Two ward councillors in Gauteng have been reported to the national Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) for allegedly violating an instruction not to participate in the distribution of food parcels during the Covid-19 lockdown.
The Gauteng government had earlier issued a stern warning to all its ward councillors not to participate in the process.
Gauteng’s acting social development MEC Panyaza Lesufi addressed the media on Thursday at the West Rand food bank in Krugersdorp, where Sibanye Stillwater mine donated 2,000 food parcels to the food bank.
“We are not offering lip service. We told all ward councillors in Gauteng to back-off from food distribution. Two ward councillors were reported to us and we escalated the matter to Cogta,” Lesufi said.
So far, nearly 83,000 destitute families in Gauteng have received food parcels since the inception of the Covid-19 lockdown, according to Lesufi.
Lesufi promised to continue targeting more hungry families for feeding once the Covid-19 pandemic is over.
He also warned officials responsible for packaging and delivering food parcels to do it efficiently.
“We don’t want to delay the distribution of food because of our laziness. We don’t give food to our friends and girlfriends. We give it to the needy. If you do so, we will unleash the law on you,” Lesufi said.
“If we do so, we will lose donors. Donors don’t want to be associated with wrong things. Make us proud and distribute to the needy. I don’t want to be part of a commission of inquiry after coronavirus. If there will be a commission, I will appear there as a witness and testify against you.”
He urged workers to conduct the distribution in a cost-effective manner that will ensure food reaches people.
“We distribute our food in a dignified way. We have our own food register and we check expiry dates of food that we receive. We also need to intervene in coloured communities,” Lesufi said.
“We have interest in who is getting food. We want to build a story of how we fight poverty in future. Post-coronavirus, we must accelerate fighting poverty.”
West Rand District Mayor Dennis Thabe said they don’t want ward councillors to distribute food in the area.
“We want this food to go to relevant people. No ward councillor will distribute food. We respect what regulations are saying and don’t want to be part of a commission of inquiry after coronavirus. We are available to assist in packaging food parcels here if there is a need,” said Thabe.
Senior vice president for stakeholder relations at Sibanye Stillwater, Thabisile Phumo, said they had invested R4.5 million in the distribution of food parcels on the West Rand.
Phumo said it was important that they were also involved in the health sector in Gauteng.
Phumo promised that they would provide healthcare workers on the West Rand with personal protective equipment (PPE) next week.