It has come to light that Social Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, is considering draft directions on the distribution of food parcels that will see civil society organizations (CSOs) prohibited from distributing cooked food to the hungry.
According to the draft directions, CSOs will only be allowed to deliver food parcels– not cooked meals. The document also suggests that these directions will be the status quo well after the lockdown has ended.
The looting of trucks and corruption around the distribution of food parcels by ANC public representatives in particular, have hampered Government’s food relief efforts, catapulting CSOs into action to feed our nation.
In a misguided and nonsensical attempt to stop food parcel corruption, a draft document dated 7 May 2020, seeks to give direction on food parcel coordination between Government and CSOs, but if implemented, will see South Africans dying from starvation, not the Coronavirus.
The authoritarian styled food parcel distribution will mean that any organization or individual must attain a permit/authorization letter from the Department of Social Development, with their application to be submitted no less than 48 hours before the distribution date.
This implies that South African citizens are prohibited from making up food parcels from their own grocery trollies and cupboards to give to the hungry without approval from the Department.
It further implies that Aunty Mina, from Bishop Lavis who runs a soup kitchen out of her own purse, will not be able to feed her neighbors a warm cooked meal as the evenings grow colder without a permit from the department.
These new directions will not get food relief to the hungry. Instead it will create more red tape and administration challenges while placing unnecessary tasks on already strained provincial departments.
At a live press briefing held on 11 May 2020, Minister Zulu answered a question as to whether NGOs can distribute food independently from government. The Minister’s response was disingenuous as her department’s document dated 7 May indicated that “all food parcels (procured and donated) must be reported to DSD province offices”.
Responding to the same question, Minister Zulu spoke about her concerns for sustainable long-term solutions to hunger.
While we share the Minister’s view that government must change their approach to food security dependency in South Africa, we cannot ignore the immediate crisis. If sustainability is the issue, we are at day 48 of lockdown, and CSOs and everyday South Africans have sustained feeding our country in the absence of national government and your department.
I shall remind Minister Zulu that at our first virtual portfolio committee meeting on 23 April 2020, the portfolio committee was reassured that no South African or Civil Society Organization would be arrested for and barred from feeding hungry children and families as with the case of Ms Tauhiera John from Capricorn, Western Cape who works in partnership with an NGO and who was later released.
Minister Zulu’s draft directions are deliberate fearmongering. We cannot have police officers confiscating pots of cooked food or worse, throwing out food in the face of starvation.
The suggestion of these directions on the distribution of food parcels and cooked food is a slap in the face to every CSO and South African who has risen to the challenge to feed their neighbor in the spirit of Ubuntu.
The Democratic Alliance urges Minister Zulu to go back to the drawing board and engage civil society organizations before making devastating directives which discourages donors and which could literary cost human lives.
Support our petition calling on the International Monetary Fund to direct the South African government to NOT use its relief aid financing in a way that discriminates: http://stopcoronaaiddiscrimination.co.za/