Several organizations have indicated that they will continue to distribute food to the needy despite the efforts of various government departments over the past week to centralize the distribution of food to those in need.
The Director of Food and Nutrition Insurance Coordination, which is part of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, issued a policy guideline last week that stipulates that all food distribution should be coordinated by the Department of Social Development. Accordingly, food will be retrieved and distributed from provincial distribution centers.
The purpose of this, says the letter, is to ensure that food is distributed effectively. As a result, provinces such as Gauteng and the Free State have already issued notices that regulate the distribution of food. Organizations must also formally apply for permits if they want to distribute food. Several organizations and political parties believe the government is making it unnecessarily difficult for welfare organizations to assist the poor and that centralizing food distribution will only lead to further corruption and inefficiency. The DA even talks about the government’s “obsession” with permits, to the detriment of poor people who are hungry.
Ian Cameron, head of community safety at AfriForum, said on Tuesday that the civil rights organization continues to distribute food during the seclusion period as there is no legal basis for the department’s efforts to centralize the distribution of food under government control.
“Civil society has a role to play in this emergency and we will continue to carry out this role, regardless of people who want to unlawfully centralize the distribution of food,” Cameron said in a statement.
According to the statement, AfriForum and the family farming network Saai, in collaboration with Solidarity Helping Hand’s Josef Silo’s project, established a task force for the distribution of food among needy individuals, families and institutions such as children’s homes, homes for the elderly and clinics across the country.
The task force delivered more than ten tonnes of citrus products to 20 homes in the Pretoria area on Tuesday. Solidarity Helping Hand also sent ten tons of orgnages to Benoni for distribution to those in need.
The DA says non-profit organizations are frustrated with applying for permits repeatedly before they can distribute food. According to this party, they also know about individuals who were arrested when they tried to distribute food, because they did not have the necessary documentation to give permission. “Rather than supporting these organizations, the government is making it impossible for them to do their job,” the party says.
Anton Alberts, the FF Plus’ national chairman and LPW in Gauteng, believes that the guidelines that stipulate that all donations must be received and distributed by provincial departments may be unconstitutional as they contravene Article 11 of the Constitution, which life guarantee and section 27 (1) (b) which guarantees access to adequate food and water.
“A case can be made that death due to hunger is more likely than one due to Covid-19. Given the Gauteng government’s difficulty in getting emergency food parcels to those in need today, the centralization of food emergency will only further aggravate the problems and cause people to die of hunger-related illnesses, ”says Alberts.