#FoodCrisis: DA calls on Government to implement these 5 critical measures

Food parcels

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, to recommend five measures Government can implement to address and mitigate the increasing levels of hunger across the country.

Most South Africans, particularly those living in poor communities, have not had an income for the past 20 days due to the Covid-19 lockdown. This means that millions of South Africans are now staring utter desolation and hunger in the face as they are unable to go out and find work to put food on the table.

The DA will, therefore, call on Government to implement the following 5 measures to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on food security and to address the growing levels of hunger across the country:

1. ‘Smart Lockdown”

The DA continues to call on government to consider our Smart Lockdown model urgently and integrate it in their planning to ensure that we save lives and livelihoods during this crisis. The DA’s smart lockdown model would see some sectors of the economy re-opening safely. This will result in a flood of wages and income into poor households which will bring much-needed relief.

2. R 1000 grant top-up for all grant recipients for three months

The DA proposes a R 1000 grant top-up for all grant recipients for three months. For millions of households across the country, a social grant is often the only guaranteed source of income. With the extension of the current lockdown, many homes will be in desperate need of extra cash to put food on the table. An additional R 1000 top-up could possibly be the difference between a family going hungry or not.

3. Re-open SASSA offices 

The DA calls on the Department of Social Development (DSD) to re-open and capacitate SASSA offices across the country in order to process the influx of relief applications. The number of people that have called SASSA’s national call centre for relief rose from 3 000 to 150 000 per day during this lockdown. Due to the current lockdown measures, SASSA does not have enough staff to coordinate food delivery as well as to field, vet and process applications due to the sheer volume of people applying for relief.

4. Re-open soup kitchens

SASSA  is clearly ill-equipped to process and distribute food parcel at the large scale that is required during this pandemic. The DA, therefore, proposes that municipalities, that have the necessary capacity and funding, re-open local soup kitchens in accordance with strict social distancing protocols. This will ease a lot of the pressure on SASSA and will provide meals to distressed households.

5. Investigate corruption 

There have been numerous reports since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown of corruption pertaining to food parcel distribution for electioneering. Recently, we have seen reports of Gauteng DSD officials and some politicians allegedly stealing and unfairly distributing food parcels exclusively in ANC Wards in the Emfuleni Local Municipality. There have been similar reports in the Eastern Cape where ANC officials are allegedly prioritising ANC members for food parcels. The DA condemns this disgusting behaviour and reiterate our call for the Department to probe these allegations and to hold the guilty parties to account.

As the lockdown continues, multitudes find themselves choosing between the risk of suffering from a terrifying virus or suffering from hunger. Already we have seen desperate people looting all over the country. While some were surely common criminals, it is not unreasonable to expect the large majority looted so that they would not have to see family members starve.

Unfortunately, the measures that Government put in place are laughably inadequate and difficult to access. While the provision of social relief during a disaster is ultimately a mandate of the DSD – the management and distribution of this relief is the responsibility of SASSA. However, due to capacity constraints, corruption and a small Social Relief of Distress budget– many local authorities have had to step up and fill the gap left by SASSA.

DA governments:

DA governments across the country who have stepped up and gone above their mandates order to provide much need relief and support to desolate communities during the lockdown.

  • Western Cape Provincial Government: The Western Cape Department of Social Development has taken the decision to re-prioritise a total of R35 million of its budget to provide 20 000 hot meals per day at 92 feeding sites and distribute 50 000 food parcels which will last families of 4/5 for up to a month.
  • City of Cape Town: Following SASSA’s failure to pitch to deliver food parcels in Mitchells Plain on Tuesday, the Metro’s social development unit stepped in to provide food parcels.
  • George Municipality: The municipality is running 136 soup kitchens per day and has instituted donation drop off centres in accordance with Covid-19 measures, with donations going straight to soup kitchens.
  • Drakenstein Municipality: Existing soup kitchens continue to operate to provide food to the poor.
  • Garden Route District Municipality: The municipality has availed R 500 000 in funds for food parcels.
  • Hessequa Local Municipality: The municipality has availed R 100 000 in funds for food parcels
  • Modimolle-Mookgophong and Kouga Municipalities: The mayors of these municipalities have engaged with local businesses to source hundred thousands of Rands in donations for food parcels.

