ALEXANDRA – Food relief allegations blemish unity around lockdown
A negative development may blemish the prevailing unity which has seen most people and businesses helping particularly the poor to withstand the hardships due to the national lockdown.
The measures imposed to mitigate the spread of the virus, particularly among the vulnerable, unemployed and elderly who can’t fend for themselves, are complemented by philanthropic and government support to keep them alive as they and other citizens are compelled to remain indoors. However, the food relief from the government is seemingly impacted by accusations of ANC councillors using them for political gain by excluding other deserving recipients.
The accusation from the DA at a national level and local councillor Shadrack Mkhonto is contained in a letter to Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu requesting her to investigate the matter.
Mkhonto alleged, “We are excluded from local processes of planning, arranging and distributing the food.” He added that the process should be transparent as it was supported by public funds and should involve all public servants regardless of party affiliation.
“The food is meant for all citizens and should be distributed through their representatives to avoid the perception of political bias especially when other deserving recipients report being excluded.”
The DA’s Bridget Masango requested Zulu to investigate the claim that ANC councillors nationally have hijacked and used the delivery of food parcels to gain support in advance of next year’s local government elections. “Support to vulnerable people shouldn’t be based on their political affiliation and we find the allegations extremely concerning, disgraceful and immoral,” Masango said.
“As an independent organ of state, the department must ascertain how the councillors could brazenly hijack the deliveries and overlook many deserving poor and vulnerable people. The uncertainty of the lockdown compounds their vulnerability and causes stress over food security and should be avoided.” The party also urged the department not to compromise social distancing measures during the distribution of the parcels.
Local councillor and ANC member Teffo Raphadu denied the allegations. “We talk and help each other among councillors where there is a need. “The food parcels are part of the department’s Expanded Social Relief programme which has eligible beneficiaries in a database compiled from information provided by councillors and development organisations,” Raphadu said, adding that all councillors knew the transparent registration process to follow to register the beneficiaries.