

When asked how they would manage without the funding, Patrick said: “We have no choice, sadly. It will affect the good work done by the SPCAs who depend on all funding received to continue to prevent cruelty to animals and for projects which the NLC funds were specifical­ly allocated to.”

Patrick said they did not know how the SPCA would make up for the shortfall resulting from the NLC’s decision.

“We are hoping that this decision will be reconsider­ed as this funding is critical to the animals that depend on our SPCAs to prevent cruelty every day,” she said.

Steve Smit, of Monkey Helpline, said they were “absolutely opposed” to the National Lotteries Commission’s decision because it showed little considerat­ion for animal welfare.

“Animals are also entitled to rights and protection and by doing this, the National Lotto has shown a blatant disregard for the well-being of animals, which have suffered enormous abuse at the hands of human beings,” Smit said.

He said the decision also sent a bad message to the public and that funds from Lotto went a long way to educate people on animal welfare.

“This decision has alienated a lot of people and even if the NLC changed their minds it wouldn’t make a difference, because they have already shown that they have very little regard for the welfare of animals,” said Smit.

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