DA-led governments across the board have partnered with local NGO’s, organisations, private donors, farmers and businesses to ensure food relief flows to the most vulnerable communities. The DA commends these governments, who have stepped up to provide much-needed relief to communities in need. We urge the DSD and Government to consider our proposals in order to avoid mass food insecurity across the nation.

DA gives President Ramaphosa one week to fire Dlamini and Gigaba

The following statement was delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at a media briefing in Parliament. Maimane was joined by DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP.

The Department of Social Development is perhaps one of the most important in government, as it is tasked with the welfare of the most vulnerable people in our society – young children, the elderly, orphans, the disabled and foster children.

It should be a source of national shame that such an important department was ever run by a Minister like Bathabile Dlamini, and this shame is compounded by the fact that she now still remains in Cabinet in a position of important responsibility for championing women’s issues.

Yesterday’s scathing Constitutional Court judgement against Minister Bathabile Dlamini, in her capacity as then Minister of Social Development, confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa now harbours two Ministers in his Cabinet who have lied under oath.

These are not allegations. They are the unanimous findings of the Constitutional Court and the North Gauteng High Court respectively.

It is truly an exceptional circumstance to have two members of the Executive found to have lied under oath in court cases relating to their work in government. This is intolerable, and both of these Ministers should be dismissed from Cabinet.

I have written to President Ramaphosa asking him to fire Ministers Gigaba and Dlamini before 5 October. Should he fail to do so, we will approach the Courts to seek an order to compel him to act to uphold the honour of high executive honour and remove these two perjurers from his Cabinet.

President Ramaphosa has spoken often and vocally about his desire to act meaningfully to clean up his administration. This is a perfect opportunity for him to show real commitment to his words, and to act to uphold the integrity of the Executive.

Bathabile Dlamini

Bathabile Dlamini has failed in her job, having been directly responsible for the social grants crisis, which the DA believes she purposefully manufactured to ensure CPS would continue to distribute grants, no doubt for her own personal gain.

Dlamini was determined to deliberately derail the entire process of SASSA procuring an alternative service provider, all in a bid to ensure that the CPS contract could be extended over and over again.

Retired Judge Bernard Ngoepe offered a scathing assessment of Dlamini’s testimony during the Inquiry into her role in the 2017 social grants debacle.

Yesterday’s unanimous judgment by the Constitutional Court found that (par 12): “(…) at best for her, her conduct was reckless and grossly negligent,” and that (par 15) “the Minister misled the Court to protect herself from the consequences of her behaviour.”

In the view of the court (par 15), she “used her position as Minister of the Department to place herself between constitutionally enshrined rights and those entitled to them.”

Minister Dlamini has time and again proven that she is incapable of governing a department and continuously failed in delivering on her mandate of protecting the most vulnerable in our society.

It is obvious that Dlamini is not fit for office and her contempt for the highest court in our country is matched only by her contempt for the most vulnerable people in our country.

Bathabile Dlamini is an embarrassment to the government and the country, and besmirches the office of Minister. The President should dismiss her immediately.

Where or not he does, the DA will lay criminal charges against Dlamini for committing perjury by lying under oath to the Constitutional Court.

We will also lay a complaint against Minister Dlamini, in terms of section 4 of the Executive Ethics Act. Section 2 of the Executive Ethics Act forbids “Cabinet members, Deputy Ministers and MECs from…exposing themselves to any situation involving the risk of a conflict between their official responsibilities and their private interests; (iv) using their position or any information entrusted to them, to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other person; and (v) acting in a way that may compromise the credibility or integrity of their office or of the government.” As is stipulated by the Act, the complaint will be laid with the Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Malusi Gigaba

Minister Malusi Gigaba is directly implicated in bypassing South African law to ensure that the Guptas were given citizenship when they were not entitled to it.

