“There is nothing untoward with Tlokwe being one of the recipients of government services,” acting government spokeswoman Phumla Williams said in a statement. “The imbizo at Tlokwe forms part of Project Mikondzo, which is a service delivery improvement initiative aimed at improving access to the department and its entities.”
Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini visited Tlokwe on Friday. Earlier this week her office said the visit was part a service delivery improvement initiative and a follow-up to her visit to the area last month.
Williams said: “Minister Dlamini is currently doing a follow-up in the Tlokwe area, as she promised during her last visit to the area. “Handing out food parcels is in-line with attending to the concerns raised during the general household survey of 2010, and is a small initiative to assist in the alleviation of poverty in the area.”
After Dlamini’s last visit the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) and the Democratic Alliance accused the minister of trying to buy votes in Tlokwe with food parcels.
Her visit came a few days before a by-election in Tlokwe’s ward nine. At the time, Dlamini denied that this was the motivation behind the relief efforts and said there were more than 17,000 child-headed households in Tlokwe.
The DA on Friday said it had written to Public Protector Thuli Madonsela asking her to investigate the distribution of food parcels in Tlokwe by Dlamini.
“The minister’s conduct is at the very least, unethical, and a violation of the executive ethics code of conduct,” DA MP Mike Waters said in a statement. “The distribution of food parcels just before nine by-elections can only be construed as the dishonest use of public office to further a party-political agenda,” he said.
By-elections will be held on September 18 in Tlokwe, in wards one, four, six, 11, 12, 13, 18, 20 and 26. Tlokwe’s ANC mayor Maphetle Maphetle was unseated twice when African National Congress councillors voted to replace him with DA councillor Annette Combrink.
The ANC’s North West provincial disciplinary committee expelled the 14 councillors concerned, resulting in them losing their seats. Their expulsion was however overturned by the ANC’s national disciplinary committee.
Despite this, eight of the councillors reportedly registered as independent candidates for the by-elections. Members of the ANC’s national working committee were deployed to wards in Tlokwe on Monday to campaign ahead of the by-elections.
DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko, party leader in the North West Chris Hattingh, and constituency head Juanita Terblanche will be campaigning in wards four, six, 12 and 13 ahead of next week’s by-elections.