Social Development minister backtracks on ban on cooked food donations
Cape Town - Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu on Wednesday backtracked on a planned ban on cooked food donations to poor communities after it drew strong criticism.
Zulu told Parliament's portfolio committee on social development her department was not seeking to prohibit the donation of cooked meals but rather to prevent a lack of co-ordination in how food relief is parcelled out to needy communities.
"It is not about cooked food or not ... this is about food being distributed in a properly coordinated manner," she said, when pressed on the issue by opposition MPs.
Zulu said the department cannot have a situation where one community was having meals supplied and another next to it, was going hungry.
The draft regulations, dated May 7, emerged on Monday. These stipulated that that "only food parcels are allowed - no cooked meals", in terms of non-governmental organisations providing food relief.
In addition, the regulations require donors to distribution plans to the police, and to go door-to-door to deliver the parcels, as opposed to allowing communities to collect food relief.
The draft regulations also stipulated that the personal details of all those who received food parcels must be captured by donors doing the distributing and handed to the department of social development.
Grant Twigg, the city's mayoral committee member for urban development, said the directives were unfair not only to those facing food shortages, but to organisations that had been helping them. He noted that the metro had written to Zulu to persuade her not to proceed with the ban.
"The City of Cape Town strongly advises Minister Zulu to reject the draft directions, which will only accelerate malnutrition and food insecurity in local communities," Twigg said.
Democratic Alliance MP Alexandra Abrahams said if adopted, the regulations would see "South Africans dying from starvation, not the coronavirus" and tie already overburdened local authorities up in red tape.
She said the proposed measures would also oblige any organisation or individual compelled to submit an application for a permit to the department of social development, at least 48 before they distributed any food.
"This implies that South African citizens are prohibited from making up food parcels from their own grocery trollies and cupboards to give to the hungry without approval from the department," she said.
"It further implies that Aunty Mina, from Bishop Lavis, who runs a soup kitchen out of her own purse, will not be able to feed her neighbours a warm cooked meal as the evenings grow colder, without a permit from the department."
Zulu declined to elaborate further on aspects of the draft regulations, saying the issues these pertained to would also be addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa later on Wednesday.
The president was due to deliver his first televised address on the Covid-19 crisis in nearly three weeks at 8.30pm.