In February this year, in the matter of Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Home Affairs, Judge Neil Tuchten of the North Gauteng High Court found that Gigaba, when he was still Home Affairs Minister, “deliberately told untruths under oath” and that “he committed a breach of the constitution so serious that I could characterise it as a violation”.

The DA has already laid a formal complaint with the Public Protector requesting that she investigate Minister Gigaba’s conduct in the matter in light of the serious findings of the High Court. We will continue our engagements with the Public Protector to ensure that her investigation into Minister Gigaba is now expedited so that he can be held to account.

However, it seems that there has been little progress in this matter and Adv. Mkhwebane is dragging her feet. The DA reminds her that she has a duty to investigate without fear or favour and to ensure that those in high office uphold their oaths of office.

We will also follow this up now with perjury charges against Minister Gigaba.

The fact is that the ANC have taken South Africa down the wrong path. Corruption is rife and there is a lack of respect for the law and the requirements of high office.

President Ramaphosa has pledged to turn this around. Now is the time for him to show whether he really means in deed what he has said.

So far, he has often acted in the best interests of the unity of the ANC, instead of the best interests of the country. He must not defend these Ministers and protect their jobs in the interests of the ANC. He must fire these two liars now.

Minister Dlamini must account for alleged R500 000 paid to SABC for “fluff” interview

The revelations today that the Department of Social Development (DSD) allegedly paid the SABC a whopping R500 000 to do a fluff interview with Minister Bathabile Dlamini are astounding. This was allegedly in an attempt to improve the Minister’s already tarnished reputation.

If these allegations are true, the Minister must personally pay back the money.

The R500 000 could have paid more than 300 social grants. It is shocking that the DSD had the audacity to supposedly use public money for an interview. The DSD is mandated to serve the poor, needy and vulnerable within our society, it is not mandated to use taxpayers’ money to make floundering Ministers look good.

Instead of improving her tarnished image, the Minister should be focussing on ensuring a smooth transition when the PostBank finally takes over the electronic payment of social grants on February 1, 2018.

The DA will now submit a range of Parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of this likely abuse of taxpayers’ money. The public deserves to know if the DSD did indeed pay for the interview. If that is the case the Minister must pay back the money personally.

It is clear that Minister Dlamini, like the rest of the ruling ANC, has lost touch with reality, the reality that 17 million South Africans depend on social grants.

The DA has long called for ‘Dodging’ Dlamini to be axed from the DSD. Instead of accounting to Parliament, the Minister chose to instead account to a talk show. The interview was nothing more than a fluff piece which cannot negate the damage Dlamini has done.

