DA calls on Lesufi to consider cash payments and distribute food parcels only as a last resort

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

The party says cash payments directly to beneficiaries empowers people to buy what they need and stops politicians from using food parcels for political gains.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has called on the acting Gauteng MEC for social development, Panyaza Lesufi, to consider other options other than food parcels to ensure that people have food on time during the national lockdown.

DA MPL Refiloe Nt’sekhe said the department was encountering problems distributing food parcels and that these include unfair distribution, corruption and people intercepting the food parcels and using them for their own purposes.

“There are also long queues and stampedes where food is being distributed leading to people breaking social distancing regulations. The food parcels are expensive because of procurement, transportation and distribution costs. Food parcels cost the Gauteng department of social development between R1,000 and R1,200 per parcel. Yet some of the money is lost to the distribution costs and the recipients do not get the full value of money in the food provided.

“The department is failing to meet its 48-hour turnaround time to deliver food parcels because there are people who are desperately in need of food and who claim that they have applied for food parcels on 30 March and to date, the department is yet to respond,” said Nt’sekhe.

The DA recommends that people should be given a choice as to what they want to eat when applying for food relief.

“Some food parcels come with sanitary towels, then get to a family where no one uses the sanitary towels. The application form should indicate different options, for those who choose cash payment the money should be deposited directly into their bank accounts or an e-wallet sent directly to their registered cellphone number.

“Food vouchers should also be given to those who do not have bank accounts and are unable to receive money via e-wallet. The food parcels should only be given as a last resort to those who do not have access to shops and cannot be covered by cash transfers, e-wallet or food vouchers.”

Nt’sekhe said choosing options such paying money directly into recipients’ bank accounts or sending them e-wallets, among others, would reduce the time it takes from when people apply for food and when they receive their food parcel.

“Cash payments directly to the deserving beneficiaries empowers people to buy what they need and stops politicians from using food parcels for political gains. There would also be a nominal cost to giving people money in the form of bank charges which is far better than the cost of distributing food parcels.

“The DA will write to the MEC to submit our proposal with regards to different ways of distributing food to our people instead of relying on food parcels.”

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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