Some councillors have been criticised for looting food parcels and for distributing food parcels along political lines.
Some councillors have been criticised for looting food parcels and for distributing food parcels along political lines.

KZN ward councillors accused of stealing food parcels meant for the poor

By Sakhiseni Nxumalo and Thami Magubane Time of article published Apr 22, 2020

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Durban - Communities throughout KwaZulu-Natal have accused government officials and ward councillors of corruption in the distribution of food parcels meant for poor communities.

Some councillors have been criticised for looting food parcels and for distributing food parcels along political lines.

According to community activist, Mary de Haas, there are reports elected councillors were handing out food parcels meant for the poor to their families, friends and allies.

She said complaints had been received in the KZN Midlands, Pietermaritzburg, Durban, Dannhauser and Nquthu.

“Among those making these allegations are political supporters who are disgusted with what is happening in their communities. These reports suggest that endemic corruption continues to dominate in government, regardless of the consequences. Divisions between the haves and have-nots are exacerbated,” she said.

De Haas warned the likelihood was high tensions would boil over into overt violence, adding this may trigger further repression by over-stretched security forces.

“All because of the greed and corruption that continues its grip with absolute impunity, this greed virus may end up killing more than Covid-19, as people need food to take medication,” she added.

Congress of South African Trade Unions KZN secretary, Edwin Mkhize said they had also received reports of food parcel corruption.

“In all parts of the province, our comrades are being told about this left and right. This is just embarrassing,” said Mkhize.

He said using ward councillors was a bad move, as many had their own political agendas.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango said he had to use his own money to purchase food parcels for some residents in Nongoma.

“I wrote to the department of Social Development last week to ask for food parcels for some of the residents in Nongoma, to date, there has been nothing. I had to use my money to buy some for the residents.”

He said the area is also faced with serious water shortages and he had to arrange for tankers to visit the affected areas.

South African National Civic Organisation leader in the Midlands, Fanele Sibisi, said they had received complaints in wards in Msunduzi, Howick, Impendle and Mshwathi municipalities. He said the main complaint was that destitute communities were not getting food parcels and these were rather distributed to friends and comrades.

“There is also a problem with the distribution of water through tankers and jojo tanks but that is not as severe as the issue of food parcels,” he said.

KZN Department of Social Development spokesperson, Mhlabunzima Memela said the department was aware of the allegations.

He said MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza has called an urgent meeting to intervene.

“We have also heard that there are people that have been excluded by ward councillors from being beneficiaries of food parcels,” said Memela.

He said they would ask the government’s flagship programme in the province, Operation Sukuma Sakhe and District Team to probe the matter.

“It is against the law. This is help from the government and it’s not political. No one should be excluded regardless of their political affiliation. We just want to ensure that needy communities do not go to sleep with an empty stomach.

“The department will meet with all relevant parties, and we are also calling upon communities to report acts of corruption by contacting the MEC or report to the mayor’s office,” he said

Memela said those caught in the act would be violating government policy and would face the law.

The Mercury

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