Minister Dlamini cannot be trusted with the money for the poor

Note to Editors: The following speech is under embargo until delivery. The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the Budget Vote on Social Development.
The budget vote we are debating today is meant to facilitate the Social Development Department’s commitment to social transformation.
The Department continues to state that it “endeavours to create a better life for the poor, vulnerable and excluded people in our society”.
But recent, almost unbelievable, developments in this Department stand in stark contradiction to this noble commitment and endeavour.
And the actions and behaviour of the Minister whose budget we are expected to support today show no commitment to these goals at all.
This is the same Minister – tasked with protecting the poorest of the poor – whose preferred place of residence is the Oyster Box Hotel. Yet, she insists that South Africans can survive on R753 a month.
As South Africans we need to take a closer look at the Minister in charge of this budget and honestly ask ourselves whether we want to entrust her with a budget meant for poor, vulnerable and excluded South Africans?
This is the same Minister who stands at the helm of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) which has notched up more than R1 billion in irregular expenditure.
We need only to recall the run-up to the 31 March 2017 expiry date of the illegal and irregular contract between Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and SASSA, to be reminded of Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s rank negligence and her lack of empathy for her task as Minister.
The DA consistently called for action or at least clarity on what plans the Department and SASSA had made to move the distribution of social grants inhouse – but our calls fell on defiant and disdainfully deaf ears.
When civil society voiced its displeasure with the Minister, she singlehandedly defied all logic and rule of law to ensure that the irregular and illegal contract was “extended” – despite earlier, on record assurances that SASSA would be prepared to take over the distribution of social grants on April 1st this year.
Leaders from various sectors – including church groups and NGOs – took turns to decry the Minister’s behaviour and her attitude towards the poor and vulnerable of our country.
While we still demand to know what the Minister’s well-paid work streams and their leaders have been doing all these years to institutionalise the system, we will be scrutinising the Department and SASSA’s progress towards its promise of taking over the payment of social grants on April 1st, 2018.
We are not holding our breath.
This Minister blocked efforts by SASSA officials to adhere to the Constitutional Court order three times, losing a Director General in the process.
Even her own staff can’t work with her, it seems.
Therefore, this Minister simply cannot be trusted with the budget for the Department.
The Minister’s inconsistency and chaotic style of leadership can be demonstrated in the much publicised R316 million that was paid to CPS in 2015 for “enrolling more grant recipients and beneficiaries than it claimed it was contracted to do”.
The Minister presided over the decision to oppose Corruption Watch’s application to review and set aside the decision to pay the money – only to decide recently to withdraw its costly opposition to the legal challenge. All of this at taxpayers’ expense.
This is the same Minister whose budget we are expected to support today.
On the other hand, there has been deafening silence from the Parliamentary leadership towards the DA’s call for an urgent Ad Hoc Committee to conduct a Full Parliamentary Inquiry into the Minister, her officials and CPS.
We have received assurance from the Public Protector’s Office that they will give us feedback as the investigation on allegations of the Minister’s violation of the Executive Member’s Ethics Code, unfolds.
While the SASSA fiasco was unfolding, sending ripples of panic throughout the sector and the country at large, the rest of the Department of Social Development was crumbling – with social services employees going on strike and scores of NGOs closing down due to the non-payment of their subsidies.
This has left many NGOs having to scrape their meagre reserves to provide services to the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded in our society.
How then, can we entrust a budget to a Minister who has virtually put the Department and its entities under administration.
In keeping with our commitment to care for the poor and vulnerable, the DA will not stop to make louder calls for the Minister of Social Development to step down, seeing that she mysteriously survived the midnight Cabinet reshuffle of President Zuma.
Which once again proved that the ANC protects ineffectual leaders and do not care for the interests of our people.
In 2019, the DA-led government will ensure that the Department of Social Development will prioritise the people whose care it was established for – the poor, vulnerable and the excluded of our society.
South Africa’s poor, vulnerable and excluded deserve better and the DA is the only political party that can ensure that all our people receive equal access to opportunities within a fair society.
Thank you.

DSD paid for Dlamini’s Addis Ababa trip

In a response to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, admitted that the Department of Social Development (DSD) footed the bill for her trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January this year.
The Minister’s trip to Addis Ababa took place at the same time the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) was launching its task team and young women’s desk in Addis Ababa.
Photographs and media reports from her trip to Addis Ababa point towards Dlamini seemingly attending events in her capacity as the Chairperson ANCWL, despite her representatives claiming that she was there on official state business.
The DA will now submit further parliamentary questions to find out how much public money was spent on this trip, considering that she might have attended to ANCWL affairs during her stay in Ethiopia.
The trip meant that Dlamini missed a crucial portfolio committee meeting in which she was supposed to give Parliament an update on the DSD and SASSAs progress in institutionalising the distribution of social grants.
When 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans were unsure whether they would receive their social grants on time, the Minister ignored their plight in order to attend to official ANC business.
Dlamini has continuously proved that she is unfit to hold office, but the President, in his cabinet reshuffle, has proven that he awards self-serving and careless individuals, who show little remorse for the suffering of our people.
As long as Dlamini is a Minister, the DA will continue to hold her accountable for her poor performance, as it is becoming shockingly obvious that the President will not.

