The purpose of the Bill is noted in its preamble
To amend the Non-Profit Organisations Act, 1997, so as to amend and insert certain definitions; to provide for the Office of the Registrar of non-profit Organisations, to provide for the registration of non-profit organisations and compulsory registration of foreign organisations, to provide for the Arbitration Tribunal for the disputes resolution; and to provide for matters connected.
In a nutshell the Bill seeks to replace the Directorate with an Office of the Registrar. There is however no explanatory memorandum that explains the recommended changes. The interesting change is the compulsory registration of foreign organisations. There is no elaboration on the registration requirements in the Bill. Questions that come to mind are: Why has this clause been introduced? Why now? What other laws govern foreign organisations? What benefits or costs will emerge with this new objective? How difficult will it be to register? How many foreign non-profits work in South Africa and how will their work be impacted?
Amendments that are welcomed in the Bill relate to the organisational structures and mechanisms for governance. The Bill proposes that at a minimum it should include the designation of the Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer with their Deputies. The development of the capacity of these portfolios has been part of Inyathelo’s governance training and we are happy to see this amendment as we believe that developing these capabilities strengthen Boards. We feel the inclusion of deputies, however, is excessive. Another welcome addition but which has an odd curtailment is the addition under the Requirements section (Chapter 3, para 12) of a clause (p). The proposed clause reads: disclose whether a member or office bearer has previously been found guilty of an offence relating to the embezzlement of money of any non-profit organisations and the status of the conviction.” It is difficult to understand why the clause is restricted to embezzlement in the non-profit sector. It will be good to see this clause rewritten to incorporate any person who has been found guilty of embezzlement.
While the preamble speaks of providing for an Arbitration tribunal, it is nowhere to be seen in the Bill.
These are just a few examples of the implications of the amendments.