DA calls government to work with NGOs and not against them to prevent hunger

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that there is a lack of proper coordination between the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) and the NGOs in terms of feeding the hungry people in the province.

The DA has been reliably informed that NGOs are being blocked from distributing cooked meals and that there are too many procedures to be followed when NGOs wants to distribute food parcels to those in need.

According to regulations being enforced by the department, but which the DA is fighting in court, NGOs who wish to distribute food parcels to the needy must apply for a permit from the department. The permit prohibits the distribution of cooked food and only allows them to distribute non-perishable food parcels. This unnecessary red tape makes it difficult for NGOs who wish to distribute food.

According to Acting Gauteng Social Development MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, the department is not blocking the NGOs but requesting proper coordination with NGOs to ensure that they adhere to the COVID-19 regulations such as social distancing when distributing food parcels. The department is coordinating all the donations to NGOs to ensure that there is no duplication and that the rightful beneficiaries who qualify for food relief receive food parcels.

MEC Lesufi revealed this information while responding to the DA’s oral questions at a virtual sitting of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

MEC Lesufi said they are prohibiting the distribution of cooked meals by the NGOs because it is explicitly states in the regulations that cooked food is not allowed to be sold hence, they could not allow NGOs to distribute cooked food.

Furthermore, the MEC indicates that Mahlasedi Foundation, an NGO had distributed 30 000 food parcels to the needy residents of Olivenhout and that the food parcels were three times bigger than those provided by government.

This clearly indicates that the NGOs can do a better job than the government in feeding hungry people. The department should partner with them, and remove red tape, in order to better ensure South Africans have food.