Home News Controversy clouds distribution of food parcels in N Cape

Controversy clouds distribution of food parcels in N Cape

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Controversy had clouded the distribution of the food parcels meant for poor households with no income throughout the Northern Cape during the shutdown period.

THE ANC in the Northern Cape has called on its councillors to immediately desist from distributing food parcels “in a manner that seeks to bring the ANC into disrepute”.

This follows an announcement by the DA that none of the party’s councillors would take part in the food parcel distribution programme.

In a letter addressed to Northern Cape residents, DA caucus leader Christopher Phiri said the party was not happy with the manner in which the Department of Social Development had rolled out the programme, adding that the first to receive parcels were NGOs and soup kitchens. This, he said, was done without involving the ward councillors. 

“We therefore do not know who the people are who received these food parcels. As a result we are running the risk of duplications, which has potential for massive community outcry,” Phiri said.

He added that councillors had submitted lists but up until Tuesday they were “clueless” as to who qualified and who did not. “This may expose our councillors negatively when delivery occurs, only for us to find out some of the proposed beneficiaries are not on the list.”

Phiri added that many residents who deserved to be beneficiaries were left out due to the pressure exerted on councillors to submit lists at short notice. “These people include, amongst others, youth who hustle on a daily basis to get something to eat by selling commodities such as laundry pegs, sewing needles, ice juice, just to mention but a few,” he said.

“These are part of the most vulnerable of our young people who no longer live with their parents and are shack dwellers.”

The DA added that the party was also concerned about the safety of its councillors “as this matter already caused some serious allegations to be raised against them in the recent past, due to the negative momentum that builds up in our respective communities or wards”.

According to Phiri, none of the MPs or MPLs from opposition parties were included in the lists as deployees “while MPs and MPLs from the ANC happened to appear more than once”.

“We view this as politicising the distribution of the food parcels and thus making it an ANC campaign.

“Covid-19 knows no political affiliation as it is a common enemy. Thus relief efforts during the lockdown must be non-political. We cannot subject our councillors to potential safety risks due to a roll-out that compromises them.”

He stated that the Department of Social Development had jurisdiction over the food parcels and it was not a municipal key performance area. “We will therefore leave it to them to sort it out,” Phiri stated.

Controversy had clouded the distribution of the food parcels meant for poor households with no income throughout the Northern Cape during the shutdown period.

Some residents, however, have accused their ward councillors of using the food parcels for campaigning purposes.

Other residents have pointed fingers at their councillors for allegedly selling the food parcels or allocating them to their non-deserving family and friends.

Residents have called for more clarity to be given on whether only informal settlements would receive parcels or all households with an income of below R3 600.

The lack of clarity has created widespread confusion, with some residents arguing that more families should benefit from the food relief initiative, especially as the lockdown has been extended.

In a Ward 12 informal settlement, residents were furious after they were allegedly told by those distributing the parcels that they had been instructed not to cater for the settlement as it was predominantly an EFF ward.

“We demand answers as to why we have been discriminated against because we do not belong to the ANC. These food parcels are meant for the poor, not for ANC comrades and their families and friends,” said residents in the area.

They added that their questions remained unanswered as they were sent from pillar to post.

“We went to the Department of Social Development in Homestead where we were referred to the Speaker of the Sol Plaatje Municipality. She  referred us back to the Galeshewe Social Development offices, and they referred us to our ward councillor, who is nowhere to be found.”

Community members from various districts across the Province have complained about non-deserving ANC cadres and their friends being the only ones to benefit from the programme, with some even threatening to hijack the distribution vehicles.

Further allegations were also made that ward councillors were selling the food parcels, as the contents of the parcels differed.

The EFF in the Northern Cape said on Tuesday that the party had also observed incidents where parcels were only given to ANC members and supporters.

Party members threatened to stop the distribution trucks and take the food parcels and give it to those who deserve it if the process continued.

“We know that many of our people are unemployed and others survive by going out every day to put something on the table for their families,” said EFF spokesperson Obakeng Lechuti.

“As the EFF we are very unhappy about what is happening currently. There are many cases in the Province, across all five districts, where the distribution of parcels has not been transparent. ANC members and leaders are using this opportunity for political point scoring as only their members are benefiting from this initiative,” stated Lechuti.

He said councillors and public representatives from opposition parties were left in the dark, while the list of beneficiaries was only known to the ANC.

“We call on the premier to call his party members to order as this  programme is supposed to help everyone who is in need, and not an opportunity to wear ANC regalia and promote the party.”

ANC provincial secretary Deshi Ngxanga said on Tuesday that the party had noted concerns raised by community members regarding the conduct of councillors in the distribution of food parcels across the Province.

“The ANC condemns this anti-ANC behaviour and calls on all its councillors to immediately desist from distributing food parcels in a manner that seeks to bring the ANC into disrepute,” Ngxanga said. 

He added that the ANC was unwavering in its resolve to institute disciplinary action against any ANC deployee found guilty of denying community members access to relief that is provided by the Northern Cape provincial government. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic calls on all of us to collectively ensure that we lessen the burden on those who are less privileged in our communities. The ANC therefore calls on all its deployees, from all levels of government, to ensure that deserving families, irrespective of their political affiliation, receive the relief offered by the provincial government.”

Ngxanga added that the party further called on all its members and supporters to adhere to good health practices of washing hands, maintaining social distancing and staying at home to contain and avert the spread of the virus. “Together we can flatten the curve,” he concluded.

The food parcels distribution is part of the Covid-19 food relief programme and in the Northern Cape R38 million was made available for the procurement of food parcels to be distributed to qualifying beneficiaries.

According to Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul, food parcels will be distributed to 47 700 beneficiaries across the Province. A total of 134 service providers were contracted to deliver the parcels. 

Ward councillors were expected to submit a list of names of beneficiaries to the Department of Social Development.

The parcels contain:

10kg maize meal

10kg bread flour 

200g soya mince

500g salt

2.4kg sugar

2l cooking oil

250g Trinco/Glen tea

2kg rice

400g Yum Yum peanut butter 

900g All Gold jam

10g instant yeast

1kg Sunlight/Omo washing powder

Canned Lucky Star pilchards

500g green Sunlight soap

175g Sunlight bath soap

300g canned Texan beef

Toilet rolls (packs of four)

400g instant milk

500g macaroni

500g spaghetti

400g canned mixed vegetables

250g coffee