Social Grants Crisis: SAPS must investigate suspicious break-ins

The DA will today write to the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, to request that he launches a full investigation into the break-in at the former Director General of the Department of Social Development, Zane Dangor’s home, as well as two other suspicious acts of intimidation that have occurred in recent days.
On Monday, Dangor’s home was approached by two vehicles, and the men in these vehicles broke into his home and attacked his son. However, nothing was stolen and the police have therefore claimed that they could not investigate the incident.
Reports have also stated that the home of the CEO of SASSA, Thokozani Magwaza, was targeted by the same vehicles and the men approached his wife, however, they failed to break-in.
In the same week, the Office of the Chief Justice was also broken into and the assailants fled with 15 computers containing the personal information of judges and the personnel of the Department of Justice.
These three incidents are highly irregular, the timing is equally suspicious and seems to point to an orchestrated attempt of intimidation against the actors that are involved in the SASSA debacle.
The DA has already written to the Public Protector to request an investigation into the relationship between Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, and Cash Paymaster Services, as it is our belief that Dlamini manufactured this social grants crisis, risking the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans, to ensure CPS would continue to distribute grants.
Phahlane must investigate these cases of intimidation in order to establish if there is indeed a link between them, the motivations behind them, and who is responsible.
We cannot allow for those who are responsible for these incidents to get off scot-free, especially when the safety of innocent people are threatened.

#DlaminiMustGo: DA welcomes Public Protector investigation into Dodging Dlamini and CPS

The DA welcomes that Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has decided to investigate the relationship between the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), following the DA’s request for her to probe their relationship.
The DA is of the belief that Dlamini purposefully bungled the takeover process to ensure CPS would continue to distribute social grants. It is astounding that a Minister who has put the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk, possibly for her own personal gain, would be allowed to keep their job. Yet, we have come to see that President Zuma rewards failure.
The entire country, including the Constitutional Court, has seen Dlamini for what she truly is, uncaring and “incompetent”. The DA has repeatedly called for her to be fired but Zuma continues to protect her.
In fact, instead of firing her, he has opted to establish an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on social security. Like Nkandla, this committee is nothing more than an exercise in institutionalised white-washing.
Dlamini has refused to adhere to three separate legal opinions presented to her and has even disregarded the Constitutional Court. Media reports also indicate that Zuma’s special adviser, Michael Hulley, held special meetings with Dlamini and SASSA officials to ensure the extension of the illegal contract between SASSA and CPS.
Dlamini seemed desperate to ensure that CPS continues to pay out social grants to the 17 million poor and vulnerable beneficiaries and the reasons for this must be fully investigated.
Even when CPS was exposed for illegally deducting money from the social grants of the most vulnerable in our society, she did not care.
The DA therefore hopes that the Public Protectors’ investigation will shed some light on how this crisis came about and that those who are responsible, particularly Dlamini, are brought to account, as it is becoming clear that the president will continue to aid Dlamini in dodging accountability.

