DA, EFF accuse Limpopo government of favouring ANC members in Covid-19 battle

A man checks his food package at a food distribution point at Kwa Mai Mai near Maboneng, 13 April 2020. Picture: Neil McCartney

The fight against Covid-19 in Limpopo has turned political with two major opposition parties accusing the provincial ANC-led government of being partisan in its approach.

The EFF and the DA believe the provincial government has deliberately excluded opposition parties in the campaign to advance the ANC. Both parties have since lodged complaints with Premier Stan Mathabatha.

EFF provincial leader Jossey Buthane told News24 that the provincial government was going against the national trend.

“Ever since the outbreak, it was the intention to include all parties in the fight against Covid-19. However, we’ve been kept in the dark, except for communication on an individual basis.

“I made calls to the legislature, but in vain. The fight cannot be on a party line. Already there is an outcry regarding food parcels,” Buthane said.

He said some sections of the population were not heeding calls to abide by the lockdown restrictions because “they cannot listen to only one party”.

“If its several parties involved in the campaign, it can work. Consultation here at home is not happening, ” Buthane said.

Accusations

DA MPL Risham Maharaj, who is also a member of the portfolio committee on health, said Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba was withholding information on the progress, plans and challenges in tackling the spread of Covid-19.

He said requests for information from Ramathuba had so far been ignored.

“This information is necessary to allow us as a committee to carry out our oversight function and track progress made by the province, as well as determine the impact of Covid-19 on the provincial’s health system, identify weaknesses [at] hand to determine the impact of the pandemic to the department’s budget and the need to consider this during the budget process,” Maharaj said.

The DA also raised concern about the use of what it called “inappropriate political terms”. The party was referring to the use of the term “cadres” when Ramathuba referred to the 10 000 volunteers conducting screening across the province.

The party also believes the distribution of food parcels to the vulnerable people is being conducted on partisan basis.

It said that people staying in DA-controlled ward in Maruleng, and registered with the Department of Social Development, were skipped during the distribution of food parcels.

One resident, Masete Rient, who is registered with the department, said she was surprised to see all the people qualifying for parcels in the area, except from her ward.

“They told us to register, but the food parcels are even given to those who did not even register. We don’t know what is happening, but the DA told us it was following up on the matter,” Rient said.

Complaints ignored

DA MPL Katlego Phala said the party had been receiving complaints about the distribution of food parcels. She said enquiries to the social department were ignored.

“The department of social development plays a critical role during this period of lockdown in providing support to vulnerable members of society that are not able to fend for themselves,” Phala said.

Premier Mathabatha’s spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said: “The Covid-19 is not a political play field and posturing. The (health) MEC reported every step to the chairperson of the portfolio committee.”

He said the premier would meet all political parties on Friday, and “we are just wondering why they make noise when they are meeting him”.

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