Limpopo residents up in arms over food parcels distribution by councillors

Food parcels in Giyani, Limpopo. Picture: @giyaniview (Note, this picture is used for illustrative purposes only.)

The Hawks are investigating reports of some councillors distributing food parcels at night, while residents complain that the food is being used for political mileage.

The saga around food parcel distribution continues to bedevil the fight against Covid-19 in Limpopo with several communities engaged in battles with local ANC leaders over alleged partisanship.

On Wednesday, riots nearly broke out in Ga-Hlahla village, Polokwane, and Nwamitwa in Giyani. Sections of the communities allege local municipal ward councillors and ANC leaders are using food parcels to assert themselves politically.

In Ga-Hlahla, a group of residents marched on the ward committee chairperson’s house, while in Nwamita people gathered in large numbers at the royal kraal to raise their concerns.

In Extension 73, Seshego, Polokwane, there was a near-riot on Tuesday after a group of residents tried to bypass a government food bank. They have taken it upon themselves to canvass food parcels directly from businesses.

Rocky Maeteko of GaHlahla told News24 he stayed with his grandmother and eight other people.

He said his family was not given a food parcel despite having registered and being on the list.

“We saw food parcels being given to other people who did not even register. My grandmother tried to find out from the councillor, but still we did not get anything,” Maeteko added.

The local councillor and ward committee chairperson refused to speak to the media.

A week ago, all political parties represented in the provincial legislature agreed in a meeting with Premier Stan Mathabatha that no councillors should be involved in the distribution of food parcels. The provincial command council on Covid-19 also issued a directive.

The EFF and DA told News24 they would use their next meeting with Mathabatha on Monday to raise the matter again.

Distribution

EFF provincial leader Jossey Buthane said the continued involvement of councillors in the distribution of food parcels might lead to instability in communities.

“When we spoke to him [the premier] at the previous meeting, he understood, but the practice is continuing. We have opened cases with the police because this can bring instability in communities,” Buthane added.

DA provincial leader Jacques Smalle described the situation as “seriously problematic”.

ANC spokesperson Donald Selamolela said the party was against the involvement of councillors and leaders in the distribution of food parcels.

“We will not waste time in taking action against those involved to advance self-interest. We have called on all and sundry to adhere to the call of the provincial command council. Any leader found to be involved should be reported,” Selamolela added.

Mathabatha’s spokesperson, Kenny Mathivha, said some councillors were businesspeople in the province and they were bypassing food banks and distributing food parcels “to get publicity mileage”.

“We have also received reports that some are distributing the [food] parcels at night. There are cases that are being investigated by the Hawks,” Mathivha said.

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