Dodging Dlamini’s ominous agenda

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the debate on the SASSA crisis.
Last week, I submitted a PAIA application for the contract between the Department of Social Development and Net1/Cash Paymaster Services for the distribution of 17 million social grants to the poorest of the poor in our country.
The response was that there IS NO contract between CPS and the South African Social Security Agency.
With two and a half weeks to go until the current invalid contract with CPS expires – and no alternate plan on the to ensure grants will be paid – this is an unbelievable example of recklessness and the hopeless inability of Social Development Minister Dlamini who has put the livelihoods of millions of our people at risk.
It is now blatantly clear that she has done all in her power to avoid having to produce any contract for the Constitutional Court’s scrutiny and possible adverse comment, something that Net1/CPS has openly admitted they wish to avoid. It is also clear as day that this minister is desperate to ensure that CPS keeps this lucrative contract at all costs.
The DA warned of this impending crisis in June and October last year. Yet the Minister did nothing. That is why the DA have repeatedly called for her to be fired and do so again today.
The CEO of SASSA, Thokozani Magwaza, told the media that Minister Dlamini blocked all his efforts to report back to the Constitutional Court – which she was obliged to do – about the payment of social grants and that she personally interfered when he tried to find a solution to the crisis.
When the agency was about to petition the court for guidance early last month, she issued eleventh-hour instructions to block the process. She has desperately and determinedly ensured that there is no communication with the highest court in the land on an issue which affects millions and millions of our poorest of the poor.
The same CEO was booked into hospital due to stress and has been off sick for two weeks, AND, according to reports, his acting CEO, Thamo Mzobe, was also hospitalised with the same condition. And, last week, Social Development Director General, Zayn Dangor, resigned.
What we have here is a case of honest officials – and there are many of them – coming head to head with the truly ominous agenda of the minister, and indeed the president, to keep this corrupt contract at all costs.
To be playing games like this, with 17 million South Africans, at this critical stage is scandalous and should see her removed immediately.
The whole country is seized with this crisis. The DA will not rest until we get to the bottom of this sorry saga. We will not rest until we have answers and accountability.

DA to march in our thousands to Bathabile Dlamini to ensure social grants are delivered

The DA has applied for permission for a large-scale march to the Department of Social Development in Tshwane, next week Friday, 10 March 2017.
Thousands of DA supporters and concerned South Africans will take to the street of our Capital to make it clear to the ANC that they cannot take the grants away from our poor and vulnerable.
The DA is ready to do whatever we can to ensure that every single person who needs a grant, gets a grant come April, 1st 2017.
We are heading towards an unparalleled catastrophe, because the ANC’s Bathabile Dlamini has failed to put the interests of the poor first, focusing instead on hiding her smallanyana skeletons and defending Jacob Zuma at all costs.
Instead of intervening to make sure grants are delivered, Jacob Zuma and the ANC have also done nothing. The ANC has lost interest in the poor, they only care about lining their pockets.
South Africans can’t sit by and do nothing when over 17 million people, including children and pensioners, may have no income at all to survive on in three weeks’ time.
We need to fight Dlamini’s contempt for the poor and send a strong message next week that we will not allow our people to be treated in this way. The DA will fight for every person to get their grants, and on time!
We encourage all concerned South Africans to join our march and make your voices heard.

Cabinet turns its back on 17 million vulnerable South Africans

In today’s post cabinet briefing, the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, announced that the matter of the ongoing social grants issue was raised, but that cabinet would schedule time next week to deal with the complexities of the issue.
This is an outrageous abdication of responsibility and it should leave every South African angry.
With just over three weeks left until the deadline, this clearly demonstrates just how little the ANC cabinet cares about the 17 million vulnerable South Africans that depend on social grants as a lifeline.
It seems that the tendency to avoid accountability and responsibility is not unique to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department of Social Development but is also present throughout the Cabinet and the ANC as a whole.
For months Minister Dlamini and SASSA have been stalling on this issue and with just over three weeks to go, this crisis cannot be left without action from the Presidency and Cabinet for a moment longer.
We again urgently call on President Zuma to hand over the negotiations of the grants payment process to the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. It is clear that Bathabile Dlamini cannot be trusted with the livelihoods of 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans and should be relieved of her duties immediately.
The DA will continue to hold the Presidency and Cabinet to account for their negligence, seeing that the uncaring ANC government is failing to do the same. We will not allow the ANC to get away with depriving poor South Africans of their grants.